By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

This is part two of a three part series where I share my experiences of the Whole30 with you. Be prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, a quick recap: the Whole30 is a concept developed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. In their book, “It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways,” the Hartwigs lay out a concise and sustainable 30-day nutritional plan.

The intention of the program is to help participants connect more deeply with their bodies and better understand its reactions to what we put in it. It promotes self-reflection and self-awareness.

The plan includes vegetables, fruits, meat and healthy fats. It eliminates refined packaged foods, whole grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol and sugar, as the Hartwigs believe these potentially cause inflammation in the body.

While it’s fairly easy to follow, there is a learning curve in planning and preparing meals without foods you might normally eat. For my husband and me, eliminating rice, beans, tofu, bread, tortillas, cheese and salty chips were the biggest challenges. We stocked up on kombucha, tea and LaCroix seltzer to replace wine, beer and cocktails.

But following a program that allows potatoes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, eggs, beef and bacon makes it completely doable and enjoyable. We only felt deprived when we focused on what we couldn’t have (like peanut butter, which we quickly replaced with tree nut butters).

And we dove in with enthusiasm, with one big modification: we already had a weekend getaway planned to Idaho’s Lava Hot Springs from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8. We decided to give ourselves permission to go off of the plan during that time.

And boy, did we go off! But more about that in a moment.

The first week went great. We noted our weight and waistline measurements on Jan. 1 and then tucked the scale away. I made delicious new recipes. We were upbeat and positive. We noticed our triggers and stayed the course.

When innocent slip-ups happened, like inadvertently putting cream in my coffee at a business meeting, I had a chuckle and moved on.

And then the long awaited weekend came. We decided to weigh ourselves before the debauchery. We both lost 3 pounds; not from eating less, but from eating better. Our faces felt slimmer and our bellies flatter. Digestion improved and energy increased.
While we were prepared with healthy food for the trip, it didn’t take long before we were into pizza, nachos, French fries, French toast, burger buns, beer, wine and vodka.

Needless to say, we returned home feeling hungover, tired and bloated. If you’re wondering about the 3 pounds, they came right back on.

It was a bit shocking just how far away from the plan I veered. And this brings us to the psychological challenge of changing our eating habits. Before we started the Whole30, I indulged in what I wasn’t going to be able to have for the month. And during our “cheat weekend,” I made more unhealthy choices than usual.

The weekend made us realize the importance of following the book’s plan for slowly and deliberately reintroducing foods when the 30 days is over.

Without regret or remorse, we’ve decided to start fresh. We want to see what the Whole30 really feels like so here we are, back to week one.

Look for part three of this three-part series in the Feb. 3 issue of EBS.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and Consultant, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@corehealthmt.com.