By Hannah Lenore Gray
I intended on finishing the entire "Whole30" program, really, I did. The last week of my diet coincided with my one and only week of vacation this summer, so I knew it would be tempting to cut it short, though I honestly thought I was strong enough to resist temptation and just finish the damn thing.
And then we went out to dinner and I lost all my resolve.
I wasn’t anticipating this total loss of willpower but the thought of eating barbecue without some tangy, sweet sauce was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t even like barbecue that much, which makes this sudden absence of self control all the more concerning. Nevertheless, thus became the story of my "Whole28".
I’m still waiting for the guilt and sense of failure to set in, but it’s been a few days and I’ve yet to harbor any regrets — just because I ended it early does not mean that my experience was a total wash. And besides, watching my family enjoy fried shrimp and margaritas without me would have destroyed my mental health, and I figured my physical health had received enough attention for the past month: It was time to nurture my mental wellbeing.
Like I already mentioned, my inaugural non-"Whole30" food was some good ole Southern barbecue. I enjoyed some pulled pork smothered with sugary, honey BBQ sauce. And since I didn’t die, that meal informed me how sugar was not the culprit behind my gastronomical issues. Furthermore, my face did not react and remained clear. Sugar, welcome back old friend, I’ve missed you.
My next culinary foray back into the real world consisted of fried shrimp (battered in some tasty gluten). That was a disaster. My stomach revolted but it was worth it. And it was so worth it that I had fried shrimp three more times and just suffered the consequences.
And I didn’t stop there: I pushed my luck even further and tried some ice cream. Then my face broke out. Dairy has always been tricky for me but because of this program I now know for sure it is not something that’s conducive to my daily diet. I can live without it because I still have a few jars of almond milk to fill any dairy-shaped void in my life. I probably will still indulge in some cheese from time to time because I am not a monster, but I plan on sticking to high-quality choices (and as far as I am concerned, goat cheese is not dairy and will always be a staple in my walk on earth).
So there you have it: I didn’t make it, but I still learned the gist of it. I am more cognizant of what ingredients are in my food and everything that I consume from now on will go through some sort of vetting process, how could it not? The "Whole28" made it clear that the food we eat on a daily basis is chalk full of unnecessary detractors from its inherent nutrition. Store bought almond milk shouldn’t have so many ingredients, deli meat should be free from nitrates and basically everything could do without so much added sugar. The more raw and less processed the better. I am grateful for the education the program provided me with almost as much as I am grateful for the five pounds it caused me to lose. You were right, "Whole30" overlords, it wasn’t THAT hard.
Maybe next time I’ll even go the whole 30 days.