BOOM: you made it. Drop the mic and leave.
Virtual high five, Whole30-er. YOU FREAKING DID IT. It’s no joke cutting out that seemingly huge list of foods that all your friends munch/sip on day after day while you’re sticking to your real food ways for a month. Most people you know probably could not stick it out for 30 days. What were your wins? Your non-scale victories like sleeping awesome, waking up with tons of energy, hitting huge PR’s in the gym, and taming your sugar dragon? (read: reasons why you’re awesome) Write those down: thoughts, experiences, any changes you noticed over the last 30 days – and come back to them for reference in the future. But now: Time to celebrate!
That being said…it’s the Super Bowl this weekend. WHO’S READY TO BINGE EAT ALL THE SWEET/ALCOHOLIC/FRIED/GLUTEN-FILLED THINGS WE COULDN’T EAT FOR THE PAST 30 DAYS?
Woah there, tiger blood. Hold your horses.
Let me tell you, if that’s your mindset right now, I highly suggest you change that. Or prepare for impending doom. Seriously though.
Want to make the most out of the 30 days of hard work you just put in on your health, your habits, and your relationship with food? Don’t let it all go to waste and throw it out the window by eating all those foods you’ve been missing on Day 31. Check out these 3 Whole30 Reintroduction Tips & Mistakes PLUS my advice for what-the-heck-to-do on Day 31. #2 may surprise you!
REINTRODUCTION MISTAKE #1: ON Day 31, You EAT ALL THE THINGS.
In 6 Whole30 Mistakes You Might Be Making, Tip #6 talks about being really bored with your food and all you do is fantasize about day 31 and how you’re going to eat #allofthethings? Well, prepare for #allofthesymptoms.
Remember days 2-3, “the hangover” of the whole30? Imagine that tenfold. Especially if you OD on sugar, gluten, or booze in the days after your Whole30 here. I’m not trying to be the bad cop here, just being realistic! Been there, done that. And it’s not fun AT ALL. And unless you particularly like to be doubled over in bed/tied to the toilet for a couple days. Sorry not sorry TMI, but it’s totally true. I’m just the friend who’s warning you in advance – this isn’t something that might happen, this is something that absolutely WILL happen, if you choose that route.
This is exactly why the Whole30 folks don’t recommend doing a Whole30 so it will end right before a big event, like a wedding, thanksgiving, christmas, your birthday…which is basically a guaranteed failed reintroduction and massive Charlie Sheen-style hangover.
Let’s be clear: it IS definitely time to reward yourself in some way for accomplishing this! I just wouldn’t recommend faceplanting into a gluten, cheese, sugar, grains, and other-things-you-cleared-out-of-your-system for the past 30 days filled pizza. Right now, that thing is a WMID to you (weapon of mass intestinal destruction) to you. Try one of the tips in my Whole30: Treat Yo Self Edition post.
MISTAKE #2: Your Whole30 becomes a “Whole100, Whole200, Whole365…”
As the program clearly states, the Whole30 is NOT supposed to be a “Whole365”. The whole idea is to cut out these specific foods for 30 days (or maybe a little longer, if you’re still struggling with specific symptoms), and then to systematically reintroduce certain foods to see if/how you react to them. Then, you can find out which foods work best for you, which you should probably only sometimes eat on your birthday or when its reaaaallyyyy worth it (hello, Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies or Thanksgiving Apple Pie. YES), or maybe some that you should really never. EVER. eat because they make you feel like you want to crawl into a hole and die.
Sure, you may feel freaking fantastic at the end of your Whole30 (don’t we all??). You may want to extend it a few weeks, if you’re still dealing with some pesky symptoms, digestive issues, or have an autoimmune disease and have figured out that is is working really, really well for you. Or maybe, you’re still having sugar cravings, or didn’t quite see the results you wanted. Totally fine to keep going for a bit! But following the rules to the T for your whole life? No sugar in literally anything ever? Totally not sustainable, and borderline orthorexic.
Part of the goal of the Whole30 is to help you live WELL. To be used as a tool figure out what works best for you, and what you can get away with without feeling like sh*t. Whole30 guidelines aren’t supposed to be realistic for you to hang on to forever. It’s nice to enjoy going out with friends and having a drink or two, or going out to dinner and not worrying about having to ask about every single ingredient in a dish. It’s hard enough for me to go to restaurants as it is, having celiac AND being lactose intolerant. No one is encouraging you (No, not even Melissa Hartwig) that you can’t ever drink or have sugar or any other of your favorite foods you cut out for Whole30. See her new amazing book, Food Freedom Forever. Don’t impose that restrictive lifestyle on yourself forever, because it’s totally not necessary. AND totally possible to live (and eat/drink) well without yo-yoing between a Whole30 and binge-on-allthenon-whole30things-fest.
MISTAKE #3: You OD on sugar. Oh hey there, Sugar Dragon! (Not) Nice to see you again.
Remember days 2-3, “the hangover” of the whole30? The head-pounding, vision-blurring, holy mother how am I going to get out of bed today feeling? Imagine that tenfold. The sugar hangover is REAL, people. And although you might not experience the same digestive issues you would from inhaling a whole pizza, pint of ice cream and 6-pack of beer on day 31, this one ain’t gonna be pretty either.
Since it’s Day 31, we’re not dealing with SWYPO anymore. But even paleo, gluten and dairy-free treats with reasonable amounts of sugar in them are going to be like crack to you right now, and your body ain’t gonna be too happy about it. Remember “foods with no breaks”? Here they are. After my first Whole30, I didn’t follow a reintroduction protocol at all… A couple days after I finished, I decided to bake some paleo chocolate chip cookies with my best friend – nothing totally crazy, not even a ton of sugar in the whole batch – but I could. Not. Stop. I ate some dough (obviously, as one should when making cookies, right??), and then a couple cookies after they came out freshly baked and still warm from the oven.
Ohhhhh. I savored that first cookie, and then basically faceplanted into the rest of the batch. The next two days? I felt like I’d drank a fifth of liquor. The sugar hangover is NO JOKE, folks. And what happened next? I went on a total sugar bender fueled by my newly awakened sugar dragon that lasted for WEEKS. 0/100 DO NOT RECOMMEND. Especially right after having (planned) foot surgery sooo I was stuck sitting on my butt for weeks while my leg was in a cast and my sugar dragon was raging.
MISTAKE #4: You Combine Multiple Non-Whole30 foods into your reintroduction.
Okay, okay. I KNOW you’ve been craving that peanut butter and jelly sandwich on your traditional whole wheat (or white) bread /gluten-free cinammon roll from your favorite bakery since day one, and you’re just about ready to inhale that thing. But before you take your first bite, hear me out.
First off – this is a MUCH better choice than our #1 on our list of Whole30 Reintroduction Mistakes (#eatallthethings), HOWEVER. Once you eat your sandwich and IF you feel like crap within a couple hours (or minutes), how are you going to know if it was the peanut butter or the bread that did it? Or fo the cinnamon roll, even if its’ gluten-free, how will you know if it’s the butter/milk or the gluten-free grains in there making you feel like balls?? Whomp, whomp. #reintroductionfail
Stick to one food at a time with the reintroduction protocol, so you can really tell how each food affects you. This means: while you’re reintroducing one food, the rest of your diet stays Whole30-compliant, so you can assess how that food does with you. You may think it kind of stinks to extend your Whole30 a little bit (it IS called the Whole30, not Whole40 or however long it takes to reintroduce foods), but this is the best way to figure out what foods will make you feel your best ALL THE TIME, not just when you’re doing a Whole30. Pretty cool, right? For me, I know I can never eat gluten (celiac), but certain grains are okay for me (rice, quinoa) if I choose to eat them. I can get away with having a little hard cheese once in awhile, but ice cream, milk, or soft cheeses? NO FREAKING WAY. And legumes make me want to die inside in any kind of quantity that I eat them. And sugar is more addictive than freaking crack. To everyone. But again, you won’t realize any of these things until you pull them completely out of your diet for a while and then reintroduce them to see what happens. Capisce?
(Say crack again. CRACK.) thx forever, Mean Girls.
REINTRODUCTION TIP: So…it’s Day 31. Holy crap what do I do now??
First off, know that it’s COMPLETELY NORMAL to feel like you now have no idea what-the-freaking-heck to do with your life after you’re done the 30 days. About days 28-30, cue the casual panic. See the Whole30 timeline: “HOLY OPRAH IT’S ALMOST OVER WHAT AM I GOING TO EAT NOW?”
“You worked so hard, fought through all the anger, the naps, the cravings to get to the awesome you’re feeling now. The rules have been your backbone, your lifeline, your excuse for being “that person” in social situations. Are you just going to give them up on day 31? No. You firmly resolve that there will be no deviation on day 31. If it ain’t broke…” (From the Whole30 Website)
Here’s the thing. YOU DO YOU. Every person is different, and every time you do the Whole30, it will even be different for you. Situations change – you’ll be in a different stage in your life, physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. You’ll learn new things about yourself, your food preferences and dislikes, and how you handle different stages in the program based on where you’re coming from.
You want to stay on the program for a couple more days before you re-introduce anything? You do you. My first Whole30, I stayed on a couple days extra because I was doing a crossfit competition and then was getting (planned) foot surgery a few days after that, so I wanted to be feeling my best to make sure my body could recover as fast as possible. Totally fine! You’re an adult – no one’s rushing you to reintroduce anything too quickly, though most people have a running list of foods they want to introduce first to see if anything affects them.
My advice? FOLLOW A REINTRODUCTION PROTOCOL, DUH (Especially if this is your first, or even second, rodeo). It’s outlined in Chapter 19 of It Starts with Food and in the Whole30 Guidebook – the general guidelines are also HERE on the Whole30 site. You don’t have to follow it exactly if you don’t want to try out the foods they recommend, but it’s a fantastic guide, organizing the reintroductions by what is likely to affect your system the LEAST after cutting it out for 30 days. The general guidelines are: legumes → gluten-free grains → dairy → gluten. Sugar will sneak its way in there at some point too, don’t you worry. See the guidelines for the complete details! And check out this link for Whole30 Reintroduction Prep.
But if you don’t ever eat legumes, or dairy, or gluten (or fill-in-the-blank that isn’t included on the Whole30 program), and don’t miss them? Don’t bother reintroducing them, and choose something else.
Try reintroducing something you really missed, but try one thing at a time. Follow the reintroduction guidelines in The Whole30 Guidebook. You’ll soon figure out that a small bit of gluten, sugar or booze on Day 31 prooobably isn’t going to kill you, but going whole hog on a pizza or a pint of ice cream might get you close to it. PRO TIP: Ease back into your new diet and lifestyle slowly and deliberately – use your post-Whole30 hyper-aware gut to figure out how you should eat moving forward to feel your best, without having to do the Whole30 every month (see Tip #2, above)
But like…the Super Bowl! So, like the nice friend that I am, I created a Whole30 Super Bowl Recipes Roundup with a bunch of super bowl/party recipes that won’t make you feel like absolute sh*tballs. Guaranteed when you make these recipes you won’t be missing your gluten-and-junk-filled traditional super bowl foods (or the hangover the next day).
Reintroduction, in a phrase: Take a deep breath. Celebrate your wins. Don’t be a dummy. But you do you.
p.s. sorry for torturing you with those cookie and cinnamon roll pictures. Just trying to make a point! Just look out for those WMID’s (weapons of mass intestinal destruction) and BEWARE of going on on a post-whole30 food and drink bender!
And don’t say I didn’t warn ya.