Mindful Eating & The Whole30 Challenge

What's up with this Whole30 "fad" anyway? Follow along on my journey to a healthier life through mindful eating.

I’m coming to you a little later than usual today. Why? Simply put, I’ve been sick as a dog for the last few days. It’s nothing major fortunately, but my throat has been on fire and I have been extremely fatigued. Nothing a little rest and Mucinex won’t fix, but annoying just the same.

I am, however, super excited to talk to you today! If you read my Level 10 Life post, you may remember that one of my health & fitness goals was to complete a Whole30 challenge.

With Mark getting ready to leave on Saturday, I thought the that having the house to myself for 6 weeks would be a perfect time to give it a go.

Before I get into the details of the challenge, I want to get into my “why”. When I set new goals for myself, I like to get clear on my “why” as quickly as possible. Being clear on why I want to complete a task helps me to maintain my focus and power through where I might otherwise cave.

WHY DO I WANT TO COMPLETE A WHOLE30 CHALLENGE?

Two reasons:

  1. I want to feel great.
    Last year, Mark and I decided that we were going to try eating a Paleo diet. We did it for 30 days and let me tell you: It felt amazing! I had more energy and stamina than ever before. The Whole30 challenge is a bit more restrictive than the Paleo diet, but I kind of need those strict guidelines to keep me on track.
  2. I want to slay the sugar demon.
    I’ve been a slave to sugar for as long as I can remember. I finally kicked the caffeine habit last year, so this is the year to tame that sugar demon once and for all.

WHY NOW?

To be honest, the biggest reason I’m choosing now is because I’m sick and tired of waiting to start. I’ve been eye-balling this challenge for a few months now, knowing in my heart that it was the first of my goals that I needed to tackle.

I plan on getting back into running soon, and I can’t think of a better way to kick-start my energy reserves. I know first-hand what it feels like to eat real food. I know what an impact this change will have on my life. There is no better time to start than right now.

What's up with this Whole30 "fad" anyway? Follow along on my journey to a healthier life through mindful eating.

WHERE DOES MINDFUL EATING FIT IN?

Last week, I started to research a few different ways to bring more mindfulness into my life. I was surprised to find that mindful eating is a real thing, and of course I was instantly intrigued.

You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger – the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat – kicks in. It feels so good.

Jules Clancy (StoneSoup) wrote a great article for zenhabits.net about mindful eating. In it, she outlined the benefits of mindful eating as follows:

Reduced over eating. It’s been a while now since I went to bed feeling bloated and over stuffed. Which is great in itself but also means that my ‘muffin top’ is pretty much gone when I wear my favorite jeans.

Increased enjoyment of food. As a food scientist, I’ve always considered myself a big fan of eating. Now that I’m on the path to mastering the art of mindful eating, I am finding a new found respect for food and am gaining far more pleasure from meal times.

Improved digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth with the action of saliva. If food isn’t chewed properly it means that there’s more work for the rest of your digestion system. I may be imagining this, but I think I’ve also noticed I have less gas now that I’m eating mindfully.

Being satisfied with less. Linked with reduced over eating, the real benefit here is being able to trust yourself to feel satisfied after one or two squares of chocolate so there is no temptation to scoff the whole block. Suddenly there’s no need to deny yourself the occasional treat which makes for a far healthier relationship with food.
Ready to change the way you interact with food?

If that is not enough motivation to give mindful eating a go, then I just don’t know what is!

The concept of mindful eating ties in perfectly to the Whole30 challenge. Once I made that connection, I knew right away that I had to dive in as soon as possible.

WHOLE30 ACTION PLAN:

If you’re interested in the full details of Whole30 and how it works, go check out their website (www.whole30.com) and read through their getting started series.

If you’re looking to dive deeper after that, here’s links to their books:

* The following are affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love! (Learn more here)

   

Being the Bullet Journal lover that I am, I had to create a whole spread dedicated to Whole30.

Condensed rules & steps for Whole30 (Bullet Journal)

As you can see, I picked September 13th as my official start date. Mark is leaving on Saturday the 12th, so I figure that will give me a day to go shopping and prepare some meals in advance.

All this week, I have been planning out exactly what I need to buy at the grocery store to set myself up for success. I have also started the process of clearing the fridge and pantry of all those “no’s”. I don’t want any temptation in the house when I get that sugar demon shows his face!

I’m going to be checking in with a short blog post every week (in addition to my normal posts). I’ll be sharing what struggles I faced, what my successes were, and some yummy recipes along the way, so stay tuned!


I can’t wait to get started and share this journey with you all. Plus, the accountability of a weekly check-in will motivate the crap out of me! ;)

P.S. I’m going to be taking before and after pictures (for my eyes only lol). I’ll also post before and after weights and measurements so that you can get an idea of the transformation. However, I want to note that I am not necessarily doing this to lose weight. I am pretty happy with my weight, so my main motivation behind this challenge is to change how I feel and start living a healthier lifestyle overall.

Check out my weekly update posts here:

>> Whole30 Week 1: “The Detox Week”

>> Whole30 Week 2: The “I Need a Nap Week”

>> Whole30 Week 3: The “Boundless Energy Week”

>> Whole30 Week 4: My Whole30 Recap

Have you ever completed a Whole30 challenge? I’d love to hear your personal success (or fail) story, so drop me a line below! :)

Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy – Boho Berry Paperie.

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  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    OH my gosh that planner is A-MA-ZING! I need your creative and organizational skills! I completed The Whole30 about a year ago and it really changed my life. I suffered from awful psoriasis and once I cut out ALL the dairy and gluten, my condition improved drastically! I’m a totally foodie so was excited to find and create recipes. I think the biggest thing is the prep work. It will make or break your success. But sounds like you will do JUST FINE! Feel free to stop on over to my blog http://www.physicalkitchness.com for recipes – the majority of what I cook is Whole30 compliant (not a shameless plug I promise – just want to help!) Good luck!

    • Thank you so much, Chrissa! I’m off to check out your recipes now. You’re a doll for sharing :)

  • Joscelyn | Wifemamafoodie

    I made it two weeks on Whole30. If I had gone a couple of days longer, I’m sure I would have passed that point of no return and could’ve completed it. My biggest piece of advice is to have plenty of quick meals planned for those busy days and keep healthy compliant snacks on you at all times. I think I set myself up for failure by just letting myself get way too hungry and then not being able to find quick approved foods to eat. I did love the program though and hope to try it again soon. The results you’ll see are amazing! Good luck!

    • Thank you Joscelyn! I’ve spent the weekend prepping meals in advance for the whole week and plan to do the same again every Sunday. Thanks for the tips, have you considered giving it a go again soon?

  • I don’t do Whole 30 per say, but I eat little processed foods and make nearly everything from scratch and try to use only organic & free range foods (which unfortunately due to availability isn’t nearly as much as I would like, I miss you Whole Foods :( ). I’ve considered cutting out refined sugars from everything, but in reality I pretty much only use it in my coffee and baked goods (which I rarely make as I end up being the one to eat them all >.>;; ) and with the unavailability of maple sugar here I don’t think I’ll go that route while we are still in Korea.

    ifthesaddlefits.com has done it (several times I think!) and has some yummy recipes & meal plans that are Whole 30 approved.

    • I have been pretty much the same for a while. My kryptonite is candy and ice cream though. I can go weeks without fast food or eating out, making everything from scratch at home… But my sweet tooth is insane! I’m really hoping for some positive results :)

      I’m off the check out that site you recommended now :)

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  • Melissa Frater

    Hi I’m a pescetarian and I started the whole-30 on Monday, so day 3!
    I am doing it to lose weight I have a lot to lose and I’ve struggled, despite having a fairly healthy diet, (I think its just the extras that I add). I’m feeling great at the moment, no cravings or headaches but I’m worried about how I’ll face eating enough fish and eggs after a couple of weeks! and the weekend with no wine will be the ultimate challenge. It will be fun watching how you get on :-)

    • Hi there! It’s day 4 for me and so far I’m feeling great. I think the big key is preparation, preparation, preparation. I’m definitely missing my wine too, it’s probably one of the only things I’ll be adding back in (in moderation) after my first 30 days :)

  • This is a fantastic blog post! I started on Monday so officially on day 3. So far so good! My biggest struggle at this point is CHEESE! I usually top almost everything I eat with cheese, so having to live without has not been easy. But we can do this!

    • Love that Meg! That’s one of the biggest things that has been hard for me too! My heart broke a little when I had to throw out all the yummy cheeses in my fridge… You’re right though: We’ve got this! :)

  • Erin Clancy

    Best of luck! I am on Day 9 of a Whole60! I’ve completed 2 independent Whole30s but slid right back to the sugar demon when I start to feel good, so I’m doubling up to see if I can sustain this lifestyle and feel better for a longer time! Follow Whole30 Recipes on Insta, they have good options! Good luck, you’re gonna rock it!

    • Thanks Erin! That sugar demon is a beast, am I right? I’m feeling pretty great on Day 4 but I’ve started getting some headaches here and there. Looking forward to that “Tiger Blood” phase and being unstoppable :)

  • Ashley

    Good luck! I did Whole30 twice and the results are worth it! Word of caution, be careful with the deli meats and jerky… depending on the brand they can sneak sugars in on ya!

    • Thanks for the tip, Ashley! I realized when I got to the store that deli meats were just not going to happen. Sad face :(

      • Debbie

        Applegate Farms hot dogs at Trader Joe’s are compliant!

      • Audrey

        I would keep a rotisserie chicken in the fridge as an “emergency protein”. Easy to shread pieces off of and eat cold or reheated or mix with guacamole for a compliant chicken salad. If I was on the ball I would make one at the beginning of the week and then make a bone broth with the carcass, but sometimes I would just buy one of the hot ones from the grocery store deli. They unseasoned ones are usually compliant.

  • AJS

    Read EVERY SINGLE LABEL! And follow Whole30 on Instagram! They have awesomely inspiring stories and great recipes. I just finished Whole30 on September 1st and feel amazing. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks! I’ve definitely found SO many hidden ingredients on labels lately so you are totally right!

  • Sonya L. Clark

    Happy I found this Blog. I started on the 15th with my 1st whole30.

    • Woohoo! How’s it going for you so far Sonya?

  • Katie Johnstone

    I bought a cookbook (Against All Grain… not all W30 complaint but can modify easily) and had fun cooking new foods while on the Whole30. It was probably more work but something fun to keep me excited. And it kept me busy so I didn’t want to sit around and drink wine after work :) You’re making me want to do another one!! Have fun, it feels great!

  • Kate

    I’m on day 10 and I feel so amazing!! Good luck to you!

  • shannon J

    I am on DAY 10!! That goes in capital letters with an ahhhhh!!! Everything has been great, but with my monthly friend visiting (sorry to much info) and the sweet tooth that I have naturally, this day is hard! All my mind can think of is a rational reason on why I need that chocolate!! I’m staying strong and this to will pass. The thought that food actually had on me is scary! I believe this is a great challenge and my new living style. I will stick to my no snacking and my three meals forever. Every time I walk past a snack or treat in the office I think “Wow that would have certainly turned into a lot of unwanted and unnecessary calories and junk to my body. I passed it!!! YAYAYYYY ME!” Good luck and have fun. Its great to see what you can do in the kitchen!!!

    • Kate

      I’m feeling the same way. My monthly friend is coming as well and I’ve been craving chocolate, but I’ve been able to stay away! It’s unbelievable how great I feel on day 10. I’m so happy I did this. Good luck on your next 20 days!!

    • Totally awesome, Shannon! I too feel awesome every time I pass up a snack :)

  • Debbie

    I did a Whole30 for the month of April and I haven’t looked back since! I have fully adopted the paleo lifestyle since then because I feel better, the weight is falling off, and eating this way is best for me (eating Paleo helps manage my PCOS symptoms, like weight gain and irregular periods). I am hopeful that this lifestyle change will help me to get pregnant as I have been dealing with infertility for the past year. Being on this path to health and is invigorating. It feels like all the advice I had been given in the past about weight loss were all wrong for me. Living this way is difficult but I am so encouraged by the changes in my body, my energy, and my sugar cravings. Hang in there through the hardest days, and you’ll see the changes in yourself. You have so much to gain.

    • Debbie

      Also—-check out the “MyPaleoPal” app on iphone. It’s like instagram for Paleo and Whole30 living. You post photos of your meals and you can get ideas from others on there. If you join, you can follow me and see what I eat—I’m sunnydebs on there. :-) You can do this!

      • I hadn’t heard of that app but I’m off to check it out! Sounds right up my alley :)

  • Tracey Robinson

    I am on day 17 of my third Whole 30. The best thing you can do is plan out all your meals. I have always planned dinner but having to plan and prepare breakfasts and lunches was a change. I too am fighting the sugar dragon but this go around has been much easier. I think because I have been eating more fats this time. I also did a lot fewer recipes and kept it simple with grilled or roasted meat/poultry/salmon and veggies. My go to snack is a banana or apple with a nut butter. Filling and tasty. Good luck!

    • Love the idea of keeping it simple, Tracey! I’m on day 7 right now and am definitely feeling the effects of eliminating sugar completely. Looking forward to a couple of weeks from now when I’m over the cravings and headaches :)

  • Sharron Powers

    I did my Whole30 in May and with the exception of butter I have pretty much maintained the Whole30 lifestyle. Admittedly I had ice cream (and enchiladas) when my grand-daughter was visiting but it was easy and seemed ‘normal’ to get right back on the Whole30 train afterward without difficulty.
    I am 70 yo and suffered for years with chronic pain and IBS. In the past year I started on thyroid and cholesterol meds. I also gained some weight over the winter – the highest I have ever been and it was this combination things that led me to Whole30. Even after all this time, I can’t say my energy levels have improved to any great extent but one thing is certain – my chronic pain has reduced quite a bit and my IBS has also improved! I just had some blood work to determine if I can reduce or eliminate my meds… I’m hopeful. I’ve lost only about 14 pounds but again I’m hopeful more will come off with time. I’m not very active so any weight loss is welcomed.

    I think at this point I need to do a little more research on meals plans & ideas as I’m allowing myself to get bored and therefore lazy with cooking and eating! I’ve been sick as well which no doubt has added to my malaise.

    I look forward to following your journey and hope it will reignite my fervour in this area! Good luck on your journey!

    • Thank you Sharron! I love that your chronic pain and IBS have improved… I’m not experiencing significant energy boosts yet either, but I know it’s coming like it did when I went Paleo earlier this year.

  • Ekat

    On day 5 of my first round! Started on Monday but actually started weening things out about a week and half ago doing Whole30 90% of the day, that way I wouldn’t go into shock on Day 1. I am glad I did and I am following the program 100% now. I am a little worried for the weekend just because I usually struggle during that time. Any tips would be appreciated! Ty!

    • Hi Ekat! I’m pretty new to this as well… day 7 today! My biggest take-away so far is preparation, preparation, preparation! Every time I cook, I make enough to last me for the next few days. I keep “emergency foods” (apples, nuts & bananas) on hand in case I get a craving. I’ll be posting my one week update tomorrow with a few more tips and recipes as well :)

  • Love that you’re doing this and every time I see your bullet journal…swoon…keep up the amazing work =)

    • Thanks Marina! I’m pretty stoked about how it’s going so far. Trying to finish up 2015 strong with major lifestyle improvements for the year :)

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  • Erin Kascsak

    Thank you so much for posting this. It is such good motivation! I am starting my Whole30 on October 1st. I like how the book advised to look ahead for any big events coming up and October seems to be pretty safe. I love food, I love eating and I love the taste of food. I am really hoping that this program will stick. I have taken the advice of the book and am following them on all social avenues and then somehow came across your blog. I’m very excited to catch up on your recent blog posts. Thank you for your inspiration! I’ll be adding your spreadsheet in to my new life planner! :)

    • You are very welcome, Erin! I think the key to making Whole30 “stick” is to embrace it as a lifestyle change instead of just another diet. I will be reintroducing certain foods one at a time to see how each one affects my body but for the most part I plan on sticking with the Whole30 way of clean eating from now on :)

  • Claire Holgate

    Good luck with your 30 days Kara. And swoooooon, your bullet journal is amazing & so neat… I am hoping to get myself going with this very soon and shall aspire to your level of neatness!

    • Aw, thanks Claire! You should check out the “Bullet Journal Junkies” group on Facebook… SO much planner inspiration! :)

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  • 歐買馥

    your journal is so neat!