The Whole30 is one of our favorite ways to reset, and it’s a great way to figure out what foods work for you. But what happens after day 30? How do you maintain the way you feel after completing a Whole30 (probably great!) while working to find balance in your post Whole30 eating? One of our RDs (and resident Whole30 Certified Coach!) Sam is on the blog today breaking down her favorite ways to help you do just that. To start, make sure you follow the Whole30 reintroduction guidelines.
Don’t treat day 30 as the end
Since the Whole30 is a 30-day reset, it might seem like day 30 should mark the end of your journey. But the day after your Whole30 “ends” is really just the beginning. Treat reintroduction and life after Whole30 as a rolling experiment, rather than a set destination. Not only will this help you avoid the pitfall of eating all.the.things come day 31, but it will also set you up for continued success and a positive mindset around your eating habits.
Make sure you do a thorough Whole30 reintroduction
I cannot stress this point enough. Haven’t heard of the Whole30 reintroduction? Head here or here to brush up. The Cliff notes – reintroduction is the 10+ day period that starts on day 31 when you slowly and systematically reintroduce the foods you eliminated, one group at a time. The idea is to pay attention to any negative symptoms (from digestive upset to increased anxiety) you experience from a given food after bringing it back in. This is a crucial step to finding balance after Whole30, and it’s what helps separate the Whole30 from any other 30-day diet protocol. By reintroducing foods and figuring out how you feel with each ‘unknown’ food group, you give yourself the power to make decisions about what to include (and what to limit) in your day-to-day eating moving forward. Just because you respond poorly to a food doesn’t mean you’ll never eat it again, but it does mean you get to decide if that food is ‘worth it’ given the symptoms it induces. It’s challenging to find balance post-Whole30 if you don’t have a good idea of the foods that work for you.
Don’t treat eating (or any healthy change!) as an all-or-nothing proposition
Post-Whole30, realize that your eating habits will NOT be black-and-white, but that’s the whole point of Food Freedom. You don’t need to be perfectly paleo, or always low carb, or always avoid gluten. You should eat in a way that makes you feel your best based on what you’ve learned during your Whole30, AND allows you to enjoy those foods and beverages that you decide are totally worth it. The key is to make conscious, deliberate decisions about whether those items are worth it and you really want them at that moment. Discovering how far you can stretch, while still feeling pretty good most of the time, is the whole goal of post-Whole30 life.
Pro tip from Whole30 headmistress Melissa Urban: I like to think of Food Freedom as the FUN part of this lifelong self-experiment. You can even say to yourself, “How much can I get away with here, and still look and feel exactly as good as I want to look and feel?” If you overdo it on the treats or booze, it’s not a failure, it’s just a learning experience. “Oops, too far! That much sugar and wine does not feel good. Let’s try just a single glass of wine with my meal next time, and dessert ONLY if it’s super-drool-worthy, and see if that works better.” Approaching it from a fun, observational (not judgmental) self-experiment perspective will feel far more realistic and sustainable than expecting yourself to get it “right” all the time.
Realize that you will stumble
I’d be lying if I said that you’ll never fall off track post-Whole30. There will be times where it feels like you’re continuing to make decisions that don’t serve you, or where you’ll have an extended stretch where you keep diving into the candy bowl at work. This is normal, and it’s also manageable. To start, remind yourself that every meal is an opportunity to make a different choice. Depending on how far you’ve strayed from your post-Whole30 sweet spot, you may find that you need to do a mini-reset where you eat Whole30 meals for a set number of days. If you’ve been wandering off the beaten path for a while, this is probably your best bet to get back to feeling great. If you’ve gone on a week-long vacation and simply want to get back in the swing of normal life, all you probably need is a trip to the grocery store or a few Snap Kitchen meals delivered! Get back into your meal prep or pick-up rhythm as soon as you can, & you’ll be back to feeling great in no time!
Focus on nourishing yourself, first & foremost
Our eating decisions should always come down to how food makes us feel, both physically & mentally. Sometimes the shame and judgment we lay on ourselves for what we deem “poor” food choices is worse than the impact of the food itself. Take it easy on yourself, with the understanding that one meal (or even a few) won’t derail your healthy lifestyle. At the end of the day, focus your efforts on nourishing your body and your mind with your food choices on a daily basis. If you eat to feel well, chances are you’ll find a way of eating that works for you.
Looking for a way to find balance post Whole30 reintroduction? We’ve got you covered. Sign up for one of our plans today and get started on the next phase of your health journey.