Our family began the adventure of finding an intentionally healthy lifestyle that could fit a family of eight both in cost and in dietary needs. Several people had recommended Whole 30 as a good way to hit the reset button on health, and as I researched it, I saw some flaws in it as a lifestyle diet, but decided it would be a good way for our family to cleanse the sugar and processed foods out of our system and establish some healthy food patterns from it.
For those not familiar with Whole 30 (I personally did not know what it was until a friend of mine mentioned it), it is a Paleo type diet, and very strict. All sugar has to be removed from the diet, including sugars in sauces, dressings, and anything else. No grains of any type are allowed and no legumes or dairy. Mostly, it is organic meats with no hormones or nitrates, veggies and fruits, seeds and nuts. And coffee! Thank God coffee is allowed!
This seemed like a good choice for all of us. The meat provided protein for us as we are an active family. There was no gluten in the diet so my daughter would not feel left out because she cannot have gluten. Sugar was totally removed which was a goal of mine for us to cleanse out of our system. Leaving out all the grains is not what I would have chosen but for a short time to get rid of any toxins made sense.
I knew this diet for 8 people could become insanely expensive, and we don’t have extra grocery cash to throw around. So, I began to look for where to get the best deals, and discovered that Detwiler market, which is one of our local fresh food markets in Sarasota, had the best prices (and quality) on fruits and veggies and grass fed beef, and Aldi’s had the best prices on their Never Any brand meat. BJ’s had the best deal on almond butter however, which was essential for us because we are huge peanut butter lovers, and that is not allowed so I needed a good substitute. Detwiler’s is by far my favorite out of all three to shop, and the best bang for our buck. I realized cutting out all the fillers…granola bars, fruit gummies, chips, bread…freed up some extra cash to invest in better meats for the family. Read about my awesome trip to Detwiler’s here.
After cleaning out our house which took about 2 weeks because I didn’t want to waste any food, we removed all the containers in the fridge with any mention of sugar or fructose or even honey in the ingredients, and put them in the garage fridge. We went shopping and filled our fridge with Whole30 friendly foods(see picture). For 10 days we faithfully followed the Whole 30 plan with no cheats. The kids said no at school, with a few little confessions of breaking down here and there. We talked about it the whole time and why it was so important to feed ourselves healthy things. I had a great conversation here with my 4 year old about why we eat what we eat.
We went through major cravings as our bodies withdrew from sugar and then several days of feeling hazy and cloudy and somewhat moody as a family. We all thought we were going to die before it was over at one point. But by day 8 or 9 we were feeling pretty good. Energy was returning, clarity was returning. The only negatives were that my 11 year old son was struggling on the days he played basketball because he wasn’t getting the carbs he needed, and my 4 year old son was losing weight rather quickly because of the diet change. So, on day 10 my husband and I decided we needed to add in a few gluten free grains and some organic dairy for the sake of the kids. We added them on separate days to make sure that none of the kids felt sick from them. We are now on day 21 and have not added the legumes, any gluten grains, or sugar and do not plan to do so until the 30 days are finished.
Once we are done with the 30 day process, we have all talked about how our lifestyle eating habits are going to be different. We are not going to bring sugar back in the house. It will only be for celebratory moments. We are going to keep gluten grains to a minimum, partly because it bothers a couple of people in the family to have it, and partly because too much of it is unhealthy anyway. I will reintroduce legumes and see if anyone has any issues with them before fully re-adding them into our diet. We are making health an intentional lifestyle in our family, so that we have energy to do more and enjoy more together.