Whole30 has been a wildly successful and trending program for years now. As a Dietitian, I have been asked countless times to share my thoughts on the regimen. While I'm not a fan of diets or excessively restrictive programs in general (more on this later), I do believe self-exploration through elimination and reintroduction is an important component to the nutrition process. I also love any regimen that encourages whole, clean ingredients and improves the overall relationship with food. Whole30 challenges participants to do just that. By eliminating all food groups that are known to be potentially inflammatory (dairy, legumes, sugar and grains), you allow yourself the opportunity to explore your own unique sensitivities, fill your body with the good stuff and assess your food behaviors.

Pain Relief

This January was perfect timing for me to take on a Whole30 because I have been diligently working to relieve some aggravating back and hip pain. I have a bulging disc in my lower lumbar spine that periodically becomes more problematic - something I've dealt with since my nutrition school days driving long distances and sitting in countless lectures. Sitting is THE. ABSOLUTE. WORST. Long story short, my pain flared up again around the holidays, so January presented a perfect moment to focus on reducing inflammation through food. While my overall Whole30 was far from perfect, what I found within just a few short days was profound pain relief! It was a noticeable dulling of what was sharp, persistent pain. I didn't change anything about my workout regimen, stretch routine or sleep position. Surely, the reduction in pain was thanks to eliminating inflammatory foods. Again and again, I'm reminded how powerful nutrition is. The reintroduction phase will illuminate which foods specifically (and it may be multiple) that contribute to my inflammation.

Personal Testimony

I'm asked about my take on products, diets and wellness-related trends everyday, either in a work or personal setting. Often I have a personal testimony to share, but with Whole30 I didn't until now. For me to give my very best on a subject, sometimes I have to explore in a real, tactile way. By undergoing the program, I'm now able to share my personal experience and how it made me feel, rather than just what I've read or have heard reported. For anyone who inquires, I can tell them I felt a steadier energy throughout the day. I didn't experiences high highs or low lows. I didn't feel the need for an afternoon pick-me-up to power through a "crash." I can tell them I had greater mental clarity and less digestive issues in addition to decreased pain.

These 5 compliant products seen above made the Whole30 program so much easier and more enjoyable

1) RxBar Vanilla Almond Butter: I slathered this on dates, bananas and apples as a preworkout snack, pick-me-up and dessert. It's BY FAR the best tasting almond butter I've ever tried. TRUST.

2) Nutpods French Vanilla Creamer: This is an absolute game changer for your morning coffee. It's especially heavenly if you froth it. I added this along with my compliant vanilla collagen and vanilla ghee for a vanilla latté feel.

3) SafeCatch Tuna: I'm obsessed with this brand. I even ate this tuna during my pregnancy, as it has the lowest concentration of mercury compared to any product on the market! This is one of the easiest ways to add quality protein to a meal while on Whole30. I tossed my SafeCatch with avocado mayo, cholula hot sauce, diced red onions and celery for a quick tuna salad that I could dip with cucumber rounds or layer over greens.

4) Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing: I used this as a salad dressing, a dip for veggies, a marinade for meat...literally drizzle it over everything, it's so SO good. I also really love the Tessemae's Ranch. Their products are incredible, so full of flavor and compliant too.

5) Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Aminos: This is a perfect alternative to soy sauce and a great flavor additive for sauces and dressings. I mix this with almond butter, lime, sesame oil and salt for a creamy dressing over chopped kale. I sauté shishito peppers in coconut aminos for a fun appetizer or splash it into my stir fry. If you don't have a TJ's nearby, I also love this one from Thrive Market

Looking Ahead

In the coming weeks I plan to reintroduce and explore how I tolerate the aforementioned food groups. Irregardless of my findings, I plan to continue eating a diet comprised of quality protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Having even, sustained energy throughout the day, better focus, digestion and less pain was the ideal state to kick off this new decade. I have a renewed energy and strength to conquer the rest of the year ahead with prowess. While I plan to indulge mindfully with so many of my beloved foods like dark chocolate and cabernet, avocado toast on sourdough, manchego, beans and will catch me living a mostly dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free lifestyle.

I hope my experience has given you an insider perspective on the program. If you're considering the Whole30 challenge or are just wanting to make changes to your nutrition lifestyle, I am always here to help so don't be shy!

Xo, Kristen

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©2017 by Kristen Marias, RDN/LDN