Bloated? Acne? Sluggish? Have trouble sleeping? Irritable? Lack of motivation? It is quite possible that all of these things are coming from one thing: poor gut health and inflammation. For a while, I could NOT figure out what was going on with my body. It seemed like it was literally falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it. My skin was breaking out uncontrollably, I felt puffy all over and constantly bloated, I had NO energy and my back pain was getting worse, and I had little motivation to do anything. This all started about 8 months ago when I decided that I wanted to do everything as naturally and holistically as possible, and this included going off of birth control. In case you don’t know, there are SOOOOO many negative side effects that can happen from birth control and I did not want anything to do with those…..so off the pill I went.
When I was really young, I was put on birth control for monthly regulation and acne control. Needless to say I was on the pill for a really long time, so when I went off of it, my body freaked out. My hormones had no idea what to do now that the support (that was there for so long) was gone.
My acne started getting waayyyy out of control and I just didn’t feel like myself physically or mentally. As dancers, this really puts a hold on our progress because we can’t perform optimally if our bodies are tired and our confidence is gone. I tried every type of natural “acne remedy” including this crazy beeswax and coconut oil concoction….not good. It was around this time that I started reading more about how a lot of these problems could actually come from the health of our gut and why the foods we consume can really affect our skin, hormones, mood….basically everything. At this point, I was ready to try anything. I gave up gluten and dairy for a while to see if that would help because obviously those are the two biggest inflammatory foods that affect people negatively. This might have helped some, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Then I had a friend tell me about this Whole 30 plan where basically for 30 days you eliminate all foods that could inflame the gut.
How in the world was I supposed to give up all gluten, dairy, sugar, grains….basically anything that makes eating fun…..for an entire month? Pshhhhh.
But like I said, at this point I was desperate. The more I researched, the more it sounded like something I really needed to do. So many people had results healing the things that I personally needed fixed, and I simply just wanted to feel like myself again.
So I read the book, did some weekly meal planning, bought groceries, got the GUTS, and decided to do the thing. It’s amazing because the book lays out everything you need to know, any problems that may (and WILL) arise during your 30 days, how you will feel on each day…..it’s kind of scary how accurate the layout is.
This is how the plan works:
- 30 days eating meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, and natural fats
- 30 days NOT consuming sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy
- A 10 day reintroduction period of these “off- limits” foods to determine which foods negatively affect you the most (causing the problems that made you start in the first place)
It was hard you guys, not gonna lie. I have a massive sweet tooth and Stevia basically ruled my life. I’m not joking, 2 out of my 3 meals each day consisted of some type of sweet and grain. No wonder my gut was all messed up. I was eating like 1 serving of veggies a day and little protein. The Whole 30 was great for so many reasons, but it really showed me how much sugar I consumed on a daily basis and that I really don’t need half that much. I did cave in halfway through and add Stevia back, but only because I missed coffee so much and couldn’t drink it without it. But other than that, I made it through the 30 days with no cheats. I was incredibly proud of myself. Until Whole 30, I thought I was eating healthy, but really, was relying on hidden sugars, packaged “healthy” snacks, and grains as my daily source of fuel. Whole 30 makes you incorporate REAL foods like meat, veggies, and spices into amazing meals that makes you realize how good these things can be if you know how to pair and cook them together. (All the recipes from the book are DELICOIUS)!
I did most of my cooking at home, but it is possible to eat out on this plan; you just have to do your research before. I think I only ate out 3 or 4 times total, but the restaurants I went to had options that fit all the Whole 30 standards and were incredibly delicious! Remember, you can always modify dishes when you go out and do things like pack your own dressing or sauces if they have only simple/boring options.
How you feel throughout the 30 days goes from really low, to pretty great. When your body has been used to eating in these unhealthy patterns for so long, you will get worse before you get better. All of this is laid out in the book but I just want to prepare you. My acne got worse, I felt even MORE sluggish, and I almost gave up. But I didn’t, and I’m so so so glad. By the end of the 40 days (Whole 30 and then 10 days of re-introducing foods) here’s what happened:
- My acne started clearing up
- Constant bloating went away
- More energy
- Learned how to cook various types of REAL food vs. fake and packaged food
- Saw what foods affected me the most in a negative way (gluten, dairy, sugar)
- Slept better
- Realized how much our gut health impacts our entire life
- Simple is better
- Learned what ingredients to AVOID on labels
- How to eat until your full, not stuffed
All of these benefits are more than enough to recommend the Whole 30 program to any dancer, or any person in general who wants to reduce inflammation in your body and improve gut health. They didn’t all happen right away; it’s a gradual process and you still have to take care of your body in other ways like regular exercise, recovery, supplements…..anything YOUR body specifically needs to function at optimal pace. Food isn’t everything, but it does have such a huge part in the way we live our lives.
As dancers, we are always on the go and needing quick and healthy things to pack with us for our busy studio days that will give us energy and keep us full. There are so many amazing Whole 30 approved recipes and snacks that are easy to prepare, pack, and eat on those busy days. Our bodies are what we use to share our art, but the protein shakes, granola bars, and lattes will not sustain us for long. WE NEED those real foods to keep our bodies strong for the long haul. Also, for those of us on a budget, this plan is fabulous because buying real foods is actually more inexpensive than buying all the packaged goods, especially after you have all of your basic cooking oils and spices stocked up.
I recommend just giving it a go! You have nothing to lose, and even if you just gain one or two of the benefits I listed above, that’s one or two more steps to feeling better than you do now.
I have included some of my go-to recipes, ingredients, and snacks below. If you have any questions about this program please feel free to reach out! I’m more than happy to share all my knowledge with you.
- Apples and Almond Butter (snack)
- RX Bars (snack)
- Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing
- Primal Kitchen Mayo
- Coconut Curry Chicken (Whole 30 Book)
- Roasted Veggies (Whole 30 Book)
- Coconut Cauliflower Rice (Whole 30 Book)
- Beef Brisket with Roasted Butternut Squash (Whole 30 Book)
- Scrambled Eggs with Garlic Salt, S&P, Spinach, and Diced Avocado
- Salsa (Whole 30 Book)
- Italian Dressing (Whole 30 Book)
- My Tuna Salad (Tuna, Primal Kitchen Mayo, Celery, Carrots, Raisins, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, on Spinach)
- Lemon Tahnini Dressing (recipe here)
Eat more veggies=Dance much longer,
Ashlyn Tori <3