Not until I turned 27 did I realize the gut-wrenching truth of what my mom had been squawking about for years. “Your body changes every seven years,” she frequently reminded me for what seemed like my entire childhood. “You’re not going to be able to eat that kind of stuff forever,” she harped. For the longest time, I was able to brush off her insanely irritating warnings, but then it happened. In what felt like an overnight transition, I began to see, distinctly, those unwelcomed developments.
Just a few months before my 27th birthday (like clockwork. Thanks, Mom), I noticed small dry patches on my arms. And like the irresponsible “adult” that I am, I ignored them, wishing the problem away. After a few months, I finally saw a dermatologist who informed me that those painful dry patches were eczema. Over the past two years, I’ve tried various eczema treatments, including ointments containing steroids, but to no avail.
In addition to my skin-care saga, I began to notice that my regular diet of bread and cheese was no longer agreeing with me–specifically, with my digestive system. I used to be able to consume a bottle of wine and entire charcuterie board before my main course. Now, I can barely eat an ounce of dairy without chasing it down with a handful of Tums. I also drink way less alcohol than I used to, yet my hangovers last the better half of a week.
The fun aspects of aging don’t stop there. Every day at 2:30, my energy levels plummet and I become a zombie lady for the remainder for the day. Despite sleeping 9 hours a night and exercising three to four times a week, it’s hard to feel well-rested.
These very evident and negative changes made me long for my younger body. So, I was determined to find a solution beyond the newest, trendiest diet. I wanted to find a fix that actually works, is sustainable, and is going to help me understand my body. Enter the Whole30.
The Whole30 Rules
According to Whole30 co-founder Melissa Hartwig, certain types of food we eat can play an enormous role in our energy levels, skin conditions, weights, chronic illnesses, and digestive ailments, to name a few. In order to get to the root of whatever problem you’re experiencing, Whole30 encourages you to eliminate such foods from your diet for 30 whole days, which will help reset your body. After the 30 days are up, you reintroduce the banned foods, one by one, to see how each group impacts your body.
Here’s a list of no-nos while on the Whole30:
No added sugar (this includes real or artificial)
No alcohol (not even for cooking)
No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
No baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
No weighing yourself or taking body measurements while on the program
On Whole30, you’re encouraged to eat real food with no added sugars or preservatives, like high-quality meat, fish, and organic vegetables.You can learn more about the Whole30 Program on Whole30.com or in the book, Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
My Whole30 Results
During the first two weeks, I noticed my body felt less bloated and my face had this natural glow. Even my eczema was slowly improving. By the end of the 30 days, my skin looked and felt incredible, I lost 18 pounds, and I had so much energy throughout the entire day.
I was able to learn a lot about my body by eliminating foods and hitting the reset button. Since finishing my first Whole30, my mindset about food has definitely shifted. Don’t get me wrong–I still enjoy a cheeseboard and wine from time to time, but I’ve learned that’s OK and I shouldn’t feel guilty about those food choices because life is all about balance.
My biggest takeaway from this experience was the power of listening to your body. It’s true what they say about your body being a machine, and fueling it with nutrient-dense, whole foods makes all the difference.
This Story Originally Appeared On Real Simple