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My First Whole30: Results, What I Learned, How I Was Challenged and My Advice

A review of my first Whole30 program including the results with before and after pictures, what I learned, how I was challenged and advice for those considering Whole30.

I completed my first Whole30 one week ago and today I’m ready to share my journey with you including before and after, my overall experience, advice for those thinking of embarking on Whole30 and more.


If you’re new here and haven’t been following along, please read these posts first to get an understanding of why I made the decision to do Whole30 and to see regular recaps where I shared what I was eating and how I was feeling.

I’m Doing My First Whole30
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 1-4
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 5-8
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 9-12
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 13-16 and Thoughts on a “Perfect” Whole30
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 17-20
Recent Eats: My First Whole 30 Days 21-25
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 26-30

So, let’s get started!

I had a really positive experience with Whole30 and it did “change my life” in several important ways. 

When I shared with friends, family, clients and co-workers that I was doing Whole30 the overwhelming response was, “but you already eat so healthy.” I reminded them that my number one motivation for doing Whole30 was to try and find some relief for the eyelid dermatitis that I had been suffering with for over two years. On the other hand, my diet had gotten pretty heavy on the not so healthy stuff over the last few months and my “sugar dragon” as Whole30 likes to call it needed a serious taming.

I think that one of the reasons that I was able to enjoy a successful Whole30 is that I was ready on so many fronts. I was sick of dealing with my eyes and desperate for a solution and feeling not my best self after a very indulgent holiday season. The idea of giving up sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, soy and processed foods for a month and focusing on eating real food sounded pretty amazing to me.

I will totally admit that I gave Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and other similar dietary preferences a little bit of a side eye before starting Whole30 but I’ve certainly changed my tune on that after spending 30 days focusing on eating high quality, nutritious, real foods.

Here are the transformations that I experienced during the Whole30.

My eyelid dermatitis completely cleared up for the first time in two years during the last 10ish days of the program. 


I was pretty sad to see no improvement in my eyes for the first couple of weeks but I knew from reading the book that all hope was not lost and that some things take longer to heal and rid from your system than others. I was overjoyed when my eyes completely cleared up during the last 10 days of the program with all symptoms of redness, itching and flaking completely clear.

I’m still working through the re-introduction period so I’m not sure what the culprit is just yet but my initial thoughts are wine, legumes or gluten. Giving up red wine, peanut butter and sourdough bread all sound equally terrible so say a little prayer for me.

I felt like I was working with my body and not against it.

The nature of my schedule and lifestyle means early wake up calls, rushing around, a lot of physical activity and “being on.” Whole30 was a wonderful reminder of the importance of self-care.

  • In regards to nutrition, it felt really good to focus on fueling my body with healthy, real food that I took the time to shop for and prepare myself.
  • Cutting out wine meant developing healthier ways to decompress. I became one with kombucha, hot baths, hot tea and good books and I loved how it made me feel, both in the moment and the next morning. It feels really good to be clear.
  • I got back on a better sleep cycle. I got back into a nightly routine that included prepping breakfast and coffee for the next day and then reading in bed. In addition to no wine I also did no melatonin during Whole30. The first five days or so were hard and I found it difficult to wind down and go to sleep at night but things improved after. The best benefit was sleeping through the night. I wake up almost every night around 3 or 4 a.m. and worry about everything in the world. Sleeping through the night was an incredible gift from Whole30.
  • My energy was much steadier. I woke up easily and felt great all day long. No mid-afternoon slumps and I completely cut out all caffeine after noon and didn’t miss it at all! An afternoon latte was a pretty regular occurrence for me pre-Whole30.


The quality of my workouts improved and so did my mindset.

On one hand, my energy and motivation to workout on Whole30 was through the roof. I had a killer month in the gym where I saw strength gains, improvement in workout recovery and an overall appreciation for my body, what it’s capable of and how strong it is. On the other hand, I felt totally relaxed about my workouts and took more yoga and rest days than normal. I was able to focus on quality over quantity.

I found total freedom with food.

I think the initial thought of cutting out sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol and all the other things that are off-limits on Whole30 can feel a little restrictive but I took the program’s advice and instead focused on all of the the foods I could have. The very first “good food standard” outlined in It Starts with Food (the book about Whole30 by its founders) is that food should promote a healthy psychological response and to avoid “foods with no breaks.”

I found my options to be unlimited and I never felt restricted, hungry or bored. I followed program guidelines and didn’t count calories (something I never do anyway), didn’t weigh myself and ate whatever I wanted within program guidelines. I actually felt like I ate more on Whole30 than I did before and I felt about a million times better and experienced a huge reduction in overall bloating and water retention.

Now is a good time for before and after pictures.


Before and after from the front.


From the side.


From the back.

These photos are a great example of the power of clean eating and lifting. I actually didn’t lose weight during the Whole30 (maybe 1-2 pounds but depending on where I am in my cycle, how hydrated I am, etc. those are subject to change at any time) but my body composition did change. Most program participants lose a minimum of 6-10 pounds but weight loss was not my goal. A reduction in overall systemic inflammation and an increase in muscle was!

I felt so much less bloated during Whole30 and all of my clothes fit great! I never felt bloated or overly full after eating a meal and like I mentioned earlier, I truly felt like I ate even more than normal. And I worked out less than I normally do.

This is only the beginning of my strength training journey so I’ll keep sharing progress pics for you as I go. I think I did a good job on my own in January and I’m excited to see where I am after a few months of working with my trainer!

The biggest challenges of Whole30.

Whole30 was not without its challenges and here are some that I faced.

  • It requires a lot of planning. Whole30 required a lot of planning in both prepping to start and staying on the program. I didn’t want to waste a bunch of food so I tried to use up off-plan ingredients and things I had on hand before starting. Once on the program I found that I was running to the store, prepping food and planning meals constantly.
  • Giving up the idea that a perfect Whole30 was possible.
  • Traveling is hard. I can’t stress enough the importance of packing your own food.
  • There is sugar in EVERYTHING. Seriously, start reading your food labels. There is sugar in so many products that you would never imagine would need sugar added. Grocery shopping definitely took longer due to all the label reading.
  • We spent so much money on food. I don’t think I ever walked out of Whole Food without spending at least $125. Related, we hardly ate out at all so it wasn’t so bad given the fact we were eating nearly every meal at home.
  • We went through a lot of food. Again, I felt like I was constantly at the store restocking on Whole30 compliant foods, especially fruits and veggies.
  • Most of our friends quit. We started with a group of 23 and ended with 3. This program will challenge you mentally and physically and it can be difficult to undo years of hard-wiring in our bodies and brains around food and social behaviors.
  • My lack of enthusiasm over eggs and vegetables for breakfast. I don’t think my chia pudding and mashed sweet potatoes are exactly what the program founders had in mind for ideal breakfast options.
  • Taming the sugar dragon. Man is mine ever powerful. I probably overdid it a little on the fruit and dried fruit but at least it wasn’t chocolate and cupcakes, right?
  • The misconception around carbs. Even though I was eating Whole30, I was not eating low-carb. People just can’t seem to wrap their head’s around this (including some of my fellow Whole30ers who dropped out). I ate tons of more carb-dense vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash as well as fruits like dates, bananas and apples on Whole30.

My advice to those considering a Whole30.

  • First and foremost is to read the book, It Starts with Food. I mean it. I think it’s key to understand the science behind Whole30 and what it has the power to do for your body. This was a tremendous help for me and I would even cue it up on Audible on days I was feeling a little “Whole30 is stupid, can’t I just have a glass of wine or one small piece of dark chocolate.” It always helped me get my head straight. It’s full of extremely interesting info. That said, it can be a little hard to get through (especially the science-based stuff in the beginning) so maybe consider listening to it rather than reading it if you need to.
  • Get clear about your motivations to do the program. Are you looking to heal a health problem? Do you need to tame the sugar dragon? Are you seeking a  healthier relationship with yourself? Do you need a kick start to lose weight? I highly recommend identifying why it is you want to do a Whole30 and it will help you stay committed. Knowing I was doing this to try to heal my body was very powerful.
  • Commit with a partner or friend. My fiance and several close friends survived the Whole30 with me and it was so amazing to have their support. I can’t imagine doing it without having your spouse/partner along for the ride.
  • Remember that it’s not “Whole rest of your life.” It’s just 30 days of your life. Then you re-introduce the foods you’ve eliminated back in and make decisions about how you’ll move forward with them based on they make you feel.
  • What’s right for one is not right for everyone. This program is not a magical solution for everyone and what works for you post-program will be different than what works for others. Please read this piece from Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig. The Whole30 is all about discovering what works for YOU and reconnecting to a body and mind that feels GOOD!
  • Don’t eat the same thing every day. Many program participants who failed in our group were eating the same thing over and over. You will get bored!
  • Save the common additives cheat sheet to your phone and take it with you everywhere!
  • The beginning is the hardest. Read the Whole30 timeline and know that what you’re feeling is probably pretty normal.
  • I think that Whole30 would be pretty difficult if you a) don’t know how to cook or b) really don’t enjoy cooking. I feel like my love for food and cooking made this whole thing much, much more manageable.


Final thoughts and next steps.

I am really happy that I decided to do Whole30 and I had a great experience with the program. I feel reconnected to my body and the way I fuel it in all the best ways and what a testament to the power of food to heal our bodies by the clearing that took place with my eyes. I’m currently about a week out of the program and I’m slowly working through the re-introduction process. I’ll be sure to write another post about this process in the coming months.

Did I love Whole30? YES! Do I think everyone should do Whole30? NO! Like I said in the advice section of this post, get clear about your motivations to Whole30 and only do it if it’s something that seems like a good option for you. It’s NOT a way to restrict or make yourself miserable but rather an amazing way to take the best care of yourself  in regards to promoting healthy food relationships, proper hormone levels, a healthy gut and healing of systemic inflammation.

I will forever and always shout from the mountain tops that what works for one is not right for all so always remember to stay true to you.

I am happy to answer any and all questions about Whole30. And I’d love to hear experiences from fellow Whole30 program graduates.

{ 91 comments… add one }
  • Hilary February 8, 2016, 5:37 pm

    So excited to read your review! I am now on day 8 and I have started to really see the benefits! The first couple days were tough and I had some major stomach pains but after reading through the timeline I realized this was totally normal and since then I have been trying new recipes and making my own almond milk and condiments, but like you said realizing that there is so no perfect whole 30 has really helped me so much!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 11:02 am

      That’s great! Some of the people in my group had the same issue the first few days. I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  • Courtney February 8, 2016, 5:46 pm

    Hi Jen, I’m glad your eyelids cleared up. With regards to the eyelids being scratchy, did the doctors rule out an autoimmune disorder?

    I work in healthcare and your photos just got me thinking of alternate answers.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 8, 2016, 6:02 pm

      We didn’t go down that path. I only saw a PA at the derm and he just prescribed a steroid cream.

      • Courtney February 9, 2016, 1:42 pm

        Sorry if you already mentioned this, but did you use the steroid cream?

        • Audrey February 9, 2016, 5:17 pm

          I believe in the first post “I’m doing my first Whole 30” she mentioned that she did use the cream but doesn’t want to have to use it regularly because of the long term effects!

        • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 5:21 pm

          Yes, a few weeks before I started Whole30 I got totally desperate and went to the derm. He prescribed Locoid which is a topical steroid. I used it in a short dose as prescribed and my symptoms cleared but then returned shortly after. I used it one day early in Whole30 because they were still bad. I think it’s been a month since I’ve used it. I really would like to avoid it if possible due to the side effects of long-term use.

          • Heather February 12, 2016, 12:33 pm

            Hi Jen,

            I’ve eaten paleo/ completed whole 30s for the last 4 years. I had eczema when I was younger and over the last year, developed eyelid dermatitis as well. It’s so frustrating and I really do not like using he steroid cream that the derm recommended. For me, certain shampoos make it worse. So, an odd question for you, what shampoo do you use?


  • Jenilee February 8, 2016, 6:03 pm

    I am doing Whole30 for the month of April and have been slowly prepping for it! You definitely made me aware of how important it is to be prepared so I’m testing out recipes now! Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 11:03 am

      You’ll be glad you did! Good luck!

  • Christine February 8, 2016, 6:03 pm

    Do you think it’s possible to do a whole 30 as a vegetarian?

    • Jen DeCurtins February 8, 2016, 6:08 pm
    • Juliette February 11, 2016, 3:47 pm

      I wanted to note that the “veg” Whole30 requires you to eat both eggs and fish and is therefore not vegetarian (because of the fish). They state pretty unequivocally that if you won’t eat fish and you use plant-sourced protein instead, you’re not doing Whole30. I felt like they are also pretty preachy and condescending in urging vegetarians to consider eating what they consider to be ethically sourced meat instead of following a plant-based diet. As a longtime vegetarian, that really turned me off – especially where they say you’ll have a bigger impact on factory farming and animal welfare by buying grass-fed/pasture raised meat than by not eating meat at all. After researching, I decided that sticking with a plant-based whole food diet was ultimately more sustainable for my health and the environment.

      To each their own of course, just my two cents as a vegetarian who looked into doing Whole30!

      • Jen DeCurtins February 11, 2016, 3:53 pm

        Thanks for the insight Juliette! Your comment was in moderation but I just pushed it through. So appreciate you taking a moment to weigh in!

  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine February 8, 2016, 6:19 pm

    Wow, I’d say success! You look amazing Jen and I’m glad you feel amazing too!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 11:04 am

      Thanks you!

  • Lauren February 8, 2016, 7:33 pm

    What an amazing journey for you with some super positive outcomes! I am so happy your eyes have cleared up, it gets so sore. I have one day left tomorrow and then I am finished 🙂

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:14 pm

      Thanks Lauren! And a big congrats to you too! Keep me posted on how your reintro period goes!

  • Cate February 8, 2016, 8:40 pm

    Congrats on completing the Whole30, I still haven’t been able to bite the bullet and take it on! I also suffer from eyelid dermatitis though, so if you find out what is causing it during the reintroduction phase, would you mind posting what it is?

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Of course! But just remember it might be different for everyone.

  • Leah February 8, 2016, 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for posting such an in depth review! I have been waiting to hear your thoughts ever since you finished! I am with you on the eggs for breakfast though, I think it would be the hardest part for me & the fact that you can’t easily take them to go in the morning! Is it explicitly stated in the Whole30 book that you aren’t supposed to have chia seed pudding for breakfast? I have been using your recipe the past couple of weeks, and I LOVE it!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:19 pm

      You’re welcome!

      RE: the chia seed pudding. It’s not a “no” and here’s what they say online:

      “These “seeds” aren’t the same botanical family of seeds that we eliminate with grains and legumes, so that makes them fine to eat during your Whole30.

      Tip: Chia isn’t likely to cause you any serious trouble, but it’s not the omega-3 super-food it’s made out to be, either. We explain why in It Starts With Food, but in summary, chia should be treated like any other nut and consumed in limited quantities.”

      I decided at the beginning of my Whole30 that nuts and seeds would be an important part of my survival so I didn’t really worry about all the chia pudding. I just couldn’t do eggs and veggies for breakfast.

  • Denise February 8, 2016, 9:02 pm

    Great review! I follow you on Instagram & you’re such an inspiration (plus I love Golden’s)! I’ve had the same issue w/my eye lids (on & off for years), went to the dermatologist & they prescribed steroid cream (didnt really work & it wasn’t a solution to the problem). I’m a vegetarian & eat pretty much whole foods. I replaced my face care & make-up (checking w/www.ewg.org). The one thing I did a month ago was cut out red wine (sorry to say) and my eyes have cleared up.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Thanks Denise!

      You know, I’m thinking I am going to have to really consider that as well. Have you had an issue with white wine or any other type of drinks or just the red?

  • Kate February 8, 2016, 9:31 pm

    Thanks for the review Jen! Loved hearing about your journey. I am now on day 22 after learning about whole 30 from you, and I can already tell it is changing my life, and has made me start to think about food again. Can’t wait to hear about your reintroduction phase, as I am a little nervous to be ‘free’ of all the whole 30 rules!

  • Dani @ Dani California Cooks February 8, 2016, 9:35 pm

    I’ve been so looking forward to reading this post! I’m so glad you learned a lot about your body and yourself, and that you found some relief from some of those systemic things bothering you for a while. Let food be thy medicine!

  • Chrissie February 8, 2016, 11:48 pm

    I’m glad your eyes cleared up, and you look great!! It was quite an experience for the 27 days that I did it. I definitely agree that it was expensive, but worth it to not be bloated and in such a high stress state anymore. My energy is so much more stable and my yoga practice is much more consistent! I’d love to continue a paleo-ish lifestyle. I’ll be interested to see how your reintroduction goes. Thanks for sharing all of this!!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 8:00 am

      I totally agree with you! Have you done any reintroduction?

  • Erica February 8, 2016, 11:54 pm

    I was motivated to do the Whole30 from seeing your posts and am currently on day 11. The first week was great but this weekend was hard with balancing being social and my Whole30 lifestyle. I’ve officially had to cut out cashews as I have a “can’t stop, won’t stop” relationship with them! I’m hoping that didn’t derail me too much as I haven’t felt the magic yet! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 8:00 am

      I hear you on weekends being tough as a Whole30 lifestyle is definitely not the norm for social activities! I was so lucky to be in teacher training most of January on the weekends! Hang in there. I don’t think the energy and amazingness hits until days 14-20 for most people.

  • Sarah February 9, 2016, 7:34 am

    Thanks for the informative series of posts, Jen. I’m interested in doing the Whole 30 because I too have eczema (hands/wrists for me). My only concern is losing too much weight – whenever I have tried quasi “elimination” diets for my skin issues, I lose too much weight immediately, which I know is not healthy.

    You are also a smaller build person – can you give any advice on doing the program without losing much (if any) weight? Thank you!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 7:57 am

      Hi Sarah – that is a totally valid concern. Here are a few things I did to make sure I was meeting my caloric needs and not losing weight:
      1) Lots of healthy fat and more than I normally eat. For example, with lunch I would do half an avocado on my salad with some nuts and also use olive oil for the dressing + an afternoon snack of apple and almond butter. I definitely ate 2-3 servings of nut butter a day!
      2) Generally upped portion sizes. I think my parents were surprised by how much I was eating when I went home to visit!
      3) Made sure breakfast was at least 500-600 calories to get day started right.
      4) A little more protein than normal with every meal. I really tried to be mindful of a good carb/fat/protein ratio with each meal.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Sarah February 14, 2016, 8:55 am

        Thanks! Really appreciate the helpful advice! That sounds manageable for sure!

  • Courtney F February 9, 2016, 7:51 am

    Congrats to you (and him) on finishing your first Whole30! What an accomplishment! And thanks for the in-depth review of your weeks and the program in general. I think you went in with a great mind-set and motivation, and had great results. Can’t wait to hear about your reintroduction periods! Just wondering what your fiancée thought of the program (guy’s perspective)?

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:23 pm

      Hi Courtney!


      He was totally on board with it and really had no problem. He’s pretty black and white with things so he didn’t really struggle with what he “couldn’t” have but ate a ton of what he could! You wouldn’t believe the amount of produce we went through around here. It was crazy! He also had great results and his before and afters are pretty awesome too! And he definitely ate freely on the program like I did. I was proud of him because when I traveled to visit my fam he totally stayed on the program and cooked all of his own food!

  • Emily @ My Healthyish Life February 9, 2016, 8:01 am

    I’m in the process of writing my overall opinion about the program (finished yesterday) and have such similar thoughts. I loved my experience but don’t think it’s for everyone either. The fact that it helped my stomach pain is incredible for me, and all of the other benefits are just bonuses. Loved following along with you.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:24 pm

      I can’t wait to read your review! I am so happy for you that it’s helped with your stomach issues.

      I saw on IG that you had granola this am. How is your reintro going?

  • Kaila@HealthyHelperBlog February 9, 2016, 8:32 am

    Happy you had a good experience and even happier to see you’re doing the re-introduction stage! So many people ‘skip’ that part and just continue with the restriction long term. Not good and not sustainable in my eyes! So good for you for doing it the right way!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Thanks Kaila!

      I can’t imagine not doing the reintroduction period after making it through the 30 days. I am most excited about that part and to really get a clear picture of how various foods impact me.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with choosing to eat this way if it’s what makes you feel your best but I agree that using it as a tool for restriction could be a slippery slope that totally goes against the whole point of the program in creating healthy psychological responses to food.

  • Julie @ Running in a Skirt February 9, 2016, 9:08 am

    What an interesting experiment. I”m so glad it helped your eyes. That is really amazing.
    As a pescatarian, this has never been on my radar (I feel like my diet is already limited.) However, I could def rethink some of my sugar intake!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:26 pm

      I think most Americans could improve our sugar intake. It’s pretty crazy how much of it we consume…even in ways we don’t realize!

  • Christina February 9, 2016, 10:11 am

    Jen, its great to read your review of Whole 30 and your experiences. For me, the tough part was not Whole 30 itself, but what followed. I basically had a new mindset that certain foods were bad and would cause all these health effects on me. I became hyper-obsessed with knowing every ingredient in everything I ate. Maybe it is just my personality – I hope it doesn’t affect you as much. I also noticed no change to my eczema from the Whole 30 diet which was frustrating, but I’m really glad you saw some benefits!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Hi Christina –

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you after the Whole30. I think it’s so important to remember that every single person and their experience with the program is different. I have really tried to stay connected to the four primary goals of Whole30 (healthy food emotions, healthy gut, reduce systemic inflammation and balance hormones) and that’s helped me stay grounded in that this is something I did to heal my body versus punish it. I kind of considered it a “science experiment” and now I’m excited to reintroduce to see how various foods impact me. I like that the book stresses that many of these foods are not a problem for many people and that the program’s intention is not to shame you into not eating all these foods. I have really enjoyed following founder Melissa Hartwig on Instagram and find her approach to be refreshing and pretty awesome.

      Hope that you have found some healing and less stress around food. <3

  • Mindy February 9, 2016, 11:55 am

    It’s so awesome to hear how good Whole30 was for you! I love how much you stress that everyone is different. I find that in the health/fitness world there is a real danger of people thinking that what works for them will work for everyone when it’s simply not true. It’s not true for a lot of things! Everyone’s body is different, whether you’re talking about health and fitness or even skincare and makeup. There is no one way to do things!

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:35 pm

      Thanks Mindy! I couldn’t agree more with you and you will NEVER find me preaching a solution that fits everyone. We are all so very different and what feels good and right to one can be so wrong for another. I think the lesson here is learning to trust and love yourself and to develop a strong inner guide. <3

  • Janice February 9, 2016, 12:48 pm

    Wow. What a great review on your experience. Congrats on making it through the 30 days especially after you watched others stop.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:44 pm

      Thanks Janice! I may have joined them had I not been so focused on seeing if it would help my eyes AND blogging about it! ha 🙂

  • DeeDee February 9, 2016, 12:56 pm

    I joke that it’s actually called Whole30 because that’s how many hours a week you spend on shopping, prepping, and cooking food. I don’t consider myself a person who eats a lot of prepared or convenience foods, and I rarely eat in restaurants, but I guess I was taking more shortcuts than I thought because holy crap. I felt like on the weekends I spent both days cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, cooking again, cleaning again, cooking again. Despite the uptick in energy that month, I was pretty damn tired by the end of the thing.

    I had a very similar experience in other ways, too: ate a lot more than usual, and spent a lot more money than usual. (My normal food budget for the month is $400. During whole30 I spent $671!!)

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:46 pm

      Haha! It’s true. It felt like a part-time job! I agree with you on the prep and the “thinking you already mostly ate this way” and having your eyes opened! Dinners were the easiest for me thanks to crockpot or throwing a bunch of stuff in to roast.

      I feel like I’ve gotten in a pretty manageable groove now where it’s not so time consuming but the grocery bills are killing us!

  • tara February 9, 2016, 1:35 pm

    giiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl you put back images of yourself on the internet 🙂 LOL. good for you. most important that you feel good and your eyes cleared up. i hope for your sake its not wine ! and that comes from a girl that had to give up gluten ! i am still not so sure about whole 30 but you are right…when you have a restricted diet and cook most of your own food you feel like all you do is cook ! at least i do. on most weeks i eat out maybe 1 or 2 meals the entire week. that leaves me with 19-20 meals + snacks to cook every week for 2 (well the other 1 eats out a bit more than me for things like lunch). its been almost 4 years for me and i am still not used to cooking so much and often complain a bit about it. i earn for the old days when i could just stop and eat something and not be the tupperware queen of bringing my own food all over. i think its great you noted that you ate more. when you are restricting actual food groups i think for your sanity allowing yourself to eat more volume helps. great job !

    • Jen DeCurtins February 9, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Hey Tara! Thanks for the comment. Yeah, posting those before pics wasn’t fun but I felt like crap after the holidays and my body felt so inflamed all over. I think it’s crazy the difference that healthy and clean foods can make when it comes to water retention, bloat and skin appearance.

      I CANNOT belive that you have to prep so much food! That’s intense. I was so lucky to be able to prepare most of my meals at home in the kitchen and not take them on the go.

      Have a great week!

      • tara February 11, 2016, 1:24 pm

        seriously your before is my goal ! food prep sucks when you have food allergies and try to stay away from to much packaged food. i tend to cook in bulk. like crockpot pulled salsa chicken that lasts for days. luckily i dont mind leftovers so thats good. it would be awesome to live close enough to go home for lunch and cook fresh vs. tupperware but i guess i am sorta used to it ? probably different if you live in a city that has more reliable GF options but not the case where i live.

        • Jen DeCurtins February 11, 2016, 3:43 pm

          I totally agree with you on the “getting used to it.” I think that making big changes like that the new normal and part of your lifestyle is key to maintaining it and not going crazy!

  • Sarah February 10, 2016, 9:56 am

    You did such an incredible job blogging throughout your Whole 30! Congrats again (I think I’ve said it like 10 times now in various places but seriously, so awesome!), was just curious if you plan to bring smoothies back into your life. It bugs me a bit that a smoothie, made from all Whole30 compliant ingredients, being a smoothie is not compliant. Would love your thoughts – I’m guessing you might send me back to their book haha.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 10, 2016, 9:54 pm

      Thank you so much Sarah! I had so many questions going into it and read so many blog reviews so I wanted to make sure mine was really comprehensive. So RE: the smoothies. I was already trying to cut back on them for reasons of ayurveda because I’m cold ALL THE TIME! But I still love them and plan to still drink them.

      As far as Whole30 goes, they are no smoothies because your brain gets very different signals from chewing versus drinking (one of the reasons I gravitate towards smoothie bowls anyway). Also, they prefer that you not start your day by drinking a ton of fruit because it’s a lot of sugar.

      All that said, while they don’t recommend them, if the ingredients are compliant at the end of the day it is compliant and many people do enjoy them on Whole30.

      Hope that helps!

  • Melissa February 10, 2016, 10:57 am

    Thanks for these great posts Jen! I’d love to do a Whole 30, but it is completely overwhelming to me. I appreciate all of your insight. I think I may shoot for doing it Mid-April to Mid-May so I can have a couple of months to prepare. Does that sound crazy?? Like, I literally need that long to think and prepare and make a plan!!! With three kids, a part time job and a busy schedule I’m worried I’d cheat on day two. So, looking forward to reading back over all of these posts as I plan.

    • Jen DeCurtins February 10, 2016, 9:49 pm

      Hey Melissa – I don’t think that’s crazy. Definitely do your research. Starting a Whole30 Pinterest board really helped me with putting all of my ideas in one place. I CANNOT imagine doing it with three kids. You’ll definitely need to prepare but I bet you can make it work for the whole family. Don’t got into it with the expectation to cheat. You can do it! I’m here for you if you have any questions! xo

  • Julie February 10, 2016, 5:14 pm

    Jen, your Whole 30 recaps have been SO informative! If I ever decide to do one, I will def read the book & come back & reread these posts. I have loved following along in your journey & look forward to your reintroduction posts & learning what was causing the eye problems. So happy for you that the symptoms have disappeared! Also, I am amazed at the changes in your body! You were already so tiny & toned; I can’t believe how much more defined your muscles look after the Whole 30… maybe I do wanna try this thing! 😛

    • Jen DeCurtins February 10, 2016, 9:43 pm

      Thanks so much Julie! I had so many questions going into my Whole30 and googled so many blog reviews so I wanted to make sure to provide a very comprehensive look at the program on my own.

  • Cheryl February 12, 2016, 2:35 am

    Way to stick with it! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Jen DeCurtins February 12, 2016, 8:45 am

      Thanks Cheryl! Happy Friday!

  • Janette February 12, 2016, 3:59 pm

    Great write up! And those are some impressive results, congratulations on all your hard work! I just completed my third Whole30 this January 2016! I also (used to) suffer from eyelid dermatitis (as well as over all eczema) and I found, personally, that my main enemy for dermatitis around the eyes was anything with ‘high fructose corn syrup’. I can have honey and natural sugars but HFCS specifically causes my eyelid dermatitis, even just a little bit, and causes my eyelids to swell. (I also found dairy would cause my dermatitis to flare up.) Not sure if it would be the same for you – but something you can maybe look into! Congrats again! 🙂

  • Molly February 12, 2016, 11:55 pm

    I’m curious to know your reintroduction procedures. I did a Whole30 (actually Whole45) 2 years ago and have been mostly paleo since then. I have psoriasis, which cleared up during my Whole30, but I wasn’t able to figure out what bothered it since the effects take so long to show up (it was at least 30 days before it cleared). Now I’m trying to decide if I should do a second and if so how to reintroduce. Thanks!

  • Chandra February 16, 2016, 3:53 pm

    Hi Jen. I’m on day 1!! I haven’t seen your homemade almond milk recipe or your braised cabbage recipe… Could you please share them? I want to incorporate them since I’m just starting. 🙂

  • erin February 21, 2016, 3:38 pm

    thanks for all the honest feed back with whole30 – my friend, susan, tried it after reading your post about it and she did the whole 30 days and felt great. i’ve always gone back and forth about it & when I do decide to do it, i’m so glad that i have a great guideline from you! xo

  • Stephanie March 9, 2016, 7:48 am

    I love this post! I think it describes the phases of the Whole30 perfectly and I hope the social media team for them finds this or maybe you sent it in?!

    I’m currently on day 29 and feeling amazing, almost scared straight, if you will. I did one last year with my boyfriend but we never actually read the book, so while we stayed on for 30 days, we definitely did not do it right. This time, he fell off the wagon on day 21 so it’s just been me, myself, and I. I agree, you HAVE to read the book. It opened my mind and my understanding of what I’m actually doing on it and honestly, it totally makes sense.

    I am fortunate that I do not have an autoimmune disease or diabetes. However, in December I took some before pictures as I was starting a new workout program and found out how terribly bloated I was and about 10lbs over my average weight. Sometimes we don’t even notice it when we spend so much time indulging, like I was. I didn’t actually start whole30 until February 10th and the small things I was experiencing i.e. Heartburn, bloating, minor skin irritation on my arms, are gone. Completely. I feel healthy, clear headed, and my workout results are incredible. I wouldn’t feel too guilty about your breakfast, as I understood in the book, if you’re working out, I think there’s a little more give there. I’ve been enjoying a breakfast porridge every morning for two weeks because honestly, I can’t stomach eggs in the morning. So I add them to my lunch and or dinner. I’ve also had more fruit than they recommend, but I run and do hiit workouts so I truly don’t feel bad about it.

    Anyways, great post! I’m afraid that the dairy may be the culprit of my heartburn, so I feel you on your woes. Luckily I am thoroughly enjoying the coconut milk so maybe I can deal with it.

  • Rachel March 18, 2016, 11:55 am

    I have EXACTLY the same dermatitis on my eyelids and under my eyes!! I am going to give this a try. My derm also prescribed a steroid cream, but told me to only use it for 10 days max. I’m so glad I came across your blog!!!!

  • Lindsey April 29, 2016, 11:35 pm

    I get the same thing around my eyes and even around my nose and mouth! i tried a million things to fix it! I used calendula california baby ointment and it cleared in a couple days!

  • Heidi May 10, 2016, 4:01 pm

    Hi! I’m curious to know if you ever figured out what caused your eye dermatitis. I suffered from similar symptoms and I thought it was just an allergy to eye shadow, so I quit using most of it. I also noticed that it flared up when I cried, like I was allergic to my own tears. I am almost finished with Whole30 and I noticed about a week into it that the couple of times I wore eye shadow and/or teared up or cried over something, I had no reaction. I wasn’t sure if Whole30 had anything to do with it, but after reading your blog, I’m thinking maybe it’s something that I quit eating or drinking as part of the program. I know it can be different for everyone, but I’m curious. I’ll be interested to see what happens during the reintroduction!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 10, 2016, 4:26 pm

      I wish I could say that I did but I really didn’t. The Whole30 did give my system the break it needed to heal though and I haven’t had another bad flair ever since. I think maybe it was just overall systemic inflammation. I’ve cut way back on dairy since Whole30. It has helped my skin (mostly in regards to breakouts) so much. Sorry I can’t be more help! Good luck. It’s so frustrating.

  • Katherine Armstrong October 23, 2016, 8:43 pm

    Hey! It’s been quite a while since this post but I was wondering if you were ever able to link what was causing your eyelid dermatitis… like so many of the other commenters, I have it as well.
    I am going to start the Whole 30 tomorrow and hope to see positive results as well! Thanks for your thorough reviews.

    • Jen DeCurtins October 23, 2016, 9:25 pm

      Hi Katherine,

      No, I wish that I did. I still struggle with it and Whole30 was the only thing that brought relief. Honestly, I think it’s a gut health issue/yeast imbalance in my body but I haven’t been able to find the right person to help me fix it. 🙁

      I am a HUGE proponent of the Whole30 and totally think you should do it. I definitely will again. I felt so good on it and after it.

  • Caitlin January 2, 2017, 6:35 pm

    Hey Jen! Thanks for the great post! So much of this resonated with me and my experience with the Whole30 (I did it last year). I just wrote a blog about it too at multipointliving.com! 🙂

  • Kim January 17, 2017, 9:12 am

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll bet it’s the peanuts that are causing your eye dermatitis. Have you been to an allergist? I found out that peanuts were causing my eczema.

  • Melissa January 23, 2017, 10:55 pm

    I so enjoyed reading your article.
    I am currently on day 23 and I have never felt better! I write daily what I am eating and at the same time researching the benefits that each item gave. Just amazing to know what our body craves! Instead of US feeding our bodies carelessly without any nutritional guidelines whatsoever, our body gently guides us along to grow into our healthiest person.
    My body thanks me everyday. The changes in my body and above all, in my mind are priceless.

  • Sharon March 3, 2017, 4:09 pm

    I’m super late to the party commenting here, but I found your blog today through a Google search for Whole30 and wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post (and others). I am on day 13 of my first Whole30, and unlike you, my eating habits pre-Whole30 were pretty terrible: standard American diet, eating out or pre-packaged foods almost every meal. My weight and overall health reflect that diet.

    Not quite two weeks in, I am feeling better than I have in years. I have much more energy (and much more consistent energy levels); my focus and concentration are better; my moods are better; and while I don’t usually cook, I am finding that I am enjoying trying new recipes and new (compliant) ways to prepare foods.

    I think your analysis of the “why” and the need for support is spot-on. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Stevie June 10, 2017, 12:58 am

    Hi Jen,

    We’re headed into our first whole30. I’ve been dealing with eyelid dermatitis for the past 6 weeks and was THRILLED to see that it helped with that. Do you think it was part of a gluten sensitivity? Or any particular sensitivity? I’d love to know your thoughts.

    • Jen June 12, 2017, 9:47 pm

      Hey Stevie – I wish I had a better answer for you but two+ years later, I am still unable to identify the culprit. I just know that when I’m on Whole30, it calms down. It’s SO frustrating.

  • Brenda July 14, 2017, 3:27 am

    Hi Jen, after your workouts did you take anything for recovery? I was just wondering.

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