Lessons from Whole30


Last summer was less than fun. The Lord sustained us through a whirlwind, from the moment I finished the school year until just about the moment I went back to work. We moved. We traveled. Family situations occurred. Our sweet, 13-year-old pug had two major “incidents” that required rest and recovery. When August arrived, I was exhausted.

In the back of my mind, I wondered: More exhausted than I should be?

Ultimately, I decided that, yes, I was more tired than I should be at my age. (I count not being able to walk from room to room without needing a nap as “too tired”.) With a new school year looming, I knew something had to change. In my state of health, I would never have been able to survive it. After some research, I opted to try Whole30. At first glance, it felt drastic. But I’d already scaled back to such a limited diet anyway, that it didn’t seem like a sacrifice too gargantuan to make. At the end of July, I took the plunge.

Within a week, I felt like a new person. Each day, I could feel my inflammation reducing and I had increased energy.

The Lord taught me so many things during those 30 days. It’s been almost six months since I finished my Whole30, and, since then, I’ve essentially settled on the plan that makes me feel best: a modified AIP Paleo diet.

What have I learned on this little adventure?

I was shocked and appalled at how much of the American diet is involves sugar. Recently, I joined a friend on her first Whole30 grocery trip. I saw it on her face when she realized she could eat nothing that had been processed—because just about everything contains sugar. I remember that exact feeling, and it’s jarring. To this day, I wonder how we arrived at this place, with a food system built on sugar. (If you’ve never, please ponder that for a bit. Perhaps even read labels more closely the next time you’re at the store. It’s overwhelming!)

Processed sugar genuinely does impact my body and health. I can literally feel the inflammation as it builds and subsides, if I eat sugar. (Best option: Don’t eat sugar.)

God gave us delicious, nutritious, whole foods with which to nourish our bodies and to sustain them. Yet my heart felt entitled to things like chocolate cake. When I stopped eating processed sugar, the first thing I noticed was that naturally sweet things tasted almost too sweet. Eating a banana, for example, was a bit of an adjustment. I had never realized how sweet a banana actually is, because my body was accustomed to the extra-sweet taste of processed sugar. Now, it’s rare that I crave sugary-sweet things. Fruits are sweet enough. But the bigger lesson was that I don’t deserve to be able to eat everything I want, whenever I want it! I am to be content with what the Lord provides and approach each meal as a physical manifestation of His provision. A grateful heart was cultivated through my Whole30.

In the kitchen, I tend to make things too complicated. At the beginning of my Whole30, I scoured Pinterest for slow-cooker recipes and other concoctions that would mimic my favorite comfort foods. But I quickly realized that a) that wasn’t the point of Whole30 and b) I was working much too hard! Why did my heart push against a simple meal of meat with a couple of vegetables? To this day I have no idea. It’s so simple and easy, and I still cook that way today as a result of my Whole30.

Danielle Walker of Against All Grain is an AIP Paleo girl’s best friend. It is a fallacy that grain-free foods are gross. For my birthday, I was given Walker’s cookbook, titled Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. AMAZING! Every recipe we’ve tried is straightforward, hearty, and delicious. She makes specific modifications for those on the AIP protocol, which is a tremendous help. Even if you’re not on a Paleo diet, you should check out her website. This girl has talent in the kitchen.

My food-discipline is directly impacted by my spiritual-discipline, and vice versa. If I allow my self-control to wane in one of these areas, the other will also suffer. Also, I’m not nearly as naturally-structured as I perceived myself to be. The level of structure this plan required was/is all grace, all the time.

Finally, God is sufficient for all things. Whole30 is definitely not the only reason I know and confess that God is sufficient. But it was a good and timely reminder.

Overall, the Lord used this ultra-restricted diet plan to grow me in self-control, gratitude, and submission to His plan for my life. Despite any failings I have in the food choices I make—yes, that happens!—this growth makes my time on Whole30 a success.

Have you done the Whole30 program? Do you follow a special diet of any kind?  I’d love to hear how your life was improved through a change in diet It’s always encouraging to hear how the Lord uses His creation (food) to heal.

Soli Deo gloria,







2 responses

  1. susanannejohnson | Reply

    Ashley, you have inspired me to do the Whole 30. Johnny and I both need to lose weight. We have many of the other issues that can be improved by doing this. I’ve already downloaded the book. Thank you!!!!!

    1. So exciting! Let me know how it goes! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: