I could taste food in my sleep. I had dreams about doughnuts and Oreos that were so vivid I woke up feeling guilty. I was miserable and hungry, but I felt good.

My eating habits have never been particularly healthy. When I get home from school, my go-to snack is nachos. I am a boredom eater, a stress eater, an ice cream-after-a-bad-day eater and a why-not-reward-myself eater. The amount I ate and what I ate began affecting my health, but I wasn’t planning on changing what I ate. I was used to eating what I wanted when I wanted it, no matter what the calories.

My mom noticed my fluctuating weight and my unhealthy skin. She saw the junk food strewn across our house and decided she wanted a change for the whole family. That change came in the form of Whole30.

Whole30 is a strict Paleo cleanse created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, two nutritionists from Salt Lake City, Utah. The cleanse serves as a way to “help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract and balance your immune system,” according to whole30.com. Committing to Whole30 means only eating meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts. There are no added sugars, legumes, dairy products or grains allowed in the 30-day span in which the cleanse takes place.

My family began the cleanse the week before school started. We tossed all of our “cheat foods” into the trash and became daily visitors to Ingles Supermarket. I felt empowered for actually deciding to go through with it. My sister predicted that I would break down within days, and I almost did.

The first week was spent ignoring cravings and eating as much fruit as possible for the sugary taste. My emotions were out of check to the point that I had a mid-kitchen breakdown over the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber. The first days were horrible, and I would have traded just about anything for a slice of cheese.

The cravings became manageable by the second week. That week we returned to school, which wasn’t bad at all. I wasn’t tempted by the junk food around me during lunch, but when I went out with my friends to eat and study, I hated everything that I was working toward. While they ordered fries, I got a water and counted down the days until I could just eat beans again. Sept. 15 couldn’t come fast enough.

Despite that, I felt better. I had energy, I was getting compliments on my skin and my mind was clear. By Sept. 15, my last day of the cleanse, my new ways of eating had become habit. I was ready to add different foods back into my diet, but only for variety.

I’m perfectly content to keep most of the changes I made in my diet. I’ve added legumes and non-gluten grains, but I try to hold back when it comes to dairy and gluten. My eating habits are healthier than ever.

I no longer binge on anything, but instead pace myself with a piece of fruit. My family has found healthy alternatives to different foods that could have negative effects on our health, including a way to make our own mayonnaise and salad dressing.

I thought Whole30 was going to be the hardest 30 days of my life. I expected to be grumpy and miserable, but I wasn’t. I enjoyed the change, and I’ve never felt better. That being said, I will never do it again. Life is too short.

By MaryKent Wolff

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