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Now that’s what we call #success. In 2009, certified sports nutritionists Melissa and Dallas Hartwig created the Whole30 nutritional program as a way to reset the body by eliminating certain foods (such as sugar, alcohol, dairy and grains) for a month. Today, it's one of the most beloved plans in the world, with over 175,000 followers and 1 million photos hashtagged #Whole30 on Instagram (not to mention 150,000 delicious meals are just a scroll away). In between tweeting and meal prepping, Melissa, whose new book The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom was recently released, shared five tips for finally feeling in control of the food you’re eating.
1. Negative relationships with food probably started back when you were a kid – but you can get over it.
“It’s really common to use food as love and to use food as comfort. Even as kids if we had a bad day at school, our moms would make us chocolate chip cookies. Because these emotional associations and stresses are so closely tied in with cravings, we end up with this really difficult cycle to break. We crave these less healthy foods. It’s really hard to stop eating them and then we end up with all this guilt and shame and remorse. That only creates more stress, which only promotes more cravings.”
2. Learn to recognize the difference between true hunger and a craving.
“This is the test I like to use. Ask yourself this question: ‘Am I hungry enough for steamed fish and broccoli?’ If the answer is yes, you are legitimately hungry and I want you to eat a meal or a snack. If the answer is no, you’re just having a craving. The average craving lasts between three to five minutes. The most effective technique to calm that craving is distraction. So it is physically removing yourself from temptation. It’s picking up the phone and calling a friend, it’s going to the kitchen and doing the dishes, it’s going outside for a quick walk.”
3. Don’t look at the scale.
“What we found is that that $20 hunk of plastic sitting on your bathroom floor is holding your self-esteem hostage. And you become a slave to whatever that number says. You could be feeling so good about yourself and step on the scale and if that number doesn’t show you what you want to see, all the positive self-talk and self-confidence goes right out the window. We just want to take the scale totally out of the equation and force you to look at all of the other ways that your healthy eating efforts are benefiting you.”
4. Know that it takes an average 66 days to change a habit. (So stay strong!)
“The more emotionally tied you are to that habit, the longer it’s going to take to change it. We chose 30 days [for the Whole30 program] because of the compromise. It’s long enough to see really incredible results, but short enough to seem completely obtainable. You can do anything for 30 days.” One way to make a habit stick explains Harwtig is to write down your goals on paper. Research shows that makes you more likely to succeed.
5. Find support on social media.
Social media has played a huge role in the growth in popularity of Whole30, but it also helps to keep people on track during the program. Hartwig encourages people to ask questions on Twitter, share their successes on Facebook and even post meals on Instagram. “You’re not going to go to our feed and see half naked abs shots and pictures of healthy donuts. You're going to see real people eating real food talking about their real challenges, which I think is so awesome. It gives people this big sense of community.”