30 day Social Experiment

I recently undertook a social experiment on myself in partnership with my good friend Grace. Through my whole health journey I have dealt with the ongoing conversations of desire and craving for particular foods. Usually it's sugar, but sometimes it's cheese or dairy. But when I look back there has consistently been some conversation around food and what I "should" and "shouldn't" eat, everyone has some opinion on it and usually it's directed at someone else. It's so ingrained in our society that particular foods are bad and others are good.

Throughout my journey I have always believed, and still do, that being on a diet DOES NOT WORK. That being said we all HAVE a diet, that is distinct. Let me say it again, we all HAVE a diet, but we don't need to BE on a diet. We all eat, we all have a relationship with food, we all have a diet. So when people say i'm going to do X diet or Y diet it kind of makes my skin crawl, i'm very anti-diet. What I am a fan of though is evaluating your own body and learning what works and doesn't work for you and that is why I took on this recent social experiment. Grace had done a program called Whole 30 which is basically a gut reset where you eliminate all inflammatory foods and just eat real food, this included eliminating diary and soy of which I ate quite a bit. At first I was resistant to this because it almost sounded like a diet, but when I realized it wasn't, that you aren't intended to be on it long term, I was able to shift my context. For 30 days I did not eat any soy/dairy/gluten/sugar/grains and it was actually amazing. I'm not going to lie, for about 5 days I was not the happiest camper, but after about 5 days I felt great. The other amazing thing is you don't weigh yourself. It's a fully mental challenge of learning to listen to your body again and not relating it to a number on the scale.

The interesting thing with this social experiment was that it wasn't just about NOT eating particular foods, you were also practicing a whole new level of mindfulness in what your triggers were around food and forced to check in with yourself. I had honestly never asked myself the question "what is the context in which you want to eat that apple?". Apples were a "compliant" food on this plan, but if you asked yourself "why do I want the apple" and your answer is something like "i'm bored, tired, want sugar" etc. then don't eat it. It was no longer about what I "can" or "can't" eat, but rather, why am I eating. I have to say I have never brought this level of mindfulness to my diet at any time. I even hosted Abi's birthday right in the middle of this social experiment and didn't even crave the cake.

Here's a few things I took away from it:
1. There are so many internal conversations around eating that I need to be responsible for and not let just run the show. Conversations such as "i'm eating to avoid X". This is an ongoing practice.
2. I am proud of myself for sticking with this program the entire 30 days, it was a reminder that I can keep my word to myself (which often is the first place I break my word).
3. I enjoyed the taste of vegetables again, oh I ate so many vegetables.
4. My body responds to not eating dairy. This is a double edge sward because I so love cheese! But I will continue with no dairy, except the occasional cheese as long as it has the right context and isn't to fill some void.
5. I can be amazingly creative in the kitchen when I put my mind to it. I tried some delicious recipes that I probably would have never tried before this plan.
6. I am now in a place that I can stop when I am full and say no to things that don't work for my body. I do not have the experience of craving foods. That being said I do have the experience of "wanting" foods but that is more mental and something that I will continue to work on.

Though the experiment is over, it doesn't mean going back to my old ways. I will continue with most of the practices and the most important one is checking on the context when I go to eat. The focus is on eating to nourish not to fill.


Erin Rose said…
Great post Bri! I did Whole30 last October and I’ve stuck with a number of habits I picked up from it. I also stopped a number of things that made me feel really good, and I’ve been thinking about planning to do another one. I love the program and mindfulness it brought into my eating.
Bri Westhaver said…
Thanks Erin, I think I may do another round in a couple months as it feels really good. Let me know if you decide to do it, maybe we can do it at the same time.
Jaime said…
I love how you have explained this! I have done 2 Whole 30 - the first was very tough, but the second I just breezed through and truly enjoyed. I really quite love Melissa Hartwig and her tough love approach to 'food freedom'. Congrats!
Juniper Grace said…
So good Bri! I was very pleased to have such an amazing buddy to do this with! The results are real and positive in so many ways than just the number on the scale. I love the way you sum up the journey we are all on with our diets!
Anonymous said…
Love this and you! No one way of eating or being works for every body, it takes courage, time and practice to find your happy place. Nourish that beautiful baby making body! Xo

Popular Posts