For many of us in Student Affairs, summer serves as a great time to catch up, relax, and maybe do some traveling. The extra time can also serve as a great time to reflect on personal goals and focus on things you want to accomplish during the next academic year. For a group of us, one of those goals was to maintain healthy habits, particularly around food. For this reason, we decided to embark on a Whole30 reset this past August. Our goals were simple: to support each other to complete a Whole30 and to transition into Fall with a healthy mindset around food.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is basically a reset for your health and relationship with food. For 30 days, you eat “real” and unprocessed foods and eliminate common irritants including sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, and legumes. The goal is to eliminate foods that may be negatively impacting your health so that you can experience benefits like more energy, less inflammation, better skin, and so much more. At the end of the 30 days, you plan an intentional reintroduction of foods to find out what works best for your body. All of the resources you need to complete a Whole30 are free and available online.
Support In a Time of Need(ing carbs, or dairy, or sugar…)
In theory, Whole30 is simple. In practice, complicated.
As higher educational professionals we are familiar with challenging and supporting our students. It’s a fundamental tenet of our practice and one that likely seeps into our lives outside of the collegiate realm. How many times have you been engaged in conversation with a family member or friend and found yourself using motivational interviewing techniques? Or how many times have you talked about sound decision making and then engaged in reflective practice to analyze your behavior and outcomes? Or perhaps written a blog post tying a simple diet plan to student affairs practice? See… this stuff is hard to get away from. It’s ingrained in us.
The journey of Whole30 started with some careful planning by some members of our group, and a somewhat capricious jumping on the band-wagon by others (okay, by most of us). To ease the transition to clean eating we decided to hold weekly family-style meals: 1) because misery loves company and 2) because of accountability. At least that was the original idea. As our family-dinners progressed we found that they became so much more than just breaking bread together.
Food is social. Sharing a meal that you prepared is act of friendship and love. For us, during Whole30 it also provided an opportunity to share our experience, reflect on our week, think about the mind-body connection, and honestly try some awesome pinterest inspired meals. During the course of the 30 days we would rotate hosting each week. Delicious healthy meals were prepared and recipes shared. We’d catch up and talk about our weeks, our summers, which stores had the cheapest RXBar sale, and look ahead to the start of another semester. Here are a few of the meals we shared:
Self-Discovery through Mindful Eating
As the weeks progressed, we started to talk more deeply about our own self-discovery through mindful eating. We shared our struggles and personal victories. Our group talked in depth about our relationship with food and how we felt physically throughout the plan. We shared our concerns about reintroduction and falling back into old destructive habits or using food as a coping mechanism. A stressful time was right around the corner, but what we didn’t know was if we could continue our commitment to health and mindfulness during it.
Creating a space to share these concerns and troubleshoot was incredibly helpful. Food gave us the vehicle to share so much more than diet tips. Whole30 asks you to be conscious always. During these 30 days you are:
- vigilant about what you put in your body
- thinking about how it makes you feel
- celebrating milestones
- reflecting on struggles and how to work through them
- focused on a goal
- seeing benefits in real time
How incredible to take this clarity and apply it to other areas of your life!
Life after Whole30
Our round of Whole30 ended in August where we were consumed by student trainings, retreats, programs, receptions, open house and the like. We felt better able to navigate making healthy decisions in these environments where only months earlier so of us may not have been able to be as mindful. The community also remained intact with individuals checking in with each other to see how we were navigating the challenges. We encouraged and engaged in individual and communal self-care at a time where we were being confronted by temptations on the daily; there are only so many times you can say no to free Insomnia Cookies. As we now navigate the fall, our community of care has helped us get through this transition. And, we are currently planning for another round of Whole30 in October.
Want to follow along for #OctoberWhole30? Check out our Instagram pages @Friendsoverfries, @adw183, and @shanoyaconner and let us know if you are joining!
September is the month of transitions, especially on the college campus. Follow #SATransitions to read as the community reflects upon transition and change, personally and professionally. Have ideas about a future series for the Student Affairs Collective? Contact Nathan Victoria on Twitter at @NathanVictoria or via email at email@example.com.