A Journey Through Whole30: GM Kay Cornelius Talks About Her Experience

Kay Cornelius is Panorama’s general manager, and last fall, she decided to try the Whole30 eating plan. Panorama Organic’s organic, grass-fed meats are all Whole30 Approved, so it seemed a natural fit when she was looking for something to try to overcome some minor health issues she and her husband were experiencing. This is her story.

Kay Cornelius

Why were you interested in trying Whole30?

I was having joint issues and my husband had severe headaches. I’ve also always wanted to lose a little weight. I’m sure my husband does, too. I was really worried about him because he had debilitating headaches last summer where he just couldn’t function for several days. And I remember reading about Whole30. Whole30 isn’t a weight loss diet; you actually remove everything for 30 days and let your body eat real foods on a regular schedule, and then slowly introduce foods back and figure out what your triggers are. So I told him I was going to do it and he should join me because that’s how we’re going to cook. I did it actually to see if it would help my husband more so than me. He didn’t know that, but that’s what I did. 

When did you start the Whole30 program?

I started September 14, 2020, which was also my first day at Panorama. In retrospect, I think “Whoa, could I have possibly done that?” But it worked out well. I really enjoyed being on that diet because it’s just what I like to eat. And my husband stuck with me. He was almost as religious as I was about following it to the letter. 

What did you like about Whole30? 

I found the day-by-day planner they give you really helpful for motivation. Every morning I would read the little chapter about the day and I’d be like, yeah, that’s what I experienced yesterday, or, you know, this is what I think I will experience today. And it was pretty spot on. And gosh, by probably day 10, I was feeling great. And my husband was feeling great. He actually was losing a lot of weight, dropping a pound a day. 

I really enjoyed eating that way and eating pure meat and pure vegetables and cooking them together. And there’s no better time than September when gardens are at their absolute peak for vegetables, right before the first frost when everything is ripening. You always have a bountiful basket of vegetables. And it’s especially nice that Whole30 recommends Panorama Organic grass-fed meat. 

What kind of effect did Whole30 have on you?

I had more energy. I felt more vibrant. After I got through the first few days, I felt like I could tackle the world. I don’t know if it was the diet or the words in the book, but for me, it was really great. In fact, when I reached my day 30 I really didn’t want to go off it, other than I wanted to have a cocktail. I felt like I achieved something I needed to. I was invited to a little kid’s birthday party where they had coconut cream cake and I didn’t even take a taste. When I got through that birthday party, I knew I could do it. 

So I felt better as a result. We’ve slowly introduced things back and we found things that we were fine with living without, like milk in my coffee. I used to be religious about that—I couldn’t drink coffee without milk, but I drink it black now. I realized that I can cook burgers and grill steaks and cook roasts and I don’t need to add those seasonings that have sugar in them. But I do like having my cocktail now. 

I lost 12 pounds, which made me feel good. I’ve gained about six of it back now, but I don’t feel bad about it. I’m not a body conscious person. But I feel good. I feel really good. 

What about your husband? Did his headaches go away?

They did while we were on Whole30. And they did as we were introducing things back and then they stayed away for a while. Now, he still gets them, but he hasn’t had them as frequently, so I don’t know what it is that triggers them.

Did Whole30 actually change your way of eating and looking at food?

It did. I like to eat mayonnaise on a burger, and mayonnaise has sugar in it. One day early on I went to a grocery store to look for no-sugar mayonnaise because Whole Foods said they had it. They have a whole wall of mayonnaise, and at the very bottom by my feet were the ones without sugar. I was turning over jars to look for sugar on the label. Eventually I learned I could just look for the Whole30 symbol. It was the same thing with bacon and sausage. At the meat counter, I just quit looking at labels and bought the stuff that said Whole30. It was very handy to see that, and now I see the value of having that Whole30 on the front of Panorama’s products. It just makes shopping so much easier. 

I thought I would miss pasta, but I didn’t. I really got to learn to love spaghetti squash. In fact, I overheard my husband telling his buddies the other day that he prefers spaghetti squash to real spaghetti.

What was the hardest part for you? 

Particularly working at home during COVID, I would snack all the time. Whole30 is not only about eating clean, but also about just eating three meals a day—a breakfast that satisfies you and then not eating until lunch. You eat something at lunch that satisfies you, and then you don’t eat again until dinner. So it took discipline to not snack or graze throughout the day. 

The other thing about Whole30 is that there’s a certain satisfaction in having something that’s crunchy. It’s not a vegetable; it’s more like the crunchy crust of a good bread or a tortilla chip. Celery doesn’t quite do it. I couldn’t seem to find a recipe that could deliver that. So the two things I missed most were an occasional cocktail and the crunch.

Do you still read labels and try to eliminate sugar?

I actually do. The sugar and the massive amount of bread and pasta we used to eat are triggers for me. I’m not a big sweets eater, but we’ll eat carbs. I realized they made me feel sluggish and a little foggy. If I eliminate those even for a week now, I notice my thinking is clearer and my overall well-being is just better. 

What other things will you carry forward from Whole30?

I like to eat meat, I really do, so I try to fill up my plate with protein and vegetables and very little starch or sugar. I try to avoid snacking and I eat whole foods rather than processed foods. I watch my labels. 

What would you tell others who might be considering Whole30?

I just think that each person is unique, and so is what works for them. This happened to work for me. 

I’m super proud of the fact that Panorama can be part of these eating plans like Whole30 and paleo that are good for the mind and good for your well-being. Everything we do in product development is with an eye towards being Whole30 approved because as a Whole30 person, I appreciate that on the label.