Well, my Whole30 month is done. We stuck with the program and ate super clean for the last 30 days. We read every single label on every single thing that we put in our bodies. We ate no (as in absolutely zero) added sugar. We ate no grains, legumes, dairy, white potatoes or alcohol. We ate no baked goods of any kind.
I’m glad we did it. It was a good experience and one we plan to repeat annually for a good “reset.” But I’m also glad it was only 30 days!
We worked mostly out of two cookbooks — Well Fed and Nom Nom Paleo. Both were excellent and had great recipes. We discovered some new favorites and I have no doubt we will continue to cook out of these books a lot. I also got Well Fed2 to expand our recipe options. It’s another great book, though if only purchasing one, I prefer the first.
I wanted to gather and share my thoughts on the whole experience here. Sorry if these are a bit random or disjointed.
My reflections on Whole30:
- It really wasn’t that hard. Sure, there were nights when I wanted a glass of wine, or mornings when I would have loved to take a bite of the kids’ granola bars, but knowing it was only 30 days, I could easily resist those urges.
- People in general have a lot of hang-ups about food. Whenever I would explain to someone what we were doing, the most common response I got was, “Oh, I could never do something that would require me to give up X.” And I’d think, really? Sure you’d have to make some changes, try some new things, resist some cravings, but it’s very possible. And frankly, if someone is that dependent, either physically or psychologically, on a particular food group, that alone is reason to give it up for a while.
- Unless you closely examine the label and ingredient lists of every single thing you put in your body, you would be shocked at all the sources of hidden sugar in most peoples’ diets. Whole30 was really eye-opening in that regard because we read the labels on literally everything we ate. And if sugar of any kind was an ingredient, it was out. That means we had to find new sources for a lot of basic items, like tomato paste, chicken broth (actually we couldn’t find one without sugar, we made our own), fish sauce and rice vinegar. I determined that it was pretty much impossible to find bacon without sugar in the grocery store — we’d have to go to a specialty butcher for any hope of finding that. We made all our own mayonnaise and salad dressings.
- Whole30 is really time consuming. I sewed a lot during my Back to Basics week the first week of June, but after that, I barely sewed at all the whole month. There just wasn’t time. The vast majority of our food prep had to happen after the kids were in bed at night, so that’s how we spent our evenings. It was nice that Albert and I were both doing this, and the hours of communal food prep did give us some good time together.
- Restaurants are not set up to be Whole30 friendly. I had a few lunches out for work during the month, and ordering was a challenge. Basically I ended up building my own really clean salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Not terribly exciting, but doable.
- It was really, really hard to get enough carbohydrates for any kind of sustained cardio exercise on Whole30. Sure, there are lots of carbs in vegetables, but the volume you need for a long run is really hard to get, and they’re absorbed more slowly, so recovery was a real challenge. After a mere 1.5-mile run that left me feeling sick and green for hours after, I decided to put cardio workouts on hold until July and just focus on low-intensity cardio and weights.
- We had to get good at sourcing good produce and meats so that our Whole30 month didn’t break the bank. Buying this volume of organic produce and meat is expensive. We typically ended up going to several different grocery stores to get everything we needed at reasonable prices. And our grocery bills were still pretty high.
- Whole30 was a good way to introduce our super-stubborn, super-picky kids to some new foods. They did not do the Whole30 with us, but I did ask them to try what we were having for dinner each night (and when we cooked on weekends, that was their only option). We also found ways to make some of their old favorites Whole30 compliant. For example, the cookbook Nom Nom Paleo had a great recipe for chicken nuggets. Yum.
What were my physical results?
My physical results were amazing! I never had that “oh I feel totally awesome and energized!” moment that a lot of people report on Whole30, but then we ate pretty clean before. Since January, I’ve eaten very little in the way of grains, dairy and legumes, so Whole30 wasn’t a huge change for me.
Still, completely cutting out these food groups and paying very close attention to all the hidden sources of sugar really jump-started my metabolism and baby weight-loss again. Only 2 1/2 weeks into the program, I had leaned out enough and lost so much bloat that I could fit into my super-skinny pre-N jeans! Not only are all my clothes fitting looser (I’m having to clean out quite a bit now because they’re too big), but the weight loss is really visible in my face and upper body — I look much more lean.
The program guidelines stress that Whole30 is not a weight-loss program, but weight loss was certainly a happy side effect for me. And the best part is that I wasn’t cutting back on the amounts that I was eating (my plate was quite full), and these general eating habits are sustainable. That means that I should be able to continue to work towards my ideal weight and maintain it once I get there!
Also, I feel like my skin is better — i.e. fewer break outs — and my hair less greasy. I don’t know, I could be imagining that, but right now I’m on day 3 without washing my hair and it still feels pretty normal. That is not normal for me.
What will I eat today?
Like I said, Whole30 is time consuming, and there are things that I plan to add back into my diet now that it’s over. Most notably, alcohol and cheese. But beyond that, i don’t plan to make a whole lot of changes from how we ate for the duration of June.
It will be nice to be able to order off the menu at a restaurant or have a slice of bread every now and then. And periodically I will indulge in a baked good for a treat.
But we still plan to take more control over what we’re putting in our body. The food prep should be a less onerous, but it will still be there. I’m hoping we can confine most of it to one weekend afternoon and one evening after the kids are in bed. I’m very much looking forward to having some time to do other things!
I anticipate that my daily breakfast will continue to be scrambled eggs and avocado (as it has been since January), and protein, vegetables and good fat will continue to comprise my lunch and dinner plates. Fruit will still be our nightly dessert. I didn’t miss pasta, rice or beans during this time, and I don’t plan to start eating them again.
Bottom line: Good plan. Great exercise. Glad it was only 30 days. Will do it next year!
(And now back to our regularly scheduled programming! I know the sewing was scarce around here last month — I very much hope to change that.)