Over the 4th of July, I was talking to Stephanie about how I have been feeling really lousy. Bloated and lethargic and just generally blah. She mentioned that she was going to try the Whole 30 Progam after the holiday. I had read about it before and had always just said no. freaking. way. But I gave it another once over, and it didn’t sound soooo bad (yes it still did) so I agreed to give it a shot with her. My main motivation in trying it were 1). My skin was a mess. I’ve been having a lot of breakouts and it was overall just dull 2). My knees were constantly hurting and swollen and I know dairy is a big culprit of inflammation. 3). I wanted to clean up my diet and stop with the sugar monster and constant snack attacks. 4). Fine. I wanted to lose a few lbs.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this way of eating, here are the basic rules:
*Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
*Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
*Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
*Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
*Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.
There are a LOT of rules in the Whole 30. A LOT. And they allow zero room for interpretation. They give permission to eat certain foods but not prepare them in certain ways. For instance, you can eat potatoes. But you can’t fry them…or eat commercially prepared chips (even baked) You can use almond or coconut flour to bread your chicken or add to meatballs. But you can’t use it to make tortillas. (And don’t think of saying the word pancake in their presence. They have a real problem with pancakes. Pancake is a 4 letter word to those Whole 30 people.).
So first of all, let’s be clear…in hindsight, I didn’t exactly follow the Whole 30 plan. I didn’t read the book. I made microwave potato chips. I put almond milk in my coffee. I snacked on lara bars and dipped my plantain chips (which I bought at giant eagle) in my guacamole. I ate corn. I read labels but not as carefully as I should. I looked for the word sugar and tried to find foods that were minimal processed with ingredients I recognized. There was some soy in a few things I ate, I’m sure. But I did the best I could and definitely finished 30 days of the WHOLE lot-better-than-I-had-been-eating plan. And I have no shame.
Here were my WHOLE lbtihbe rules:
No grains (I did eat corn. It’s summer. I’m eating corn.).
No legumes (including peanuts/peanut butter)
No sugar or artificial sweetners
And you bet your bottom dollar I stuck to every one for 30 days. Toot Toot!
The first 5-6 days are pretty tough. I’m not going to lie. Not as tough as the first 6 days home with newborn twins after a c-section…but still tough. It’s a lifestyle change and it’s difficult getting used to eating a new way. The hardest part for me was making all of my food. Truly, Lara bars, Pressed by Kind bars and plantain chips were the only prepared foods I ate. I guess mustard, mayo and almond butter are prepared too but I’m not counting condiments as food.
I limited myself to 1 cup of coffee per day (full disclosure…I drink my coffee out of a 24oz tervis cup. Don’t judge). And I only drank water and unsweetened iced tea. And La Croix. OMG, so much La Croix!
I ate a ton of fruit. Berries, bananas, nectarines, watermelon. Probably 5-6 servings per day. I ate a lot of raw, cut up veggies but not a lot of salads. Lots of eggs (scrambled, fried & hardboiled). Lots of “hashes” (potatoes, turkey sausage, peppers, onions). Roasted and steamed vegetables of all kinds. Grilled or panfried meats and fish. And smoothies.
I should have taken before/after pictures. I’m kicking myself for not doing so. Regardless…
I lost 8 lbs. Yes, weight loss was a motivation. And I’m proud to say that I lost weight. My clothes fit so much better and I’m flirting with wearing a bikini for the first time in 15 years. But we all know this doesn’t mean diddly if I put it back on. So I need keep up the hard work.
My skin is glowing. The breakouts didn’t really stop until around day 13-14 but I haven’t had one since. I also switched to a new organic cleanser so maybe that helped too.
My knees feel meh…just OK. I may just need to face the fact that I have shitty knees and my diet isn’t going to fix them.
I’m definitely snacking less. Good grief, I didn’t realize how much I was snacking. Taking little bites of pretty much everything. Cheerios, goldfish, Hershey’s kisses. And hitting up the office vending machine more than I’d like to admit. And I’m actually thinking about what I’m eating as opposed to mindlessly grabbing a slice of cheese from the fridge on a whim.
I’m back to cooking more. Which is annoying sometimes. But I don’t get to eat if I don’t cook and I can’t survive on smoothies. I love to cook though so it’s a good habit I want to continue.
I didn’t eat out much but was pretty tough to do following all of these rules. I had flank steak, grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes. No I didn’t ask what kind of fat they used to prepare the food. And there was some sort of sauce on the steak (I think it was Hoisin based, which is basically sugar) that I scraped off as well as I could.
Do I want to eat this way forever? No. Do I want to keep this as a good basis of my diet. Yes. Absolutely! I’m lucky that I love fruit and vegetables. Grains and cheese are my down fall and I need to work hard to keep from overdoing it. I’m going to reintroduce legumes first. And Stevia…I really want to cut out refined sugar and artificial sweetners as much as possible. Non-Gluten grains will follow and dairy.
You all know my love for pizza. I’m not giving up pizza (EVER), but I am going to eat a lot less of it. As I am someone who thrives on structure and fails when allowed to wing it, my plan for the foreseeable future is to live by the 80/20 rule. With 21 meals during the week, 4 of them can be off plan. Not that I can have a free-for-all, but I can eat normal portions of carbs/dairy/sugar without guilt. So most meals will be still protein/veggie/fruit/good fat. As will snacks. When you only allow yourself cheese 4 times a week, it ain’t gonna be American. My hope is that I continue to really think about what I’m eating and choose high quality food versus empty crappy carbs (yes, I’m breaking up with you Doritos). I don’t believe a healthy relationship with food is one where you don’t indulge on occasion. What is summer without ice cream?! But continuing with this new food mentality will make me appreciate what I’m eating a lot more.
I’m really happy Stephanie convinced me to give this a shot. She stuck to the true plan and is basically a rockstar! I came close enough to be proud of myself. I’ll check in next month to let you know if I’ve stuck to my new habits.