What I Learned from Whole30

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It's been a few weeks since I finished up my Whole30 diet.  I made it the entire 30 days without sugar, without dairy, without beans, without grains, and I didn't die.  I enjoyed the diet for the most part, as difficult as it could sometimes be, but I'm not sure it was quite the life changing experience I expected.  What did I learn from 30 days of clean eating?  Plenty.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely (and I probably will).

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Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 Diet seems to be the newest diet craze in the world of the internet.  Whenever I would mention that I was on a restrictive diet called Whole30 to a "normal" non-bloggy person they were completely stumped as to what that meant and I was constantly explaining the diet to them, whereas it seems like everyone in the blogosphere has either heard of it or tried it (or is planning to try it).  I found that difference very interesting, so if you're planning a Whole30, expect regular people to not know what you're talking about.  For those who may not know what the Whole30 diet entails, I'll give you a quick outline of how it works.  The idea is to eliminate all inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days to give your digestive system and tastebuds enough time to come back to neutral, or reset.  You can't have any sugars or sweeteners of any kind, no grains, no legumes, and no dairy.  You can have as much meat, vegetables, fruits, and (surprisingly) potatoes as you'd like - read more about the ins and outs of Whole30 here.  It sounds incredibly limiting and intimidating, but it's really not all that bad.

Thinking of doing your first Whole30?  Check out my Tips for Surviving Your First Whole30 here!

What I Ate

Breakfast:  Eggs, eggs, eggs, and more eggs, with a side of potatoes.  My breakfasts usually consisted of eggs cooked with spinach and mushrooms, some hash browns, maybe half an avocado, and plenty of fruit.  I'm not much of a morning person, so I assumed getting up and cooking first thing in the morning (or rather, getting up, choking down my unsweetened coffee, working, then cooking after Jack woke up) would be difficult, but it really wasn't all that challenging.  It took a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, cooking breakfast just became part of my morning routine and I really liked it.  Not that I switch my breakfasts up all that much normally, but eating the exact same thing every morning started to get a little old until I discovered a Whole30 approved chicken and apple sausage that I could add to the food rotation.

Lunch:  Lunch was probably the hardest change for me to make because I rarely slow down during the day and setting aside time to prepare food rather than just stuffing food in my face was tricky for me.  My favorite quick and easy lunches were sliced avocado with picante sauce and tomatoes, chicken salad made with avocado instead of mayo with purple potato chips, and browned ground beef with sauteed squash and zucchini.  My breakfasts and lunches used to be whatever I could grab and eat the most conveniently with the least amount of prep and clean up, but the very nature of Whole30 has you prepping and cooking for every meal.  It was an adjustment.

Dinner:  My lunches and dinners were usually both pretty similar during Whole30.  Sometimes lunch would be my leftover dinner from the night before and sometimes dinner would be my leftovers from lunch.  They typically consisted of my choice of meat (chicken, fish, pork, or beef) cooked with sauteed veggies, and potatoes in some form.  Other than cutting out rice and beans my dinners didn't look too different from what I was normally eating, but lunches looked a lot different.

Snacks:  I didn't do a whole lot of snacking on Whole30 because the meals were so hardy I usually didn't feel hungry until it was time to eat my next meal, but on those occasions where I felt like I needed to snack, there was always plenty of fresh fruit on hand.  I ate plenty of raw, unsalted almonds, too, and towards the end I bought some approved Larabars that really saved my butt a time or two when I was super busy.

Coffee:  Let's go ahead and talk about the elephant in this blog post.  Coffee.  Coffee is absolutely horrible on Whole30.  There's no way around it.  Unless you already take your coffee black, I'm going to bet adjusting to your morning cup tasting like burnt ass is going to be the most difficult part of Whole30.  I tried several things to try to make my coffee more palatable, but I'm not going to lie, none of them really worked.  Don't get me wrong, I still choked down my morning cup and then still usually had my afternoon cup, too, but it was a struggle.  I found some cashew milk that was approved so I at least wasn't having to drink straight out black coffee and towards the end I started adding cinnamon, but without sugar - ugh - I want to stop thinking about it.  Dark times, people, dark times.

Need more meal inspiration?  Check out my Whole 30 Breakfast Pinboard, Whole30 Lunch/Snack Pinboard, and Whole30 Dinner Pinboard.

What I Learned

  • I can get through anything if I just take it one day and one meal at a time.
  • I don't have to stress eat - there are other ways to deal with my stressors.
  • A diet with so many restrictions is actually easier to follow than one with more wiggle room.
  • Potatoes take forever to cook whether or not you're hungry when you start cooking them.
  • Dishes.  You're going to have a TON of dishes when you cook every meal.
  • Dairy.  I really missed dairy, but I don't need to consume quite as much to still be happy.
  • I actually ate all the produce I bought each week.  Before the Whole30 I'm ashamed to admit how much produce went bad in my fridge.
  • I didn't need to try any of the fancy Whole30 recipes to still have enough variety with my meals.
  • Days 1-10 are an adjustment, but go by pretty quickly.  Days 11-15 pass eve9.5n slower than days 1-10 and things start to get boring.  Days 16-20 speed by and are smooth sailing.  Days 20-30 are torturous.  
  • Dishes.  Did I mention dishes already?  So.  Many.  Dishes.
  • I thought I was eating enough fruit and vegetables before Whole30 - I was wrong.
  • Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING has added sugar in it when you buy it from the store.  So lame.
  • Temptation is everywhere, but it's surprisingly easy to say no.
  • I didn't get some magical burst of energy during the Whole30 like others claim.
  • As soon as I got done with one meal, it felt like I was back in the kitchen getting ready for my next meal - batch cooking would've been easier.
  • I don't have nearly the sweet tooth I did before I started - it doesn't take nearly as much sugar to get to the same perceived sweetness in things.
  • I missed rice, but not other grains or pasta

Results and Moving Forward

I've been off the Whole30 for three weeks now.  I wanted to see how I felt off the diet after being on the diet to gauge more accurately how Whole30 impacted my body.  The very first day I was off the diet, I drove to my Mom's house, AKA, The House of Unhealthy Temptation.  My eating pendulum swung all the way from the most healthy to unhealthy in a matter of days, and continued down the unhealthy path for her entire visit.  I enjoyed eating whatever I wanted after such a restrictive diet, but while I didn't feel more sluggish, I did feel bloated and perpetually full even though I wanted to continue to eat.  I felt stuffed but like I still wanted to eat more.  I don't know if that was because I didn't have to limit my intake so I wanted to eat all of the things, or if was because all the added crap in the food was making me want more of that added crap.  On Whole30 I felt hungry more often, but not like I needed to eat constantly.  I think I'd rather get a true hunger signal from my body, and then eat well rather than to feel full, but feel compelled to eat more.  Feeling hungry on Whole30 was definitely frustrating, especially when I was so used to eating to fill boredom or to stress eat my way through something and never really felt hungry.

Now that Mom's visit is over, I've scaled back on my eating all the bad things.  I've allowed some grains back in my diet, but in a limited fashion, and I'm so enjoying my morning coffee with cream and sugar.  I'm surprised at how much less sugar I need in all things and will continue to try to limit my consumption.  While the Whole30 didn't magically change my life I will probably give it another try in a few months.  I enjoyed it if for nothing more than the challenge of sticking to the program.

Now for the numbers.  I weighed myself and took my measurements at the beginning of my Whole30, and then at the end.  I was really surprised that I lost almost 10 pounds (9.6 to be exact) and 5.5 total inches  from my measurements.  I know some people have lost more and some lost less, but I'm still amazed at those results.  Doing the Whole30 definitely got me over the hump of the plateau I was on with my weight loss this year.  Of course, those two weeks of eating like crap caused me to gain half of that weight back, but what else would you expect to happen, lol.  I've definitely gotten back on track this past week at least.

Have you ever done a Whole30?  What were your results like?  Did you love it or hate it?  Would you do it again?  Let me know in the comments what you think!

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