Sunday, September 28, 2014

What I Learned from Doing Whole30

A Whole30 is a dietary plan where for 30 days, you eat nothing but eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, fish, spices and fats
(olive oil, coconut oil, and something called ghee, which is "clarified butter"). No grains, no dairy, no sugar, no sweeteners, no legumes, nothing processed and no baked goods made with "Whole30 foods".

Yes, it is as dreary as it sounds.  But actually it's not that bad.

And, just to get this out of the way, I did not follow this perfectly. In fact, I cheated A LOT.  In the following ways.

1) I ate all natural bacon/sausage that DID have some added sugar. No MSG or nitrates or anything like that, but yes to sugar.
2) I ate regular mayonnaise, instead of making my own. 
3) I went totally off the plan for any meal I ate out of the house (which was about 1 meal a week, except for 1 week where it was like 3 meals).  And I didn't follow it for my daughter's birthday dinner/cake. 
4) I did try to make "treats" using whole30 ingredients (see below for details).

Nonetheless, it was still a major and positive change.

What I ate:

Breakfast: eggs, and sausage or bacon (except on Fridays), fruit
Lunch: chicken or tuna salad with onions, lettuce, tomato and nuts along with some sorts of vegetable (roasted eggplant, sauteed mushrooms, roasted zucchini).  Or leftovers if we had any. 
Dinner: meat or fish, green vegetable and a starchy vegetable (potato, sweet potato, winter squash, carrots, spaghetti squash, etc.)
Snacks: nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, shredded coconut

What I Learned:

1) Eating is very much a social experience.  It is EXTREMELY hard to eat this way when eating out of the house.  Which is why I didn't, because I'm not about to isolate myself.  And, I figure that if 20/21 meals a week are whole and clean, that's pretty good.

2) Without dairy and grains, it is VERY hard to do meatless Fridays. Or at least, I feel the lack of meat more.  We ended up eating more fish, which *I* like, but no one else does.  Too bad for them. Actually I made a really good recipe with flounder breaded in coconut flour and everyone said it wasn't too bad.  And, as we eat more fish, I'm sure everyone will get accustomed to eating it more. 

3) Sugar/chocolate has a very powerful stronghold.  Which is why I ended up  making "treats" (mostly combining nuts, dates and cocoa powder to make little balls).  They are actually quite tasty. However, combining avocado, dates and cocoa is not nearly as good. I'm sure if I followed the plan "perfectly" it would have been easier to break the sugar/chocolate addiction.  However, to be honest, I don't really want to. Chocolate makes me happy. 

4) Eating this way is both very simple and very monotonous when you can't afford steak.  That's both good and bad. It's good in that portion control is much easier. It's bad in that can get boring in a chicken again...kind of way. I've had to learn how to cook new dishes, since a lot of our old favorites (pizza, tacos, macaroni and cheese) were out the window.

5) I generally felt very good eating this way..more energy for sure. The only issue is really with eating TOO many vegetables, all that fiber can be a bit rough on digestion if you know what I mean. And, I had less food cravings and less sugar lows and less feelings of being hangry (that's hungry/angry for those not in the know). And it's pretty much impossible to overeat, eating like this..which is probably the best thing about it.  I left each meal feeling satiated but not overly full. 

6). Weight loss.  I know this is what everyone is really interested in.  I did lose some weight.  Probably about 5-7 pounds over the course of the whole month.  Nothing spectacular, but nothing to sneeze at either.

7). Generally my food expenditure stayed about the same. From what others have written it seems as though some people have their food expenditure go down because they cut out eating out, alcohol and fancy coffee.  Some people have their expenditure go up because they are buying more meat/veggies. Mine pretty much stayed the same, although it would have probably gone up if we didn't have the generosity of my parents who supplied us with ample fresh organic vegetables from their garden each week.  That helped a lot. 

Moving Forward: I generally plan to continue eating this way on an 80/20 basis.  Follow the plan generally 80% of the time and deviate it from about 20% of the time for special or social occasions.  It's working, it's healthy and I think it's good for everyone.  I do think I may add in more legumes as many sources say they are healthy and I have never noticed them bothering me.  However, definitely going to keep the dairy/grains limited. 

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  1. Good for you, Amelia! I like how you modified it to suit you. I never got on board with this one, but I've done it in the past. There are some very big benefits, but the negatives (for me) outweigh them. Mostly, it's the feeling of insanity during the first week. I've also only done it for the whole family, so trying to keep kids happy without dairy/grains was the single most nightmarish aspect for me.

  2. Awesome, Amelia! I have never done the whole30 but I do something very similar after each baby to lose the 15 or so baby pounds. Lean protein, fruits and veggies mostly but I have never ever given up cheese because that's just crazy. ;) And I'm with ya - chocolate is so good. Do we really want to live without brownies?!?

  3. I've started going to a Weston A. Price group, mostly for the socialization. What strikes me most about the ones who go "all in" on the GAPS diet or another very strict diet: They just can't handle the occasional meal out or at a social function where they just can't stick to the diet. I can't tell you how often I've heard "I was sick for two days after!" and the like. It's not just at this group, but that's where the lightbulb hilt for me. Real, healthy eating is great, but I want to be able to enjoy weddings and parties without paying for it after. I think 80/20 I can do.

  4. I can definitely relate to the meatless Fridays being SO hard! I found those to be so much harder than normal and on at least one of the weeks I let myself have meat with my sacrifice being all the other things I couldn't eat. I figured that was sacrifice enough! Kudos on the weightloss - mine was around 4 lbs and I am quite pleased with that!
    Here's my reflection:

  5. Congrats! We did something like this for awhile and I can definitely attest to having more energy. I could easily get by on 6 hours sleep without eating grains and sugar.

  6. Wow, good for you. I know I could never manage to stick with this beyond a day or two (not that I'm planning to try).

    Also, I nominated you for a Liebster Award :-)

  7. I eat this way too, albeit I won't give up my wine or occasional chocolate bar. I am celiac so had no choice in giving up wheat/rye/barley but found that I still had residual issues with grain and lactose, especially the grain. If I eat elsewhere I try to stick to it but, other than the celiac issue, I allow for some flexibility. I have always been underweight so I figure the wine and chocolate bars keep me from looking skeletal!

  8. Good for you, Amelia! I'm one of those people who can't get by without grain. I've tried several times in the past to go low carb/paleo but I can't stick with it because it leaves me hungry all the time. I love the concept of Whole30 but I would need to add my grains. So in essence, just plain healthy eating all around and common sense. And kudos to you for being realistic about the diet. In the past I've felt isolated and deprived for being too strict with myself. Years ago I was vegetarian but let me tell ya, you can imagine how isolating that was here in Texas! I mourned for Texas bbq, lol.

  9. Any thoughts on the fermented foods craze going on right now? Pros/cons/historical or health basis/benefits. Again, I'm leary...TB

    1. I definitely think fermented foods are a great thing to make and eat. Historically it was done to preserve the summer bounyy so you had vegetables all winter long. It's the old way of preserving food before you had electricity and freezers. And, I think the good bacteria/probiotcis that are produced are very beneficial.

      I make my own saurkraut all the's super easy, just shred cabbage, combine with salt and mix really well and tet sit in a heavy crock on the counter, covered iwth a "weight" on it (to prevent air from getting in).

      I can't think of a single con of doing it (other than maybe it takes a bit more time), but nothing healthwise.

  10. I keep going back and forth on the Whole 30 thing. On the one hand, I can see why it would be a great way to overhaul my eating habits. On the other hand, I would worry that I would undo all the Whole 30 good the minute after it ended.

  11. I have a lot of thoughts but I'll try to keep this short. I agree about meatless meals being difficult- our last Whole30 week fell during the start of Lent (w/ the two meatless days) and it made me so glad we were almost done! Also, I'm not sure how anyone can fully do Whole30 while dining out except maybe ordering a garden salad w/ no dressing, you know?. I know the W30 creators allowed canola oil specifically b/c people need to eat out at times but are you supposed to ask for a full ingredient list? We ate out a few times and ordered compliant meals to the best of our knowledge, but I wasn't about to send our waiter to the kitchen to check about ingredients or ask if there were sulfites in the balsamic vinegar. ;)


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