March 14. It’s goin’ down. A group of us are embarking on Whole 30 together and we’re confident we will succeed with some careful preparation and planning in place. If you’re not familiar with Whole 30, a quick rundown of the program is it’s simply eating whole foods for 30 days and eliminating common inflammatory foods, processed foods (even if they’re somewhat ‘healthier’) and crappy ingredients.
You can’t eat refined or added sugar, grains*, legumes*, dairy, alcohol, MSG, carageenan (store bought nut & seed milks, deli meat, etc) or sulfites (dried fruit, deli meat, pre made sauces, etc).
You can eat everything else! It emphasizes eating foods in their natural state and not trying to re-create things like ‘paleo pizza’ because it a. defeats the entire purpose of simply eating foods in their natural state and b. it’s what they refer to as SWYPO (sex with your pants on): it’s kinda good… but NOT VERY SATISFYING. Real pizza vs. paleo pizza? ehhhh, what’s the point.
Here’s a handy shopping list of the things you’re encouraged to eat on the program if you want to take a look!
It’s NOT calorie restricting or counting, weighing yourself, low carb, low fat, deprivation or a diet. You won’t be hungry and you’ll feel good. Just eating real, wholesome, delicious food!
Here’s what I’ve been doing to prepare for this food adventure:
-Experimenting with more ‘Whole 30’ recipes to determine what types of food combos and meals satisfy me (and taste good). I’ve been eating so many starchy vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin and spaghetti squash that I’m probably going to be Jersey Shore orange by the end of this!
-This has been a dry run week before I fully commit. I did a Whole 30 shopping trip and food prep. I’ve done two full days of meals/snacks and immediately noticed that my meals are extremely satisfying and I don’t feel like I need snacks between meals. My hunger seems to gradually build. I also saved quite a few dollars at the at the grocery store from not buying ‘snacky foods’ like crackers, hummus, rice cakes, peanut butter, cereal, chocolate, etc.
^^ The #1 problem in my life.
-Pre-planning what types of meals and snacks I’ll eat during the work week and being realistic AND simplistic about it. I’m going to keep doing the same thing I always do on weekends: cooking a batch of protein for weeknight dinners (usually chicken breasts, turkey meatballs, salmon fillets) except this time, I’ll add more variety since I’ll need to start packing lunches. My work cafeteria has a decent salad bar, but the proteins are usually drenched in creamy or sugary sauces. When I get home in the evenings, all I’ll need need to do is cook my veg side dish (usually a sweet potato/fried plantain and roasted/steamed veggies) and I’ll be set!
-Shopping for dry ingredients at Costco: raw almonds, cashews, hemp and chia seeds to make my own non-dairy milk, chia bowls and trail mix, almond butter (goodbye peanut butter, I’ll miss you/see you soon) dates, canned tuna, salmon, coconut milk and pumpkin, salsa, dried herbs
-Ditching the splash of milk in my morning coffee. Black coffee isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!
-Creating a communal Whole 30 Pinterest recipe board with no-fuss, low maintenance stuff I’ll actually make. I don’t have the time nor patience for complicated, time consuming recipes. How amazing does this taco salad with plantain chips look?
-Clearing space in the pantry for ‘out of sight, out of mind’ non-approved items: tubs of Vega and whey and convenience foods like bars, oats, etc
-Getting my Easter chocolate/other treat foods fix now. Last week I treated myself to some Cadbury Oreo eggs (OMG WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?) mini eggs, hummus, overnight oats with lots of peanut butter, sushi, crackers, green smoothies, Quest bars, wine. My weekend with David was our “one last food hurrah” where we basically ate and drank all the things we love.
If you haven’t tried these, you must. They’re so much better than the original creme eggs! There’s Oreo frosting and crushed up cookie inside. GAH
-I already told my parents I’ll be making some dishes for Easter dinner since I’m slightly restricted to what I can eat!
Concerns I have:
-Two of us can’t really do eggs. I’ve long suspected an egg allergy/intolerance as I feel hot, flushed, headachey and my stomach cramps when I eat them (I think it’s something in the yolk, as whites don’t seem to bother me as much). I’m going to try duck eggs, as they tend to be less allergenic.
-You’re not “supposed” to eat a ton of chia seeds during Whole 30, but I don’t have much choice. I’ll be making the best of it!
-Now that I’m dating again, I usually enjoy a drink or two to take the edge off during our time together. Where and how will I hide and suppress my weirdness?! HAHA
–“What if I want a bowl of oatmeal and get sad because I “cant” eat it?” – are questions that have crossed my mind. When I really think about what I like about oatmeal, it’s the cashew milk, banana, nut butter, goji berries and seeds I add to it, not the tasteless oats that I love. I can eat cashew milk, bananas, almond butter, goji berries and seeds, so it’s not really an issue.
*If you’re wondering “why” grains and legumes aren’t allowed (they’re whole foods, right?) it’s because they tend to cause digestive ailments. It’s not that those foods are inherently “bad”, but traditionally, they were prepared and consumed by soaking, sprouting and/or fermenting them to make them more digestible and nutritionally bio-available. The reality is, we don’t do that anymore because we’re lazy.
What I think will be “weird” or the biggest adjustment
The social aspect. I already do a great job of eating of eating intuitively – I don’t agonize over what/when to eat. I eat when I’m hungry and naturally gravitate towards foods that make me feel good. Eating this way makes me feel great, and when I feel positive about something (anything!), I keep doing it.
BUT. Oh yes, here’s the but. I don’t eat “healthy foods” 100% of the time. A weekly ‘treat meal’ or splurge-y dining experience with friends is one of my favourite pastimes and fits into my balanced lifestyle. I’ll often split a bottle of wine (or two, haha) over dinner with a friend.
This is going to be an interesting challenge and I’m curious to see what (if any) health benefits I gain from it. My motivation comes down to clearing my skin (I’m going to do before and after pictures), better sleep/increased energy in the day, improved digestion and maybe if I’m lucky, increased strength and muscle gains.
Curious to hear your thoughts on Whole 30!
What do you think would be the ‘hardest thing’ to give up for a month?