I finally found my Spibelt.
Claire and I finished our Whole 30 on Monday, and yesterday was our first day of the 10 day reintroduction period. We were supposed to reintroduce legumes by making a pot of chili with kidney beans. I also chose to reintroduce rye whiskey and mini Kit-Kats, but that wasn’t exactly a documented part of the plan.
Some final thoughts on Whole 30:
It was good.
It’s not for everyone.
I found that it was much easier to make good food choices at the grocery store than at home. Meaning, it’s easier just not to bring calorie-dense nutrient-poor food into your home, than to try to exercise self control through willpower with it sitting in the fridge. Hunger beats willpower. In that way the restricted Whole30 shopping list was a great thing. Knowing that I could eat as much as I wanted of anything in the house at any time helps a lot with the low-level anxiety that can come from dieting. If you only buy Whole30 foods, and you only eat what you buy, you can’t mess up. Of course this strategy only works if everyone in your household is doing Whole30 with you.
I lost 13 pounds in 30 days. Essentially all of the extra weight I put on since the marathon. It was pretty effortless weight loss. Other than trying (and usually failing) to get my Fitbit step goal every day, I didn’t do any structured exercise or training. I imagine that if I had run a few miles a day I could have lost more. Whole30 is not billed as a weight loss plan (in fact you’re not allowed to weigh yourself during) but weight loss is definitely a positive side effect. Honestly, it’s just difficult to eat past your BMR on only meat and vegetables.
The cooking was by far the most fun part, and will probably have the most long term benefits. We tried a lot of ingredients and recipes we never would have before. We got very familiar with our local Asian market. I’m going to start putting fish sauce and coconut milk in everything. The only negative I see here is that our pantry smells permanently like garam masala now.
The flip side of that is the extreme amount of planning and preparation that Whole30 takes. You need a meal plan for every day of the week, and probably two shopping trips if you want fresh meat on hand. It was a logistical headache, but Claire handled it all like a champ, and honestly all I had to do was follow her plans.
One reported effect of Whole30 is that your tastes change. I think that’s probably true. I’ve never been much of a herbivore, but I do find myself really enjoying things like carrots, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. And of course peppers, onions, and Rotel on/in everything. I’ve found a lot of ways to incorporate more veg into my daily life, which can’t be a bad thing.
In terms of sleep, energy levels, etc., I can’t say that I noticed a huge change. I’ve always been a good sleeper, so I didn’t expect any differences there. After the first few low-energy days, I think the best way to describe my energy level is “consistent”. My highs aren’t as high, but my lows aren’t as low either.
If there’s anything I found surprising, it was how I reacted to eliminating sugar from my diet. I’ve always had a problem with intense, physical cravings for sugar, and I thought that they might get worse on Whole30. But after I got over the first few days I found that they actually got much more manageable. If I saw treats in a bakery case or candy in a theater, I definitely wanted them, but the craving was always short lived and not nearly as acute. So I think a low-sugar diet may be right for me. That’s not to say that I plan to give up on sugar forever (see above: Kit-Kats), but I definitely have a new perspective on how it affects me.
What changes will I make as a result of Whole30? I’m not sure yet. I plan on keeping to a Whole30-ish diet for a while at least. No bread, as little sugar as I can manage, but I probably won’t be so picky about things like legumes, dairy, and non cereal grains. And of course eventually we’re going to start eating at restaurants again (which is possible but very difficult on Whole30, so we avoided eating out). In that case, I’m probably going to just order what I want and eat it, and just skip out on the bread basket and the desserts most of the time.
If you’re curious about Whole30 and thinking about giving it a try, I’d say go for it. It takes a lot of commitment, but I think the results are worth it.
Whole30 approved Super Bowl snacks from our party last night. Slow-cooker pulled pork with homemade vinegar-based BBQ sauce, Buffalo wings, and Nom Nom Paleo Asian meatballs. There was also salsa and guacamole. All the classics, and nothing was too difficult to put together, it just takes a little extra planning. I did miss the beer though.
My parents sent us home with some venison this weekend (courtesy of my brother the hunter), after we told them about our Whole30 paleo diet. It doesn’t get more forage-fed free-range than that.
I’ve never cooked deer before myself, but fortunately the subject is well covered in this otherwise definitely-not-paleo cookbook. Apparently not covered in this book: feminism.
Whole30 Approved chicken salad for lunch.
I cooked a whole, free-range, organic chicken in the slow cooker with garlic, thyme, and paprika. After I pulled the meat off of the bones I added back most of the broth to keep it moist. Then I added chopped red onion, green apple, and celery. Last I made some homemade mayo with cage-free eggs, a little brown mustard, lemon juice, and avocado oil. Added salt and pepper to taste, and served over salad greens with a shake of paprika.
Simple and awesome.
Definitely a question I had before I started this process. Essentially you can have either as long as you take them black. Which is totally fine for me, since I only drink black coffee anyway. They do encourage “conscientious consumption”, meaning essentially that if you feel like you need a particular food/drink, you should probably re-evaluate your relationship with it.
I’ve actually found that my coffee intake has increased on Whole30. Caffeine doesn’t have much of an effect on me (I have no problem having two cups at 10:00pm then falling right to sleep), but I find that it helps me deal with the need for dessert at the end of a meal. A cup of good coffee fills that void, and leaves me just as satisfied.
After a few weeks of holiday-induced eating, I was all on board when Claire pitched the idea of doing a Whole30 this month. If you don’t know (and I certainly didn’t) Whole30 is essentially a more restrictive version of a Paleo diet that you commit to follow for 30 days. You can eat vegetables, meat, certain fats, and a small amount of fruit, but no grains, legumes, or food with any added sugar of any kind. Unlike normal Paleo, that means no honey, no agave, no fruit juice, and no Paleo desserts. The idea being that those things are not necessarily unhealthy, but eating pancakes is still eating pancakes, even if they are made from almond four. The ultimate goal is to change your habits, and you aren’t going to do that by substituting “healthy” versions of “unhealthy” foods.
So far I like it. It’s difficult to talk about results less than a quarter of the way in, but the last few days I’ve felt pretty good. I definitely had some sugar withdrawal symptoms in the first few days, day 3 was the worst, but my energy levels have been steadily improving since then. You aren’t allowed to weigh yourself during Whole30, but just visually and from the way my clothes fit, I’m sure I’ve lost some pounds.
Some things I’ve learned about Whole30 so far: It takes tremendous planning. Meal planning, grocery planning, scheduling. When you remove the options for convenience foods, you really have to always think ten steps ahead. Fortunately for me, Claire is a wizard with that kind of thing, so the most I’ve had to do is run to the store and check off items on a shopping list. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. I can see it being really difficult to pull this off if you don’t have the same amount of flexibility in your schedule that we do. I assume you’d have to spend every minute of your weekend prepping meals for the week ahead. Lastly, it can get expensive. You’re going to be buying a lot of forage fed meat, cage free eggs, and organic produce. But you’re also not going to be eating out much (or at all) so the cost is offset somewhat by what you’ll save on restaurant tabs.
As far as the food itself, I really like it. We’ve had a lot of stews and crock pot meals. A lot of oven roasted vegetables. Easy enough to deal with when you can smother everything in ghee, and fortunately my favorite chicken wing recipe is Whole30 approved. Protein staples have been eggs, ground beef, chicken sausage (there’s a particular approved brand), lamb, and pork. Our veggies have mostly been sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, celery, brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash, and romaine. Also lots of tomato sauce and Rotel.
Eating has been surprisingly easy. Everything tastes good, and you can have as much as you need to feel full (not restricting fats really helps with fullness). I do miss the carbs every once in a while, like when I’m standing in line at the coffee shop and come face to face with the bakery case. But the strong cravings have subsided, and I feel much more “even” throughout the day without the sugar driven roller coaster. I also have been feeling full faster as time goes on, and thus eating less. I do still have the impulse to snack once in a while, which is discouraged, but I can usually make it through to the next scheduled meal.
So – so far, so good. I’m sure there will be rough days ahead, but for now I’m a Whole30 fan. I still have some questions, like how this diet will stand up to a running schedule, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.