The holidays are never the best for eating, but this year was particularly awful. December was a month-long inhalation of carbs and processed food. It was bad. So when I heard my brother and sister-in-law were going to kick off January by starting the Whole30, I jumped on board and dragged Dustin along for the adventure.
The Whole30 is basically an extreme version of paleo: no sweeteners, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, and no alcohol, even for cooking. And any food that contains a banned ingredient, even in small quantities (I’m looking at you, bacon), is out.
So what do you eat? Veggies, meat, and fruit, preferably in that order.
If you go to the Whole30 site, they make the ridiculous promises that all diets make–basically, follow this plan and we’ll cure all your ills. I wasn’t in it for the woo woo. I needed to make a clean break from my previous out-of-control eating, and this seemed like a good way to do it. In the world of moderators vs. abstainers, I’m definitely an abstainer.
Armed with an iron will to succeed and the knowledge that even a tiny slip meant you had to start over, I embarked on thirty days of “clean” eating.
Here are a few things I learned:
- Sugar or soy are in pretty much everything that comes off of a grocery store shelf, even in the deli section.
- Grocery shopping is both easier and harder. You get to avoid most of the middle of the store, which speeds things up, but you have to look at every single label. And fresh fruit and veggies don’t keep that long, so plan to go fairly often.
- There will be dishes. So many dirty dishes. When you are cooking three meals a day, it adds up quickly.
- Breakfast is a test. I’m not a huge fan of eggs, one of the only “traditional” breakfast foods allowed. So you get used to eating whatever in the morning.
- Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica is good on just about everything. We used it on salads, eggs, and lettuce-wrapped tacos.
- After eating no sugar at all, a couple pieces of dried apricot after dinner taste like heaven.
- Avocados are delicious and we should all be eating more of them. We ate one almost every day.
- Eating out is fraught with danger and temptation. We ate out maybe five times all month, and some of those only because we were out of town. It’s just easier to cook.
- I didn’t have many cravings. I think it’s because December was so bad, but my body happily let go of bread and sugar. If it was in front of me (like the amazing chocolate brownie for a friend’s birthday dinner), I wanted some, but mostly I was fine.
As for all of the woo woo claims, those are harder to quantify.
I did feel better this month, but December’s eating was so bad it’s hardly a fair comparison. I dropped eleven pounds and my blood pressure (which wasn’t high to begin with) dropped some as well. I’m assuming both of those are at least partly due to the decreased amount of sodium intake.
The Whole30 did not, however, magically fix my relationship with food or do any of the other more outrageous claims they make.
But overall, it was easier than I’d expected. In fact, I will probably continue with some form of modified paleo as my normal diet. And that’s a win in itself.
Now on to daily yoga February!