My husband and I started the Whole30 on January 1st this year. You can read about my experience. Since then, we’ve been sticking with heathy eating, just not as extreme as the Whole30.
I call it pseduo-paleo.
I’m not super happy with this name, because I think Paleo is a dumb name. As a friend pointed out, if we really were eating Paleo, we’d all be skinny because we’d spend our days running away from predators and constantly moving to find food. But Paleo is what the world has adopted for a name and since our plan is similar, it’s just easier to go with it.
We came up with this plan when we were coming off of the Whole30. It works for us, but it might not work for you. The key is to slowly add things back after the Whole30 and see how you feel.
Eat lots of veggies. This is a good idea no matter what. Veggies are filling and packed with nutrients. Try to limit potatoes, especially white potatoes. You don’t need mashed potatoes with every meal, promise. And no, french fries do not count as veggies. Sorry.
Eat protein. Meat, nuts, and eggs. Personally, I skip the processed protein powders because I’d rather get protein from real food. Protein helps satiety and it’s delicious.
Fat is not evil. Fat also helps satiety and it makes everything taste better. Coat cubed sweet potatoes in coconut oil and roast them in the oven at 400F for 30-40 minutes. I dare you to tell me that isn’t the greatest thing ever. Avocados are delicious. I’m not advocating eating a slab of lard, but don’t be afraid of fat.
Drink lots of water. Did you know that a lot of “hunger” pangs are actually your body asking for water? Stay hydrated!
Skip the (added) sugar, both real and artificial. While we’re not as strict as we were on the Whole30, we very rarely add sugar to a dish. Sweetened drinks are right out. This also gets rid of most candy, cake, etc. Fruit is still allowed and encouraged, as long as it isn’t coated in extra sugar. If you’re craving sugar, have a few pieces of dried fruit.
Figure out which grains work for you. We’ve decided to add oatmeal, rice (brown preferred), and corn back into our diet in limited amounts. This is one area we majorly differ from Paleo. A large bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with fresh fruit is our breakfast of choice. Wheat remains forbidden, less because of gluten than because most breads, pizzas, etc. are made from wheat flour. We don’t look for gluten-free substitutes, either. That way lay dragons.
Skip the dairy (maybe). Much like grains, this is one you’ll have to decide for yourself. For us, skipping diary isn’t too hard. I’m lactose intolerant, so it was easy to switch to almond or coconut milk, which I still use sparingly (mostly in iced coffee). We occasionally use butter, but cheese, sour cream, etc are all out. If you do skip diary, make sure you’re getting enough calcium either from an alternate source or a multivitamin.
You will have cravings. It’s part of the process. Stay strong. My cravings are the worst when I’m hungry. In fact, I can tell when I’m getting hungry because cake starts sounding like the best thing ever. Do not give in. Drink some water, eat a healthy snack, and keep going.
Choose a cheat day. For us, it’s once a week, generally Saturday, but only if we’re really craving something. Plan to fail on your cheat day and do it guilt-free. BUT and this is important, go right back to your normal plan for the rest of the week. No “it’s only a little bit” arguments with yourself. Cheat on your allowed day and ONLY on your allowed day. It’s okay if you need to move it to accommodate an event, but don’t start eating future cheat days today. That’s how you fall off the wagon.
Now it’s time for some real talk.
If you jump straight into this plan without doing the Whole30 first, expect a rough couple weeks. (You’d have those same rough weeks on the Whole30, too.) You will want to eat everything, most of it sugared or carb-loaded. Hang in there.
Unlike all of the diet books ever written, I’m not going to tell you this plan will definitely work for you. It may not. I have friends who absolutely could not do this plan. They can’t take the limited choices and they will always crave all of the food they “can’t” have. If this is you, there is hope. You need to become a calorie counter. Log everything you eat into a tracking app (MyFitnessPal is the one most people use). Set a calorie goal and stay under it. It’s more work, but it WILL work for you and you can eat whatever you want (lucky you!) in moderation. I recommend the LoseIt subreddit for tons of good info.
I’m also not going to lie–it’s hard. I go to bed hungry most nights, but that’s because I eat dinner early and go to bed late. During the day I’m generally only hungry before meals, as it should be. You have to say no to that piece of pie that looks delicious. People are going to (very politely) try to derail you.
It’s worth it.
I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds since I started in January. I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been in ten years. And while it’s hard, it’s not impossible.
Time is going to pass either way. In six months, are you going to regret not starting now?