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Whole30, Day 31: It’s over! And here are my thoughts

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So it’s the day after the last day of Whole30. I actually ate almost completely Whole30-compliant all day–for breakfast, I had a couple of fried eggs with half an avocado, black sesame seeds, and a splash of red wine vinegar (and coffee with almond milk, of course); for lunch, just a handful of pistachios, since my breakfast kept me full all day; and for dinner, my first knowingly non-Whole30-compliant meal, and it was only barely that. Last week, I cooked up some ground turkey with onions, tomatoes, and taco seasoning, without looking carefully at the taco seasoning container–turned out it has flour in it. I put the leftovers away for after Whole30, and had to eat the food today so it wouldn’t go bad. So it was really only a trace amount of flour. My husband had some corn today, but neither of us went nuts and ate a bunch of forbidden foods.

Apparently we are meant to do a slow reintroduction protocol, so I’ll have grains in my diet for a few days, then move onto something else like dairy for a few days, and so on. Grains would not have been at the top of my list, honestly, but I had to eat that leftover turkey, so grains it is. I’m thinking about maybe going and getting some tacos now that corn tortillas are permissible again… I really would have rather gotten dairy back into my diet first, then sugar, so that I could have some ice cream, which I’ve been craving; but grains will do.

Also, it was the first day I could weigh myself. I was pleased to find I had lost 6 pounds over the course of the month, without ever thinking about portion control, and while eating a lot of steak and hamburger and fried eggs. I did get really hungry some days, but not because I wasn’t allowed to eat–just sometimes my food never seemed to fill me up or satisfy me, and I’m not sure why, but I’d kind of get tired of eating before feeling completely full.

My thoughts after following this diet (aside from the few minor and accidental slipups) for 30 days:

  • It’s not as hard as I thought it would be! I was sort of annoyed when starting out, as I didn’t really particularly want to do such a strict diet and I felt like all my favorite foods would be off the list, but my husband was so enthusiastic about it I couldn’t say no–and if you’ve been following along from the start, I had a number of doubts and concerns about the diet, its rules, and basic premises. But I’ve actually had a lot of great meals and cooked at home a ton. I think this would be a really difficult diet if you were a vegan, though–I ended up relying heavily on meat and eggs. But maybe that’s just my own mental laziness?
  • I’ve lost weight. Six pounds in one month isn’t bad at all. I think my husband has lost even more–people have remarked on it to him. Bear in mind, though, that I also bought a bicycle desk at the beginning of the month so my general activity level has been a bit higher in addition to my eating habits changing.
  • While I haven’t felt a miraculous change in my health like some people seem to experience–none of this “colors are brighter, foods taste better” stuff–I do feel better overall: less bloated, less tired, with fewer ups and downs in blood sugar/hunger levels through the day. I doubt I’m actually sensitive in a meaningful way to any of the foods I’ve cut out; my theory is that these positive changes are mainly due to eating more home-cooked meals, more whole foods, more protein and fat and fiber rather than simple carbohydrates. My husband, who has non-severe asthma, says he’s been breathing easier. I’m interested to see how my numbers are on my next physical.
  • I’ve saved money. We spend more money on groceries on average, I think, because we’ve been buying tons of meat, but we’ve spent very little on eating out at restaurants or drinking alcohol at bars. We normally do both of those pretty often. I would get club soda in bars this last month, and they would usually end up giving it to me for free.
  • Shopping at the grocery store became incredibly quick and easy. It’s like the whole “shop the perimeter” idea, except that the entire dairy case and bread section of the perimeter is completely off limits as well, so there’s really a very small permissible area of the store to shop in. Stop in the meat section, pick up some eggs, get a bunch of fruits and vegetables, maybe a quick detour to buy more coffee or coconut milk, and that’s it. No chips, no crackers, no ice cream, no canned soups or sauces, no Popsicles, none of the delicious, convenient, tempting foods in the middle of the store.
  • It does take time and planning, but I didn’t find it overwhelming. (Then again, I love cooking.) The main thing I found that was key was to have a little container of nuts on hand with me to snack on if I got hungry outside the house, because most places don’t have any Whole30-compliant snacks. And I when I’m busy, I tend to eat quick, easy convenience foods like packaged noodles, canned soups, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and frozen potstickers. I couldn’t do that, so I had to rely on making sure I cooked and had leftovers around. Canned tuna and oysters were really helpful for days when I couldn’t, and of course, I ate a ton of eggs, which are the ultimate quick-and-easy-and-filling Whole30 food for me, easy to cook in minutes and throw some veggies into. I also enjoyed having fork-ready vegetables I could take a portion of, like the premade sauerkraut bag I’ve had in the fridge all month, or the raw broccoli salad I made that lasted several meals.
  • Grains are a crutch. I want to try and cut them out of my meals at home as much as possible. The spiralizer is great, and I’ve actually found that substituting vegetables for pasta or rice makes a meal really healthy and usually just as satisfying to me as the original version. My mental model for a quick meal used to be that I would make pasta and throw something on top, but I think I could easily substitute in zucchini or cauliflower in a lot of cases and not miss the grains. No bullshit here, I do love grains, but I think I could keep eating Whole30-style at home most of the time and be perfectly content.
  • Would I recommend it to others? Yes, I would, actually. I feel good after eating this way all month, and I think it is an instructive way to reset your eating habits and think about a lot of things you take for granted. My husband and I spent a summer in another city once when he was doing an internship, and we took only a very minimal number of possessions with us. It was an interesting exercise seeing which ones I actually missed and felt like I needed to purchase while we were there. I’m thinking of this sort of like a food version of the Marie Kondo method. Not thinking of it as “which foods do I have to get rid of” but “which foods do I get to keep?” (Although terrible foods certainly spark joy in me, so maybe this is not really the best analogy.)

I do want to revisit my original doubts and concerns list, too.

  • The all-or-nothing approach. This still bothers me. As I wrote in my last post, I believe in the saying the perfect is the enemy of the good, and I think the frustration of being told you have failed and need to start over again after accidentally eating a trace amount of sugar or carrageenan or something would cause a lot of people to give up on this, when sticking to the diet and figuring you succeeded 99% instead of starting over (as I did) still has its health benefits. However, to be honest, the all-or-nothing, no cheats approach made it easier to stick to the diet. I’m sure otherwise I would have been making exceptions left and right for a beer at a party or just a bite of ice cream on a hot day.
  • Privilege. Yes. Definitely lots of time and money involved in this diet. You have to cook to some degree. I saved money, but only compared to eating out. If you’re already used to cooking at home and your meals involve a lot of cheap proteins like beans and TVP, switching to meat and nuts is going to skyrocket your grocery bills. Eggs are still cheap, I guess…
  • The profit motive/weird authority thing. This also still really bothers me. My feelings about it haven’t changed through the course of the month.
  • SWYPO. This also still really bothers me and I disagree with it. In fact, now that my month is over and “sex with your pants on” can go out the window, I think I might go make myself some fake ice cream out of frozen bananas, and put a batch of unsweetened chia seed pudding in the fridge for tomorrow.
  • And just to add a bullet point, here’s some interesting reading from Scientific American about debunking the Paleo diet (which shares a lot with Whole30). I’ve put a hold on Paleofantasy at the library as a followup.

I know there are some people reading who have done or are doing Whole30. What are your thoughts on it? How do you feel?

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Written by orata

July 1, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Posted in whole30

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