I know that you have been waiting on pins and needles for the post where I tell you all about all the Whole30 fun we’ve been having the last month. Well, I live to please, complete with question prompts that you never thought of asking.
Did you actually do it without cheating? Yes… mostly. By that I mean there were a total of three times were a couple bites crossed my lips that weren’t totally clean. Two out of three were premeditated decisions…. does that make it better? But on the whole, we were hardcore. I made my own mayonnaise, read endless labels at the grocery store, pretended that ghee was awesome, and nary a donut or spoonful of mac n’ cheese crossed my lips.
What were the awful parts? Other than the night where I had dream after dream that I was chasing a loaf of bread? We love eating out. I didn’t realize how much until it was rendered super difficult by our restricted diet. It isn’t even that we eat out all the time, but I really missed being able to meet friends for dinner without scouring menus before, being able to grab lunch at work if I forgot it, and being able to take part in all the fun eating that happens at social events. The table is a place for gathering, and limiting how much we can take part proved kind of isolating at times.
I also got so tired of the time I had to spend planning and making my meals. So many hours grocery shopping, planning meals, roasting endless trays of veggies. One night I almost cried thinking of having to cook again the next day. By the the end though, I had a system. I mastered some simpler meals and got in the habit of planning for more leftovers and throwing extra veggies on the edge of the roasting pan at dinner so that I could toss them in a omelet the next morning. Initially I also bemoaned the money spent. People, eating like a caveman is not cheap. But by the end, we had re-embraced the wonder of compliant canned and frozen veggies, and smaller portions of meat. Plus, when I did a big comparison, I think that the lack of eating out balanced out the surplus spent on groceries.
Finally, in the beginning, we were hungry. It took awhile for our stomachs to adjust, and for us to figure out that you have to eat a LOT of veggies to get that full feeling you get from tasty grains.
What made it easier? We did this as a team, joined by my parents, my brother and his fiancé, and another couple we are close to in DC. My dad and I texted each other multiple times a day, checking in and encouraging. He and my mom are actually making it a Whole60 because they felt so good. Having friends near and far joining us meant that we had people who could join us for drink-less and dessert-less dinner parties or text sessions. We had people to share recipes with, to join us in our crazy. I also did a happy dance daily over my Good Earth Sweet and Spicy tea, the only tea I have that was tasty without any sweetener. Not sure I could have done this without my tea and fruit crack, aka clementines. I also spent an inordinate amount of energy looking forward to my almond butter and Lara Bar snacks.
What did you eat? Because I am a list maniac and I wanted to be able to look at everything in retrospect, I actually kept a list of all dinners and any standout lunches and have added it at the bottom of this post. You’re welcome. Links provided if they exist. Many without links were inspired by the feeds of both Whole30 Recipes or Bitsofbbskitchen. If there is any so tempting you can’t even handle it, leave a comment and I will rummage up the recipe. I also enjoyed a week of lunches from DC Power Supply that I won through their #mypowermoment contest. I can’t say enough good things about these tasty meals. It was so nice to have someone else make my high maintenance Whole30 lunches. If you are in the area and want to let someone else do the work of cooking, use the code DTRZ to get a free meal added to your first order!
Was any of this worth it? Yes, a thousand times yes. There are the obvious things, like the fact that I easily dropped a little over ten pounds in a month and started falling asleep instantly — something that my insomniac self could hitherto only dream of. My skin feels a little glowy and I enjoyed a month without routinely feeling that sick-full feeling. But this “diet” did so much more than that. I feel good, profoundly good. My body just feels in line, in touch with itself and able to work to its best ability. Even more than that, this diet slapped some much needed discipline in our lives, just like we wanted. And in a weird sort of way, it set me free from food in a way I’ve never been before. That shouldn’t be the case, as I literally had to think about food all the time. But I didn’t feel controlled by it, didn’t feel stressed about getting more or less. I realized that I am strong enough to make good decisions about what I eat, something I never really thought possible.
Still, it also taught me that no diet is a perfect solution, a Holy Grail to all our problems. I still had the same pesky breakouts that a woman far past her teens just shouldn’t have. James actually felt worse on the Whole30, or at least never really got past feeling hungry. It’s a good reminder that food matters, that what we put in our bodies has a huge effect in how effective those bodies are in this world. But it is still just food. It cannot overcome our genetics, cannot fix our problems, cannot curb our emotions. It is one element of a full life, one that demands daily decisions to be met with wisdom. But it is still just food. A whole life realizes that, keeps it in its place, and moves forward.
What now? Well, I’m done making my own mayonnaise and James texted me “BREAD!!!!!!” excitedly the day we were done. But I think we are going to try to still cook mostly Whole30-esque at home. And when we are out, when we are with friends, when we have that lazy Sunday night pizza craving — we are going to eat what we want and not feel the slightest bit guilty. An important part of any discipline is knowing when to let go and live a little.
And now the epic list of what we ate: Avocado burgers over arugula, sauteed mushrooms, sweet potato fries / Chicken thighs roasted with collard greens and tomatoes / spaghetti squash with spicy sauce (sausage, onions, peppers, mushroms) and green beans / roasted chicken and potatoes (from Smitten Kitchen cookbook) with spiced green beans / stir-fry chicken and broccoli with cauliflower rice (From Trader Joe’s)/ cabbage with sausage (Aidells chicken and apple or other compliant one) and potatoes / steak with Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes / roasted chicken and veggies with cauliflower mash / Shepherd’s pie and roasted asparagus / Chicken lime burgers with avocado, spinach, and salsa / rosemary pork tenderloin with roasted butternut squash and green beans/ shrimp and veggie kabobs with steamed broccoli/ Zuppa Toscana / Almond “fried” chicken with collard greens and roasted parsnips / (compliant) bratwurst and sauerkraut / chicken enchilada soup / paleo chili / cumin rosemary pork chops and roasted broccolini / Roasted chicken and kale / walnut grape chicken salad / creamy tomato cauliflower soup / sweet potato and leek hash with eggs/ brunch with bacon and an egg and veggie scramble topped with avocado and salsa
I kind of want to try this. More for the exercise in discipline than for health reasons, which is probably very silly. Kevin isn’t as enthusiastic about it. He eats out a lot for lunches during the week, so it would be a bigger challenge for him…. And I’m exhausted just thinking about the prep work and the cooking. But I’m also intrigued. Thanks for the honest feedback. And the list of foooood.
You should totally do it!!! So worth it. And Kevin could just do it for dinner/breakfast if he needed to.. pretty sure that even doing it 2/3 of the time would have huge benefits!
This is timely and helpful! I will be transitioning into a Whole30/Paleo diet after the one I’m on right now, which is perhaps worse than Whole30. It’s called Candida Clear and I can’t even have a banana because it’s too sweet. :S Zero sugar or anything that spikes the blood sugar – breads/grains (even “gluten-free”), dairy, most fruit (for some reason I can still have berries and they are a GODSEND), anything starchy (potatoes, corn, legumes), and of course sweeteners of ANY kind including my beloved real maple syrup. The first night I was hungry. The next two days I was hungry AND felt like I had the flu (headache, nausea, chills, exhaustion, also itchy??) Even though Lara Bars are ❤ and contain excellent real food ingredients, they are super sweet because of the dates, so they are no bueno for Candida. Basically I eat celery. Wah wah, but seriously, sugar detoxing is no joke! The good thing is when I don't feel like death, I can tell my body functions far better already (also the "detox phase" won't last forever). This post and list of recipes is encouraging because it will give me a place to start when I'm off Candida and starting Paleo. Thanks, and props to finishing out strong! 🙂
Oh wow — that’s so intense!!! We couldn’t have any of the gluten-free grains or any sweeteners… but man did I enjoy my fruit!!! I’m glad though that you no longer feel like death, and that it sounds like it will loosen up a little bit!
This is very interesting! Scott and I try to maintain a Mediterranean diet. But Whole30 sounds intriguing. I clicked on the link and started reading up on Whole30 and how it resets everything in your body and helps it heal. I have GERD, so this diet is especially appealing. I am thinking this might be a summer experiment (when I am balancing just two jobs rather than three…summer break for teachers is a blessing!). What book(s) did you use? It looks like there are several from what I see on the website…
You should totally do it!!! And I am ashamed to admit… that I read 0 books. I mean, I read the website, but other than that I have just had so many friends do it with tons of research and they are always preaching the good news of how great it is, so I was like meh, might as well do it!
Really?! Wow. So, how did you get access to the recipes… all on the website?
There is actually a HUGE community obsessed with recipe sharing so I just did a lot of googling! Plus if you follow the two people I linked on Instagram, they post multiple whole30 recipes every day!
Great! Thank you!
I am now following them. 😀
great blog— interesting, informative and funny! we are about to start on our whole 30. any suggestions before we take the plunge?
You will love it! My biggest suggestion would be to get as many people to do it with you as possible. Having dinner parties with fellow Whole30ers, going out to eat together at a restricted list of restaurants, etc, that makes it so much better!
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