Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A Whole lot of Whole30

I’ve been wanting to blog for a while, but I didn’t want to just pop back in and pretend I haven’t been missing for months. Doing it anyway, though, so I can share some awesome info.

Around three months ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was starting another Whole30 if anyone wanted to join in. I had never heard of it before, so I turned to Google and discovered this:

Nope. Uh-uh. No way. Not doing it.

But I kept reading.
Great for migraines. (I have those.)
Allergies. (I have those!)
Depression. (Yep, that, too!)
Change your relationship with food.

Change my relationship with food? I need that.

I told my friend that I wanted to try, but I was NOT prepared to join her the next day. I had just gone grocery shopping and had a fridge and pantry full of crap to eat, first. She recommended I read the book, “It Starts with Food.” Of course, I hopped on Amazon and bought it for my Kindle.

I wish I had read it years ago. It’s not a diet “rule” book. It doesn’t say, “Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.” It gives the science behind how different foods affect the digestive system and the body. It made so much sense. Even if you’re not interested in trying the Whole30, I still highly recommend this book. The Whole9 and Whole30 websites and their Facebook pages are full of great resources and fantastic information and people who have survived it. Have a question about an ingredient? Google [ingredient] Whole30 and I can almost guarantee you’ll find the answer.

There are no cheat days during the Whole30. You have to follow ALL the rules, and for good reason. There is a great metaphor in the book--if you owned 10 cats and discovered you were allergic to them, you wouldn’t get rid of 9 cats and expect to be completely better--you’d have to get rid of all of them. You can’t cut out only some of the bad stuff and expect to be “cured.” It all has to go. At the end of 30 days, (or 60, or 90, or however many you want to do it for,) you can start reintroducing foods and examining how they affect your body. And if it’s worth it to you to keep eating it or not.

So, let’s get real.

Grocery shopping is HARD. It is very hard to find things with no added sugar. Sugar is in the most bizarre, random things, and masquerades under so many different aliases, it’s ridiculous. WHY is sugar in everything? It’s totally unnecessary! Soy is something else food companies sneak into the ingredient list. Even “natural” foods are guilty. (Looking at you, Applegate, with your extremely overpriced lunch meat.)

Going out to eat is HARD, too. I went twice and I was riddled with anxiety both times. (Both times, I managed to arrange eating at a salad bar, which made it a million times easier. If you have to eat out during the Whole30, go to a salad bar.) I also went on a roadtrip and to four potlucks. (One of which, I was only able to eat the salad I’d brought with me. If you go to a potluck during the Whole30, bring something you can eat. For a roadtrip, try to make sure your hotel has a fridge or buy a good cooler and eat lots of snacks and drink lots of water!)

Explaining it to people is NOT fun. No added sugar really means no sweeteners of any kind. No honey or maple syrup or molasses. Yes, I understand that all that stuff is natural, but I can’t eat it. No beans. I know they’re good fiber and protein. They can also be inflammatory. Yes, that dessert looks delicious, I’m sure it tastes really good, but I’m not eating sweets right now. My grandma tried to force-feed me a piece of toffee just last weekend. I told her I wasn’t throwing away 27 days of hard work for a piece of toffee. Yes, I realize I sound like an alcoholic.

We weren’t perfect. Around day 8, I discovered that the garlic salt I’d used in just about every meal had sugar AND soy in it. Towards the end of week 2, we sampled and purchased some fancy salts at Costco, only to get home and find we couldn’t eat ANY of them--the ingredients on the jar didn’t match the ingredients on the packaging. Boo! On day 15, I made my dad a drink and took a sip without even thinking about it. As soon as the whiskey was in my mouth, I realized what I’d done and spit it out--but I was shocked that it was such an unconscious thing for me to do. On day 31--yes, the day after we “finished,” I realized the tuna we’d been eating contained soy. Bah. For the most part, though, we made conscious efforts to eat real, whole food and avoid anything on the “do not eat” list.

We ate beautiful, delicious food like this:
Adapted from this recipe, but I nixed the sweet potatoes and added spinach. This was my favorite meal!

And this:
Carnitas with cilantro-lime cauliflower "rice," guacamole, and tomatoes

And this:
Burgers with veggies, coleslaw made with homemade olive oil mayo, roasted asparagus, and watermelon

And this:

Simply Balanced Garlic and Spinach chicken sausage with roasted spaghetti squash, spinach, onions, and mushrooms. Even the kids loved this!

We ate not-so-beautiful, but still delicious food, like this:
Adapted from this recipe, these "meatballs" were DELICIOUS. I yelled at J for eating the leftovers because I wanted to take them for lunch the next day. 

And this:
 Stirfry I threw together with chicken and spinach and other veggies. Tumeric gives everything that lovely yellow color.

And we ate beautiful food that was NOT delicious, like this:

This was absolutely the most disappointing meal we ate this past month. The turkey burger was dry and NOT good, the watermelon was funky, and the sweet potatoes and avocado were still too hard. The mushrooms and onions were good. Everyone else who tried this recipe loved it, so I’m sure I just did something wrong. Not sure if I’ll try again, though.

We ate new and different foods and discovered new favorites, and the kids did, too. Little Sister loves asparagus. Baby Sister loves mango. Little three and alternates between eating anything and everything and eating nothing, almost on a daily (hourly?) basis. I rekindled my love of avocados. And HOW did I live for 33 years and no one told me I could put guacamole on fish? To die for. (Guac is my Frank's. I put that $*&% on everything!)

The Whole30 takes commitment. 90% of the time, the only clean room in my house was my kitchen because I was constantly cleaning it. Meal planning and prepping things ahead of time was essential for us. There is no ordering a pizza when you don’t have anything thawed for dinner. (No cereal or PB&J, either!)

How do we FEEL, though? Was it really worth it?

Yes. Yes. Yes! A hundred thousand times--YES!

I found this graphic during week one and braced myself.

But days 2-7 it never happened. I felt so good, I worried I was doing it wrong.

Part of the Whole30 is not weighing or measuring during the 30 days. It’s not a “diet.” It’s not about how much weight you lose--it really is about changing your relationship with food. That said, I absolutely couldn’t wait to get on the scale yesterday. I knew I’d been losing because I could see and feel changes and people have been making comments, but I wanted to know how much!

My Results:

I lost 17 lbs.
I lost 17 inches.
I haven’t had a migraine in over a month.

I did this with some friends and we all took "before" pictures in our underwear. Around day two or three, someone said we should take pictures with our clothes on, too, so we could actually share our results. I thought it was a great idea...but I never did it. I do have a clothed picture that was taken on my birthday a couple of days before we started, but I haven't taken an "after," yet.

J’s Results:

He lost 9 lbs.
He reports that he has more energy during his runs and bike rides.
Mentally, he feels more clear.

Overall, we FEEL great.

And did it change my relationship with food? I think so. In the beginning, I can’t even say how many times I started at a bag of popcorn or a box of cereal and wondered, “Did I just eat some of that? My breath doesn’t smell like popcorn, but did I just eat some?” Even just last weekend, I was pulling a chicken finger apart for Baby Sister and licked my fingers when I was done. WHAT? Why did I do that? I can’t imagine how much I used to eat without even a conscious thought. I even dreamed about eating “no” foods--not that I wanted them, but that I ate them by accident and was really upset about it. It was disturbing. (Happy to say most of those thoughts went away during the second week or so.)

Food is nourishment. Fuel for our bodies. That’s all we really need. For the first time in my life, I GET that.

One thing I will say--that I’m SURE is not the program’s intent--is that I am a little afraid of food now. I feel so good that I’m afraid to add foods back in that might be harmful to my body. Why on earth would I WANT to give myself a migraine? Or make myself sick? The problem is...if I don’t reintroduce things, I’ll never know what to avoid forever. And really, there’s no sense to NOT eat peanut butter if I don’t have any problem with it.

We’re doing it for another 30 days, making it a Whole60. We’re kind of on a roll, we’ve discovered some great recipes, and we really like eating this way. I thought I could never give up cheese or yogurt or tortillas...but, to be honest, I haven’t even missed them. I’m not saying I’ll never eat cheese again, but I’ll definitely eat it differently. I won’t sprinkle it in every dish...I’ll eat cheese. Good cheese. (Okay, I’ll stop thinking about cheese now. Now.

I promise to check back in and update on how it’s going. I miss writing. Do you miss me?

1 comment:

Kim D said...

Very interesting. Had never heard of this one, but was so glad to see you have started blogging again! Love your writing my dear:) Going to pump you for more info!