If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Donny and I did the Whole30 in January. Last Friday was our last day, and it was amazing. It's totally changed how and what I eat and my perspective on food. I know a lot of you have asked me questions about it, and I've tried to answer them when I got them. But, I also know that I'm SO bad at responding to emails, so I decided to write this post to describe my experience with the Whole30 and hopefully answer some questions I've gotten.
What do you eat? This is probably the #1 question I got from people. The simple answer is protein, vegetables, nuts, and fruits. No grains, no sugar, no dairy, no legumes or seeds, and no processed foods. A typical day for me looked like scrambled eggs with some sliced almonds in a lettuce wrap with bacon and a banana or other fruit and some no-sugar-added orange juice. For lunch most days, I had some chicken salad (made with homemade paleo mayonnaise) with sliced red pepper and/or cucumbers and an apple. Donny frequently ate leftovers from dinner or a salad with Trader Joe's chicken sausage. Dinners were some sort of meat and vegetables. Some favorite dinners were pork chops with roasted Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash "spaghetti" with meat sauce, chicken tenderloins with roasted zucchini and squash, and meatballs.
Do you feel better? 100% yes. Before the Whole30, I had horrendous heartburn multiple times a week. I only had it once at the beginning of January and not a single time since. Once I figured out how much food I needed at each meal, I could get from meal to meal without feeling hungry in-between. And, my energy levels were sustained throughout the day-- not rapid rises and falls. I could definitely tell a difference in my quality of sleep.
Is it hard? Yes and no. I definitely underestimated how tired I would get of being in my kitchen. It's a LOT of prep and work, and sometimes I felt tied to the stove. (And it's possible that on a few nights, we got Chick fil A instead of me cooking...) And I desperately wanted a cupcake. And cheetos. And a diet coke. But I just KNEW that I wasn't going to eat those things. Having good alternatives to eat and not having bad stuff in your house is key. I know it would've been a million times harder if Donny wasn't in it with me. And fortunately for me, I don't quickly get bored with food. So, it was pretty easy for me to eat the same breakfast and lunch most days. It was harder for Donny since he isn't a fan of too much repetition. Once we got into a rhythm and I had some things pre-prepped, it got easier. Meal planning also makes life a LOT easier on the Whole30, although I failed at doing this a lot. Meal planning also helps to figure out how much food you need-- and it's a lot more than you think.
So what now? Other than the benefits I talked about above (no heartburn, less indigestion overall, better sleep and energy), I lost 7 pounds. Donny lost 8, despite the fact that he kind of abandoned the Whole30 after about 25 days. It's totally changed the way I view food and the way I want to eat. Now that we're done with our Whole30, I'm still cooking paleo, still eating my carb-free lunches and high-protein breakfasts. The only thing I've really added back in are sweets. Supposedly, the Whole30 will help you kick your sugar cravings, but not me. I craved sugar for the entire month (and might have cheated near the end). But I refuse to beat myself up over the fact that I let myself have some sugar in moderation. It IS important to me to start my day off well, so I'm not going back to doughnuts or goldfish and diet coke or McDonalds biscuits for breakfast. At the VERY least, my breakfast is going to be healthy and get me started on the right foot for the day. We do go to dinner with family or friends at least once a week, but that's my "cheat meal." Although I still have to be careful because after training my body by eating well and getting rid of its tolerance to yuckiness, a greasy (but delicious) meal can really do a number on my tummy.
Resources for the Whole30 or Paleo? The best resource I can recommend is the Hartwigs' book, It Starts With Food. The corresponding website (whole30.com) is fantastic. There are FAQs, grocery lists, and forums that are monitored by moderators to answer your questions. My favorite recipe blogs are The Clothes Make The Girl, Stupid Easy Paleo, PaleOMG, Brittany Angell, The Spunky Coconut, and Just JessieB. The lovely Kelly of My Little KGB also provided a GREAT help and some fantastic recipes.
If you have any questions please ask-- I'll do my very best to answer them! And if you've got some good paleo recipes, I'm always looking for good ones! :)