This past January, I completed the Whole30. For those of you not familiar with the Whole30 (which can be found in depth here), you basically eliminate grains, beans, sugar, dairy, and alcohol. And guess what? These items often find ways to sneak into everything – mustard, dressings, diced jalapeno, salsa, prosciutto, almond butter…you name it and it is quite possible you may find one or more of these items listed in the ingredients.
I knew I didn’t eat horribly all the time (I love fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains but when I want a darn cookie, I’m having a cookie; when I want a cheese and cracker platter, I’m having the darn platter accompanied with a glass of wine) but this really changed how I looked at my overall diet. And by diet, I mean my overall nutritional intake and well-being.
I’m not a nutritionist nor a doctor so as with anything concerning your diet, please consult your physician.
I had given up dairy before and, as an Italian gal, that was hard. A sprinkle (ok, handful) of Parmesan cheese just makes a pasta dish magnificent. I was concerned about the lack of the grains or beans (no quinoa, no chick peas) and sugar (of course, the Girl Scouts began promoting their cookies!) and how I would fare.
Why I did it
I did it as part of my group fitness challenge for January. Also, upon hearing the benefits, I wanted to give it a shot. I really needed a reboot of sorts when it came to diet and nutrition.
Pros (for me)
- Can still have coffee. I would’ve slammed the door shut on this immediately. I already drink my coffee black so this was not a problem!
- Clearer skin. I’m not kidding. My skin is clearer and not as lackluster.
- Ahem…better internal movement. Just going to leave it there, folks.
- No bloating. Even after a rather heavy meal, I was not bloated. Yay!
- Lower anxiety. I have read that too much sugar can aggravate and accelerate anxiety (it should be noted that sugar does not cause anxiety nor will anxiety be cured simply by eliminating sugar).
- I already food prep but limit it to breakfast and lunch for work. Including dinner and snacks just added an extra two hours of prep but I honestly didn’t mind.
- The food. I was putting dates and raisins on my salads for some sweetness and adjusting my go-to recipes to make it Whole30 friendly. I had chili, stew, chicken salad, and trail mix but made sure they were Whole30 compliant. I made my usual chili recipe and simply replaced the beans with small cubed potatoes!
Cons (for me)
- Eating with family. Of course, my mother decided to make my favorite childhood dish during week 2. “Why can’t you just have a little bit?”
- I felt like such a jerk asking the waiter about EVERY. LITTLE. THING. “Is it cooked in butter or olive oil?” “Can I have olive oil and lemon juice instead of the dressing?” I will make ONE request if needed but I was really grilling the waiter.
- During week 2, I wanted to tackle a child eating a munchkin. That’s the only craving I had – I wanted cake, cookies, chocolate, donuts, and even ice cream. I don’t like ice cream. What does that tell you?
- I normally clean as I cook. I hate a humongous mound of dishes just waiting for me to clean and to put away. I felt that I had an even bigger pile to deal with at the end of food prep.
Some interesting happenings/results:
- I attended a going away party and had club soda the entire time and I didn’t miss the booze. I still had a great time catching up with friends.
- I was eating more and more healthy fats but didn’t feel bloated or like I over did it. I still focused on portion control though as that has always been an issue with me – I can kill a party-size platter of nachos myself.
- I lost a bit of weight. This may be a goal for others, however, it was not one of mine. I wanted to feel better. I didn’t drop a huge amount of weight but I do feel slimmer as the bloat has subsided a lot.
- I like cooking with coconut oil. A lot.
- There were mistakes. Technically, I should have started over but I really didn’t want to do that. I didn’t realize the mustard I had used on Day 1 and Day 2 (yes, that early on!) had sugar in it! Oh and the cranberries I bought on Day 13 had corn syrup. I could have sworn I grabbed the compliant package!
- I drank so much water.
- It’s hard to find real almond milk or coconut milk. Even the brands at the health store had sugar and syrup in them.
- By the end of week 3, I was ready to scream if I saw another egg.
Would I do this again? Yes! Since completing the Whole30, my breakfast and lunch for the work week are Whole30 approved. I will definitely continue to modify it Monday through Friday while I will take a more relaxed approach on the weekends. January was the perfect time for me to try this out as my work events start up in late February and the birthday celebrations begin in March which means cake, eating out, etc. Would I follow this diet all the time? Nope. I feel like I now really listen to my body and what it needs but this gal needs her chocolate and her donuts from time to time.
How did I celebrate the end of the Whole30? By eating a darn slice of cake. I had bookmarked a recipe on Day 18. Oh, the bloat began almost immediately but it was worth it. I did add a bunch of berries in the layers and on top of the cake. It’s all about balance!