30 days with no sugar, carbs, or booze – shoot me now!
Let me start by saying that terms like dieting, diet fads, and diet culture all become mind-numbing after a while. To me, it seems as though the next big “diet” has always discovered THE secret to weight loss and inspiration to find a healthier lifestyle. However, when it boils down to it, we all need to start using the first definition of diet: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
Ok – with that said, I’m going to disclose that I’ve been on the Whole30®️ Program since January 9th (Day 21 & going strong!). I feel that it is important to share my experience and my reasoning for taking this 30 day journey. That way, you can decide for yourself if this dietary experiment is appropriate for you. As always, consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle (especially with elimination diets).
What is this Whole30®️ thing and why did I choose to do it?
Here’s the quick and dirty version of the Whole30®️! Whole30.com describes itself as a “short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” Basically paleo-EXTRA. It comes with “program rules” that are outlined as:
- Eat 100% real food. “Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.”
- Avoid these foods 100% of the time for the 30 days: sugar (real or artificial), alcohol in any form (even for cooking), grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, and finally, any baked goods, junk foods or treats made with “approved ingredients.”
There are some philosophical pillars associated with the process as well, and as with many diet plans, lots of fine print. I would encourage anyone considering this to read ALL of the details before starting.
Now, why did I choose to do it? This was simple for me – after weeks and weeks of holiday excess, vacations, and what seemed like bottomless mimosas, I needed a hardcore reset. I mean, this was serious – I was sweating out Jack & Cokes and Old Fashioneds like I was a straight-up barkeep. And knowing my demeanor, I needed a system that provided rigid rules to keep me on track. Several of my friends have also tried Whole30®️ so I also tapped them for recommendations and tricks of the trade. It should be noted that weight loss is a part of the result, but in my case, that was not my focus (in fact, based on the program, you should not step on the scale at any point during the 30 days!).
Now, how am I doing?
Food find successes & other methods to delicious eats
One thing I can’t stand about certain food programs is the feeling that I can’t eat and/or I’m always hungry. No, thank you! But with Whole30®️, I’ve found some great options to keep me satisfied! Basically I’ve become a fruits and vegetables processor – really loading up on all the nutrients through as many varieties as I can fit in my grocery cart. Eggs have also been a staple along the way, and plenty of avocado. But, I do have a couple standouts that really keep me satisfied.
Sweet Potatoes, FTW! You can roast ‘em, dice ‘em, smash ‘em, slice ‘em, top ‘em, shred ‘em, you name it. This is a filling option that I use all over the place, plus you get the added bonus of that sweetness that you may be missing from the departure from sugar.
Frozen blueberries. If there was one snack I now crave, it would be my frozen blueberries. So easy, so delicious. This is a great afternoon snack or a little after-dinner treat.
Oh, and coffee, obvi. Because a lot of beverages are off limits, I turn to coffee (totally black) to quench my need to drink something other than water.
I highly recommend checking out the Whole30®️ Instagram channel – they have recipe after recipe to help spur your creative eats. There are also tons of blogs out there to inspire your dishes. I’ve been able to create some real winners that I will continue to make after my 30 day trial. Take a look at my dishes – chili-loaded sweet potato with avocado, sweet potato frittata, open-faced burger, burrito bowl, and a classic breakfast!
So what will happen once my 30 day stint has passed? Well, wine will happen, for sure! There are also some important takeaways, some recommended by Whole30®️ and others that I’ve discovered myself, that I can share. One, the program recommends introducing certain foods – things like dairy, gluten, processed sugars, etc. – back into your diet one at a time so you can see if those foods have an impact on your overall body response. Two, I now have some delicious replacements for certain food items – such as vegetable noodles for pasta, cauliflower rice, oh, and my frozen blueberries for dessert! Three, preparing foods from scratch is hard, and now I know why people slip into bad habits with takeout, drive-thru, and delivery, since it’s just so much easier. I’m definitely a more practiced chef (I mean, I had to make ketchup from scratch), but I won’t miss all the prep that was required.
Ok, I know you’re wondering, would you do it again? Personally, absolutely! I would never go on a plan like this for a long period of time, but I love the reset feeling and the willpower challenge. I also believe it provides slow and steady shifts in behavior, and reminders of how valuable real food is for health (and shines a spotlight on how much crappy food is literally everywhere).
So… check in with me in 9 more days for the full recap. I hope my time with this little experiment gets you thinking and chatting about food in a different (and healthy!) way.