I’m taking a lifeline today from my Think Kit prompts to talk about Whole 30, probably because I’m going delirious and can’t concentrate on anything other than dreaming about sugar and booze. I feel like Carrie Mathison when she goes off her meds (you know what I’m talking about, Homeland fans).
I kid, I kid. It hasn’t been that bad. Although it has been a major lifestyle change and more difficult than I imagined. If you’re not familiar with it, the Whole 30 diet is an elimination diet that is similar to eating Paleo. It completely strips away “hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups,” which are grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol and legumes. It focuses on eating whole, clean, simple foods
I decided on a whim that I wanted to try Whole 30. It didn’t seem so bad or too hard when I read about it. Well, that was before I went to Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping. Do you know that practically everything has sugar in it?! I didn’t realize how much sugar everyone eats on a daily basis until I had to shop for groceries and stay away from sugar. It was easy to avoid dairy, grains, alcohol and legumes…it was the sugar that was difficult. Even meat at the counter at Whole Foods has added sugar in it. We probably spent an hour in the store carefully reading each and every label to make sure everything was natural, organic, no hormones, no antibiotics, no sulfites, etc. All your foods should be real, whole foods to help fuel your body.
After we made it through our shopping excursion (almost $300 later), it was time for food prep. This is a key part to surviving a Whole 30, because if you don’t have Whole 30-approved options ready to eat then you’re more likely to fail. We cooked up what felt like a million chicken breasts, made sweet potato hash to last for the week, whipped up some homemade Whole 30-approved mayo and salad dressing and threw out the evil gluten-filled foods that filled our refrigerator. I felt really accomplished. We had our meals planned out for the week, had a fridge full of ready-to-eat whole foods and then indulged in our last unhealthy meal: pizza and pasta from Some Guys Pizza.
I have to give myself a pat on the back for sticking with this, because I usually start stuff like this and then give up after a couple days because let’s be honest, we have some really good food in Indy!
I have to admit, there are two rules in this plan that I haven’t followed. One, you’re not supposed to step on a scale until after the 30 days. The plan stresses that losing weight is just an added bonus, but this is really about getting healthy. I couldn’t help myself though. After nine days, I’ve lost 7.5 pounds…! I feel like knowing this info gave me an extra push to keep on going. I know that in the future I need to stay off the scale because I don’t want to be discouraged when I stop losing so quickly.
The other rule is that you are not supposed to cheat at all. You make it through the entire 30 days only eating on the meal plan. While I went into it thinking we would do that, I ended up deciding to give myself one cheat meal per week. We already had plans to go out with a group of friends for dinner at Marrow, and it would be a sin to not indulge in that delicious goodness. I’m still staying completely away from alcohol (I think I drank three pots of hot green tea that night), but I’m going to let myself continue to be social and go out once a week with friends. One thing I did notice is that I was more conscious about my choices and how much I ate. I only had a few bites of everything, mostly due to my fear of making myself sick. I didn’t stuff myself, I just grazed.
I think that if I allow myself one cheat meal per week, I’m giving myself a better chance of sticking to the Whole 30 lifestyle long term instead of only for 30 days and then going back to old habits. That is why I wanted to do the diet anyways…not as a 30 day experiment but more as a lifestyle change. If I allow myself one cheat meal per week, could I potentially stay on Whole 30 forever? Maybe. I might have to gradually add beans back in (because who doesn’t love a good bean soup in the winter) and give myself some quinoa or brown rice once a week. But I can see this as becoming the lifestyle change that I needed to improve myself and my health.