It’s been 10 days since I finished my first Whole30 and as it was such a positive experience I wanted to share it here, in case any of you are thinking of trying it for yourselves. This is going to be a long post so grab a cuppa –hold the milk – and take a seat while I chat about Whole30 for beginners.
If you haven’t heard of Whole30 before, it’s basically a healthy eating program that focuses on eating only whole foods like fruit, veggies, eggs, fish and meat (and forgoing sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes) for, you guessed it, 30 days. It is a very restrictive diet by modern standards (no pasta or bread for a month? Eek!) but I wanted to try it for several reasons.
The first was that I wanted to curb the amount of refined sugar I was eating. I know it’s now fashionable to renounce sugar but with good reason – I was craving the sweet stuff after every meal and didn’t like how reliant I was on it to cheer me up. I also felt like I’d reached a plateau with my body in terms of how it responded to exercise – despite working out up to six times a week for the last six months, I hadn’t seen many physical changes. Finally, I wondered if my diet could be the reason why I often feel bloated after dinner and that my skin hasn’t looked so hot for the last year or so.
Before you read on to find out how my first Whole30 experience went, let me preface this by saying that I have never dieted or made significant dietary changes in my life. Before our wedding I stopped drinking alcohol and went from eating macaroni cheese five nights a week to once a week – that’s about as dramatic as it gets. My willpower, especially when it comes to food, is pretty much non-existent, so these observations really are from a complete Whole30 newbie.
I decided that if I could make it past the seven day mark that I could go the distance. This week was hard but not as hard as I thought it would be – I didn’t suffer headaches or notice any strong sugar cravings, but I did get tired very easily. I checked out It Starts With Food from the library, jumped on the spiralizer bandwagon and realised that cauliflower and I got off on the wrong foot – it’s seriously tasty as a sauce and as an alternative to rice.
The one thing I would say about the Whole30 is that it’s basically impossible to do without eating meat or seafood. I don’t really like meat or eggs and I think my tiredness was a result of not getting enough animal protein.
Having introduced lots more seafood to my diet I felt a lot better this week. I wouldn’t say that I had more energy BUT my energy levels were consistent in the same way that they were pre-Whole30 – minus the constant snacking! By the end of the week I felt like I’d hit my stride with the program. I kept waiting to feel starving or a craving for sugar, but found myself feeling full and satisfied after lunches of sweet potato wedges and guacamole, and dinners of veggie bolognese on a bed of ‘courgetti’.
Dining out on the Whole30 proved tricky for me as I don’t eat meat or eggs, but I had some success with delicious salads at The Hall on Market Street, Prada 22 in Upper Haight and Blue Barn in the Marina. During this week we went to a music festival for the day and luckily I brought some fruit and nuts with me as the only option I had was a plain baked potato – on the plus side the queue for this food stall was nice and short! This is also the week that I noticed my clothes feeling a little looser. I’m not a fan of scales so this, and waking up with a flatter stomach, were good indicators of how the program was working.
I couldn’t believe I’d made it this far but something about being so close to the end meant that resisting temptation was harder this week. Apparently the last few days are often when participants see the most changes in their body and while my skin looked great and well hydrated, I also came down with a cold – typical!
Cold aside, I noticed so many positives in the final week. Over the 30 days I lost at least seven pounds (no exact figure as we don’t own any scales, so this is based on recent weigh-ins at the gym/doctors office), I dropped a dress size and my face looks a little slimmer. I don’t find myself craving sugar, my skin looks great, my energy levels are consistent, despite going from eating/snacking several times a day to sticking to three meals a day (for the most part), and I don’t feel bloated after every meal.
I’m currently in the middle of the reintroduction process, which I can blog about later if you’re interested in a Whole30 update, but for now my advice to anyone thinking about undertaking their own Whole30 would be to just do it! Also, pick up a copy of It Starts With Food by Whole30 founders Melissa and Dallas Hartwig before you start, as there are lots of detailed explanations in there as to how to get the most from the program and why certain foods can make you feel the way they do. If I can, you can, and even if the outcomes aren’t as dramatic as the ones in the book, giving your sugar addiction the boot has got to be a good thing, right?
Would you consider trying the Whole30? Perhaps you’ve already tried one and seen the benefits? Let me know in the comments!