Who's tired of me saying "Whole 30?" It's OK. You can admit it. =) I wanted to wrap up my January challenge with some things I learned, the good and bad that is the Whole 30, and where I plan to go from here. You can read my day-to-day recap of the entire month here.
Lessons Learned ~
- Variety is a must! You will probably not get through the Whole 30 if you don't build some variety into your meals/snacks. It's KEY to avoiding food boredom and I had fun trying new recipes like Comfort Noodles, Homemade Paleo Mayo, and Slow Cooker Italian Pork Roast.
- Carbs are good. Every one's make-up is different but I find that I need ample carbs. Some people - and guys more than girls - do alright with a lower amount of carbs but I definitely had to make an extra effort to ensure I ate enough carbohydrates each day. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and fruit.
- Keep it simple. This doesn't necessarily go against #1. You can keep meals simple AND have variety. By the time I got home from work I didn't always have the energy (OK, I usually don't) to prepare an elaborate meal. Think > meat. veggies. fat. carbs. So...chicken, broccoli, both cooked in coconut oil or ghee + some sweet potato fries. Done. I always tried to think one meal ahead and honestly you often have to take it that slow. What am I eating for lunch? Which meat, veggie, fat, and carb?
- Rx Bars and Primal Pacs are your on-the-go friends. I'm really glad I ordered a set of each for at-work snacking, errands, and around workouts.
- Sign up for the Whole 30 Daily! You can read all about it here. I'm really glad I did this. It was an easy way to recommit each day and learn more about what was happening on the inside, as well as tips and encouragement for the long haul.
The Good/The Bad ~
- My blood sugar, moods, and energy regulated. No, I didn't test for this but I could feel it. After a few days, you notice the sugar/carb crashes are mysteriously absent and you don't feel like you're going to wither away if you don't eat every two hours. I was less cranky and had less PMS. I felt more level.
- I proved to myself that I don't need something sugary every day or after meals. That habit forms so quickly but by the end of the challenge, you realize that dried apricots, dates, or a smoothie are a great healthy substitute for uh...kettle corn.
- I ate more vegetables. Veggies are a huge part of the program and Paleo/whole foods eating in general. And there are so many to choose from! I grew quite fond of zucchini, either spiralized or sauteed.
- I realized just how many foods contain added sugar. Deli meats, dried fruit, spaghetti sauce. It's in everything!
- I missed the variety of carbs. I love a good sweet potato just as much as the next gal but being gluten free, my carbs are already limited. That's mostly because I don't do a lot of gluten free bread or pasta to begin with. I would occasionally have rice or quinoa but neither of those is allowed on Whole 30. Potatoes - even prepared a variety of ways, got old after a while. And I'm not a huge butternut squash fan. :-0
- I ate the same meals over and over, but in different ways. Again, this is just the nature of eliminating processed foods. You eat meat, veggies, fruits, and fat and mix them up to create variety but in some ways are on repeat. My staples were eggs, chicken, bananas, almond butter, potatoes, coconut oil, etc.
*Slip-Ups ~ The Whole 30 is pretty strict regarding program compliance. You can DO this, they say. No slip-ups, no cheating. In fact, there's an entire Q/A column about "If I eat xyz food, do I have to start over?" That being said, they also advise common sense and remind you as a participant that you are an adult. You get to decide if you should truly start over or if you're fine to carry on. I was pretty proud of myself as far as the rules go. I did eat out a couple of times and stuck to the meat, veggie, potato rule (no butter!) but at one restaurant did go with a Greek dressing on the side for my salad that contained who knows what. I thought it was a better choice than a sugar honey mustard though. I know one burger was cooked in veggie oil but I skipped the fries and made my own potatoes one night. I also didn't do the whole smoothie thing until the very last few days when I had a hankering for something sweet at night. All this to say that 30 days is a long time. It's hard to be 100% on point with every choice but I'd say I was about 99% there!
Where I Go From Here ~
It's been less than a week since my Whole 30 ended. 5 days to be exact. Since that time I've definitely eaten off-plan. I did not follow the recommendation to use the Hartwig's "re-introduction schedule" for new foods and I'm OK with that. I've eaten:
- a chocolate cupcake Luna bar
- honestade tea
- tortilla chips
- white rice
- gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread
- peanut butter
And a few other things. I've also spent at least two of those days feeling super tired and lethargic. Call it the new foods or just a coincidence but it has truly made me think about how I want to move forward. Which off-plan foods are worth it for me personally and which make me feel like crap? And is feeling yuck worth it? Maybe sometimes?
This is one of the benefits to completing a Whole 30. It shows you - literally your body speaks to you - about how certain foods affect YOU. PERSONALLY. Fascinating and enlightening. I don't think the Luna bars will stick around. :) And probably not the white rice. I just don't think it works for me. Plus, with my MTHFR diagnoses, I cut out anything fortified with folic acid. Both of those foods contain it. Peanut butter is eschewed while eating Paleo in favor of almond butter and while I found an almond butter I half-way enjoyed, OMG. I bought some Organic natural PB yesterday for a recipe and I'd forgotten how good it tastes.
My plan is to continue eating within a Whole 30/Paleo template because that is how I feel best.
I don't eat this like this to look a certain way or to see a certain number on the scale, although those are often side benefits. Food is about health to me and when I eat good, I feel good. When I feel good, I can DO a lot more. I can be a better wife and mom and have the confidence I need to live out God's plan for me. I still enjoy treats and will eat some whenever I want. I'm excited to move forward and put to use the knowledge I've gained this past month throughout the year and beyond.