On Monday, August 1st 2016… I decided that this month was finally going to be the month that I buckled down, committed to the Whole 30 diet, and saw what all the hooplah was about. Sounds dramatic, I know- but this thing is no joke. I am not allowed to eat any grains, refined sugars, dairy, legumes, or alcohol (a non-issue for me anyways, since I don’t drink!) for 30 days straight. That’s roughly 6 meals a day. 7 days a week, 30 days straight without the possibility of oatmeal or ice cream. Big. Deal. At the end of the 30 days I will start to re-introduce these foods into my diet in order to determine which foods effect my body positively and negatively, something I have been curious about for some time now.
The purpose behind my Whole 30 experiment is not to lose weight, but rather to better educate myself on the things I should be eating. Everyone’s body reacts differently to certain foods, and you can’t get the most out of your body if you aren’t fueling it properly. Lately I have found myself feeling sluggish, tired, and sometimes bloated. My hope with this is that I will be able to pin-point what foods are contributing to those side effects, and which are combating them. The purpose of documenting these weeks is to keep a record for myself but to also share my findings with my readers! If any of you are ever curious about Whole 30, or want to gain some more insight before taking on the challenge for yourselves, I want to serve as a helpful resource. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on Week 1.
1. Make a Meal-plan
One thing is for certain with Whole 30; meal planning is your best chance of survival. It requires a lot of cooking, and if you are someone who hates to cook then this might not be the best thing for you to commit to. My goal with this is to meal prep for the week, and switch up my meals each time to avoid getting bored and repetitive. With a proper meal plan, it makes coming up with a grocery list that much easier. I am someone who often over purchases when I make trips to the grocery store, and by having a set meal plan for the week it helps avoid that.
2. You Will Look At Food Differently
I have never been more aware of food than I am now. I open my refrigerator and the first thing I see are all of the things that I can’t eat; bread, pasta salad, Greek yogurt, cheese, my brother’s left over pizza…the list goes on. I can’t decide if this is a good or a bad thing, but I decide that it is good. I eat clean, so a lot of those things I wouldn’t eat anyways. What is inherently good about my hyper awareness of food is that I have built a sound knowledge of what is good for me, and can make educated decisions on my own now. That knowledge proves incredibly useful with this Whole 30 challenge because I am constantly trying to come up with combinations of foods to eat for meals. My new favorite is a bowl of sliced banana, dried figs, walnuts, cinnamon and almond milk. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, but it is the closest thing to cereal or oatmeal that I have found and it’s delicious. Definitely going to become one of my staples for this month.
3. Eating Out is MUCH Harder
It has only been a week, but one trip to the restaurant across the street from where I work was all it took for me to realize that eating out is probably not going to be an option this month. When you are actively looking for things to avoid, a light is shined on how just how many foods have wheat, dairy, legumes, or sugar in them. Not to mention the temptation of ordering a drink with dinner (a non-issue for me, but I assume a rather large one for others). As I said before, cooking is definitely your best bet at success with this, so if you rely heavily on take-out that will need to change.
4. Allow Yourself Some Wiggle Room
I realized on day 2 that my beloved Women’s Best protein shake had brown rice protein and quinoa in it, both of which are frowned upon while on this diet. I am not willing to give them up though, so I have granted myself permission to have those this month anyways. I think (with anything) you should be allowed to make substitutions and grant yourself some wiggle room. For example, if you love quinoa, then allow yourself that one grain and eliminate all others. Everything in moderation.
5. You Will “Crash”
I hit my crash day on day 4, and while everyone is different there will definitely a day where you will be EXHAUSTED. I like to think it is because my body is adjusting to the lack of empty carbs and sugar, because those are all things that would have been keeping my blood sugar so high. Now that my diet consists of mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean meats, it makes sense that my blood sugar is starting to even itself out on its own. One great side effect of this, however, brings me to my last point:
6. Your Sleep Will Improve
I have never slept as soundly as I have this week. It typically takes me about a half an hour to an hour to fall asleep, and this week all it takes it my head hitting the pillow for me to conk right out. One of the biggest areas I am looking to see improvements in is my sleeping and overall energy levels, so when I hit my wall I was wondering if eating this way was actually making my symptoms worse. I woke up feeling refreshed though, and even better is that I am sleeping completely through the night, which for me has almost ever happened. I have even had to turn the volume up on my phone for my alarm in the morning because I am sleeping so soundly through the night. This is definitely been one of the best parts of Whole 30 so far.
What I’ve Been Eating
• 2 eggs, sauteed pepper, onion & sausage, turkey bacon (optional sweet potato)
• chia pudding with bananas, dried figs, shredded coconut and cinnamon
• Fruit smoothie with frozen banana, peanut butter, protein powder, almond milk & cinnamon
• Spinach salad with chicken, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cucumber, sunflower seeds and Whole 30 approved Greek Dressing
• Organic turkey burger with lettuce bun, tomato, onion, and avocado
• Salmon with asparagus, sweet potato, and mushrooms
• Chicken with spinach, broccoli and sweet potato
• Celery with all natural peanut butter
• apples, peaches, or plums
• RXBAR protein bar (highly recommended!!)
Overall I would call week 1 a success, and my goal going forward is to use what I’ve learned this week to ensure that I am sticking to it to the best of my ability. I know now that it will be harder to go out and eat with my family, and so I can plan accordingly. All in all I am pleased with how this first week went and I am anxious to notice more changes to my overall energy levels in the upcoming weeks.
If you have any questions/tips regarding Whole 30, be sure to leave a comment below! I will be posting my thoughts on Week 2 next Sunday, so be on the look out for that as well.