I liked participating in the Whole30. It challenged me to eat differently and it showed me there was quite a bit of unhealthy food I would have decided to mindlessly eat if I wasn’t specifically abstaining from it.
Am I glad I did it?
Yes, yes, yes. Even if you don’t plan to change your eating habits permanently, I think it’s a great idea to shake up your daily routine. It really gives you a new sense of awareness about how you’re fueling your body when you eat more of certain food groups while cutting out others.
Would I do it again?
The ultra-strict version with no alcohol? Probably not, unless I was pregnant and had to avoid alcohol for that reason. But I know I could do it. [Edited to add: I did the Whole30 twice more, in October 2014 and January 2015.]
Was the Whole30 difficult to follow?
Not if you’re ready and willing to prepare your food in advance, or at least have a rough idea of what you plan to eat that week (or at least over the next few days). Make sure you always have something in your kitchen (or at work, or while traveling) that you can eat so you won’t be caught without the right fuel when you’re hungry. I made that mistake several times at work and regretted my lack of preparation.
How were the cravings?
Honestly, I never thought about eating something sweet, like a dessert, unless it was directly in front of me. I also didn’t care about bread at all, it was no problem to give up the legumes, and I was fine without dairy (I had already been using almond milk in my oatmeal, so really the only dairy I had to cut out was cheese and Greek yogurt).
What about your weight?
When I was halfway through the Whole30, I noted I had lost four pounds in the first 15 days. When I took Melissa’s advice to add more carbs to my diet to increase my energy (I started eating a sweet potato for breakfast and a piece of fruit in the afternoon), I gained back a pound a half. My weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds depending on what time of the month it is and how I’ve been eating, so that’s normal. I’m still down at least 7 pounds since January 1st of this year, so I’m happy with that.
How will I eat going forward?
Like I said a few days ago, I’m no longer on the Whole30…technically. But while I’ve added alcohol back in and will occasionally indulge in food I don’t normally eat (mostly at restaurants and while visiting other people), my daily food consumption will stay pretty consistent with how I was eating on the Whole30.
I don’t mind that meal planning takes a bit longer. I like eating braised cabbage in place of rice and rice pasta. I may have rice and other gluten-free grains occasionally, but I learned that I don’t need them as a staple in my diet.
Did the Whole30 fill you with energy as you hoped?
My primary purpose with doing the Whole30 was to increase my energy and put me in a better mood on a day-to-day basis. I do think my energy is a little better and I also think my mood is better, but it’s not the dramatic difference I was hoping for.
My plan is to continue doing what I’ve been doing in terms of eating and ramp up the amount of exercise I do. I’m not a fan of chronic cardio, but I could definitely do better in terms of the amount I walk, jog, and strength train. I do body weight exercises at home, but I need to do them more often, and I also plan to get outside on a more regular basis for long walks and jogging. Paul and I have been better about going outside after work and on weekends, but during the heat of summer our motivation diminishes. If I need to wake up early a few times a week and exercise outside before work, that’s just what I’ll have to do.
How did you handle making food for two people when one person wasn’t on the Whole30?
It wasn’t difficult at all. During the workweek, Paul eats breakfast and lunch on his own. He ate everything that I made for dinner, and I made certain modifications specifically for him. (For example, I would make rice for him to eat with his dinner, or he’d eat tacos in corn tortillas while I had mine in salad form.) He never complained about anything we were eating and has always been supportive of my reasons for doing this.
(When I take my plate of food to the dining table to be photographed before dinner, he jokingly refers to it as my “display plate.” That’s probably because it only looks pretty long enough for me to snap a photo.)
What does Paul eat for lunch? Does he also bring food from home?
Paul has taken dinner leftovers for lunch on several occasions, but he doesn’t do it very often. He works in an area with a lot of food options so he usually ends up buying his lunch outside the office.
I think another reason he doesn’t take dinner leftovers for lunch is because he knows I rely on them for my lunches, and he’s a sweetheart who wants to make sure my eating needs are met. Usually there are only enough dinner leftovers for one person to eat the next day, so if both of us were eating them I’d have to bump up the volume of food I prepare.