Yes, I've begun the Whole30 diet. Eeep! Let me start off by saying, I'm not a fan of diets. I'd go so far as to say I find a lot of them ridiculous and impractical. I'm much more a proponent of breaking habits by gradually introducing lifestyle changes that improve my health. I've been doing much more of this over the past year, and I've absolutely seen a change in my overall wellness.
Because I love to cook, changing food habits hasn't been as difficult, since I'm happy to try and cook virtually anything. The three cookbooks that have really opened up my eyes to looking at food differently and eating healthier are Danielle Walker's Against All Grain, Jamie Oliver's Everyday Superfood and Melissa and Dallas Hartwig's The Whole30. When meal planning for the week [something I swear by and try to stick to], I've included at least one recipe from these cookbooks. In doing so, I've discovered different methods for cooking and a new found love for vegetables. I've mentioned it before, but I was a REALLY picky eater as a kid, and it's taken most of my adult life to finally grow out of it :)
Let me rattle off what is and isn't allowed on the Whole 30 diet, plus what I'm not sticking to [hence the ish of my Whole 30ish].
- VEGETABLES [INCLUDING ALL TYPES OF POTATOES]
- FRESH AND UNSWEETENED DRIED FRUIT [KEEP DRIED TO A MINIMUM]
- NATURAL FATS
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, CLARIFIED BUTTER [GHEE], AVOCADO OIL
- NUT MILK
- 100% FRUIT JUICE [TO A MINIMUM]
OPT FOR: [whenever possible]
- PASTURE RAISED
- ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS/SUGAR/HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
- CARRAGEENAN, MSG, ADDED SULFITES
- DESSERTS [including ones made with compliant ingredients]
- OILS THAT AREN'T LISTED ABOVE
Now I'm sticking to a LARGE portion of this list, but there are a couple items I've decided that keeping to a minimum just makes more sense for my lifestyle. I know it defeats the overall purpose of Whole 30, but that's okay with me. I have my reasons for completing this month, and having these two ingredients in my diet are manageable for me.
KEEP TO A MINIMUM: [ACCORDING TO MY 30ISH]
The only thing I feel I need to put stevia in is my coffee. I've tried and failed many times to switch to unsweetened coffee, and it's just not for me. I don't drink all that much coffee anyway, usually just one and at most two 6-8oz. cups a day with the occasional third if the mood strikes me. As for alcohol, I really enjoy wine, both socially and with dinner. Normally I'd have a bottle of wine in the house to have a glass with dinner during the week. On Whole 30, I'm opting not to have wine during everyday meals. I'm allowing it only when I go out for drinks or if I'm having company over.
My mom is tackling this month of Whole 30ish with me, and to make it more manageable for her, I've made another addendum to the plan. I'm giving us up to three 'treat' meals a week. I'm honestly trying not to do this at all unless I make plans to go out for a meal. I'm fairly sure I can stick to the above rules for the entire month, but I'm not going to be an incredibly strict eater if I go out for dinner with friends. It's just not for me. For my mom, knowing we occasionally have the option to have a dessert or something indulgent makes all the difference. Knowing that if I go to a friend's house for dinner and she's made a cheesy lasagna, I'm going to eat it without feeling any sort of guilt. I think the greatest issue with all diets is forcing complete limitations and placing guilt and negative thoughts about food. Anything can be managed within reason, and I think if my mom decided to have dessert three times in a seven day period but still stuck to the other guidelines, I'd say she would be right on track. I drew a calendar of the 30ish days on my refrigerator so we can keep track of which days we have our treats. I even opted to write in my Saturday, since I already know I'll be indulging myself that night :)
Immediately, my reason is slightly selfish. As the holidays come up [and we have family visiting for a couple weeks in December!], eating decadently becomes commonplace. If I can at least kickstart my healthy routines before the holidays roll in, maybe I can learn to minimize my intake of decadent items, or maybe I'll just have more room to fit all the treats in! :) Ultimately, my goal is to eat this way for the long term, not just for a month on, a month off. I know that as much as I LOVE cheese and milk, it doesn't sit well with me. I'm not lactose intolerant, but I know how it makes me feel and it's not great. Same goes for pasta. My word I LOVE pasta, but I often feel bloated and lethargic if I eat it. The final big vice for me is soda, specifically Coke Zero. I don't drink it for the caffeine, I simply drink it because I enjoy it. Unfortunately, it's addictive quality isn't ideal, and I 100% know it's not good for me. So there are items I enjoy consuming that I know I shouldn't because of the way they make me feel. I probably can't omit these entirely, but spending a month not eating them helps me learn to live without them a bit more.
There are a few parts of Whole30 I know I won't stick to long term, ie: not having any grains whatsoever. For me, things like quinoa, farro, brown rice and whole wheat cous cous are grains that have helped me maintain a healthy diet and give me energy. I'm happy to keep away from them for a month, but I know I'll eat them again. Maybe I won't feel the need to eat them daily, but I won't limit myself either.
HOW IT'S GOING:
We began our 30 days on the 23rd, so as of this evening I've only completed three full days of meals, but so far I'm surprised at how well I'm doing. I've read that the first week is the hardest. I haven't had the urge to eat or drink anything not on the list, and though I feel a bit hungrier at the end of the night, my love for tea is really helping kick those late night cravings. [that and a handful of almonds or cashews if I need them!] The biggest challenge for most people with Whole 30 is all the prep and cooking. I have to agree, it's A LOT of cooking, but since I'm an avid cook and work from home, it's been going just fine. I wonder if things will get a bit exhausting during week two, but I'm going to try my best to stick to meal planning, prepping ingredients and cooking. I'm going to try and share all the recipes I'm enjoying, so if you decide you want to try this out too, you'll have a resource of ideas to kickstart your month!