Tomorrow, my family and I are embarking on a round of Whole30. For Aimee and I, it will be our second stint through this eating/behavioral modification plan, and Ian and Micah will be joining us for their first time through the program. For those not familiar with the basics of Whole30, they can be found here: http://whole30.com/. I won’t be explaining the whole program because they do such a fabulous job on their site of making it accessible- check out the “Welcome to Whole30” site here: http://whole30.com/new/
The focus of the plan is on eating whole, minimally processed foods including an abundance of vegetables supplemented with nuts, seeds, fruit, eggs, fish, meat, and fats such as olive oil, coconut, and ghee. For the 30 days of the program participants’ diets eliminate all grains, dairy (except ghee), sugar, legumes, alcohol, dairy, white potatoes, and food additives like carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. Some of the other guidelines include not “paleofying” allowed foods (such as coconut and almond flour brownies), and eating 3 meals a day without snacking. Part of the goal is to break yourself of old habits that may not be serving your health, such as having dessert every evening or constant grazing.
When I did this program in May, I had quite a few interesting revelations. The first was that I was already eating pretty well. The majority (I’d say a good 75%) of my diet consisted of organic vegetables and fruits, raw nuts and seeds, healthy plant based fats, and sustainably sourced, mostly local eggs, fish, and meat. However, the other quarter of my diet consisted of processed gluten-free grain products, sugary treats like dark chocolate, alcohol (incl. a daily glass or two of red wine) and quite a lot of cheese and dairy (despite knowing my body really doesn’t like them). I had been tracking my food intake really closely since February, and had made huge strides toward healthier eating. I had lost 20 lbs between January and April due to the changes, and had started myself on some pretty healthy patterns of regular exercise, and I was happy with the progress I was making.
However, I knew there were definitely places I could improve my diet. I had tried a nutritarian diet for a while last year. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/what-is-a-nutritarian-diet.aspx With it’s 100% plant based vegan focus, aligned with both my health goals and ethics, but found that my body absolutely did not like the focus on beans and the lack of fat and animal based protein. I then transitioned to a paleo/primal style of eating, but also jumped back into a lot of the processed gluten-free foods I had been avoiding. When I did the last round of Whole 30, I realized how much sugar and dairy and alcohol had crept back into focus in my diet, because those were the things I missed the most, and felt the biggest sense of withdrawal regarding.
Another thing that surprised me was how often my eating was mindless, a distraction, or an emotional tool, and how a focus on food as fuel and limited to mealtimes highlighted these habits. This led to quite a bit of discomfort during the Whole30 period, but it also led to a lot of areas for introspection and growth. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad to be doing it again. On top of the 10 lbs I lost in May (I’m now down 30 lbs from January of this year), I learned so much about how different foods work for my body and mind, and I’m looking forward to doing it with my entire family.