This post was long overdue, but inspired recently by a reader.
I learned about the Whole30 program last summer and was keen to try it out. We were stuck in a rut with bad eating habits leading to general malaise and lack of energy. I downloaded the book, It Starts With Food, and decided that we needed a big shakeup where food was concerned.
Whilst the program is strict (no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, processed carbs, alcohol to list a few for 30 days), I was keen to push the re-set button on my gut. With Whole30, I learned to eat three main meals, and almost very little snacking in between. I won’t sugar-coat it (no pun intended), it was hard. I love my rice and noodles, cakes and biscuits, pizza and the obvious glass of wine or two to toast the end of a working week.
What did we end up eating, you ask? These were typical meals:
Breakfast – eggs (I am no fan, but decided in the spirit of the program to get with it), avocado, grilled tomatoes, smashed potatoes and kale, and a small bowl of fruit
Lunch – chicken salad with balsamic dressing became a staple during the working week, or a hot meal (roast chicken, veggies), or leftovers from dinner.
Dinner – chili con carne topped with grated squash, lamb steaks with courgettes and sweet potatoes, chicken fajita (minus the tortilla) with sauteed courgettes, cod curry with aubergine and courgettes
Was it expensive? Yes. We had meat or fish with all our lunch and dinners, and this proved costly. However, before the program, we were eating out or getting takeaways loads so it was swings and roundabouts really.
How did we feel during the program?
I was grumpy at the onset, no thanks to the initial detox headache. My limbs were achy for a day or two, as if I had run a race. I was constantly clock watching during the first few days, hungry between meals but willing myself to get through without my usual elevenses. The positives? I used to feel bloated after my meals and this stopped within a week of the program. Once I got used to my new eating habits, my craving for sugar and my usual rice/noodle fix dissipated (not disappeared, mind). I found my energy levels didn’t dip as much. My day starts at 5.30am and I don’t normally go to bed until 11pm, and then may have to wake up to check on the Bear if she cries or is unwell. Previously, I relied heavily on coffee and sugar for energy, but during the program found that I could get by with little caffeine (a cup versus two to three).
Did it affect our social life?
Yes. I was used to nursing a lemonade whilst out with work colleagues, but sparkling water was just no fun. We were invited to a pot luck and I made a veggie lasagna which I didn’t even eat. Thankfully our host served fish and vegetables. I didn’t enjoy having to explain my food choices and some people do roll their eyes and tell you that you have to live a little.
Did we lose weight? Yes. I didn’t have much to lose in terms of pounds, and rather it was better health and energy that I sought and was happily rewarded with.
Did we stick to Whole30 post program? Though not in its entirety, it is now a lifestyle which I chose to adopt in my daily life. I still have eggs (and no processed food) for breakfast four to five times a week. I indulge during lunch and have reverted back to rice/noodles/sandwiches. Dinner, most days consist of meat or fish with a side of veggies and potatoes/sweet potatoes. I have a glass of wine or two per week, and enjoy a slice of cake or two every so often.
However, I do feel my gut was much happier during the program and therefore I fully intend to do another round of the Whole30. A re-set is long overdue.