whole30: final thoughts

Well, this is super late.  I had kinda hoped to get this out shortly after my Whole30 was finished (more than two weeks ago), but then I figured I’d wait until after I reintroduced all the foods and include that info, and then I got busy prepping for our trip.  To France. Today.

So, I’m using the early morning hours today to play catch-up on all the things I can do that don’t require daylight or make too much noise.  Vacuuming will have to wait.

Before I get into too much detail, let me just say: doing a Whole30 was amazing.  Life-changing.  Fantastic.  Honestly, it was everything the book said it would be.  I ate better.  I slept better.  I felt better.  I lost a little weight.  But the biggest thing for me wasn’t physical, it was emotional and spiritual.  There was no food guilt.  Not once.  No feeling terrible that I overate.  No feeling ashamed at the size of my bowl of ice cream.  No ‘food with no brakes’ moments.  It was so freeing.

However, now that I’m on the other side and (unfortunately) slipping back into some bad habits, I can reflect a little more on the experience overall.

Bottom line: it really was amazing.  Physically, mentally and spiritually.  I would recommend EVERYONE give it a shot–you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  It’s a completely nutritious eating style (it’s not low carb or high protein or all fat), unlike other diets out there.  (I’m looking at you, Atkins.)

But, it’s not sustainable.  And it’s not supposed to be.  The authors themselves aren’t Whole30 all the time, but they’ve adopted a Whole30-ish lifestyle with worthwhile splurges occasionally. And obviously there isn’t any food guilt (if you’re doing it right), because you’re not feeding your sugar dragon or overeating anything or emotionally eating or whatever it is that causes you to have bad relationships with food.  Which is why I’m struggling a little now that I’ve reintroduced some things back into my diet.

On reintroduction: At first, I was really excited to follow the plan and reintroduce everything by the book and be Whole30 on the in-between days.  Well, I was not prepared for how hard it would be to stay Whole30 once foods were reintroduced.  It wasn’t like I was binging on sugar–I did follow the reintroduction–but it was just too easy to let a little rice come in here and there, or some added sugars, or a little milk in my coffee.  After reintroducing everything, I can say that while I’m confident I don’t have any major issues with dairy or gluten, I definitely don’t feel as good after eating either of them.  I don’t feel bad per se, but I don’t feel as GOOD.  And, obviously, a too-big portion of ice cream is going to make anyone feel crappy, so there’s that.

On breaking bad food habits: doing a Whole30 really helped me address some of my bad food habits, like snacking too much.  I’m not totally against snacking and believe it can be part of a healthy eating plan if your (healthy) meals are smaller and your (healthy) snacks are appropriate.  The Whole30 encourages bigger, more nutrient-dense meals with sufficient protein and healthy fat, both of which promote satiety.  I found when I ate those kinds of meals, I could go 4-5 hours without even thinking of food.  It was glorious.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve reintroduced everything (certainly in much smaller amounts), I think I’m falling back into snacking and having too many sweets.  Need to keep working on those!

On what’s worth it: In principle, this is an easy concept.  What’s ‘worth it’ is different for everyone, and it can vary depending on your situation or circumstances.  Great example: the other day, I really wanted a cookie.  A good cookie.  However, our cute little bakery was closed at the time.  I drove around town, pondering what I should do:  no, I didn’t want a day-old donut from Dunkin.  No, I didn’t want anything from the Tops bakery.  I pulled into the Yotality parking lot, but no, I didn’t want froyo and I certainly didn’t want it along (I liken it to drinking alone).  If I’d stopped there, I would have called it a major victory.  However, I went to the one place in East Aurora I knew I could find cookies: they Nyes’ house.  Uncharacteristically, Mrs. Nye did not have any homemade, but a few Oreos and milk went a long way to soothe my craving.  Was it worth it?  No, packaged items are almost NEVER ‘worth it.’ But, was the company?  Yes. Sometimes, you just have to eat a little sugar to get a need met. (But not often!)

On grocery shopping: I loved grocery shopping for Whole30.  In some ways, it was more expensive–good quality meat and veggies (mostly organic) aren’t cheap.  But I was saving money (and time!) by avoiding almost the entire middle of the grocery store, where I usually ended up grabbing unhealthy ‘healthy’ items, like a fun granola or cracker.  Don’t get me wrong–I already knew how to shop the perimeter of the grocery store–Whole30 just made me stick to it.

On my sweet tooth: It definitely kicked my sugar dragon to the curb!  Thankfully, I didn’t have any crazy sugar withdrawals, nor did I really even miss the sweets while doing the Whole30.  But, now that I’ve let some added sugar back into my life, the sugar dragon is rearing its ugly head.  (Disclaimer: Admittedly, I’ve been a little lax.  Andrew and I are about to jet off to France and I fully intend to eat and drink to my little hearts’ content.)

On going forward: Since Whole30 ended, I’ve continued grocery shopping almost completely paleo (if not Whole30), and I intend to keep it that way.  By now, we’ve pretty much eradicated (ha!  it’s like I’m talking about household pests instead of food) anything ‘junk-like’ from our house, which I like.  I’ve also continued to eat very Whole30/paleo when at home (sweet potatoes and eggs and salad for breakfast, or beef jerky and veggies and fruit for lunch) with a relaxation on the added sugars. I tried a coconut milk coffee creamer but found it to be both too sweet and not have a great texture, so I anticipate going to a half-and-half or some dairy option for coffee.  However, I won’t be buying milk or much yogurt, relying mostly on meat, eggs, fruits and veggies, and cooking the occasional grain (like rice or quinoa) with dinners.  I won’t buy much bread–if any–and may make my own every once in awhile.  Same with pancakes.  I think I’ll do a little more paleo-style baking, mostly for fun.  Overall, it’s about eating well 80% of the time so that the other 20% (whether you’re out to eat or cooking at home), you can splurge on something truly worth it.

I’ll wrap this up here, but know I’m not finished with Whole30.  I’m already thinking of doing a ‘Whole30-ish’ thing when Andrew and I return from our trip.  Goodness knows I’ll need it!


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