Friday, March 20, 2015

Whole 30 Wrap-Up

On February 16, I started Whole30. I gave up all sugar (except that naturally occurring in fruit), all grains, all legumes – of course, I was already dairy-free. Basically I’ve be eating fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts. The first two weeks I ate eggs too, but they were making me congested, so I gave those up too. I also haven’t eaten food from any restaurant since February 15 either. It was intended to be a 30-day challenge, then see what direction I wanted to go from there with my eating. Here's what I've learned: 

1. I don’t think I could do the Paleo diet full-time. I’m tired of meat. Without eating eggs or beans, its pretty hard to eat meat-free and still get enough protein. *Note: Eggs are allowed on Whole30, but I am sensitive to egg whites. 

2. I don't miss sugar that much. Carrots taste sweeter now. Apples and clementines are great. A bowl full of berries with nuts make a good "dessert." I wish cantaloupe was in season.

3. It’s also been tough to enjoy social events with friends not eating out at restaurants. Physically I can handle this kind of restrictive eating plan, but mentally it is a challenge. I got a little depressed towards the end after turning down several invitations to go out with friends. I did go out with family a couple times and just drank water, but that was also hard. Especially when they want to linger and chat and all I can think about is the fact that I haven't eaten and my food is elsewhere.

4. Planning ahead is integral. Optimal eating requires setting aside time every single day to plan and/or prepare meals. Weekend prep helps a lot - bags of cut veggies, shredded, cooked chicken, browned ground beef/turkey/bison in the fridge ready to go and an assortment of nuts in the pantry helps a lot, but every day I still had to plan the next day out and make sure I had plenty of options. It is tough to find quick options at a convenience store - nuts are about the only option. I found keeping serving size bags of almonds in the car to be very helpful on long days out running my daughter around. Fruit would be good too, but that wasn't an option for me because it was below freezing for much of the last month. Half frozen produce isn't very appetizing.

5. Whole, clean eating is not cheap. Organic produce is expensive. Quality, grass-fed meat is expensive. My grocery budget was blown out this past month - good thing I wasn't spending anything at restaurants! I also had to shop a lot more frequently because I used fresh produce almost exclusively and had to go to the store at least once a week.

6. Reading labels is harder than you may think. This wasn't really new information for me. I've fallen into the trap of making sure something was dairy and/or egg free and completely missing the gluten. One day a couple weeks ago, I wanted some trail mix. Several kinds had added sugar and I got so caught up in looking for sugar that I didn't realize it had peanuts until I opened it. Fail.

My future plans are to continue to eat as much whole food as possible – cooking from scratch – and continue to try to eat less sugar, especially refined. But I will not be as restrictive with the ingredients I use in meals. I will be adding legumes, brown rice and quinoa back into my diet, in a little more moderation though, limiting these foods to one meal a day. 

 It’s been an education in willpower and food planning and how I choose the foods I eat.

One last note, I did lose 7 lbs over the 30 days as well, but I doubt I'll start weighing myself often enough to really track this.