As some of you know, my husband and I just completed 30
gruelling, absolutely terrible (totally kidding, kind of) days of very clean eating.
The Whole30 is a program that promotes a non-sugar-dependent lifestyle. For 30 days, you cannot consume grains (of any kind – not even quinoa!), dairy, alcohol or basically any kind of packaged food. You may be left wondering, what can I eat (and where will my social life go)? But don’t worry, there are quite a few things on the “approved” list: eggs, meat, vegetables, fruits, and many kinds of oils (and we had guests over several times through the course of the diet!).
I’ve got to say that the first few days minus Day 1 were truly hard (the Whole30 timeline is a helpful doc that shows exactly how detoxing side-effects tend to go during the diet). Doing it with a spouse or roommate can prove difficult because any kinds of disagreements are extra amplified – and, in our case, we started the day before a month of moving into our new home, which meant a a lot of extra stress. But I’m so proud of us for sticking it out!
This time around, we were also trying to do it on a budget, so here is a basic scheme of the meals we ate regularly:
Eggs (Every. Single. Morning. It was only in the last few days that we got truly tired of them.) + Compliant Bacon (meaning no sugar listed in the ingredients), Chorizo (found some at Costco – boo ya!), Avocado, Potatoes and/or Fruits.
Tuna salad (Seriously, we probably ate this every day that we didn’t have leftovers from the night before – budget-conscious, we were!). You can find a recipe for homemade mayo here. Also we used a LOT of Frank’s.
Barbecue (Lifesaver!! Loved throwing everything on the barbecue – veggies, meats, skewers), Meat sauce over zucchini noodles, Chili sans beans, Roasted potatoes.
Chia seed pudding over fruit (basically you just add chia seeds to compliant coconut milk (roughly 2 T chia + 1 cup coco milk) and let it sit overnight – spoon some onto cut up bananas or berries and it’s heavenly!), Dates and nuts, Almond butter on fruit.
It may seem as though the Whole30 is hard on the budget but when M and I looked back over the month we saw that it was basically equivalent to our normal budget considering we hardly went out, or bought boxed food or alcohol.
Some big improvements that I noticed personally were improved clarity in thinking (I often struggle to remember words but they honestly came easier a couple of weeks into the diet!), better sleep, and less bloating. Others have noticed improvements and healing to digestion, clear skin, and weight loss.
Another huge plus, and something that I hope is going to stick with me, is “slaying the sugar dragon” (Whole30 lingo for detoxing from sugar dependence). If you’ve known me for a while you may know that I struggled with an eating disorder in high school, and since then (and likely before) my eating habits can be very strange. In recovery, I often binge-ate and this has influenced my habits to this day. I hope to improve even more, but often when I get started eating something very sugary, especially when alone, it’s impossible to stop. The Whole30 (and I’ve done it once before) really helps train me to see food as fuel rather than pleasure, and I find that when I eat according to Whole30 principles (identifying when I’m craving food vs. when I’m craving comfort, and just generally choosing to eat clean) is immensely helpful.
Anyways, to close off, some tips for the Whole30:
- Read everything you can about the diet online before you embark. The official Whole30 website is key. Also, it’s so helpful to know a real person who has already done it for questions (and if you know me, you’re welcome to ask me anything!)
- Be prepared for frequent grocery shopping. Just think of it as a European experience, stocking up your fridge daily. But seriously, we don’t usually eat enough produce to need to stock up on it regularly, so this can seem like a pain, but view it as part of the experience and a change in lifestyle!
- Summer is a FANTASTIC time to do the diet. All the fresh produce available makes it much easier than doing it in the dead of winter, though there is the flipside of not being able to participate in some aspects of social activities – i.e. going out, weddings – though there are always ways to creatively get around things and believe me, there is NEVER an ideal time to start!
- Get creative and follow other Whole30ers. The Whole30 community is fantastic. Their Instagram feeds @whole30 and @whole30recipes offer lots of inspiration, so be sure to follow!
Got any questions about the Whole30? Ask away!