A few years ago I came across the Whole30 plan via the book It Starts With Food. It’s a really eye opening book and probably one that kicked started my interest in nutrition and healthy eating. It roughly follows the paleo lifestyle – no dairy, no grains, no sugars, no legumes and no alcohol. Just real food, made with real ingredients (fruit, vegetables, meats, eggs and nuts).
Last time I did the Whole30, I was bordering on Vegetarianism which later turned to Veganism, so didn’t really have much of a true experience of the Whole30 plan – I was trying to follow the fundamentals of Whole30 with only fish and eggs as my protein source. I can’t say I had the best results in terms of health changes or fat loss, but it did start me on a path towards finding what foods made my body feel good and a passion for healthy eating.
Having indulged a little too much over Christmas and not really gotten back on track properly, Easter was another excuse to eat chocolate and goodies like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a point where my cravings are out of control, yet the food isn’t satisfying and I’m eating my bodyweight in sugar just because I can, because it’s a ‘holiday’ for example. My cravings have been insane – over easter, with Cadbury mini eggs and hot cross buns in the house, I’m sure I could actually hear them calling me. So, I picked up my kindle over the Easter weekend and found my copy of It Starts With Food again, deciding that Easter Monday would be my first day of another round of Whole30.
I’m definitely an ‘all or nothing’ type of person, so 30 days of complete restriction is the only way I can get back to healthy eating – my normal diet involves ‘perfect days’ of whole foods, plenty of vegetables, clean protein and lots of water, followed by days of sugar binges and junk food. I definitely need something to change my relationship with food and get back to thinking of food as fuel and not letting my emotions and cravings control my eating.
So, Day 1 started on Monday and I’m now a week into this round of Whole30. I’m finding it surprisingly ok – I’ve not had any major withdrawal symptoms like headaches or brain fog. I was a little tired around days 3-5, but by day 6 and 7, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling hungry between meals (no snacking is allowed between each of the 3 meals) but it’s nice feeling hungry…it’s not something I’ve felt in a while because I’ve been snacking on junk all day long. I’m learning to make my meals a little bigger to keep myself fuller for longer.
Meals-wise, I’ve had a good selection of different things – last time I did the Whole30 in 2013, I pretty much had 30 days of eggs for breakfast, fresh cartons of tomato soup for lunch and maybe salmon and veg for dinner. This time around, as I have since reintroduced all meats into my diet, I’ve had a great time cooking and eating different meals…sure, I have a lot of eggs but because I love eggs. But, my lunches and dinners have been great – curries, soups, stews, turkey mince and veggies, and lots of vegetable pasta like butternut squash noodles and courgetti. I feel like I’m cooking a lot and am grateful that I work from home so I can set aside time to cook each meal from scratch – if I worked out there in the world and had to meal prep, it would be different. I am planning on a day out this week, so I’ll have to work out what to take with me so I can stick to my plan and not get stressed out over what to eat.
My real goal for the Whole30 was to improve my relationship with food and this week has been quite tough in regards to cravings – the other half has been eating cookies, naan breads and chocolate…three of my most favourite foods. It’s been hard to put these foods out of my mind, but I’m fully committed to finishing the 30 days which means I can say no pretty easily right now – I’m so enthusiastic about the programme, I couldn’t bring myself to cheat or start over. I’m hoping by the time the 30 days are up, my cravings for junk food are more manageable and I am more respectful of my body and what goes in it. My energy levels are such an issue for me usually, so one of the things I want to get out of the Whole30 is having more energy. Sleeping better, losing some fat, gaining some muscle and clearing my skin up would also make me very happy when Day 30 rolls around.
I’ll keep you updated…week one has been good and I’m already noticing improvements in my health (and weight!) so I’m hopefully it’ll continue to day 30!