See that bandwagon? The one over there with all the tubas and drums and sheet music? Yeah, I’m jumpin’ on it.
Whole30 is essentially a lifestyle change designed to remove the most inflammatory and common allergens from the diet. The big no-nos are dairy, grains, added sugar, alcohol, and legumes. The program starts with a 30-day reset, where your body gets used to the most basic nutrients. After 30 days, for those who choose to continue, there’s a reintroduction process to determine which foods your body can/cannot handle.
Whole30 appealed to my fiancé and I for several reasons. (1) Healthy eating. The basis of the diet is protein, vegetables, and fruit. Basically, food that humans evolved eating. (2) Gut health. We both have concerns about potential lactose and/or gluten intolerance. We’re interested to see how the dietary changes affect our tummies. (3) Weight loss. Whole30, combined with exercise, has produced some great results for friends. With an upcoming wedding and travel goals, being in tip-top shape is a pretty high priority.
I’ve done one such dietary shift before; I ate paleo for about 3 months in college and had great results. TMI, but my GI health has never been better, and I ended up losing about 15 pounds. Paleo isn’t really too different from Whole30, the major difference (at least to me) being that on a paleo diet, things like honey and maple syrup are not off limits. Not encouraged in high amounts, of course, but not off limits.
We’re a few weeks in and things have gotten off to a good start. Cooking has been a lot of fun–it gives us a chance to be creative and try new things. We’ve been eating out less so, even though our grocery bills have been a bit higher, Whole30 hasn’t broken our household budget.
The biggest challenges have been in meal planning and socializing. Meal planning is critical for meals like breakfast and lunch. I can’t tell you how easy it is to go into my work cafeteria and pick something totally not-Whole30. It’s not fun to give up piping hot waffle fries for the salad bar. Sorry, it’s not. And the best was to counter that temptation is to avoid it by packing delicious, filling meals. Which, in turn, involves a lot of foresight and planning. Secondly, socializing. Like most 20-somethings, our friends tend to meet in bars that serve greasy drinking food. Burgers, pizza, tacos, etc. It helps to look at menus in advance to get an idea of the choices you’ll be making. Making little decisions is good too–as my fiancé would say, “Progress, not perfection.” If you have the choice to do fries or fruit, choose the fruit. Water or iced tea, not soda.
A lesser challenge has been that I generally drink my coffee with milk, and almond milk and coffee are not a great combination in my humble opinion. For full disclosure’s sake, I have been drinking dairy in my coffee–but I have switched from 2% to skim milk. Little miracles!
If anyone else is toying with the idea of going the Whole30 and/or paleo route, I’d love to share some of the meals we’ve been enjoying and (hopefully) recipes to go along with them!
- Curried pork with chopped tropical fruit
- Spaghetti squash with veggie-packed marinara
- Loaded frittata
- Tex-mex turkey burgers with salsa vegetables