Ok, now that we are finally done I feel like I can share some lessons learned, and a more accurate opinion of my/our Whole 30 experience.
First let me say, it did work for us, and I learned a lot! I still don’t approve of drastic eating plans like this, mostly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain full time, but it served it’s purpose.
Things I Learned:
-I ended up finding more foods that are a problem for me than Mark did. I kinda thought I was just along to be supportive, but ended up finding out a few things that I have had to cut out, or drastically reduce my intake. Dairy and Soy being two of those things. Anything like pasta or bread is not great either, even if it’s gluten free.
-I felt/feel 75% better eating this way than I did before. So much so that we are pretty much Whole 30 full time. Of course we take time to have wine a few times a week, enjoy Holiday food/treats, use real bacon & hot dogs rather than crazy expensive Whole 30 approved options. But, for the most part, like 85%-90% of the time it’s pretty much Whole 30 eating for us. I feel us being uninvited to friend’s for dinner now. 😉
-Realizing it’s my health, my body, and my responsibility, and I won’t be apologizing for being “difficult” with my food choices, nor will I eat something just to be polite if I know it will make me feel like crap. It’s just not worth it. So if we do still manage to be invited over for dinner, and spaghetti is on the menu, I will be volunteering to bring a big old protein packed salad and eating that instead.
-Save your pickle juice. There are not a lot of drink options on this plan, for me anyway (some of the approved options I don’t like at all), so it was plain old water 98% of the time, and plain tea the rest. I craved having different flavors and resorted to shot’s of pickle juice when I was really desperate. Ultra runners do it, so I figured it can’t be all bad. It helped get through the rough days when boring old water was just not cutting it.
-Capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (all different kinds) all add some flavor to salads, sandwiches, and eggs. Get them at Costco to save money, and stock up because you will fly through them. I was putting capers on everything!
-Find some approved dressing/sauces you can use. Yes, you can make your own, but when you are cooking as much as this requires anything that comes pre-made is a life (and time) saver! Read the label though! Tessemae’s is listed in Whole 30 as an approved company, but some of the dressings have soy in them, and soy is a no, no.
-Invest in a few Whole 30 approved/friendly cookbooks. Variety is important, and as someone who likes to cook I need to have recipes to go through and meal plan with, it’s what makes me happy! So, having 3 extra books plus the Whole 30 book, made a world of difference for me!
-A good cast iron pan is almost a must given all the meat being cooked. I got mine about half way through, and it changed the game for sure! Perfectly browned meat every single time!
-Habits are hard to break, and may be more about the ritual of the habit than the substance itself. Guys, I gave up coffee long before we did Whole 30. What’s the first thing I did once we were officially done, went and got a Starbucks Holiday latte. I just can’t kick it 100%. It’s not the smell, or taste even. It’s the idea of having a cup of coffee in my hand while I enjoy my 1 to 2 hours of kid free time in the morning. Or, going to the coffee shop to read my book & have coffee when I finish errands early and have 30 extra minutes before picking Sky up from school.
I’m a big window shopper, I see ideas online for home decor, craft projects, fashion and then I go window shop discount retailers/thrift stores to see if I can pull it off without impacting our budget. I don’t purchase much, but I love strolling through isles, coffee in hand…not even drinking it though…just holding the cup gives me the feeling of relaxed me time. A mini vacation away from it all if you will.
So, coffee marketing has totally worked on me. Since dairy is now an issue I can only handle it about once every 3 to 4 days. My goal is 2 coffees a week, at the most, and for those to be at home. I still have my Starbucks card, with money on it, but I’m saving that for those days when I truly need an escape, and am going to ditch the to do list and sit and read for a couple hours during school, or to meet a friend and catch up. That happens maybe once every other month. Makes it a true treat.
-Wine, oh how I love thee. It’s so nice to have wine back in our life. Seriously we were without alcohol of any kind for almost 2 months. So now I can have like one glass and be totally loopy. I like that wine is something a little more special now, and we only have it 1 or 2 nights a week, usually planned to go with a specific meal.
-It’s longer than 30 days FYI! By the time we finished the reintroduction phase it was closer to 2 1/2 months for us. Re-intro took a long time though because it left me in particular feeling pretty bad. One day of re-intro then two days back on plan, that yo-yo cycle left my body and mind feeling strung out. There were several times we went back on plan for 4 or 5 days just to even back out.
I question the whole re-intro process a bit anyway. If you give something up for 30 days (or in this case a lot of somethings) and then all of a sudden have a day of eating that thing, it’s sort of bound to make you feel cruddy even if you don’t have a true allergy, or reaction to it. Just my opinion.
We ended up re-intro’ing a few things more than once, just to verify how it made us feel because we sort of felt like one day of eating after not having it for so long was not a true indication of how our body reacts to it. Soy was something we tried multiple times, and found that high levels of it is no good. But a bit of soy sauce with sushi not a problem. It’s still something we are limiting, but at least we can still have the sushi we love!
-The biggest win for me was figuring out what to fuel with during longer runs. I struggled with running on Whole 30, it’s hard to take in the carbs needed to run double digit miles, and I was training for a 10 mile trail run, and hated every second of the training. But, race day came, and I had a bag with nuts and dried blueberries, and you know I felt pretty amazing during that trail race. Fruit and nuts, it’s where it’s at for me. If nothing else I feel like I solved the in-run fuel issue I’ve been dealing with for 2 years now, so that’s a win!
-They say you will feel so good by the end of it that you wont want to to go off plan. It’s true. By day 26 we felt pretty amazing, and I was really reluctant to start reintroducing anything into our diet. After going through the angry stage, the no energy stage, and finally getting the hang of it and feeling great…no way did I want to ditch it. 🙂 I drug my feet on re-intro a bit because of that.
At the end of the day I think Whole 30 can serve a purpose, and be a good tool. But really do your homework, commit to the plan for the entire time, realizing that with re-intro you are looking at months not just 30 days.
The upside for us is way less sugar in our food, less mindless snacking, and really enjoying the times we do decide to spurge on something. I have a new appreciation for food, and awareness of what I’m eating & feeding my family.