The “Whole 30″ Diary- Week 1
Have you heard of the Whole 30? It’s not a diet, it’s considered a “nutritional reset” that helps people rethink their food choices in 30 days. I am currently on day 7, and it’s been an interesting journey so far. I hesitated posting about it because I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested, but I figure it’s a good way to track my progress and how I feel throughout.
For the last several months, I’ve been reacting differently to food. Maybe it’s just a result of getting older (sniff, sniff), but I just can’t eat the way I used to. I feel puffy and bloated much of the time, and I’ve been getting minor stomach aches after most meals. It’s become clear that I have at least a minor intolerance or sensitivity to something, but because I eat pretty much everything, it’s been difficult for me to put my finger on the culprit.
Enter the Whole 30. The goal is to eat “clean” for 30 days– organic and grass-fed protein sources, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and avocados (oh, so many avocados!) and cut out the stuff that causes inflammation (dairy, gluten, sugar, soy) in many people. Once the 30 days are up, I plan to slowly reintroduce the foods excluded from this list so I can identify what’s been causing me to feel less than stellar and make appropriate adjustments in my diet.
That means no dairy. No wheat. No gluten. No soy products. No alcohol. No processed foods. No sugar or sweet substitutes including honey. No legumes. No beloved coffee with cream and sugar.
For 30 days.
And my husband Vin, who loves Dunkin’ Donuts only slightly less than he loves me, actually agreed to do it with me. What a guy.
Okay, here we go.
Day 1: So, not to be dramatic or anything, but I’m pretty sure that I’m dying. I feel awful. I can’t believe how poorly my body is reacting to not having coffee or carbs this morning. My body is a big whiny baby. Apparently I really am a junkie. Symptoms include an unbearable headache that won’t go away with Advil, nausea, and unbelievable fatigue. I am actually grateful that not many clients have shown up to see me today, because I’m pretty sure I would be useless to everyone. I look online–apparently this is typical in the first few days and is known as “carb flu”. I wish there was a shot for this. Of whipped cream. Or chocolate. Or goat cheese. Oh man, this is going to be rough.
A work colleague I barely know stops in the doorway of my office and says, “You don’t sleep well, do you?”. I laugh politely but really want to tell him never to say that to anyone again. Isn’t “you look tired” just a slightly more polite way of saying “you look like shit.”?
This sucks. All I want to do is sprawl on the floor and take a nap. Then I want to wake up and start the day over while standing underneath a rippling waterfall of sweet, creamy coffee. I’m day-dreaming about it.
I get home at 7, eat dinner at 7:20 (thank God I made some chicken soup yesterday–it’s the absolute perfect meal right now) and now I’m headed for bed. It’s 8:10. The sun is still out. So am I.
Day 2: I survived! Headache is subtle, but not nearly as severe as yesterday. Pack lunches for me and Vin; leftover shredded organic chicken topped with chimichurri sauce, a bit of broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes and avocado slices. I also throw some almonds in baggies for each of us. I can already tell that planning ahead will be absolutely critical to our success. I’m also realizing there’s a lot of really good stuff to eat this month…
My first client of the day tells me I look like I’ve lost weight. This can’t possibly be true after a day, but I like whatever she’s seeing. I’m not doing this to lose weight, but if five pounds magically fall off in the process I wouldn’t be mad at ‘em. My second client of the day offers my first temptation– a big gorgeous tub of rice pudding from a well-known rice pudding spot called Rice to Riches that I’ve always wanted to try. It is basically everything I’m not supposed to eat all wrapped up into one sweet-smelling package– white rice, whole milk, tons of sugar. I kiss it goodbye and hand it off to a co-worker friend. Not the dude who said I looked tired. He gets bupkis.
Day 3: It’s Saturday, which presents the weekend challenge of eating with people who are eating differently than me. My friend calls while I’m en route to meet her, and asks if I want her to pick up a coffee for me. It pains me to say no, but I do it. Then I meet up with some gal pals, and we head out for brunch. I’ve never put any restrictions on my food choices before, so this was different for me. I’ll have the chicken sandwich, without the cheese, and on a bed of arugula instead of a bun. I felt like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. My meal was pretty boring, and it was kind of a bummer having to drink black tea while everyone else had fun French Martinis, but turning down alcohol is not a big deal for me. I’m way more envious of things like english muffins and melty cheese.
Vin picks me up later and has a goody bag filled with Whole-30 friendly items, including Larabars which I’d never had before. What a fool I’ve been! These things are delicious!
Day 4: I’m gonna give coffee with coconut milk (and no sweetener) a shot. I’m excited about this. This is gonna be good. And then I drink it. Blech. Yuck. I hate it. Not happening.
Today is Mother’s Day, so we’re headed to Vin’s parents’ house. We’re grilling meats and I’ve been assigned to bring some veggie sides, so this is perfect. We can probably slide under the radar without having to explain our new weird eating habits. We eat dinner, and no one even questions us when we don’t reach for the bread basket, the macaroni salad or the delicious looking chocolate cake. I’m shocked, frankly, and pretty impressed with Vin for sticking to the plan despite plenty of temptation.
Day 5: They’re imperceptible to anyone else, but I’m noticing some changes. My belly isn’t bloated, and my face looks less puffy. No stomach aches either. I doubt I could eat paleo forever– it’s really too much meat for my taste– but I definitely see some changes in my diet coming down the pike.
Day 6: I miss crunchy things. Tortillas baked in the oven. Crackers. Popcorn. Sigh. It’s only 30 days. And at least I can eat bacon.
Day 7: Today’s Wednesday. I don’t work on Wednesdays so this is officially my errand-running, food-prep day. After having a cavity filled (and sharing the good news with my dentist that I’m off sugar at least temporarily), I head to the organic shops in my neighborhood and pick up some goodies, including dates, which I’ve never really used before in cooking or baking. I find a recipe online for homemade Larabars, and know Vin will be one happy guy when he sees what I’ve created! Homemade “pecan pie” Larabars made with pulverized dates, crushed pecans, a splash of vanilla and unsweetened shredded coconut. Delicious! I also whip up a batch of frozen banana-coconut milk soft serve and pop that in the fridge.
The thing that’s hard about eating this way is all the planning that’s involved. I feel like I’m constantly cooking or prepping food, and I have to think two meals ahead. But week one is done, and neither one of us fell off the wagon and we both feel good. I’m pretty sure Vin goes to bed every night dreaming of Entenmann’s cakes though.
Has anyone else tried a Whole 30? What did you think of it, and how did it change your eating habits?