My “Whole 30″ (okay, whole 20) experience is over, and I’ve been reintroducing stuff back into my diet that I had cut out for three weeks. Nothing has occurred that would cause me to eliminate a whole food group altogether, but I will say I have had at least a mild reaction to everything I’ve introduced back.
But I did this reintroduction thing all wrong. I started off strong and just brought back dairy on its own, but it was downhill from there. Word to the wise: If you’re looking to do a through investigation on what your body will react to, don’t be like me and have a party where you enjoy cheese, cookies, bread, pasta, pastries and booze all in one night. Don’t treat your belly like a science experiment.
As far as I can tell, I’ve had mild reactions to gluten, corn products (boo) and dairy. The stomach aches and mild discomfort after eating have definitely returned. I think a visit to the doc might be on tap, and a return to cleaner eating is imminent. The difference in how I felt after eating clean was very noticeable, and I’d like to continue feeling that way.
I’m still curious how the results would have been different if I’d gone the full 30 days instead of 20, but I just didn’t want to risk having bad reactions on vacation. Still, here are the results I noticed after 20 days of eating like a cavewoman on the Whole 30 plan.
Eating like a cavewoman is not so bad!!
Weight Loss: I lost about 3 pounds in 20 days without a real change in the amount of exercise I’ve been routinely doing. Vinny, who really has no weight to lose, complained about losing a few pounds too.
Improved Skin: I got a few compliments on my skin “glowing” while eating clean. Hard to determine the true culprit as the temperature shot up to 90 degrees that week, but two days into reintroducing dairy, I had a breakout.
Reduced Bloating: This was the biggest plus for me. For months, I have looked and felt bloated after meals. When eating clean…no bloat! My pants fit more comfortably and I was able to wear tighter shirts without feeling self-conscious. I also noticed more definition in my arms, despite doing very little strength training!
Stable Blood Sugar Levels: This was a great change too. Without the carbs and sugar, Vin and I both noticed that we weren’t experiencing any spikes and dips throughout the day. I never experienced the “incredible energy boost” a lot of people who did the Whole 30 wrote about, but I definitely felt better in general, and Vin said he did too. Once bringing coffee back in, I noticed feeling much more sensitive to the caffeine, sugar and milk.
Decreased desire for sugar, carbs and dairy: I wasn’t looking forward to day 21 so I could finally! eat a piece of cheese or bread. The only thing I felt that way about was coffee. I was actually kind of nervous about what I’d feel like after eating these foods again. The best benefit of eating clean (even for a short period of time) is that it has redefined my taste buds and cravings. Vegetables taste so fresh and flavorful. Pineapple is just incredibly juicy and sweet. Salads with healthy fats and protein are really, really satisfying. Avocados are still the creamiest and the dreamiest.
Choose two days a week as food prep/cook days. I did the bulk of my prepping and cooking on Sundays and Wednesdays, which kept a constant flow of ready-to-grab-and-eat meals at our fingertips. Chopping broccoli into tiny pieces and taking all the stems off of kale early in the week made throwing them into various dishes a cinch.
Whole (organic) chickens are a lifesaver! I buy a whole chicken every week (and have for a long time) and boil it for both the broth and the meat. The shredded chicken is perfect for quick lunches for work. Top it with avocado or herb sauce. Throw it on top of salads and in stir-fries. It’s such an easy way to pack in lean protein. Then you can use the broth for soups, curries and other recipes.
Cauliflower rice and zucchini pasta are the greatest things since sliced bread. Trim your cauliflower into florets, pulse a few times in your food processor, and you have “riced” cauliflower. Make long skinny strips of zucchini with a julienne slicer and you have zucchini pasta. It’s like tricking your brain when you’re craving a carby side dish.
Find a few recipes for homemade Larabars. I’d never had a Larabar before the Whole 30, and I’m a fan for life. But dang! They’re expensive! The makers of that product should never have revealed just how clean they are…they’re so easy to make at home! Pulverize dates in a food processor, then mash in nuts, coconut, and dried fruit. Great snack that really satisfies a sweet tooth.
Peel and roast 4-5 sweet potatoes to have on hand throughout the week. God bless the sweet potato. These things are magic. And good with everything.
If you can get whomever is living with you on board, it’ll make things a whole lot easier. Eating clean and being consistent would have been far more difficult if my husband had been bringing Twinkies and Pringles into the house. We were a great influence on one another, and I was surprised by both of our willpower.
Roasted butternut squash boats stuffed with beef and caramelized balsamic onions
Eggplant curry over cauliflower rice (I adapted the recipe, swapping out shrimp for diced eggplant and replacing curry powder with thai red curry paste and lots of turmeric)
Indian spiced cauliflower
Big salads with shredded chicken, avocado, carrots, radishes, nuts and garlicky dressing
Pork, pineapple and basil stir-fried cauliflower rice
Zucchini “pasta” sauteed with garlic, shrimp, cherry tomatoes and onion (use a julienne slicer to cut zucchini into long strands, then saute with olive oil)
Roasted root veggies (parnsips, sweet potatoes and onions) with a fried egg on top
Mashed plantains sauteed with onion and garlic, served with fried egg and avocado
Kale sauteed with olive oil, garlic, dried cranberries and pecans
Homemade larabars with dates, unsweetened coconut, pecans, almonds and sea salt
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Neither one of us was expecting this 20-day experiment to be a life-changing experience, but I have to say that it really was. At least where food is concerned.
Vin and I both learned a lot about what feels good for our bodies (and our bellies) from doing this challenge, and will be using that information to influence what we buy, how we cook and what we eat from now on. It’s already much easier for me to imagine cooking this way, and we’ve both been hesitant to eat grains, dairy and any processed foods. Vin continues to snack on whole fruit instead of chips at night, and he didn’t even participate in National Doughnut Day last Friday. If you know my husband, you know that his abstention from this festivity warrants the declaration of a whole other holiday.
We will probably stick with a clean, paleo-ish diet, 75-80% of the time. I’m too much of an experience junkie to give up any food group, especially when eating with friends, hosting parties or traveling. But yes– we are believers!
Here’s to eating and feeling good, no matter what path to eating you choose!