Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

My experience with Whole30

Today is the final day of my Whole30 experiment. My review? It’s definitely worth doing and I’ll probably repeat it again at some point. More importantly, it’s going to positively affect how I eat on a regular basis from here on out.

nutrition

Google images. (Pretend this photo doesn’t include bread or dairy!)

Here’s what I learned.

  1. The American diet is filled with sugar, preservatives, and So. Much. Corn. Being on Whole30 forces to you to pay very close attention to food labels and you’ll be surprised at how much unnecessary crap is in our food.
  2. Eating clean is not hard. There’s no need to eat any of the crap because most of us are fortunate enough to have easy access to healthy food choices. Note: most.
  3. I tend to think a lot about my food planning and choices on a regular basis, but this took food obsession to an entirely new level. (One thing I didn’t like).
  4. Not drinking alcohol for a month was easy. Normally, I’m within the medically suggested “moderate” guidelines of one drink a day or less, so it wasn’t a big deal for me to quit drinking altogether. I did, however, think about how a glass of wine would be nice with dinner on several occasions, though. That thought crept into my head less and less as the month progressed.
  5. Black coffee is still good. Rather, GOOD black coffee is still good. For the first two weeks, I really missed having milk and sugar in my coffee. Today, I’m enjoying it black, particularly if it’s cold brewed.
  6. There are so many resources available online. Whether you use search engines or almost any type of social media, you will find whole communities of people following the plan and offering advice. The accessibility of information made it so much easier.

What I liked about Whole30.

  1. I dropped a few pounds. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become more difficult to keep my weight in check. I half-jokingly observe that I gain five pounds on one weekend splurge and then it takes me a month of serious dieting to lose it. In this case, I didn’t feel like I was dieting at all, yet I’ve lost 8 pounds even while eating the same number of calories. Note: Here’s where I broke Whole30 rules. While on Whole30 you are instructed to not weigh yourself or count calories. I did both.
  2. I slept so much better! A lot of people on Whole30 experience this. Improved sleep could be due to not drinking alcohol, but others surmise that the non-inflammatory qualities of this diet is the reason. In any case, it was great. I slept through the night every night I was on this eating plan when normally, one or two nights a week, I wake up around 3:00 or 4:00 AM and can’t get back to sleep.
  3. I didn’t get sick, despite being exposed to colds and flu. I had several opportunities to pick up various bugs that were going around and I didn’t get sick once. I credit the diet and exercise.
  4. Food tastes better. Fruit is sweeter and overall, I’m enjoying my food more. I’m more aware of how it tastes and I’ve become one of those people who consider a nice piece of fruit a perfectly satisfying dessert.
  5. I learned about some new food options that I will continue to eat in “normal life.” Riced cauliflower, coconut aminos, ghee, Epic bars, and many Luna bars are all great food choices whether or not you are on a restricted diet. A couple of compliant dinner recipes will remain longer-term favorites.
  6. I have a better appreciation and understanding for people who medically have to be on a restricted diet. I now know what diabetics or those with gluten sensitivities must go through on a daily basis.
  7. My digestion improved. 
  8. My skin became clearer.

What I didn’t like.

  1. The need to meal plan so meticulously forced me to constantly think about food to the point where it became obsessive. I didn’t like having to constantly think about upcoming meals and the need for grocery trips.
  2. I missed social gatherings. I’m not a regular party goer by any stretch of the imagination, but I found myself skipping out on a few events because I knew I would have a hard time with the food choices. I missed a couple of work celebrations as well as a Friday afternoon happy hour invitation when normally I would have gone.
  3. I cooked less for my family. I have two college-aged kids still living at home and I have to admit–they were pretty much on their own this month because they didn’t particularly care for most of my compliant meals. It worked out fine because they are so self-reliant, but this would likely be difficult with young children or a spouse who wasn’t also on board.
  4. So. Much. Meat. The first thing I will do is bring back legumes into my diet. While I enjoy beef, chicken, fish, and pork, I definitely ate more on Whole30 than I normally do because protein shakes, dairy, quinoa, and black beans are non-compliant. I look forward to incorporating more meatless meals into my diet again.

In summary, this was a great experience for me and my husband and the positives outweighed the negatives. We both feel healthier, we both dropped a few pounds, and we have both said that we will continue to “mostly” eat like this in going forward. I would say it was a win.

13 days in. My Whole30 experience

Almost halfway in to this. How am I doing? Great!

larabarlemon

Yummy.

First off, I know this isn’t a “diet” and I know I’m breaking the rules by weighing myself during this ride, but I was just too curious to avoid the scale completely. After ten days, I had dropped five pounds without ever feeling hungry or deprived. Really.

I also think this experience is going to adjust the way I will eat long term. It’s become pretty clear to me that, even with a generally healthy diet before, I was eating too much sugar.

This eating plan appeals to me because it makes sense to avoid additives and sugars. I won’t completely avoid dairy and whole grains beyond this month, and I will look forward to having an occasional beer or glass of wine again. I also miss oatmeal, quinoa, and bread. But not in a way that makes me crave any of it.

I honestly have not had any cravings on this plan at all.

If you are considering a Whole30 experience, I would say:

  1. Recruit your spouse or a friend to join you. My husband and I are doing this together and it’s made meal planning and shopping so much easier. Plus I like that we are sharing the experience.
  2. If you are used to drinking anything in your coffee–cream, milk, sugar–the first 3-4 days are going to make you sad. I’ve been drinking black coffee, whereas my husband has quit drinking coffee altogether. Yes, he had a caffeine-withdrawal headache for a few days. I, however, did not.
  3. You will probably find yourself eating the same few meals over and over. My favorite breakfast has become a baked potato (microwaved, actually) with one or two fried eggs and salsa on top. My favorite dinner is a burrito bowl. I take shredded greens and top them with cooked, seasoned meat, and add salsa and guacamole. Mmmm.
  4. Snack bars are a lifesaver in case you do get hungry between meals (yes, I know
    bison

    Also yummy.

    snacking is discouraged), or if you find yourself somewhere at mealtime and what is being offered is non-compliant (Whole30 vocabulary). So far, my favorites are Epic Bison Cranberry bars and Turkey bars. When something sweet sounds good, I am opting for Larabars–several are compliant and my favorites are lemon and key lime pie. (I’ve also ordered coconut cream pie and can’t wait for them to arrive).

  5. Traveling can be a bitch. That seems pretty obvious. My husband, who travels every week for work has had more challenges than I, but with prior planning, and some backup snacks, he seems to be doing fine. Plus, he reports that he is feeling so good, the effort is worth it.
  6. There are a TON of resources online. If I’m at the grocery store and wonder if something is compliant, all I do is Google it. There are also several bloggers sharing some great looking recipes and great cookbooks out there. There are also Facebook and Reddit groups focusing on Whole30.
  7. Stock up on ghee and olive oil. You’ll be able to cook almost anything with these two oils and they are permitted.
  8. Focus on what you CAN eat and not on what you can’t. This is stated in so many ways when you start to browse Whole30 resources, and it’s true. What CAN I eat? Steak, salmon, shrimp, chicken, ground beef (really almost any meat), eggs, avocados, guacamole, salsa, any fruit, almond butter, most nuts, almost any vegetable–including potatoes and sweet potatoes. As far as drinks go, I’m drinking mostly water but can also have club soda, LaCroix, tea, and kombucha. Sure, this will get boring pretty fast, but doing this for a month certainly won’t be hard.

I’m entering into the promised “feel good stage” of the plan and I am really looking forward to that. I feel good now so hearing the best is yet to come sounds amazing.

Timeline of the plan is found HERE. Evidently, I’m going to start wanting familiar comfort foods about now then I’m supposed to feel especially energetic and strong starting at day 16.

I guess we’ll see. I’ll let you know.

________________________________________________________________

whole30

From the Whole30 website

 

Whole 30 Diet-Day 1

whole

whole30.com

Let’s try this.

As a rule, I eat a healthy diet. I generally steer away from processed foods, I loathe most fast food choices, and I usually pay attention to my protein intake and I incorporate juicing into my regular diet. You could say I’m on the kale, Greek yogurt, and quinoa bandwagon–mostly.

I’ve been vaguely aware of the Whole 30 diet for the past couple of years but wrote it off as being far too restrictive because there are so many foods that are “not allowed.” Most nutritionists would argue that foods like whole grains, yogurts, and even an occasional glass of wine, are healthy and should be part of a normal diet for most people. I like the idea of a re-set of sorts, though, and that’s what this diet promises to be.

Here’s how the Whole 30 website describes the diet: “The Whole30 is, at its heart, an elimination diet. Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and (most important) firing up the immune system.”

I’m intrigued. If this gives me more energy and helps me drop those stubborn five pounds I can’t seem to get ride of, why not try it?

I also think I’ve got my husband talked into joining me so that will provide me with a lot of motivation.

So, for a month, we will give up dairy, carbs, and alcohol. It’s going to be difficult for me because a typical breakfast is oatmeal and yogurt, and it’s not unusual for me to consider cheese, crackers, and wine a perfectly satisfying dinner.

I’ll check in later and let you know how it is going.

Reboot Day 5–I did it!

Yesterday was the last day of my 5-day reboot and I am happy to report, I dropped a total of 5.5 pounds. More importantly, I feel really great.

Again, I didn’t follow the juice plan exactly, but–like yesterday–followed the plan’s intent. I had four juices along with chicken broth.

Sure, I was a little jealous when I had to watch others in my family eat real food, but it really wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t hungry, I had energy, and I will definitely do it again.  Glad to blog about it, too, because it really did help motivate me to stay on track.

What I craved today when I work up? A mango and some peanut butter on a graham cracker. Today’s breakfast seemed so indulgent! Now, I feel as though I’m back on track to following a nutritious, healthy diet. “Reboot” is a great name for this effort.

 

Calcium-Rich Cucumber (I drank this on days three and four and really liked it)

1/2 pineapple

8 celery stalks

2 large cucumbers

2 limes

 

Micro-nutrient Madness (I didn’t try this one)

2 oranges

4 carrots

2 orange bell peppers

4 celery stalks

1 cucumber

Reboot Day 4 Report

I must admit, I’m not exactly following the plan. Instead of the two juices I was supposed to have, I started getting creative, based on what produce I still have left. Let’s be honest–I’m too lazy to go to the store and buy more pears and apples.

Still, I’m following the intent of the plan–drinking two green juices and two “other” juices each day, and also making sure I am drinking regular water and coconut water. Tonight I allowed myself to have some plain yogurt with blueberries after my yoga class. I really needed some protein, I think. In fact, for people going on longer juice fasts, I think it’s recommended that they include protein powder in their juices, which makes sense to me–particularly for people who work out regularly.

As far as my workouts go, I haven’t been running these past four days, but I have gone to two Bikram yoga classes. I went Sunday and today and felt pretty strong. I wouldn’t at all say I’m feeling lethargic or experiencing any other symptoms some people report such as headaches or dry mouth. I feel good! (And, according to the scale, I’ve dropped five pounds–nice).

Plan recipes:

Chard Rock Cafe (I didn’t make this one)

6 carrots

2 cucumbers

1 lemon

4 large chard leaves

4 stems and leaves fresh oregano (optional)

 

Anti-Aging Beet Carrot Grape (I drank this one on day 5–liked it)

2 cups red grapes

4 celery stalks

4 beets (I used two)

4 large carrots

 

Reboot Day 3 Report

I woke up yesterday morning feeling VERY hungry so I was especially happy that I had a green juice already prepared in the fridge and I didn’t have to spend the 30+ minutes needed to make juice.

After I downed that, I headed in to work–but only after stopping at Vive Juicery.

juice

Sweet Mint & Local Love

Conveniently, Vive is located only a couple of blocks from where I work and they offer a wide variety of juices. Instead of following the day three plan on the 2016 Juice Challenge Website, I decided to take the easy way out and buy today’s juices.

My juice choices for today? Vive’s Local Love (beet, carrot, apple, swiss chard, lemon and ginger) and Sweet Mint (spinach, pear, cucumber, green apple, and mint). Click here for a link to their complete menu.

If I were following Joe’s Reboot, here’s what would be on the menu:

Pear Power

4 pears

2 lemons

8 celery stalks

2 cucumbers

handful of basil (may substitute other greens)

 

Carrot Apple Ginger

6 carrots

4 apples

2 inches ginger

 

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of beet juice. I’ll have to remember to keep that in mind in the future. Too bad, because it has the lovely color of a Cabernet or Pinot noir. I can pretend, right? I also will share that I felt as though I had too much juice to drink. At 6:00 p.m. I still had two more juices to force down. Again, not hungry at all due to the quantity of juice.

 

Day 7 of 7. This juice fast is over.

Today’s Theme: I recommend the experience.

Today wraps up my week-long juice fast. Am I glad it’s over? Yep. Would I do it again? Oh, yeah.

First of all, I feel strong and healthy. I avoided almost all of the potential side effects I read about, and I think that’s probably due to the fact that my normal diet wasn’t horrible to begin with. A juice fast would be much more difficult for someone who was really overweight, sedentary, and used to eating highly processed, fatty foods. Believe me, I certainly know how to enjoy junk food but I don’t allow myself to do so on a daily basis.

I lost weight. No surprise there. Living for an entire week on only liquefied fruits and vegetables is bound to have that effect. I’m just surprised at how much I lost and how easy it was. There were a few times when various solid foods sounded good, but I was never hungry. This is an easy diet for anyone who doesn’t like counting calories or points. I ate (drank) whenever I wanted and didn’t keep track. Sum total of my loss? 9.5 pounds.

As I wrote about earlier in the week, losing weight wasn’t the reason I wanted to try a juice fast, but I will admit that I liked discovering that I can now wear several pairs of pants that I had stored away because they no longer fit. They now fit again and I am now more ready for that Hawaii vacation in less than two weeks. (Unless I decide to re-gain everything back before then!)

More importantly, I have a renewed appreciation for the abundance of

from Google images

from Google images

our food choices. In this country, most of us do not have to worry about being fed and we often take our plentiful and easily accessible food choices for granted. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to have a wide selection of groceries and complete meals prepared for us 24-hours a day. The rest of the world doesn’t have this abundance and we often forget how grateful we should be.

I have a renewed appreciation for the variety of textures, tastes, and smells of food. Food is a wonderful gift–especially if we take the time to prepare it and savor it. I look forward to taking more time enjoying my meals.

I have a new mindfulness in terms of thinking about people who cannot eat certain foods. Several friends and acquaintances of mine have food allergies and cannot eat particular foods EVER. This week I found myself thinking of them a lot. I also thought of friends of mine who, when undergoing various medical procedures, were unable to eat solid foods for much longer than one week. They, too, were on my mind a lot. Very often, giving up certain foods is not a temporary choice, but a long-term necessity. I now have a small understanding of what that might be like.

I better understand the reasoning behind religious fasts. It’s no wonder so many religions incorporate fasting into their practices. Fasting requires discipline and a letting go of the need for immediate self-gratification. Fasting allows someone to more easily think about other things outside of themselves and then come back to their abundance with a new sense of appreciation.

From here on out I plan to continue juicing as a way to supplement my regular diet but embarking on a juice fast is also a wonderful way to celebrate Lent or other type of religious fast.

Advice to anyone wanting to try it for themselves?

  • Plan to spend a lot of time preparing your juices–more so than regular cooking.
  • Expect to spend at least a couple-hundred dollars on a decent juicer.
  • Plan on spending an inordinate amount of time hand washing the multiple parts of said juicer.
  • Expect to stock up on more fruits and vegetables than you have ever had in your house before. If you have access to a food co-op, a backyard garden, or a warehouse membership, all the better.
  • Expect to really look forward to real food by about day four, but stick it out. It’s worth it.

Best wishes to anyone wanting to embark on their own juicing journey. I’d love to hear about your experience.