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What I learned from doing the Whole30…

I recently finished a Whole30 during the month of May / June, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions as to what I learned and what I did during that month.  In fact, my book club was so interested, It Starts With Food is the book for July!   So, here’s my lessons learned:

  1. EGGS, how I missed you!
  2. I don’t miss bread all that much
  3. I don’t really miss dairy all that much (except in my morning coffee)
  4. Cooking for a week is HARD (but then it gets easier…)
  5. Cooking is actually kind of fun
  6. Traveling brings out a multitude of emotional eating cravings for me
  7. I have a lot of issues being told “oh, you’re so good”, “look at you eating all healthy”, etc, when eating

1.            EGGS, how I missed you!

Prior to the Whole30, I was eating mostly vegan, courtesy of Karyn’s at home.  I loved Karyn’s for the healthy convenience and for the variety – I didn’t have Singles Syndrome of making something for dinner and having that same thing 3 more times the next week.  But, one downside of eating vegan is that, well, eggs are not on the menu.   And I. Love. Eggs.  I ate them pretty much every day for breakfast on the whole30, and they were delicious.

2.            I don’t miss bread all that much

Surprisingly, this was pretty easy.  I truly didn’t miss bread, pasta, or any other sort of bread form, and now 25 days after my whole30, it’s still pretty much something I don’t miss in my life.  While traveling last week, I really did want pasta for dinner, but I think it’s more that we all went to an Italian place and everyone else was getting pasta, so why couldn’t I have it? (see #6)

3.            I don’t really miss dairy all that much (except in my morning coffee) (ok, and the occasional ice cream)

The same thing that was true for bread/grains is almost true for dairy.  The only thing I truly missed was creamer in my coffee in the morning.  I don’t really have much of a caffeine habit, after I cut out sodas (R.I.P Coke Zero) from my life in December 2011, but I do really enjoy my morning routine of email and planning my day with a cup of coffee with a flavored creamer.

As a side note, I’d read a consumer reports article or the like while visiting my mother in April that the standard flavored creamers were loaded with transfats, although they have 0g on the label, but that is because the portion size is miniscule, compared with the 3 Tbsp I would put in.  So, I’d switched to the natural bliss just prior. 

As the whole30 program suggests, I tried coffee with just coconut cream, and I tried it black.  Both were unpalatable to me without sweetener, so I substituted herbal tea, but it was just NOT THE SAME.

Although, coming off my whole30, I decided to try and keep dairy out of my life, and decided that coconut milk + 1 tbsp agave nectar was pretty drinkable, so I’m mostly dairy free, except for the occasional ice cream treat.

4.            Cooking for a week is HARD (but then it gets easier…)

One thing I was determined to do, having learned from my Karyn’s period, is that for me to eat healthy, it needs to be a) convenient and b) varied.  If I suffered from Single Syndrome, I would get bored, pissy and feel deprived.  So, I borrowed crock pots from 3 friends, and set out to prep 12 meals in one weekend.  I figured 12 meals would give me 48 meals, which would get me through most of the 60 lunch/dinners in the 30 day period (breakfast would mostly be eggs, easy peasy).

The planning was actually quite fun (see the next bullet), but I underestimated the shopping.  I set out on a Friday night and spent THREE HOURS SHOPPING.  I believe the words that came out of my mouth were “How do people with a family do this on a regular basis??” as their 10 meals would only last them 2 weeks, tops.

I also underestimated the time and labor it would take to prep food, and the ability of my hand-e-down Cuisinart from the 80s to still have horsepower.  After I bought a new food processor, things went much more smoothly.  I ended up cooking 2 or 3 meals on Saturday, 2-3 meals on Sunday and then had the ingredients to toss something in the crockpot every night of the week for the rest of the week.

(I also learned that my freezer is on the tiny side…)

5.            Cooking is actually kind of fun

I actually really enjoyed cooking, when I got into it.  Watching my food processor make quick work of onions, learning how to prep leeks from a youtube video, browsing the internet for nifty recipes, and even making my own Rumchata cupcakes by taking two recipes and “frankensteining” them together … it was all quite entertaining and fulfilling.

I think my friend Julie hit it on the nose, when she said that the appeal of being a “domestic goddess”, as she calls me, is the science of it – the learning.  That sounds about right to me.

6.            Traveling brings out a multitude of emotional eating cravings for me

My last week of the Whole30, I ended up on business travel.  It’s a good thing that I’d gotten my food making down by then, and from my previous travel stint, knew how to get food through security (freeze it and bring it in a cooler).  I made egg cups to take along for breakfast, and good thing I did, because at the hotel there was no grain-free, dairy-free option; same goes for the breakfast at the conference.  Scary thought.

Same thing happened at the 3 pm breaks – there was a pile of candy and trail mix.  Nothing Whole30 approved, and I’ll tell you what – I had the most violent sugar cravings I’ve had in a long time, looking at all that candy, and it wasn’t even my favorite kind!

I made it through by the whites of my knuckles, but I realized that my inner child sees traveling as either a 1) pain or 2) a free for all to eat whatever she wants because we’re working so hard, or work is boring, or I’m tired, or all of the above.  It’s definitely a concept I need to explore, as I’m still going to be traveling in the future (and my last trip had a minor meltdown, as well).

7.            I have a lot of issues being told “oh, you’re so good”, “look at you eating all healthy”, etc, when eating

This came up several times during my 30 days, and a lot of it is reverse peer-pressure I put on myself, I think.  When I see everyone drinking, I put thoughts in their head that they think I’m no fun at all because I’m not drinking; that I’m boring.  And eating healthy is being good, and being good is being boring, and I don’t want to be boring.

I also feel guilty for making other people feel guilty about their eating.  Talk about messed up, eh? But while traveling, my companions said (more than once), “Oh, look at you – we always say we’re going to eat healthier when traveling, but never do…”, or “When you’re back to drinking/eating, we’ll have to go do this…”.  Instead of taking this as a compliment on having the fortitude to improve myself, I see it as “Oh, you’re making me feel guilty for doing this”, or “I’m going to have to change my behavior since you’re being so GOOD [see above for additional guilt].”

So, I feel like I should drink/eat that dessert so YOU don’t feel guilty about drinking/eating that dessert.

… that’s a whole lot of messed up right there!   But, now that I know it’s there, and it got a light shined upon it, I can work to fix that crazy thinking.  As my friend A said, the next time someone says that “Oh, you’re eating so healthy…” or the like, I can always have the option of saying “Well, exactly, like YOU SHOULD BE!”   … or maybe I can just say that in my head, and feel less guilty about taking care of myself.

And now?

So that’s what I’ve learned.  As a bonus, I lost 10 (!) lbs during the Whole30 – can’t complain about that.  I didn’t really see the spike of energy that was fortold, but I did finally feel a lot better when I started taking my NaDH regularly.  I’ve got a feeling the 9 months I spent working 60+ hours a week and traveling at the same time for work did a doozy on my adrenal glands, and I’ve got a lot of repair ahead of me.

I’m basically still following the Whole30 plan, with some dark chocolate and agave sweetener thrown in, and the occasional Rumchata cupcake.  I had a slip last week with traveling, but have signed up with dietbet for a game to keep myself on track, and also am looking at Intermittent Fasting, specifically the Bulletproof Coffee version to help lower my other hormonal factors.  But more on that in another post.


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