Thursday, 31 March 2016

Life After Whole30

Brandon and I finished the Whole30 program on March 8th. 30 days of no grains, legumes, alcohol, dairy, soy, or added sugars. Prior to embarking on the Whole30 journey, I had no idea if we'd actually follow through with it and complete the program. There are a lot of restrictions and it definitely took a lot of planning and meal prepping but it wasn't impossible to accommodate. I remember reading in It Starts With Food that "giving birth is hard, fighting cancer is hard, not having creamer in your coffee for 30 days is NOT hard." First of all, I drink my coffee black so that was the least of my concerns but the same thing applies for giving up dark chocolate or a glass of wine. There are much harder things in life than cutting out some foods for 30 days. Also, during this endeavor Brandon and I really tried to focus on all the foods we COULD eat, instead of all the things we COULDN'T eat. Perspective is everything :)

Our celebratory completion photo! :)

What I Liked
  • That the focus is on consuming whole, unrefined foods. Eating this way has many benefits and I LOVED the way I felt after eating. Minimal bloating and digestion issues!
  • No calorie counting, weighing of food or obsessing over over consumption. This is a huge deal for me since I have always had a troubled relationship with food (binge eating, obsessive calorie counting, etc).
  • Having a support system! My sister completed two rounds of Whole30 before us, so she was an amazing resource. She was always willing to answer any questions we had and provided us a lot of inspiration to keep going. As well, I am so SO thankful that Brandon chose to go through this process with me. We helped each other through the struggles and I'm really not sure I could have done it without his support and love.  He's the best :)
What I Disliked
  • I got really, really sick of cooking every single meal and doing SO many dishes. Sometimes, in the early morning or after a long day of work, the last thing I wanted to do was cook but we managed. Meal prep is awesome and it's definitely something I am trying to stick with after Whole30 since it saves so much time during the week.
  • The cost of Whole30 foods. I follow a lot of people on social media from the States who can just easily run to the nearest Trader Joe's or Whole Foods however that's not the case in Manitoba. We thankfully found a lot of foods we could eat (hello cashew butter!) but it just took a lot of label reading and it wasn't easy on the bank account.
  • Having to explain the program to people who questioned why I wasn't eating staff room treats or why I couldn't eat certain foods off the menu. It just gets tiring having to explain it over and over to people and listen to their opinions on why it's "ridiculous" or "stupid". My sister told me that when people asked her about it, she would start by mentioning all the foods she COULD eat and really tried to focus on all the positives of the program. I quickly adapted this strategy instead of saying "well you can't eat grains, dairy, legumes, soy, alcohol, sugars, etc", I would say "we eat a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts, oils. etc".

Tips for a Successful Whole30
  • Read the book and website thoroughly. Don't go into this program uneducated about it or you're setting yourself up for failure.
  • Get used to meal prepping on a certain day. Make things in bulk which will make your life easier. Even just cutting up fruits and veggies to make them more accessible. I also like making a big batch of roasted sweet and regular potatoes to have ready for breakfasts.
  • Don't make it such a big deal and people around you will follow suit. Shouting that you're doing a Whole30 from the rooftops is not necessary. Choose who you tell and remove the label to make your life easier. (this is something that I honestly did struggle with)
  • Eat balanced meals with fats, carbs, and protein. Don't be afraid of carbs or fats because if you skimp you will notice a huge energy drop. 
  • Be confident in the reasons why you're doing the program. Don't let others around you sway your opinions of the program because that will make it SO much harder for you to commit. Decide that you want to do it, focus on the benefits, and let others choose what's best for them.
Final Thoughts
  • I missed the ease of ordering out at restaurants. We found it pretty much impossible to order food when we were out and because of that we chose to go out less than we normally would.
  • There is sugar in everything. So many food products have added sugar in them and it's actually quite revolting. Many sauces, condiments, pre-packaged foods, nuts, bacon, meat, etc have added sugar which is highly unnecessary. Doing a Whole30 really opened up my eyes to reading ingredient lists and I will no longer eat granola bars with 25 ingredients in them (larabars for the win!).
  • Dairy, grains, and legumes aren't inherently bad for everyone. Every single person digests foods directly and feels the effects of them differently. For example, peanut butter and oats don't agree well with me which I never would have guessed before Whole30 and small amounts of dairy and gluten don't affect me as much as I thought.
  • I will never discredit the way people choose to eat as long as they are happy and healthy (both physically and mentally) because it's not my place to judge. Since I've started working in the health industry, I have had many clients ask for my opinions on different diets/lifestyles and I have to be very cautious in what information I disclose to them. I will always preach BALANCE in every single lifestyle choice because sometimes you need a cupcake or an adult beverage. I would never push someone to do a Whole30 but if they are interested, of course I would offer them advice and guidance.
  • After the initial week or two of cravings, I really did start to feel food freedom. Where even when non-compliant foods were put in front of me, it was really easy for me to say no and walk away. Partially because I was never hungry between meals but also because I know it would make me feel like crap. I can honestly say that since Whole30, there have been a few times when I've gone overboard on chocolate or chips or wine and it leaves me feeling really crappy. Coming from a past where I went through phases of binge eating and other times of food restriction, it felt really good to finally be in control of my cravings and appetite.
Final Thoughts & Next Steps
I am really glad that Brandon and I decided to do a Whole30 and overall we had a really great experience. I felt reconnected to my body and I feel like I gained a better understanding of how to properly fuel my body. I truly believe that food has many healing properties and that many health issues can be helped or resolved through dietary choices. Even though I loved Whole30, doesn't mean that it's the best solution for everyone. Do your research and make sure that it's a good fit for you before you embark on the journey. Whole30 is not a program that is meant to make you feel restricted and miserable but rather it's meant to help promote healthy food relationships, proper hormone levels, a healthy gut, and a healing of systemic inflammation.

Here's to a balanced life full of healthy choices, occasional treats, and most of all happiness.

I am happy to answer any and all questions about Whole30 and would love to hear fellow Whole30 experiences from you :)

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