This is my 4th round of Whole30 since August 2015 and to be honest I’m starting to feel a little frustrated that I haven’t lost more weight than I have. However, one thing I have to keep reminding myself is that Whole30 is essentially about wellness, not about weight loss or detoxing.
So what is Whole30? The simplest definition would be to call it an ‘elimination diet’ as you eliminate wheat, dairy and sugar. The first time I did the programme people were horrified and I was constantly asked ‘but what will you eat?’ What you eat on the programme is a wide range of completely natural, whole foods: meat, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, vegetables and fruit and the emphasis is on increasing the amount of dietary (healthy) fats you eat which, in addition to the above list, includes things like avocados, coconut oil, full-fat coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, olives, etc. There really is no deprivation involved (although admittedly the first 5 or 6 days without sugar and bread can result in headaches, fatigue and cravings but once you get through this, and you can get through it, you start to feel so much better) and there is a wealth of online support, recipes and information available online at http://www.whole30.com
Once the 30 days are up, you should start to reintroduce each of the things you eliminated, one at a time, and note how it makes you feel. This will allow to see if you have any intolerances that you were previously unaware of. This is another part of the programme I have previously not adhered to – usually because I have had an event to attend almost immediately the programme finished and I’ve thrown myself headfirst into the celebration. This time round I will be a lot more mindful of continuing to eat clean and to monitor how I feel if/when I eat anything that was not part of the programme. I’m also trying to trick my brain by not thinking about the endpoint…
The main reason for doing the programme, as I mentioned above, is wellness. Each time previously I have enjoyed a little weight loss, but my skin and eyes were clear, I didn’t suffer from the mid-afternoon slump that used to see me reaching for more coffee and a kit-kat in lieu of a nap, and I really enjoyed the food I was eating. As someone who never really classed herself as much of a cook, I surprised myself by finding I enjoyed the process of chopping and preparing (not so much the washing up though) and creating recipes. There is definitely something therapeutic about cooking from scratch.
Preparation is key on this programme, there is no getting away from this. I tend to batch cook stews, mince, chicken curry, etc and freeze these ready to add cauliflower rice or vegetable noodles. I also make a large fittata on a Saturday evening, with lots of green veg, which I slice up and store in the fridge. This makes the perfect easy to grab breakfast on work mornings when there’s maybe not so much time to make something from scratch. Also handy to have are items such as tinned tuna and sardines, jars of olives, sauerkraut (more on the benefits of fermented food in a future post), nuts (e.g. macadamia in case of a snack-attack.
However, I find that on this programme I very rarely, if ever, need to snack as the premise is to eat as much as you like from Whole30 compliant foods and to eat until you are satisfied. Although I definitely feel and see the health benefits to eating this way (you may have heard of Paleo, Primal, High Fat Low Carb (or HFLC) and these are based around similar principles), I still find it hard to shake my hard-wired need to look for weight loss and do get a little disheartened that I don’t seem to see the same results as the people featured in the testimonials online or that my own friends seem to see. Giving it a lot of thought, this may be because I take ‘eat as much as you like until you feel full’ to it’s limits. So I’m trying smaller portion sizes this time around and hopefully I’ll see results on the tape (I never use a scale and rely on my clothes and tape to measure my results).
As I learn more about functional nutrition (which to my mind the principles of Whole30 fall under) I will also be working on changing my relationship with food and eating for wellness rather than simply for weight loss. I do know this will take some time as I won’t be able to change 30+ years of thinking in a few months, and I hope that by being open and honest in this blog, I will encourage others who find it hard to break the habits of a lifetime as they work to improve their relationship with food and their health.
Have you tried Whole30 or made a shift to a HFLC style way of eating? How do/did you find it? What were your challenges? Please share your thoughts in the comments.