Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Experience with Whole 30

I would like to share with you my experience on the Whole 30 diet. Today is Day 30.

A little background: I have been a long time sufferer of nasal allergies. Not the kind that make me sneeze, or unable to breathe but within a few minutes of feeling some minor stuffiness I can feel the most excruciating pounding headache. I call it "battling" these headaches because I don't let them win easily. I have tried everything under the sun to fight them; nasal irrigation, prescription nasal inhaler, over the counter nasal inhalers, zyrtec (and the like), herbs, drops, steam, compresses, etc.

Finally I decided I'd had enough. I had several friends who were gluten and dairy free tell me that I need to join them in eating this way and then my nasal "allergies" (sinusitis) would go away. So I decided to try the Whole 30 diet.

I dove in on September first with this lovely breakfast. I never got tired of it (I did eat just bacon and fruit a few times). This is bacon scrambled with carrots, peppers, and onions, compliant bacon (that means, no sugar - FYI, this was the ONLY brand in the store with no sugar), and a cup of tea.

Just for clarity, I only drank unsweetened tea and water for the whole month. You can have sparkling water, kombucha, etc, but I wasn't sure about the sugar content in Kombucha and am not a sparkling water fan.

I think this was my lunch on day 1. A salad with grape tomatoes, onions, and cashews. I had chicken breast on the side.

Chicken stir-fry with vegetables was my stand-by when I couldn't think of anything else to make! I had it multiple times and had it as leftovers multiple times. It was delicious. I used straight balsamic vinegar as my liquid instead of soy sauce since soy is not allowed (it is a legume).

The first weekend, I made chicken salad. It is normally one of my favorite dishes. I didn't care of this all that much because I had to make my own mayonnaise to complete this dish. First of all, making your own mayonnaise requires you to eat a raw egg. That was weird to me. However I have eaten my share of raw cookie dough throughout my life so I went for it. The olive oil I used wasn't very good quality and I could smell and taste the olive oil when I was finished with the mayo (which looked just like mayo but tasted weird). I did eat this helping but didn't try to make it again.

I attempted to make a compliant pizza. Cauliflower crust (just cauliflower and egg), with sliced zucchini, tomato, artichoke, and a few pepperoni on top. I made my own pizza sauce too, without sugar, which tasted fine.

*Disclaimer: I didn't realize at first that pepperoni has sugar added to the curing process. I realized this later. After I did some research I decided not to eat it again but it wasn't cause for a complete start-over on the diet. A lot of research says that the sugar is "eaten up" during the curing process but I decided to stay away the rest of the month, just in case.

Haha! No I did not eat this. However I did make this apple pie for my family while I was on Whole 30. I felt a little sorry for myself but I did enjoy just eating my sliced apple. We had visited an orchard and had a plethora of apples. I did save a slice of this pie and it is in my freezer waiting for me!

This picture is of the hardest day of my Whole 30. My husband was gone somewhere. I had had a stressful day with the kids and I was tired. I don't know why but I ordered them our favorite pizza. It smelled so heavenly and delightful. I got it so close to my mouth but I didn't take a bite. Instead I sauteed these veggies and had a hamburger patty. I felt so much better after I ate my dinner but I sure tortured myself!

Here's the run down:

1) Did it help my sinus issues (allergies)?

I have had these most of my adult life. After 30 days on the diet I have seen little improvement. Last week I had to use decongestant or nasal spray decongestant almost every day (I alternate!). However . . . I have an inkling that it might be helping a little bit. I think I may have had more days without sinus issues than I did the month before.

Because of this I have decided to stay gluten and dairy-free for at least another two weeks to give it time. I am committing to two weeks right now and may make it longer if I see improvement.

2) What was the hardest thing to give up?

I thought it would be sugar. I love my sweet treats. I try to use more natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, maple syrup, sucanat when I bake but it is still sweetener. Eating some fruit helped me and I never really did have a major craving for sweets.

I think I craved cheese the most, though. Several times I would be cutting off a piece of cheese for my kids and have to stop myself from eating one. It had become a habit just to pop it into my mouth.

3) Did I lose weight on Whole 30?

Well . . . 3.6 pounds to be exact. I also tracked my food which probably had more of an impact on not overeating. I have heard of people losing 15 - 20 + pounds. I was really hoping for 5 or more.

However I'm not really that surprised. Why am I not surprised you may ask? Because I generally don't eat complete junk. I was eating dairy and gluten containing foods, yes, but I rarely, if ever drink a pop (I had one on my birthday . . . in May). I don't eat packaged foods and I often cook whole and healthy foods from scratch. So making this switch didn't make a huge difference. I know some folks who went from a soda pop addiction and eating fast food multiple times a week and then started Whole 30. It is easy to see how this diet had a major impact on weight loss for them.

4) Did I get "tiger blood"?

This was really the biggest benefit I received from this diet. After the first week or so I did feel quite energetic, desired to walk a lot more (mainly outside) and had copious amounts of motivation. I am a motivated person so this isn't new but I didn't feel the same fatigue I had experienced before.

So in that area, I will say that it worked. I definitely have more energy and feel good that I'm nourishing my body at every meal, not just filling my stomach to feel full or satisfying a craving.

5) What was the best (most important) thing I learned from Whole 30?

The most precious thing I learned from Whole 30 is that I am in control of what I eat. Does that sound weird? It felt weird to type it. Let me explain. I have always had a difficult time resisting sweets or anything I strongly craved. I still had cravings while on Whole 30 but instead of ending the diet and not meeting my goal, I chose to eat a healthy food instead of my craving. I discovered once I had eaten then the craving was gone. I didn't need to eat the actual food for me to feel satisfied.

6) If I can do it anyone can do it!

Yes I am stubborn and determined to complete what I start but you can be too. Set a goal and tell others what you're doing. That helps a lot!

7) Eating Whole 30 did cause some changes to my digestion

The is the internet, the world wide web and I'm a relatively private person so I am not going to go into detail. I much prefer to share with people one-on-one so if you have questions about this please ask, Facebook message me, text me, whatever! I'm glad to share, I just don't want to broadcast my bathroom excursions for the whole world to read. I'll just say it changed, in some ways for the good, and in some ways for the bad!

8) Why am I not staying on Whole 30?

There are several reasons I am choosing to not remain on Whole 30. For starters it is very expensive to eat this way. I'm sure it didn't used to be expensive when you could go into your back yard and pick nuts, fruit, kill a chicken for dinner but we don't have those options in our backyard. I spent a lot of money on nuts and meat. Another main reason is that after about two weeks I got very bored and unsettled eating a piece of protein with vegetables for dinner. I did help myself finish strong by hitting up Pinterest and finding a lot of wonderful recipes. Some we are planning to actually keep in the regular meal rotation. Beef and Cabbage was a delicious choice as was the almond meal crusted chicken (almond meal is expensive!).

9) I will admit, I did cheat once.

We went to an apple orchard and the owner/tour guide gave us some apple cider, which is one of my favorite things. It was freshly pressed from apples with nothing what so ever added. I know drinking calories isn't encouraged but I drank it anyway. And it was delicious!

Whole 30 was a wonderful experience for me in many ways. I was able to prove to myself that I have control over the food I eat. I feel energetic and clear minded. The sluggishness I have struggled with in the past doesn't plague me in the same way. However I am disappointed in the amount of weight I lost, the way my allergies are still a big issue and the other digestive issues I mentioned. I would still recommend this diet for anyone trying to clean up their eating habits. I would have no hesitation eating this way again and may try to repeat this diet in a few months to see if anything happens with my allergies.

Eat well and live well. I believe that is true. Best wishes to everyone and please feel free to leave a comment or contact me with any questions you may have.