My Whole30 experience
I’m currently on the last day of my Whole30. I decided to give this a try on top of already planning to not drink alcohol for atleast a month. This blog is a little write-up of my experience.
The Whole30 basically comes down to a strict Paleo diet. The idea isn’t to lose weight so you’re prohibited from weighing yourself during the 30 days. Drinking comes down to water, tea, and coffee (only two cups of coffee per day :( is the rule). Food exists of vegetables, meat/fish/egg and the occasional fruits. This means leaving out any kind of dairy (oh sweet cheese, how I’ve missed you), pasta/rice, sugar of any kind, grains, legumes, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites and of course alcohol.
It kind of comes down to eating loads of healthy stuff, including healthy fats like avocado, olives, nuts, coconut oil/fat for every meal. To get a general idea of the goals of the Whole30 program I quoted the Whole30 site:
Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
I’m not going to explain every product that’s left out of this diet. If you have questionmarks about any of the ‘forbidden’ foods go check out the Whole30 or Whole9 website, they have a so called manifesto for loads of subjects that explain the why’s and what’s.
The first days weren’t that hard aside from having to spend way more time than usual on cooking, thinking about food and preparing. The company I work at serves lunch for all their employees which makes it that I normally only have to prepare food for diner. Breakfast existed of a couple of slices of bread or yoghurt with nuts and fruit. Quick and easy. Lunch at the office, so the only time I spend in the kitchen longer than 10 minutes was diner.
I’m a lazy cook, I don’t enjoy cooking when I come home from work or have to hurry to get something to eat before going to the dojo/gym. I occasionally like to make food when I don’t have to hurry (weekends, off days) but mostly I make easy, quick (albeit as healthy as possible) dishes.
So I kind of had to throw my life around to suddenly think what I was going to eat the next day, and if possible even prepare it the night before to save some time in the morning. I like going to work early so I have some time left before my ‘evening-program’ at the end of the day, but having to make both breakfast and lunch kind of stood in the way of that (or I had to get up crazy early, which sucks).
The Whole30 program offers a timeline which can be used to describe how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. The timeline was pretty spot on. This means some occasional tiring days, days where you want to stop and eat chocolate, days with loads of energy, etc. Read the timeline if you want to see the ‘changes’ on a daily basis.
The first days I felt good, especially knowing that this ‘healthy’ month was probably going to be good for me. I felt energetic most way through the diet but I don’t know if this came because of food or not. I did notice that after my daily job I still had energy left to work on some freelance jobs in the evening, but I can’t really remember if it has always been like that during busy times or if it felt different before.
Kudos to myself, for helping out my friend Lior’s catering business, hanging an entire night above that amazing pizza, and still continue to NOT eat any of it.
The occasional cravings for sweet stuff and ‘prohibited food’ were there for basically the entire 30 days. Not so much because I desired stuff that I normally eat a lot, but more so because I knew I couldn’t eat them, which made me want ‘bad food’ even more. I generally eat fairly healthy and most of my not eating healthy diners are because I had a long day at work or I’m in the weekend mood which makes me want to order something and just chill-out on the couch. I couldn’t do that during these 30 days which made me cranky at times, due to the fact that I had to drag my lazy ass of the couch and actually get to work, deciding on what to eat and cook it. Meh!
I wonder if this diet is actually as life changing as stated. For a regularly healthy guy that works out, has a steady sleep and work rhythm that is. I do think it’s lifechanging for someone not used to cooking, and living unhealthy on a structural basis. All about breaking habits and learning new ones.
I lost 6.4kg, which is a looooot in 30 days. I wonder if those kilos come flying back at me once I start to eat all the Whole30 prohibited products again. Staying of too much sugar and maintaining a healthy overall healthy diet of course helps. I do want to bring up that I didn’t actually eat less during these 30 days and I only experienced the occasional ‘hunger-feel’ a couple of times, which for me, isn’t much different from a regular non-Whole30 day.
The weekends felt great and I got a lot of work done but I reckon that mostly came from not being hungover from partying or hanging in the pub till late. So the not drinking alcohol part felt way more useful than the actual diet on that level.
What helped a lot was doing this together with someone. Exiting the diet is a lot less hard when you have someone else sharing the pain. And pulling each other through is great! Also preparing food together and switching who cooks diner helps a bit in the tedious “damn I have to cook food again” thoughts.
I think the general idea of the diet is to let your body get used to processing healthy food without the interruption of garbage that blocks the way. This should lead to a long-term more healthy way of living.
Things I did learn was to cook with what’s in the fridge. A dish previously existed mostly of a consistent ‘whole’ dish. Pasta with a sauce, potatoes/veggies/proteine, rice with meat and sauce, etc. I learned that you can quickly whip up a meal by making veggies, cooking some fish and adding some additional fats in the form of nuts or olives if neccessary. This is awesome and this really inspired me to not over-think diner.
I’m happy to go back to getting some quick breakfast, having lunch at the office and only having to think about what to eat for diner. These 30 days felt like you had to constantly think about food because you actually had to prepare a dish three times a day. This felt like a big decrease in the time I had besides work and leisure. An example: I had to go on a trip to a different city for a xyce gig. Normally we would get something to eat at a McDonalds or pub before the gig, this time I had to actually think about some kind of diner to bring in, that was still enjoyable cold, and could be eaten after being out of the fridge for 5–6 hours. Loads of complex thinking. ;-)
From tomorrow on, healthy food, sports, 3 cups of coffee a day, and the occasional snack will be my ‘regular’ program again. \o/