I completed Whole 30!
I know you’re ready to hear my Whole 30 results. I can’t believe it’s already over. I knew I would finish, and it went by faster than I thought it would. Since I already ate fairly clean to begin with it wasn’t too difficult for me to get started. I did have a few obstacles here and there, and there are things that I would do differently if I were to start again, but my whole experience was mostly positive and I learned a lot. Here’s the low-down, what I liked, what I found challenging, how I felt, what I would do differently, and what I ate.
The main reason I embarked on Whole30 was basically to do a reset. Sort of like a detox, I guess. I wanted to start forming healthy habits and to learn about my body and my food intolerances. I wasn’t really looking for any weight loss or anything. I do have body fat that I’d like to lose, but that’s not why I chose to do Whole 30. This was more for health reasons and to feel better physically, and try to get a handle on my digestive issues.
The Food – I really enjoyed all of the food I ate. I love eating healthy, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I know that I have fueled my body with good, whole foods. And this really opened the door to creating even more new recipes, and I was really happy with the recipes that I came up with during Whole 30. I now have a “Whole 30” category under Recipes. Here are the recipes I made:
Grilled Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Relish
Harvest Breakfast Hash
Caramelized Pear Pork Chops
Shrimp and Bacon “Spaghetti”
Bacon, Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli Breakfast Casserole
Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Italian Pork Meatballs
Lemon Garlic Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs
Whole 30 Breakfast Sandwiches with Homemade Pork-Apple Sausage
Creamy Chicken with Artichokes and Mushrooms
Orange Cashew Chicken
Whole30 Pad Thai with Sweet Potato Noodles
Relationship with Food – This really helped improve my relationship with food. I no longer depend on sugar or caffeine to get through the day, and have minimal cravings and urges to snack in between meals. It was a little difficult at first and I was eating fruit to satisfy my sugar cravings, but once I started to cut more sugar out and got adjusted I found that it became super easy to walk by the plate of cookies in the break-room without even a second glance, or walk down the candy aisle without wanting to grab everything.
Carbs – One of the challenges in the beginning was getting enough carbohydrates in my diet. My body needs the carbohydrates for my workouts and for fuel, and I progress and function better in workouts when I consume more of them. I tried to stay away from too much fruit because the fructose is not really of use to your muscles, and started adding more starchy carbs like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains and squashes.
Dining Out – I think the biggest challenge was eating out. My husband and I like to go out to eat every Friday night, and usually for a couple breakfast and lunches on the weekends. It’s not impossible though. You just need to communicate and call around. I did research on restaurants around us, looked up allergen menus, called and emailed a few asking about ingredients and oils used in specific dishes, and told my server exactly how I wanted my food cooked. You will find a lot of places are pretty accommodating. I even emailed a Mexican restaurant near us to ask about their fajitas, because I thought they’d be safe. They replied and let me know that their meat was marinated the day before in a mixture that contained soy sauce, but if I let them know when I was coming in then they would set aside a plain chicken breast that could be tossed on the grill without the seasonings to cook for me. I didn’t end up going, but I thought that was really nice.
Reading Labels and Finding Compliant Foods – It can be difficult to find compliant meats and foods that don’t have added sugar and other things. Ever try to find bacon or breakfast sausage without sugar in the ingredients? Luckily, the HEB’s around me sell Penderson Farm’s bacon, and I resorted to making my own breakfast sausage using the sausage from this recipe, but you’d be surprised at how companies try to sneak sugar into their products. I’d recommend using the PDF Whole30 provides on Sneaky Sugars. Penderson Farm’s has a store locator on their website so you should be able to find if they are carried in stores near you, but I’d check out the natural food stores near you such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, etc.
How I felt
Energy – I cut out caffeine about a week before I started Whole30 because I realized my normal non-dairy creamer has soy in it, and I don’t like coffee without added sweetener (which is not allowed), and I wanted to ween myself off of caffeine. By the time I started Whole30 I was no longer dependent on coffee for mornings, but I was still a bit sluggish in the mornings and had a hard time getting out of bed. About 3-4 days into Whole30 my energy levels started to increase and become more even, and I was waking up more alert and not feeling sleepy in the afternoon. This only got better and my sleep improved (for the most part, I have cats that insist that they must eat about 2 hours before my alarm clock goes off). I had energy for my workouts and they felt great. I love waking up feeling refreshed and alert, and am awake all day up until bedtime. It made it much easier to get out of bed in the mornings.
Mentally – I felt like I was able to focus more throughout the day. And overall, I just felt really good about myself, I felt great that I was fueling my body with good, whole foods and that I was sticking to it. Being healthy makes me happy.
Physically – I can’t begin to say how much better physically I feel, in all aspects. I had terrible allergies before and was constantly wiping at my nose all day long. Now it could be due to the fact that I cut out all forms of soy, which my doctor did say would help a lot with my head, but it cleared up tremendously. My eyes didn’t feel dry and irritated, and my nose feels loads better. I still have a small sniffle at times, but I’m also allergic to most molds and the mold has been high in Texas. I only had to use my prescription a couple of times during Whole30. And my gut feels amazing! For years I have had numerous digestive issues, most of which is probably due to my past with eating disorders, but I suspect some of them are food intolerances as well. I would have every issue from nausea, indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, bloating…and whatever else you can think of. It got to a point where they were so normal for me that I just learned to ignore them and deal with the discomfort of it all. But after the first week of Whole30 when most of that disappeared, I realized just how miserable my gut was before. Part of this may be due to the soy as well, since I didn’t realize that it was in a lot of the things that I ate, and almost every restaurant that we normally ate at had soy in almost all of their menu items when I checked the allergen menus. I still had minor bloating some days when I ate more nuts or raw fruits and vegetables, but otherwise I felt the best I have felt in a long time. I just can’t praise Whole30 enough for how much better I feel physically. Which makes me feel better mentally!
TIL (Things I Learned)
Food Intolerances – I learned that I definitely have some food intolerances. Once I was a week into Whole30, almost all of my digestive issues that I normally have went away. I’ve gotten so used to them over the years that I barely even pay attention to the symptoms anymore, but once they were gone and I saw how amazing I felt, I realized that there are things that I was eating before-hand that don’t agree with my body. Soy could be a big part of this too, since I found out I was allergic to soy right before beginning Whole30.
Caffeine – I learned that I can function just fine without caffeine. I don’t know if I will start drinking caffeinated drinks again or not, besides kombucha. I like the taste of coffee, but I like not being dependent upon to get up in the mornings. Especially on drill weekends when I have to wake up much earlier than I normally do and don’t always have time to make coffee.
Kombucha – I also learned that drinking kombucha helps even more with having a great-feeling gut. I was already feeling great on Whole30, but when I started drinking more kombucha, I felt even better. I’ve started making my own now and will share my favorite recipe later.
Nuts and Fruits – So I realize that when I eat more than 1-2 servings of fruit or nuts/nut butter in a day that I tend to feel a little more bloated. Also, fruit kind of sparks my sugar dragon, so I try to stay away from eating too much of it.
Meal Planning and Budgeting – This really helped me to budget and meal plan much more efficiently. I get paid every two weeks, so I started making a two-week meal plan in my bullet journal. I use post-it’s on a two-page spread in my book to interchange meals around that I can change out every two weeks, and I make my shopping list based on what I planned. I find it easiest to plan dinners first, because lunch is almost always going to be leftovers. I learned to incorporate more meals that would feed us longer, like the crock-pot pork carnitas and green-chile chicken, which makes a lot of food and is fairly inexpensive to make. Chicken thighs, pork roasts, ground meat and a crock-pot can go a long way! Here’s a look at my set-up:
Listening to my Body – Since I stopped logging food this year I have been learning to listen more to my body and what it needs, and Whole 30 really helped. With eliminating specific foods and only eating whole foods that my body can use well, I learned more about how to distinguish hunger from cravings, and what my body was really asking for if I was hungry. I can mostly tell when it is carbs, fat or protein that my body is wanting.
Favorite things I Ate
I loved everything that I ate on Whole30 and will continue to eat them. Why have I never tried sweet potato toast before? They are great in the morning with some almond butter, or as buns! And plantains, I never really ate them until I started Whole30. Here are some of my favorite recipes that I have tried, and some that I’ve created during Whole30:
Whole30 Breakfast Sandwiches with Homemade Pork-Apple Sausage (mine)
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from Kitchn
Green Chile Chicken from Stupid Easy Paleo
Whole30 Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas from Physical Kitchness
Pad Thai with Sweet Potato Noodles (mine)
Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Italian Pork Meatballs (mine)
Harvest Breakfast Hash (mine)
Whole 30 Results
Again, I did not do this for weight-loss reasons, but I did have some success in that department. On the scale I didn’t lose very much at all. I lost two pounds, which is not very significant, especially since I lose and gain that much in a single day. I don’t rely on the scale much and I am at around the right weight for my frame, so the weight doesn’t mean anything to me.
Keep in mind that this is only 30 days, and that’s not much time at all to see big changes. It can take 3 months to see significant changes in a healthy way. I didn’t do any measurements before-hand, but I did take a pictures. There is a slight difference and it looks like I lost a little around my waist. I tried to take the photos at the same time of day, wearing the same thing and posing the same way to give the most accurate picture I could.
Nothing huge, but it is a slight improvement. Especially considering there is only a 23 day difference in between the two photos, and I didn’t exercise for the last week and a half due to a knee injury. My husband also said that you can more definition in my left shoulder than before.
Most of my results were NSV (non-scale victories). I checked 58 things off of the NSV Checklist, with the majority of them being under the Physical and the Food and Behaviors categories.
What I would Do Differently
Planning – I got into a good habit of planning a couple weeks into Whole 30, but I think I would have done better if I planned as efficiently as I did from the beginning. My budgeting would have been better too. I went a little crazy the first week going to the store and buying whatever I saw that was Whole 30 compliant. Once I got into my steady planning routine, it got easier and my grocery bill was lower. I would suggest planning out your weeks before starting, and finding cost-efficient meals and snacks. I get things from Costco like avocado and coconut oil, and the large bags of raw almonds that last us a few months and are great for snacks, and cooked more recipes that were inexpensive that would provide a lot of leftovers, like chicken thighs, soups, crock-pot chili and pulled pork, etc.
Fruit – I got a little too happy with fruit in the beginning to satisfy my sugar cravings, and while fruit is healthier than donuts, it is still sugar. I would use dates to curb my sweet-tooth, but that didn’t help, and I got a little to happy with some dates one day. Eating
the fruit was hindering my progress and interfering with my goal of decreasing my sugar cravings. Once I limited myself to one serving a day (if any) I saw more progress and the cravings lessened.
Larabars and RX bars – I tried not to eat too many of these, because these are sugar and it’s easy to want to eat more of them. And it’s better on Whole 30 to get your fuel from actual foods and not rely on snack bars. I mainly used these for a pre-workout snack, and on drill weekends when I had to bring portable snacks and food, but it was easy to grab one in the midday and snack on them, and once I had one it was easy to want more. They tend to tap into my sugar dragon a bit. Dates do that for me, and most of the Whole30 approved Larabars have dates as the base. If you need a quick snack in a pinch these are great, but if you’re like me and have sugar cravings you might want to limit them.
Would I do it Again?
Yes. I would definitely do it again, and plan on applying most of the Whole30 principles to my life. I will reintroduce grains, legumes and gluten slowly on the 10 day Reintroduction Schedule to find exactly what my body can tolerate and what it can’t, and will indulge from time to time, but for the most part I plan to avoid added sugars or sweeteners. I’m still trying to decide if I’d like to reintroduce coffee or not, I function so well without caffeine now and love my Crio Bru, but sometimes miss a good cup of coffee.
I loved everything Whole 30 did for me. I created new yummy recipes, I learned how to plan and budget more efficiently, and I pretty much eradicated all of my digestive issues. It improved my allergies, sleep and energy, and just made me feel healthier all around. I would definitely recommend giving Whole 30 a try, especially if you think you might have food intolerances. If you’re considering getting started, I would start with their book It Starts with Food, then check out the Whole 30 website for the rules, helpful downloads, meal plans and more.
If you would like to see exactly what I ate and how I felt each week, here are all the weekly recaps of every meal I ate:
Have you done a Whole30? What were your results, how did it make you feel? If you are thinking about starting one, I hope this is helpful and informative and gives you some good insights and meal options! Stay healthy, my friends!
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