I completed my first Whole30 (with one important exception) about two months ago now. I haven’t got round to writing a retrospective on the experience – mostly as I’ve not actually moved far away from the Whole30 style of eating. As it turns out, dining like a paleo works really well for me.
Did I stick to it properly?
No. So I can’t officially say that I actually “did a Whole30”. I was 100% compliant in terms of food, but I only did the first 14 days without wine. This was a conscious and planned deviation. As it turned out I just didn’t have the desire to complete a whole 30 days dry. The thought processes involved in that decision could make for a whole blog post about the role of alcohol in our Western lives. I’ll leave that for now though.
Isn’t it a boring and restrictive way to eat?
I actually really did not feel bored or deprived at all. Dining out on steak, pork belly, roast veggies and duck fat roast potatoes was definitely not punishment. Lunch was a treat when I added half an avocado to my salad, and breakfasting on nut butter with tinned coconut cream in my coffee was actually pretty delicious too!
Now for some, alarm bells may be ringing; pork belly, avocado, nut butter, coconut cream… sounds pretty fatty. How is this healthy? One of the biggest Whole30 newsflashes is that we absolutely should not be eliminating fat from our diet. It’s an important energy source and we need it for important bodily processes. Like manufacturing hormones. And brain cells. According to Whole30 scripture, fat isn’t the problem in our diets. Fat isn’t what’s making us fat – sugar and processed foods are. More on that in a later post.
As I exercise a fair bit and did lose some weight in the first week, throughout the remaining days my focus was on making sure I was eating enough calories. The easiest way to up calories is to add more fat in. Yep, eating fat was a priority. For me, this felt way more liberating than restrictive.
It sounds like there is a lot of planning and thinking involved!
Yes, there is. However, I really enjoyed the push to reinvent my culinary routine as it meant that I explored so many new and delicious recipes. That was probably what I enjoyed most about following the programme.
In order to make the 30 days as easy as possible, I wrote a list of what I would be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner by week ahead of beginning. This wasn’t as time consuming as it seems as on week nights we only cook once or twice (eating a big one pot Monday through Wednesday) and on the weekend are happy BBQing. I ate the same lunch pretty much every day; a delicious tuna, avocado and roast sweet potato salad that I would chose over a soggy sandwich anyway.
I must admit that eating out on the programme was slightly less relaxing than usual. I tried to have friends round for BBQs as much as possible to make it easier but did still end up eating out for on average 2 dinners and 2 brunches per week. Brunch was fairly easy as most places allow you to add on and switch out – I have become an expert in who does the best baked eggs in Bondi. To make dinner easier I steered clear of pizza / pasta, Chinese and Thai restaurants, and chose pubs, tapas restaurants and those serving “modern Australian” food. In doing so, I found that there was always something on the menu that fit the plan. I ate a LOT of steak and veggies.
My overall experience was very positive. I totally buy into the Whole30 philosophy. I buy the idea that a food can either make you more healthy or less healthy, there’s no inbetween (I’m looking at you cream cheese and chive flavoured rice crackers!). I buy into the question of why fill your plate (and belly) up with pasta, which doesn’t make you more healthy and is really just a filler, when you can fill it with deliciously cooked and seasoned veggies. Most of all I absolutely buy into the idea that if you are going to eat or drink something that makes you less healthy, do it for the right reasons. Because it is emotionally / culturally significant, or because it is DELICIOUS. Not because of habit, or just because it’s there. Stop grabbing those Tim Tams as you walk past them on the work kitchen counter and eating them without even tasting them. But do say yes to that delicious home cooked apple pie that your best friend has prepared for you, and savour every bite.