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Whole30: Week 1

Posted Mar 27 2013 1:26am
I mentioned in a previous post that I had decided to try out Whole30 and now here we are already one week into the program.  I didn't really make a big to-do about starting Whole30 because I wasn't totally sure the exact day I was going to start and well, it happened to come right during the middle of my boo-I'm-not-running-and-therefore-aren't-blogging-much-either week last week.

So, what is a Whole30 and why am I doing it?

You've probably seen other runners and bloggers talking about Whole30 lately because recently the authors of It Starts With Food (the Whole30 book) partnered with FitFluential and a whole bunch of Ambassadors have recently done the program.  My friend Solana  was one of them and in talking with her during I got really inspired to read the book and try thinking differently about the way that I have been eating.

Whole30 itself is a 30 day program where you cut out a bunch of key food groups that have been shown to cause problems and incompatibilities to many people's digestive systems.  Specifically dairy, sugar, wheat, legumes and most processed foods in general - something that you may recognize as being very close to the paleo way of eating.  After the 30 days and your system is all free and clear the idea is that you will have a better understanding of how each of them might affect your particular system and then you can start adding back each of them depending on how you feel.  So it's 30 days of elimination and then reintroduction afterwards.

The book It Starts With Food goes through each of these food groups and discusses the science behind how each of them affect our bodies and more specifically, how they affect the different hormones that work within our bodies to regulate our cravings, satiety, insulin levels and how our bodies hang onto or burn fat.  It was really interesting to read how each one affects the way our bodies process food and how our brain consequently deals with our hunger or desire to eat more.  Everything is written in very easy to understand language and whether you decide to do the Whole30 or not, it's definitely worth a read just for the better understanding of our bodies and hormones work.  What really struck me was their discussion of how hormone irregularities are correlated to so many health issues and it got me wondering if maybe I could benefit from reducing some or all of these food groups too.

I personally decided to give Whole30 a try because after hanging out with Solana during hers, I implemented a few of the Whole30 and paleo things she told me about and noticed that even with just that, I felt better in a lot of ways.  I was curious to see the effect of eliminating them all and see if it made any difference to some of the things I am concerned about personally like sleep, bloating, cravings, chronic pain, recovery etc.

So how did the first week go?

Pretty good actually.  As I mentioned, I had already tried out a bunch of the things Solana told me about from the program so going 100% Whole30 wasn't a huge huge jump.  (I did make sure to enjoy a few extra chocolate bars and servings of fries before starting though!  Ha ha)  I've been spending the week researching a lot of recipe and meal ideas and scouring my local stores reading labels.

So what have I been eating?

Lots!  It sounds pretty restrictive but on Whole30 you can still eat lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and some nuts.

It sounds really dumb but I feel like I'm discovering how food tastes for the first time to some degree.  My meals have suddenly gone to being 100% whole, fresh, natural ingredients.  Instead of just oil, butter and fat to enhance flavour, I'm experimenting with using fruits, nuts, healthy fats and just different food combinations to make things super tasty.  It's taken some preparation but we've had some really delicious meals this week and even my husband commented tonight that he hopes we continue this way forever.  Ha ha.

I'm not one to take and post food pictures much but here's one pic I did of a couple favorites...

That's a pic of a big fruit and veg haul, delicious paleo pulled pork, salmon cakes and the most amazing chicken wings.  Yum!  Seriously, my meals have been awesome.  Snacks have been a bit tougher but supposedly the desire to snack at all diminishes as you figure out exactly how much protein and fat you need at each meal to stay satiated in between.

Sounds like a good start but have there been any challenges?  You bet
  • So many things have added sugar!  You really need to read your labels because it seems like sugar gets snuck into so many things!
  • So many things have added soy and starches too.  You'd be amazed where you find these things added in.
  • Price.  Fact is, I'm cheap and I've never liked paying more for fancy food things.  But, I'm lucky to live right near the border so I've found a lot of things way cheaper in the States and also I've investigated a few different stores so I feel like I know where the better deals are.  I've even bought a few things online.
  • Snacking.  As mentioned, some days I still feel like I wanna snack in the afternoon and it's tough having stuff on hand that's okay and easy to grab.  
  • Headaches.  I'm not entirely sure if they're the dreaded "withdrawal" headaches from cutting out sugar but I've been having headaches all week that kind of suck.
  • Wanting to re-create normal foods.  The book says to break your cravings by changing your relationship with food and the types of things you think of as treats and snacks.  It's hard not to want to try and find recipes for things like Whole30 approved baked goods and stuff like that.
  • Breakfast.  I've never been the biggest egg fan so i'm struggling to find alternatives in the morning that don't always revolve around eggs.  

I have however, figured out a few little tricks...

  • Preparation makes it all a lot easier!  I try to prepare as much as I can ahead of time so that stuff is easy to grab and ready to go.  Portioning out nuts, chopping up veggies, making meal plans so I have all ingredients on hand.  If you have to stop and think you're more likely make a poor choice.
  • Trader Joes!  I love that you can get so many all natural, organic and preservative free foods there for way less than what we'd pay at our local Whole Foods, Choices or Heritage Meats.  Here's a pick of my last haul... 

  • Free-range, organic or pastured meats really are worth the extra cost.  I had never bought any of these kinds of meats until now.  Both my husband and I couldn't believe the flavour difference though.  I've been buying our meats from a local organic farm and I just can't believe how moist and flavourful it is compared to what we get at a regular grocery store.  I don't know that I'll always buy everything this way but when I can, I will and I've even found that if you look around you can find more reasonably priced sources like local farms.
  • Cauliflower "rice" is genius!  Okay, okay so I know you're not supposed to try and recreate foods but seriously, cauliflower "rice" is awesome.  It's just grated, cooked cauliflower but it is the perfect accompaniment to things like curries and stir fries where it's nice to eat with bed of rice.  You'd be shocked how much like rice it tastes and feels.
  • Everything seems to taste better with a little avocado.  Ha ha.  I'm really discovering a love for avocado and will often mash up a little bit of "guacamole" to go with my meat dishes.  Yum.
  • The internet is full of resources.  There are so many great websites and blogs with recipes and tips, if you just take a few minutes to research what you're looking for.
Anyhow, that's how the first week has been.  Considering how much of a typical diet is being eliminated during the first 30 days I'm surprised that I don't feel more "restricted".  My meals really have been delicious and satisfying, they're just made up of different things than before.  And I honestly do feel better.  There's no bloat after each meal and that heavy, greasy feeling is just gone.  I'm interested to see how much more things will change in the next three weeks.

So yep, Whole30 is going well.  I've even recruited my sister (who has lots of digestive issues), her husband, my husband and a few other friends who all want to try it out.  
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