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Whole30 Wrap Up

Posted Feb 11 2013 10:44am

As you all are aware, I spent January following the challenge, you can read all about it , but in a nutshell it is when you follow a strict paleo diet for 30 days as a 'short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food'. You might remember that I followed a month long paleo challenge in September too , so what was the difference this time round? Basically I was a little stricter. No sweeteners such as honey was allowed, no paleo-ifying desserts or paleo junk food (boo hoo), and I kept clear of sausages and bacon due to the nitrates. Last time eating paleo was very new to me, so in some situations we just did the best we could, for example choosing paleo items off menus, although knowing that they would most definitely not be cooked in coconut oil! However this time I personally prepared every meal and snack for 30 days... that is  lot of preparation!

And that's one thing you really have to take into consideration when doing the whole30: you really have to commit to it, as there is a lot of prep work. If you want to eat something, unless you've already prepared something earlier, chances are you will have to cook something first.

Of course you do have options that don't involve cooking, largely in the form of fruit and nuts, but these are two things I personally try and limit. Ideally I like keeping my fruit intake to 2-3 portions (while having 4-8 portions of veg most of the time!), but I think I did slip into having 4-5 portions quite a few days, especially when I was out somewhere, or when I just didn't have the time to prepare something else.

As I still live at home with my parent, you can imagine that this also limits the amount of prep work I can do. I just can't cook breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and a dinner, when living with others I have to be considerate of them, and of course cooking so often uses a lot of gas/electricity. If it was my kitchen, this wouldn't be as much of an issue, although of course I would be the only one paying the bills then so I wouldn't want to be racking up a huge bill!

Don't get me wrong, I love preparing food from scratch, but small things like having to cook breakfast whether beforehand or in the morning every single day, and if I wanted to make a chicken  slalad, I would have to cook the chicken myself as most supermarket cold meats have non Whole30 added ingredients, as well as being very expensive! I don't think am a person who usually uses a lot of pre-prepared packaged food, but when doing the Whole30 it makes you realise that thinsg such as yogurts and breads and cereal bars are very convenient!

I found because of all the prep work, snacks became repetitive,  as I didn't want to cook snacks. I don't mind mid week as they work well in my schedule but on the weekends I craved something a bit different, especially if I'd already had fruit and/or nuts for breakfast. If you are willing to spend some more money you could make snacks a bit more interesting, i.e., buying a range of fruits and nuts, but for me personally, sticking to cheaper fruits such as apples, pears and oranges are one of the ways I make paleo affordable for me.

I did do my best to try and cook in bulk when I can, and make a few extra meals at a time, which worked well in the most part, and I generally do this on a Sunday, but the nature of the paleo diet is that the food is all quite fresh, so on Saturdays I sometimes struggle with having something in the house, and I tended to snack more on fruit and nuts to fill the gap.

I feel like I've written a lot about the downsides of the paleo diet, but I never said it was easy, and you probably think I hate the paleo diet, but I really don't, in fact I love it!

Like  a lot of people I found the first week or two quite difficult in that I was quite tired, and in the first few days   I also had headaches, but by week three and four I felt so much better. It is hard to explain why I felt so good, but one major upside I found was the fact that I had no sugar cravings at all, absolutely no desire for them at all. For me eating a bit of sugar just makes me crave more, but knowing that they were not an option really helped. I found this with a lot of other foods as well such as bread and cheese, the fact that I was not 'allowed' to have them meant they just weren't on my radar at all, and I really liked this feeling of eating purely wholesome foods to nourish my body.

Obviously, as this is a weight loss blog, my aim is to lose weight, and so I was hoping the Whole30 would help me in this quest. I decided to carry on counting calories, and I am glad I did, as I believe it is possible to both over and under eat on paleo. If all you eat is fruit veg and lean meat, that really doesn't add up to a lot of calories. However add in nuts, nut butters, avocados, coconut oil, coconut milk, and fattier cuts of meat, well they add up pretty fast. If I thought my calories where on the low side I made sure to add in an evening snack, usually my favourite coconut cream and persimmons, however I didn't worry too much if my calories went over a couple of hundred- it only happened a few times, which didn't worry me at all, but I got into a routine with food, which helped in making sure I didn't over eat.

One rule of the Whole30 that I did break was the one where you aren't allowed to weigh yourself. For me personally weighing myself weekly keeps me motivated, and when I'm doing well I actually look forward to it. Over the course of the 30 days I lost a total of 11.2 pounds, with 7.4 of those pounds being lost in the first week, which was great as I was still at a time when fighting fatigue and cravings so all I  wanted to do was face plant straight into a chocolate cake. I was bit disappointed to see relatively low numbers the following weeks: -1.4, -0.4 and -2 (over 10 days) respectively.  I now see is the whole point of the no weighing yourself rule, because I know if I would of waited until the end and seen -11.2 I would of been absolutely over the moon!

There is actually one other Whle30 rule which I broke. Well actually I like to think I just bent it a little, as it was purely accidental. One the whole30 it states that although you don't have to give up coffee, although you should try and stick to 1 or two mugs, and you shouldn't increase how much you already drink. A lot of people actually chose to give up coffee regardless as it does fit in with the whole ethos of breaking any dependence, mentally or physically you might have with what you consume. I, on the other , accidentally developed a coffee addiction! It all started when I realised four days in that almond milk isn't Whole30 compliant unless you make your own, so I had to give up my daily mug of almond milk tea. Over Christmas we had been drinking more coffee than usual, although I always had one sugar and a lot of milk, therefore not an option, however Iestyn, who had only just started drinking coffee black himself, urged me to try some sans milk and sugar as he actually preferred it that way now. I basically went from not being very impressed on the first day, to struggling to keep it to two mugs a day by week two. By now I have 2-3 mugs daily, so I have a bit of a coffee habit going! at the moment I'm just going with it and enjoying it (I actually think I prefer it to milky tea now...!), although eventually I think I'll have to try and break the habit! For now I am swimming in it!

So would I recommend the Whole30 to other people? Absolutely! It is a great way of getting back to basics with food, and breaking all ties, whether they be mental or physical. It is also a great way of listening to your body, since reintroducing foods into my diet I have suffered with stomach aches every now and again which has made me realise that my body much prefers the paleo way of eating. Long term I'm not sure how sustainable the Whole30 is, but then again it is designed to only be followed for 30 days, that is the beauty of it. On the other side I think that paleo is sustainable, especially when I am able to reintroduce things like coconut flour, which makes being able to prepare  few different snack and breakfast items a bit easier.

I wish I'd had a better plan in place for what was going to happen after Whole30, as I rally haven't been eating the best over the past week, and I shall blog more about the goings on of the past week, plus where I am going to go from here in tomorrows post, but I'm doing my best to get well and truly back on track today.

If you want to catch up on what I've been up to this month, here are the posts
The Beginning
Week 1
Week2: A weeks worth of eats

Does the Whole30 appeal to you at all? Any questions feel free to ask, I feel like I have a lot to say on the subject, and I'm not sure I got it all down. I am still without internet at home, which means it has taken me a bit longer than I anticipated to get this post up, so I'm sure in the meantime I have forgotten some points! The bottom line I suppose is, it's only 30 days, what's the worse that can happen?!
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