Thanks for the warm welcome back to blogging! During my hiatus, I made a list of topics to post about eventually so I’m going to get right to it. First one up:
It seems to be the rage right now, but for those of you not familiar with it, The Whole30 is a 30-day elimination diet based on the book It Starts From Food. As taken from the site:
Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health. This will change your life!
The following foods & beverages are off-limits for 30 consecutive days:
- Sugar of any kind, real or artificial
- Grains, including pseudo grains like quinoa
- Legumes (e.g. chickpeas, entils, mpeanuts, soy, sauce, tofu, beans)
- White potatoes
- Additives like carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
- Paleofied baked goods, desserts or junk foods i.e. desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients
In short, the Whole30 is clean eating on steroids.
I devoured It Starts With Food on my 5-hour flight journey back to Mumbai from Hong Kong and started the 30-day program the day after I landed. Before I share my experience on the plan, I want to outline my reasons for doing it:
- The idea of being able to rebalance my hormones through food alone sounded like a dream.
- I was curious to see if my body reacted negatively to any of the off-limit foods.
- I wanted to minimize my sugar cravings i.e. reduce the urge to always end a meal on a sweet note.
- It’s almost taboo to admit that you want to lose a few kilos when you don’t necessarily need to, but I’m not going to lie: After 2 weeks of indulging on holiday and feeling bloated, I wasn’t opposed to the idea of knocking off a bit of weight. However I will say that this was not my primary motive.
The 30 days
- It busted my food rut, and I started eating foods I rarely/never did.
- I started to get experimental in the kitchen again & my love for cooking came back in full force. From having never cooked red meat or curry, lamb burgers & Thai green curry became a regular meal choice.
- My sugar cravings completely died. For the first time ever, I actually woke up cravings eggs and all things savory. A few breakfasts even included chicken.
- I ate out about 5 times in total and managed to stick to the Whole30 guidelines. However the plans’ rules definitely sucked the fun out of socialising. Thank the lord for understanding friends who put up with my anal questioning & requests at restaurants.
- The book outlines a timeline for the 30-day period i.e. how most people feel as they go along. Although mental fogginess and fatigue are commonly felt during the first week, my energy levels rarely dipped.
- I worked out 4-5 times a week, mostly in the form of brisk walks.
- The only thing I missed? WINE
- I lost 2 kilos, which is probably due to eating an inevitably low-carb diet. I also lost a couple of inches from my waist.
- My cholesterol levels shot up, both LDL & HDL. My LDL:HDL ratio after the 30 days was higher than the optimal range, as were my triglycerides.
- According to my blood tests, it threw my hormones more out of whack
- I felt great energy-wise…but not any greater than before pre-Whole30
After the 30 Days
- I re-incorporated all the foods above and only noticed a negative reaction from dairy. I now tend to only eat dairy in the form of dark chocolate or the occasional ice cream once every few weeks. Despite my love for yogurt, I surprisingly don’t miss it at all.
- I’ve added back in complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, rye bread and of course oats. No, my weight hasn’t increased.
- I ate a lot of red meat during the 30 days. I’ve replaced much of that with leaner sources of protein
- My workouts are more varied and not purely cardio-based
I love that the plan emphasizes on eating a diet filled with real, unprocessed foods. As much as I don’t want to knock the plan, I think many of the success stories they share are from people who were eating a SAD diet i.e. one filled with heavily processed, high-fat (not the good kind), sugary foods. Those same individuals can experience similar benefits without eating so restrictively. While some individuals have genuine intolerances/allergies, it’s unnecessary to eliminate certain food groups entirely when eating for health and/or weight loss. The authors also provide very few studies to back their claims. Who knows whether or not they are valid. However I do know one thing: I don’t want to be a guinea pig in this experiment.
Every diet is going to come with some promise and will be packaged so that it sounds like a dream. I am kinda ashamed of myself for going against my principles and trying out something so restrictive. Heart in heart, I know that the best kind of diet is based on real, wholesome foods that suit your health, preferences and lifestyle. Aside from not doing me any favors on the health front, this kind of eating style is not conducive to my lifestyle at all. I like eating out regularly without having to worry about whether I’ll find a meal that fits my dietary requirements. I like ending my night with a square or 3 of Lindt. On that note, I’m going to go heat up some quinoa for lunch…and top it with some legume-filled hummus 😉 .
What are your thoughts on Whole30? Have you ever done it/would you like to eventually?