I completed my first Whole30 in 2017 and since that time have continued to eat in the manner the program taught me most of the last year. Since that time, I primarily eat lots of fresh and frozen vegetables along with some fruit. I eat plenty of eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds. I eat fish, chicken and some meat. I use coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado oil and vinegar along with spices. I rarely eat bread, pasta, rice or dairy. Don’t get me wrong, a few foods and beverages did creep back into my meal planning that are not compliant including beer, wine and dark chocolate. Yes, these are a few of my favorite things!
Beer, wine, and dark chocolate are the 3 foods I have trouble eliminating from my diet for more than 30 days. For the entire month of January and for 1 month last year, I did it. Mission accomplished.
Is it character building? Is it healthy? Is it worth it? For me, the answer to all of those questions is Yes, Yes and Yes.
Alcohol, like soda has no nutritional value. I am completely turned off by a can of cola but drool over an iced cold IPA or a glass of red wine. I know some scientific studies tout the benefits of red wine but others say you would need to drink a river of it to get the nutritional benefits. Giving up alcohol for 30 days was a lot easier than I expected. A friend brought over a 4 pack of beer the other night and I didn’t pop one open. It was Day 31 and I didn’t feel like breaking my beer fast. I did watch her pour hers and drink it and maybe I did or didn’t drool a bit, but I didn’t cave.
I sleep better without alcohol, I consume fewer calories and I am less apt to say something that I will regret. Win, win, win.
Without sugar and refined flours, I have less cravings for junk food. My sweet tooth is less inclined to rule my brain and I consume fewer calories. Win, win, win.
Before Whole30 my go to snack was fig bar or a granola bar. What I have learned is the fig bar and granola bar are full of sugar and refined flour. Once eaten you feel full for an hour or so. Your blood sugar spikes, insulin is released and you have energy for a brief period of time. Then it wears off and you crave more sugar and refined flours and feel hungry again. So you eat another flour/sugar snack and a vicious cycle is born.
For people who eat a lot of processed food and junk food this cycle repeats itself all day long. Thinks about someone who eats: cereal for breakfast (refined flour and sugar), 1/2 bagel for a snack (refined flour), turkey sandwich on wheat bread with a low-fat granola bar for lunch (refined flour, sugar), vending machine snack (refined flour and sugar), pasta with vegetables and garlic bread for dinner (refined flour and sugar), ice cream for dessert (sugar).
All day long the body is eating, craving and dealing with carbohydrates and the rise in blood sugar and subsequent rise in insulin. I wonder when it gets to perform other functions like healing and repairing itself?
When people improve their health by eating real food vs. processed and junk food they remove much of the refined flour and sugar that causes the viscous cycle described in the diet above. It is like hitting a RESET button on health. It helps your body get rid of inflammation, helps your hormones return to normal function and helps your brain deal with cravings.
After completing the Whole30 and similar programs, people describe being able to reduce or even stop taking medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even diabetes. Hitting the RESET button helps your body to heal itself and that is way better than simply popping a bunch of pills to treat the symptoms but not cure what ails you. Lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can not be cured with medication. They can only be cured by hitting reset on your diet and making healthy changes in your life.
During both of my Whole 30’s, I lost weight, grew fingernails, experienced some decreased knee pain and most importantly improved my sleep. Last night my honey asked me if I was going to eat some dark chocolate for dessert. No thanks was my reply. I know I will eat dark chocolate and drink wine and beer again (in moderation); I am just not ready to undo all of the good I have done for my health over the last 30 days.
What have you done for your health lately? Is it time to hit the RESET button?