It took me a few days to feel the rejuvenating effects that a new year often brings. Scratch that, it took me about a week. For whatever reason I wasn’t feeling super motivated to set resolutions right off the bat. However after a few days of moping, and coming to my senses realizing that sulking around wasn’t going to make me any happier, healthier, or solve my problems, I vowed to start fresh the Monday following the first of the year.
I decided to embark on the Whole30 journey as a part of starting the year off on the right foot. For a girl who’s been eating peanut butter toast basically every day since the third grade, and who would eat mac and cheese four times a week if she could, I knew this would be challenging. But doing plenty of research and understanding the gravity of the challenge ahead made me even more motivated to give it a go.
Following the Whole30 diet requires you to cut out all grains (including the ‘healthy’ ones like quinoa or whole wheat), sugar (even those occurring naturally like honey) alcohol, legumes (including peanut butter and all forms of soy) dairy, processed foods (containing sulfites or msg), and baked or junk foods.
Whole30 effectively rules out my two favorite food groups: bread and cheese. Are these not essential to human life?! According to Whole30 (and apparently most other scientific sources) they are not.
When I began, I thought that cutting out grains was going to be my biggest challenge. However, I’ve found that giving up dairy has been much more difficult for me. Especially working at a teashop where I grew accustomed to drinking a specialty latte every shift! This awareness has prompted me to reevaluate my relationship with food. Why I’m eating, what I’m eating, and when I’m eating.
Today marks my 8th day following a sugar-wheat-dairy-legume free diet and honestly (and surprisingly!) for the most part it has gone very well! The nice thing about Whole30 is it discourages you from counting calories, so you can eat when you’re hungry. Since you’re supplying your body with better food, you get fuller faster and stay that way for much longer than if you’re running off donuts and lattes. Although to be honest, I really wished I were running on a donut and latte this morning!
According to research and numerous Whole30 message boards people react differently to the changes in the first few days, but usually struggle in the first few while beginning to feel better nearing the end of the first week. I, however, felt great in the first few days, but am recently starting to see pizzas where stoplights should be. They’re just so similar in shape…
I am attributing this lack of early cravings and overall well-feeling to being high on the motivation of big changes, throwing out all my non-compliant foods to eliminate distractions, doing my research, making grocery lists, and meal planning. Then day six hit me like a wrecking ball. My poor coworkers… I worked all day and the rumored Whole30 fog finally caught up to me. Not entering menu items into the system correctly, stumbling over my words, mishearing drink orders, feeling as if I could fall asleep standing up: it was a little painful. But thankfully people were incredibly patient with me! When I got home I ate dinner and made it through a chapter of my book before falling asleep for twelve hours. Clearly my body needed some time to recuperate after realizing that these changes weren’t just for a day or so, but were going to be the new norm for a while! Good news though, the next day I felt great! A little sleep can work wonders…
I’ve also found that grocery shopping is much more of an outing when you’re eliminating all sugars from your diet. Learning to read labels has made me more aware of what I’m putting into my body and how our food is being processed. You’d be surprised at just how many of our foods contain sneaky sugars. In meats, spices, milk alternatives- it’s hiding everywhere. And when the cravings hit, it makes sense because even when you’re not eating a cinnamon roll, it’s likely that your diet still contains quite a bit of sugar. Whole30 has made me a much more conscientious shopper, although I’ve figured out how quickly a 20 minute tip to the store can turn into an hour as you’re reading, finding alternatives, and Googling brands!
After my first week of Whole30 I’m feeling really positive, despite the fact my mouth waters when I pass a Starbucks, and when my coworkers bring donuts into work to share I have to laugh when I say ‘no thank you’ so that I don’t cry. But overall I’m proud of myself for making it through the first week without a single taste of these foods that I’ve placed at the forefront of my diet for far too long. One week down, three to go!