Monday, September 26, 2016

Whole30 Part 3: Results

I had this post totally written a few months ago, it just took me so long to post it! See parts 1 and 2 of my Whole30 experience here: intro, recipes.

Whole30 has come and gone. It’s good it didn’t last much longer than 30 days because I was beginning to crack. The real stressor is that you think you are done after the thirty days but the reintroduction period can be about two weeks that you mostly still have to eat Whole30. It’s like you cross the finish line of the marathon, but have to run 4 more miles just to get back to your car. I kept fantasizing about the foods we were going to eat and it got harder and harder to resist. For example, the night before “dairy reintroduction” day, we had a little ice cream, since we were about to have dairy the next day anyways. 

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do the reintroduction, but it seems like you can isolate affects of the various food groups best if you add only one restricted food in on one day then go back to whole 30 for two days, then add in the next restricted food group. We did it as follows:

Day 1 – legumes: I added garbanzo beans to our lunch salad and we ate chicken chili with beans in it for dinner.

Result: at the risk of sharing too much information, legumes caused major gas, at least for me.

Day 2-3: whole 30

Day 4: Non-gluten grains: rice with lunch and dinner

Result: About 30 minutes after eating, I was so sluggish. It was like I had just taken a Benadryl, I was ready to take a nap. The funny thing is, while I definitely noticed the energy decrease after eating the rice, I don’t feel like I noticed an energy increase that everyone talked experiencing while on Whole30, but maybe it was just more of an absence the post-lunch food coma that often drives me to reach for coffee too often during the work day.

Day 5-6: whole 30

Day 7: Dairy: yogurt for breakfast, then Greek chicken salad, the chicken was marinated in yogurt, the salad had feta and tzatziki.

Results: We both got stomach aches. I had actually experienced these sharp stomach aches before, part of what prompted me to go on whole 30.

Day 8-9:whole 30

Day 10: Gluten – toast for breakfast, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner

Result: it could have been because this was a weekend, I didn’t feel the tired effects as strongly as I did with the nongluten grains. I definitely felt more bloated the next day though.

Day 11-12: whole 30

Afterwards –

A friend asked what I missed the most. I think it was different things at different times. I always say I crave butter more than sugar – hard candy I can go without, but I always baked goods like cupcakes or cookies. I also missed yogurt a lot. I had gotten into the habit of having a yogurt smoothie in the mornings (yogurt & milk or kefir with lime, a dash of cardamom and teaspoon of maple syrup – so satisfying!) so I missed that. Jason missed pasta at different times, though cravings came and went for him too. 

There wasn’t a “reintroduction day” for sugar, but I guess we did it on day 13. Adding sugars back in was really a shock to my system, and amazingly, it wasn’t as satisfying as I kept day-dreaming about. I ate a mini key lime tart one night and felt like my teeth were disintegrating from all the sugar. I then got a headache afterwards. This happened for probably the first couple weeks any time I had something with sugar. Don’t worry, I pushed through and can now consume copious amounts sugar without the headache! Really, I do try to tone the sugar way down in recipes, or have a smaller quantity, as I don’t need as much to satisfy my sweet craving anymore.

Alcohol also had a much stronger effect. (At least for the first few weeks) I truly felt satisfied with just one glass of wine, or splitting a beer with Jason, plus, my tolerance had taken quite the dip, so smaller quantities of alcohol were best.

Over the course of the 6 weeks, Jason, despite his best efforts lost 7 pounds, and I lost about 5. After we ended the diet, Jason used the word “lighter” to describe how he felt while on it, and I guess he literally was. Another difference that I’ve noticed now that I’m back to “regular” food is that my skin was great while on Whole30 – I don’t think I had one pimple (in real life my skin hasn’t gotten the memo that I’m past adolescence).

We’re glad we did it, though we’re mostly back to our regular diets with a few tweaks. One of the most rewarding parts of it was that I feel like I was really able to recognize my bad habits, especially dependence on sugar and caffeine. It was a huge struggle at times to try to content myself with dried fruit when I really wanted a brownie or cupcake, but it really revealed my somewhat emotional relationship with food, such as the feeling that I needed a food reward after a hard day. It also has helped me to pause before eating “junk” food to consider whether I really want it, or if I’m eating something just because it is there or out of habit. I try to cut back on carbs for lunch since we both feel better that way and am much less dependent on my afternoon sugar fix.

One of the biggest changes is that I no longer drink my coffee with cream. I cut it out since dairy isn’t allowed and at the same time Jason started roasting his own coffee. So I kind of got used to having good coffee and was really disappointed to find that milk just deadened the coffee flavor so much that I really preferred going without it. Plus, because we both had slight dairy reactions, it has been a good way to limit dairy. By the way, the no cream in my coffee is a huge deal for me as my preferred cream to coffee ratio was about 1:3, and when I really wanted to be high maintenance I’d put in a blend of milk & cream. So now I’m just high maintenance about the kind of coffee I drink and try to convince myself that I am not a yuppie even though Jason and I converse about coffee as if it were wine – “Hmm.. I’m getting hints of blueberry and a smoky aftertaste.”

So, that is the end of our Whole 30 experience. I think it’s worth trying, especially if you want to try to improve how you feel, and potentially improve your overall health. And if you are going to try it, I raise the glass of red wine I have been drinking to you!

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