One of my favourite pastimes is scrolling through The Skinny Confidential Facebook group. It is two parts completely hilarious and one part informative. From dating tips to raising puppies to “how to tell if your sick from your poo colour”, this group has it all.
One day, I came across a desperate post from a reader who wanted to drop weight quickly as her fiancé was returning from a long military deployment. Almost everyone in the group suggested The Whole30.
Over 100 women suggesting The Whole30 to this lady as a great way to lose weight had me intrigued! I am not into fad diets at all, but losing the seven or so pounds I had gained over the winter has proven to be an epic feat.
After a little research, I discovered that The Whole30 wasn’t really a diet at all. It is a lifestyle change – one that I needed. My wine addiction got out of hand over the winter (nothing more comforting than enjoying a big glass of red in front of the fire or every damn night) and my reliance on pre-packaged foods had grown thanks to me always being in a rush.
The clincher for me was no calorie-counting and the book guarantees that if you follow the rules, you’ll never be hungry. I loved the idea of not obsessing over how much food to eat or not eat, and just enjoying cooking up these new recipes.
As for the whole “30 day” length, author of The Whole30, Melissa Hartwig, states that anything shorter than 30 days won’t offer up enough results. A longer timeframe than 30 days would be intimidating and hard to stick to. Thirty days is long enough to see real results and put some good habits in place.
So, How Does The Whole30 Work?
The Whole30 is all about clean-eating – cutting out all of the things from your diet that make you feel crappy and sluggish like dairy, sugar, grains, legumes and alcohol.
Dairy was a no-brainer for me as I’m lactose intolerant (I sneak the occasional ice cream) and legumes I was fine with cutting out. Grains though would prove to be hard and I love anything sugary. The alcohol though – I was ready to kick to the curb.
The Whole30 stresses the importance of meal prep. You must reserve an afternoon each week to prepare some dishes that you can easily pack for lunches. This will set you up for success because we all know how easy it is to reach for unhealthy options when you’re hungry.
I was set. I printed off The Whole30 grocery list and hit my local supermarket.
What You Can Expect On The Whole30 Diet
If you stick to The Whole30’s rules, you will experience:
- Weight loss. YES!
- Less digestive issues. More fibre in your diet will decrease constipation and bloating.
- Your acne may clear up.
- Increased energy
- Enjoying cooking again – so happy!
- Your cravings may change and you’ll awaken your tasted buds.
- More energy means better workouts.
- You’ll definitely sleep better meaning more energy meaning more exercise!
- After completing The Whole30, you’ll discover which foods make you feel crappy once you reintroduce things into your diet.
What You Can Eat – The Good Food List
All the tasty stuff that is Whole30 approved:
- Meat – think burgers with no bun, steak, pork, etc.
- Fish including the canned fish.
- Poultry – thank God for drumsticks and thighs.
- All the veggies – limitless options.
- All the fruits!
- Good fats like tasty avocados.
- If you have coffee, it has to be black. WAHHHH!
The “You Absolutely Cannot Eat This” List
I was a little scared while reading this list. Some things I’m fine with kicking to the curb, others I know will be a struggle.
- No sugar!
- No sugar! No honey, brown sugar, maple syrup – you name it.
- No artificial sweeteners either.
- No booze. I’ll miss my wine but it’s time for a break.
- No smoking of any sort. No pass, pass, puff either, my Sweet Cheeba-loving friends.
- No grains, so no quinoa, etc.
- No beans, legumes or soy.
- No dairy – cheese is a goner too. The sadness.
- No dishes with Whole30-approved ingredients. Think “healthy paleo pancakes” and the like. This allows you to build a healthier relationship with your food.
Ok – so I reviewed the Seven-Day Meal Plan within The Whole30 book, bought everything I needed from veggies, meat and sparkling water and got to cooking.
With just the act of cooking, I felt better! My usual recipes I was completely bored of, and I was thrilled at the wealth of tasty recipes offered up by The Whole30.
For my first meal, I made Perfect Oven-Baked Salmon and stir-fry with a tall glass of sparkling water with lemon and sliced strawberries. You are allowed to season your food any way you like as long as the seasonings and marinades do not contain soy or alcohol. Almost all recipes yield four servings, so I had plenty of leftovers.
The first meal was delicious and I felt full and satiated. No 9pm cravings for my usual two Oreos with sugary tea either. I was feeling good.
For meal-prep, I stayed up a little late that night making a huge Greek Salad, Butternut Squash Soup and a bowl full of boiled eggs. I was ready for the following day.
I woke up at the usual time and get this – I wasn’t hungry! I proceeded to get ready for work and had a breakfast of leftover salmon (wasn’t thrilled about eating salmon for breakfast) and a bowl of soup I made the night before.
Black coffee was the drink of choice that morning and again, wasn’t happy about that. Coffee without delicious cream and sugar is truly a horrible thing. I choked it down and off to work I went.
By mid-morning, I noticed that I wasn’t starving like I normally am. SO WEIRD. I drank a lot of water and felt great.
For lunch I had the Greek Salad with a couple of boiled eggs. By 3pm, I was still feeling a little full but had an orange. I didn’t feel sluggish like I usually do and was feeling pretty optimistic.
Dinnertime came along and I had Pork Chops with Applesauce (fantastic, easy recipe). That night, I had one of the best sleeps of my life. I’d like to chalk it up to the two days worth of healthy food.
Please note that both days, I did not work out.
Days 3-5, I continued cooking up Whole30 recipes with gusto. The Kitchen Sink Scrambled Eggs have proven to be a favourite along with Stuffed Peppers, Protein Salad and Chicken Chowder.
I’ve been diligent to pack all of my lunches and ensure that I have all of the necessary ingredients on hand to make various dishes. So far, so good.
Changes I’ve Noticed
By Day 3, I’m not going to lie, I felt bloated. My stomach was puffy and by nighttime, I always felt uncomfortably full. I knew it was my body reacting to the tons of fibre I was stuffing into it and I prayed it would pass. Thankfully, by Day 5, I felt pretty good.
Going “Number 2” on the other hand (sorry – tmi), wasn’t so great leading up to Day 5 and the book warns readers of this. I just expected this uncomfortable phase to happen a little later.
Since started The Whole30, I was sleeping like a champ! In fact, most mornings I couldn’t really wake up! I definitely feel more rested and less cranky. My mood is way better but it could also be all of the great weather we have been experiencing lately. I’m sure The Whole30’s detoxifying effect has a hand in my chipper deameanor too.
Today is Day 6 and I noticed that my stomach is completely flat! For the first time in a long time, my pants aren’t cutting off the circulation to my upper body and I’m feeling great.
I will admit that I slipped up on Day 5 and had one glass of Sauvignon Blanc. We took our visiting relatives out for dinner and I coudn’t resist. Per The Whole30’s rules, if you slip up, you have to start over, but I didn’t.
The great thing is that I’m not craving booze like I normally do. For the first time in a long time, I feel truly committed to seeing this through.
Your Support System Is Key
When I told Ryan that I was undertaking The Whole30, he was thrilled for me. That guy is the best! He was ready to cut out all of the crap from his diet too, so he was on board to benefit from the fruits of my labour (tasty leftovers).
While out for dinner the night I slipped up and had that wine, he got angry. Not crazy angry, but he called me a “Fairweather Whole30-er”. That kinda hit home.
Many of your friends and family may be skeptical of you undertaking this lifestyle change or try to undermine you with the lure of totally delicious donuts, but the book offers up some tips on how to deal with this…without sounding pretentious or boring.
I can’t believe that I’ve almost completed one week of The Whole30. I am SO PROUD of myself! I love all of the cooking and the boost of energy that I’ve already noticed.
Not feeling groggy and gross the morning after having 2-3 glasses of wine is wonderful. I was also heartened to see that by Day 6, my stomach was flatter and no longer puffy. SCORE!
I plan on keeping you guys informed of my progress with weekly updates. If you want to try out The Whole30, I highly suggest you pick up The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom book. Not only are the recipes fantastic, it’s a really great, motivating read!