What I Learned on the Whole30

The other day a reader commented and said “I need to know how the Whole30 went!” Did you finish it?” and then I realized that I never posted part II of our January Whole30 adventure. I figured posting it now, as I sit here knee-deep in my kids Easter candy is fitting, right? So keep reading if you are interested, and if not come back next week when we talk about landscaping and our exterior to do list. We have been working outside a lot recently and it is looking beautiful, I can’t wait to show you!

(If you missed part 1 you can READ IT HERE)

Just as a refresher, the Whole30 is an elimination diet that you do for a month. A cleanse really, to try to get cravings under control or figure out what your sensitivities are. Basically just a fun way to torture yourself for 30 days. Here are the rules –

No sugar, at all (even added ones like honey or stevia)
No alcohol (even for cooking)
No grains (including corn and quinoa)
No dairy (even butter, use ghee instead)
No legumes (beans, peanuts, soy)
No carrgenenan, MSG, sulfites or ingredients you can’t pronounce
No recreating junk food with real ingredients (no coconut milk ice cream, no banana pancakes, etc.)

So what can you actually eat? Real food….meat, veggies, fruits, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. You can learn more about it on their website or by ordering the books.

For my first Whole3o post I wrote a little tidbit about it everyday. I did that for the first few days of the second half and then stopped, so this post will be more of an overview rather than a detailed daily log. I can  tell you right away that the first half of the Whole 30 was really hard, and the second half was much easier. I found my groove, stopped craving sweets so much (not that I didn’t still crave them though) and I started feeling awesome. Here is proof, tidbits from the few days that I did write something …

Day 16 – I’ve started to get pretty good at breakfast. At first I was completely at a loss for what to eat (why is all “breakfast food” a grain, dairy, or sweet?) but now I’m kinda in my groove. I’ve started making huge breakfasts because I feel good and energized after eating them, and I taught myself how to make sweet potato hash browns, which are so much better than regular hash browns. Also, everything goes into my eggs. Everything.

Day 18 – It’s happening, I felt awesome today. I only got 4.5 hours of sleep last night and still had a ton of energy. I had so much energy that I even thought about exercising. I didn’t, but I thought about it, which is definitely an improvement. Maybe tomorrow I’ll even get crazy and put on my tennis shoes.

At the beginning of the month I planned out every meal in extreme detail and followed a strict meal plan, and by the time I had been nonstop cooking for a few weeks I could do it with minimal planning. It helped that my fridge was stocked with compliant foods and I pretty much just made different creative variations of the same basic meals. Something weird happened during this diet though…I actually started to enjoy cooking. I expected the opposite because I have never enjoyed cooking (or cleaning for that matter). I like to do work that stays finished, and cooking and cleaning are never done….the second you finish slaving over a meal and cleaning it up the kids are asking for food again. It’s an exhausting and never-ending cycle. This is why I love DIY, when you build a piece of furniture you don’t have to build it three times a day for the rest of your life, you build it once and enjoy it forever. This also explains why I’m not big into seasonal decorating or extravagant birthdays parties for the kids. But anyway, I enjoyed the cooking, the kids liked helping, and each night I was blown away by the weird stuff my family was eating without complaint (well, except for the toddler…he’s pretty hung up on bread these days).

Also, I felt good. I had energy and always felt full, but light. Does that make sense? I never had that heavy bloated feeling even after I gorged myself, which was awesome. I never stopped craving sweets though, I craved them less at the end but still dreamed about ice cream and cookies.  Adam felt much better too, even though getting him to admit it was like pulling teeth. He likes to think we are still teenagers that can eat whatever we want without being affected, but we aren’t. We are now…it hurts just to type it….middle aged.

So now for everyones burning question….did we lose any weight? Loosing weight isn’t the goal of the Whole30 (the rules say you are not allowed to step on the scale, not that we obeyed) but Adam lost about 12 pounds and I lost seven (although at four months postpartum I was loosing weight naturally anyway, so I can’t say my weight loss was directly related to the diet).

 

Reintroduction

After the initial 30 days is up you can’t just dive right back into your normal diet, you have to slowly reintroduce the food groups to see if you are sensitive to any of them. This is another 15 day process or so, where you introduce a new forbidden food group every few days.  I learned that I’m not sensitive any particular food group, but we did learn that Adam can’t handle dairy. We both suspected as much and this solidified it, and now he watches his dairy intake for both our sakes.

Life after the Whole30

So have we continued to eat clean after the whole 30 and was over? No, not really….but we never intended to. First off, it’s super restrictive and not something I would ever want to do long-term, plus it was expensive. Our grocery budget is the hardest category to keep in check by far, and eating basically only meat and veggies for a month (and usually organic at that) was a budget buster for sure. We need bread, rice, and pasta to fill people up for cheap around here.

I did learn a lot though, and certain things have changed around here for good. First, breakfast habits have definitely changed. The kids and I used to be a big cereal eaters, but it’s really not the best start to the day. We even eat the healthy stuff…boring, brown, and sugarless. I’m not sure my kids even realize cereal often comes in bright colors and boxes, they are still innocent and love the brown stuff. Since the Whole30 I think I’ve only had cereal once this whole year (and that was for a midnight snack). I learned that I feel way better during the day if I eat a huge egg and veggie breakfast. Here is our breakfast from this morning…

I cut up the veggies beforehand (about a weeks worth) so that each morning making veggie eggs is nearly quick as making plain eggs. In the mix for this week is sweet potatoes, asparagus, onion, peppers, spinach and bratwurst. We go through at least a dozen eggs a day most days, but we also got 34 baby chickens this spring, so pretty soon running out of eggs won’t ever be a concern (quite the opposite, actually).

I also learned that I needed way more kitchen equipment that I had. During the month of January I bought a food processor, a better crock pot, a meat thermometer, lots of little things (I didn’t even own a silicone spatula or tongs), and I discovered cast iron cooking. I was given a small cast iron skillet by my mom a few years ago but never liked it. We had a glass top stove in the last house and it just didn’t work well with cast iron. In this house we have a gas stove though, and when I tried that little skillet again I LOVED it and immediately went out and bought a bigger Lodge one. I basically packed up my stainless steel set and have hardly used it since. Then last month we acquired this secondhand DIY disc cooker (aka, cowboy wok) made out of a tractor parts and horseshoes, and it is amazing.

I love that it is HUGE, catches most of the splatter, can cook at different heats all on the same pan, and is super easy to clean. (I found a similar on Amazon if you’re interested).

Probably the most important thing I learned is that my family will eat crazy healthy stuff. My kids are not strangers to salad and veggies, but they usually come with a side of whining and barging and asking why we can’t “just eat pizza”. We talked about the diet before hand and they helped plan and make the meals, and they were excited to try new things. I mean, they ate bowls full of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and cauliflower rice and smiled the whole time. I think including them in the cooking process makes all the difference, and even though it is exhausting and takes twice as long it was still worth it.

 

Whole30 Products We Liked

I also discovered a few Whole30 approved products that were pretty good. We tried a ton (and skipped a ton because most are so pricey) and here are my favorites…or as my husband puts it, the ones that “don’t suck”.

Nutpods coffee creamer

I’m not a big coffee drinker (I drink it maybe once a week) and Adam won’t touch it, so going without coffee for a month would have been really easy. I was getting bored with food though and craving something else, and coffee filled that void. I usually like my coffee to taste bit like dessert, so I bought this expecting to suffer through it for a month. Much to my surprise its pretty good, very creamy and not terrible. I still use it, but add in some Ovaltine chocolate power and sugar now because it’s just better that way. (Side note, I just bought these mugs from World Market…so pretty, right?)

Coconut Aminos

I purchased this set from Amazon because we ate a lot of stir fry during the Whole 30 (who knew cauliflower rice would be so easy and delicious?) and they are just as good if not better than actual soy products.

Tessemae’s products –

I bought most of these before we even started our diet, since I knew we need sauces or we would fail. Most of them are very good, the ketchup and BBQ sauce are different (I actually like the ketchup better than regular ketchup, but my family doesn’t agree) and some are terrible (caesar dressing comes to mind). The shining stars are the Slow Roasted Garlic (squatty jar on the front) and the balsamic dressing/marinade. I will keep buying both of these for sure, and my local grocery store even carries the balsamic one.

So that’s the story of our Whole30! I’ll leave you with a pic of Adam and I the day we finished the reintroduction, we celebrated by dropping off all four boys at Mimi’s and going to our favorite restaurant.

If you’ve done the Whole30 I’d love for you to leave your experience in the comments!

 

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Comments

  1. Excellent, I’d been wanting to hear how things finished up! I’m glad to hear that you had more energy. That’s such a good idea to cut up the veggies in advance. I should do that. We go through way too much cold cereal around here, it’s not very filling, and not very cheap. We’ve had chickens about four years and love having fresh eggs. I hope you love yours.
    Sarah recently posted..Chicken Mansion RevealedMy Profile

  2. Jan Horwood says:

    Look at that picture of you guys…HARDLY what I would call middle-aged!! I’m glad the rest of the month went well for you. I was wondering about it. We wanted to try it after Christmas, but the budget was the big obstacle in our case.
    Chickens! How exciting! I would love to have chickens. Any pix of cute, fuzzy chicks? Lol.

    • Besides this one for Instagram I actually didn’t take a single picture when the chickens were little and fuzzy, despite my kids constantly playing with them and having lots of adorable photo opportunities. Mom fail. We had 28 in that picture though, and now we are up to 34 because my husband has a problem. He is collecting chicken breeds like they are baseball cards or something, I think we have 15 different ones. It’s fun to watch them grow though, there are some crazy ones in the mix!

  3. I am on my second round now. I am a HUGE Whole30 fan! It is definitely difficult but I am finding my second round to be easier now that I have the knowledge of what I can/cannot have. I love the black/white nature of it and it’s pretty cut and dry (no points involved). Congrats on finishing up! Ps – Red Boat Fish Sauce is compliant and is great in Asian inspired dishes.

  4. Ha! Thank you for indulging my need for closure on this! :) You guys look fantastic. I appreciate the honest review of the diet plan.

  5. Maria from Oz says:

    Ha! You think that Whole 30 is restrictive, try what i eat! Mainly nothing! Well, I didn’t get a choice actually I have had food intolerances for years and then I had a hysterectomy and I got Clostridium Difficle, and ever since that lovely gut infection I can’t eat even what I used to eat even when I could eat bugger all to start with! Waaaaah! SO your Whole 30 sounds like a moveable feast for me! Yum! Oh how I yearn for the days of garlic, onion and mushrooms….sigh….Yoghurt….sigh…..Plums, nectarines, pears, wheat, grains, oh the list goes on!
    So if you tried me on the Whole 30 I reckon I’d be a happy little pig in mud. Except for the no alcohol, at least i can still have a sup of white wine!
    I love that ‘wok/skillet/whatever you wanna call it’ I make a mean tofu veggie stirfry and i reckon that’d do the job in a jiffy!
    Looking forward to next weeks excitements on your blog!

  6. Actually this diet is impressive, I’ve already stayed 30 days without eating sweet too, and breads at breakfast substitutes for eggs, it’s very good indeed. Some small changes in our food and results are incredible.

  7. It’s incredible that you lost 7 kilos in 30 days changing your eating habits, I already lost 2 kilos in a month changing only my breakfast, I stopped eating bread and substitute for eggs.
    Now if you follow your tips here, you can lose a lot more.

  8. very good. Thank you for sharing so much important information.

  9. Julia Ritchie says:

    Thanks for the update! I love following your blog. I’m just 8 weeks pp with my 2nd and am wanting to do something like this. My second has a cowsmilk protein intolerance- so this would be great to try since I’m nursing.

    Can I also ask – is that dress lularoe? Love it!
    Cheers!

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