Just from that title alone, I can hear you all shouting at me “you hypocrite!!!”. Normally I don’t want to touch a fad diet with a ten-foot pole. And normally I’m going on and on about why you don’t need to cut certain foods out of your diet completely unless there’s a legit reason. But here I am today debating going through a Whole30.
For those who don’t know, Whole30 is a 30-day diet change where lots of foods are cut out for a variety of reasons. You eliminate added sugar, alcohol, grains (not just those with gluten), grain-type foods (like quinoa), legumes, dairy, and MSG/carageenan/sulfites. This is a huge list, when you think about what you eat in a day. The idea is that after doing this for 30 days, you can slowly add foods back into your diet. For more info, check out the website here.
I can tell you right now that the hardest things for me to cut out will be cheese and beans, and that I will have to get super creative about breakfasts, since I’m kinda on an oatmeal kick right now.
So here’s why I think Whole30 might be a good idea for me right now:
- There’s a lot of things that might happen if I cut out added sugar, but I’m pretty sure none of them will be bad things. I am very sure there will be some kind of sugar withdrawal symptoms in the first week, but I don’t think its anything I can’t handle. Like many of these other changes, removing added sugar from my diet temporarily will help me pay more attention to what I’m eating, which could lead to some weight loss. While that isn’t the whole goal of this plan, I would not exactly be sad if I lost a few pounds.
- Since I won’t be able to eat most processed foods, I’ll have to pay more attention to what I’m eating, which can only lead to a healthier diet.
- Something is going on with my GI system, and its probably caused by what I’m eating. I’m not talking about anything super serious, just that any regularly scheduled programming is either not there, or too frequent, or I’m gassy, bloated, or have cramps after eating. I know my dad feels better now that he’s cut out dairy from his diet, so it wouldn’t really surprise me if decreasing my dairy intake made me feel better.
- Or maybe it’s wheat and gluten that my body doesn’t love, in which case, this will also help. I do eat a lot of gluten, so it’s possible that my body just needs a little break.
- I will have to eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no downside to that.
- I’ll have to be more creative about what I eat, since there’s so many things that will be off limits. This can only lead to more interesting recipes and cooking experiments. And obviously I would blog about these recipes and share my experience here. There’s also a Whole30 cookbook, with lots of ideas, which will at least get me started.
- Whole30 has a very no-nonsense, tough-love approach here. It really is all or nothing, which I think will be the kick in the pants I need to actually cut out the foods that aren’t agreeing with me and make healthier choices. Additionally, on the website, they offer so much support as a community for anyone taking on this challenge, and tons of resources, so I’m fairly confident I can find the answers I might need to be able to stick with the program for a month.
Basically the worst case scenario here is that I eat healthier, try some new recipes, and probably lose some weight. All good things.
Here’s why doing Whole30 will be super hard for me:
- I don’t want to be that person at a party or event or whatever who’s like “Oh sorry I don’t eat gluten/dairy/meat/grains/alcohol/legumes, please find me something else”. If I’m going to do this, I will treat it as my problem, not one for the rest of the world to solve for me. If I go to a friends for a weekend, I’ll bring some Whole30 approved back-up food, so that it’s never anyone else’s problem to find me food. If I’m going out for dinner, I’ll check the menu first and figure out what I can eat. This is not a medical thing, this is something I’m doing voluntarily, and it’s not anyone else’s problem to figure it out for me.
- The biggest hurdle for me is that I work in the food industry. I have to taste things as part of my job. I have to test recipes as part of my job. Fortunately, there are other people in my department who are also considering taking on their own dietary challenges, so we’ll all be in it together. The solution is that we have to have spit cups for doing tastings. Basically you chew the food, taste it, and then spit it into your cup so you don’t actually eat it. I would hate to be the only at the table doing that, but if everyone else is doing it too, it’s not as weird.
- I live (and eat) with someone who will not do this challenge with me. And that’s fine. But he’s still going to have things I can’t eat in the house. So I’m going to have to deal with having that temptation in front of me all the time.
- I am very worried about how I’ll get enough iron. I don’t usually eat tons of meat (unless it’s with the carnivore I live with), so I rely on legumes for that. Without being able to eat those, I’m going to have to pay more attention to making sure I do eat meat, and lots of spinach, and eggs. I’ll also have to work on pairing my iron-rich veggies with some vitamin C, which will help me absorb more non-heme iron. Basically it’s just something else I’ll have to plan around and pay attention to.
So in conclusion, there’s lots of things to think about, both good and bad. I really do think that doing the Whole30 for a month, and then reintroducing the foods I think might be upsetting my digestive system will help. And everything else will just help me make changes for a healthier diet. While this will be a challenge and time consuming, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take on, as long as I’m willing to take the time to meal plan and be creative with my diet. If the whole thing totally tanks and I don’t think its worth it, I go back to my normal eating. Not the end of the world.
What are your thoughts on the Whole30? If you’ve done one and have any tips or advice to share, let me know in the comments or on Facebook.