There are constantly trend words surrounding food, diets + how we can all be better versions of ourselves. Its really just a luxury to have so many options of what to feed ourselves that we can to decided, eliminate and need to control the amount we eat. I think living in the communities we did in South Africa and Tanzania, my perspective shifted greatly on “healthy eating” and fad diets and the like. I saw the utter privilege of choice we are offered in the western world and the indulgence in the amount of food we are constantly able to consume. “Portion control” is not an issue all over the world. Because you work hard to get enough food and you eat just enough so tomorrow you will have enough as well. The fact that we have to work at limiting how much we eat is really wild when you think about it. Then there is the options of WHAT to eat.
Quinoa became really popular a few years ago (I love quinoa), and Acai berries were quite the rage (also tasty town). Both of those originate in South America. I always wondered about how we swear we need them in a healthy an balanced diet, yet they aren’t from the place we are from. In our globalized world, we have access to EVERYTHING. We can eat Raspberries in December and Brussel sprouts in the dead heat of summer. We dont know when things grow or where they grow or even HOW they grow. If I don’t try hard to educate otherwise, I bet Elias will grow up thinking a man named Trader Joe grows his bananas, instead of a farm in Costa Rica that then ships them to us. It blows my mind.
(If any of my ramblings interest you, please go read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The chapter on asparagus is really just beauty in words. I know that sounds lame. I promise its not.)
OKAY, so all of that to say I don’t believe in diets.
But I have done the Whole30 twice. That is because I do believe in fasting + resets, and want to share a little of my experience with you, if youre interested!
What is the Whole30?
There are approximately 474,672 resources on this information, but to keep it simple, the Whole30 is a 30 day elimination eating reset. For 30 days you eat meat, vegetables, a little fruit… and that is about it. NO dairy, NO sugar (you quickly realize how much junk has sugar in it), NO grains (not even the majestic quinoa), NO legumes (sad month for peanut butter). It is high protein + vegetable with healthy fats.
Right off the bat, this is not my cup of tea. I am not a huge meat eater, even though I do have Type O blood type. I could be a vegetarian if the occasional hamburger counted. So, I was apprehensive. But I wanted to give it a shot. The first one I did was January 2017, and then I did it again in January 2018. All in all, I liked it. I think it is a good program for 30 days.
I think committing to a program that requires self control is SO SO healthy for us, mentally and physically. Its not something we practice often enough in our culture, so even if it is just for that- I’M IN.
I do not, however subscribe to the “Whole30 lifestyle”, or basically eating paleo after the 30 days. We quickly added whole grains + legumes back into our diet. This was something I really missed on Whole30. (Rice, Beans, Quinoa 😉, peanuts, peanut butter). No one in our family has any dietary restrictions for health reasons, so because of that I believe there is no reason not to have this healthy, enriching foods in our diet.
I also do not eat as much animal protein regularly as you are required to on Whole30. I love vegetarian meals, and don’t think any of us need to eat meat 3 meals a day, or even every day! I try to intentionally build days where I don’t eat any meat (even if I do eat eggs). This is where “Meatless Mondays” were born in our rotation- in that on Mondays I typically make a dinner that is plant-based, usually with beans. Beans are rich in protein, much cheaper, and restricted on Whole30. They can be inflammatory so in an elimination reset, it is great to see if that affects your body! None of us have issues with beans, so we say pass that magical fruit (the more you eat it, the more you poot).
I did lose weight on the Whole30. I don’t know how much because I intentionally do not own a scale or with myself, but I could tell by how I looked and how my clothes fit. The first time I was still post partum, so it was a great reset to make me feel more like myself. The second time it was the beginning of the year, when we usually like to fast and reset to start a new year off fresh. While the weight loss isn’t the goal of a Whole30, it is nice to have more room in your jeans and feel confident.
I have been pretty mindful of food and what I eat since I was young and started going to a nutritionist who taught me food journalling (NOT a healthy practice for a 10 year old to learn AT ALL, but its part of my story). So I am pretty conscious about what I eat. BUT the most significant thing I think Whole30 has to offer is that mindfulness.
You begin to look at the ingredient list of everything you eat before you eat it, and to me the goal is never the calorie count but ALWAYS the shortest ingredient list possible. You become shocked at how many things have sugar in it (WHY OH WHY?!) and other words you cannot even pronounce. This with the goal of only eating meals and not snacks made me mindful of how often I mindlessly eat throughout the day. If something appealing is around, the temptation is just to have a little. Eating just when you are hungry is one of the best parts of the program.
Will I do it again?
I would consider doing a Whole30 again at some point, but have no plans to. Since I know I have no dietary allergies, I would consider doing more of a Whole Foods Reset, in which the parameters are around eating whole, unprocessed foods (not even the protein bars or some other products that are Whole30 acceptable). The point would be eating food that is made from scratch. This would allow for legumes and some whole grains, while still eliminating a lot of problem foods and all sugar from my diet.
I still make some Whole30 recipes that you will see here. I will share those for those interested and because I appreciate what I have learned + recommend it as a reset + mental practice. But if anyone asks, Ill be over here eating the hearty black bean vegetarian soup I made for dinner. (with tortilla chips. because #foodfreedom.)
One of my favorite things about Whole30 is the @Whole30Recipes instagram. They rotate food bloggers each week and I have found some of my favorite food bloggers and recipes from their feed! Make sure to give them a follow. My two favorite Whole30 Food bloggers are:
No Crumbs Left. (@nocrumbsleft) Y'all Terri is amazing. You want to be in her family, you want to be her best friend, and you want to be an ounce of the passion she has for good food for anything in life. She loves the art of cooking and real food, and she loves to share it with others. Her recipes are magic and she is just the most fun. Her Heroine Chicken + Green Goddess Dressing are both MUSTS.
The Defined Dish. (@thedefineddish) I adore all of Alex's recipes. A lot of what I cook on the Whole30 comes from her. I have not made nay of her recipes that my entire family doesn't love, and I still make them. She has so many asian flavors + inventive recipes. Her Stir Fry recipes + her Chicken Picatta are great places to start.
Go follow them whether or not you are planning on doing a Whole30!