So, the important question…… would I do it again? Absolutely. For me, this month has achieved everything I wanted it to; to force me to re-evaluate what I eat, what my eating habits are like (and why) and to pay more attention to what my body needs in order to function well. In tandem with an increase in running and cycling training, my run speed and stamina has increased, pushing me a little beyond the stagnant level that I was running at – particularly pleased about this. I have lost a bit of weight, although it wasn’t one of my goals, it’s a nice side-effect. The main thing is that I feel healthy, and now as well as the usual chocolatey & cakey recipe boards that I browse on a regular basis on Pinterest (even when doing Whole30 – had to get my cake fix somehow!), I am now also browsing the Whole30, Paleo and “Clean eating” tagged boards and recipes too. I’ve really enjoyed being in the kitchen far more than I usually do for standard weekday dinners, and I’ll try and share some of the recipes that I made for the first time, or that I was particularly pleased with. Who knew there was so much you could do with veggies? It’s also taught me to plan ahead a lot better in terms of what food we have in the fridge, what meals I can make with it etc., and has had the added advantage of getting me out of bed a bit more promptly in the morning, so that I have enough time to cook myself a decent breakfast and make myself lunch.
What will I now change? Lunches will stay the same – I like taking a salad and a piece of fruit to work with me, it’s what I always do, particularly in a hot country. I may vary my protein source a little more though, and work my way back onto beans & chickpeas if they agree with me when I reintroduce them. Dinners won’t change much either as long as I’m the one doing the cooking! We tend to eat a lot of fruit and veg anyway, it’s just on the days when we haven’t remembered to defrost anything, or really need to do a food shop, or are both late home etc. that things start to slip, and the bag of pasta gets opened. We will also probably go back to not necessarily having meat at every mealtime; we quite often have veggie stir-fry or vegetable curry etc., with kidney beans or chickpeas as a protein source. This also makes the whole experience a lot less expensive! Breakfast? Ah…… coco pops and milk. I think that as long as we have enough food in the fridge, I will continue having a “proper breakfast” with eggs and veggies for as long as possible. Whilst I’m cycling into work, this really sets me up well for lasting till lunchtime, in a way that a bowl of cereal wouldn’t even come close to hitting the mark. I’d be at the coffee machine with the sugar pot by 10am guaranteed.
What I’ve missed most during my month of clean eating, is baking. Not necessarily the actual consumption of what I’ve baked (although obviously that’s delicious), but the enjoyment of being in the kitchen baking something yummy, licking the spoon to test it, and then having a slice of whatever it is later on in the afternoon with a cup of Earl Grey. I’ve found a lot of really tasty looking recipes online that are wheat free etc., so I think even when I do go back to baking, I might play around with some different recipes and see how well they come out. I’ve also realised how good natural sugar is compared to refined sugar…… particularly living in a country where local dates are cheap, plentiful, and downright yummy. Dates are a great way to flavour coffee, to have for a little sweetness in salads or smoothies instead of honey, plus I can pick them off the trees myself! Win. The date and nut bars that I made previously will also be staying. Chocked full of good fats and natural sugar, they will be going in my jersey pocket for those long rides. As will the beef jerky – despite getting some funny looks for eating this mid- or post-workout, I genuinely think that on the days I remembered to take some protein & carby veg with me for after exercise, my muscles recovered more quickly.
Would I recommend the Whole30 to other people? Definitely. I think in today’s society it’s so easy to hear conflicting advice about what’s good for you, what’s bad for you, bad diets, good diets, fad diets etc., that it’s easy to get lost and just slip back into your old habits. I’d thoroughly recommend reading the “It starts with food” book before starting a Whole30 though, so you can do the whole month understanding the basics of why you are doing it, and what you should realistically be hoping to achieve. At the end of the day, the less artificial food we eat, the better as far as I’m concerned. Aside from that, a good balanced diet has always been the recommendation – minus the preservatives, chemical additives and sugar nasties that seem to get shoehorned into everyday staples now. Reintroducing dairy hasn’t caused me any problems, so although I will try and cut down on the amount I used to have in my diet, it’s a nice relief to know that it doesn’t have any bothersome effect on me. So far no response from grains, but as I normally try and keep these limited in my diet anyway, I’m not too bothered about consciously trying to reintroduce them.
A week into life post-Whole30, and I’ve discovered that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I’m still eating a very much whole30 breakfast, particularly on the days that I then cycle into work, and if I’m cooking, then it’s mostly clean whole food anyway. The only difference is that maybe I don’t worry so much about what something’s cooked in if I go out to eat and I can have milk in my tea again! I am currently a few days into a week’s worth of fieldwork, eating at hotels and local restaurants, so a little bit more flexibility in what I can and can’t eat is definitely helpful. Fortunately there’s a great salad bar here, so I can load up on fruits, veggies, eggs and meats a plenty!
For any of you wondering what a month’s worth of clean, whole food eating looks like……… in summary……. this.