After Whole30: What We Learned

We made it through the #Whole30. We actually did it. And now we are in the re-introduction phase-legumes first-beans and peanuts didn’t cause a problem. Today it was non-gluten containing grains- so we did corn. Hey, we live in Texas, where man cannot live without tortilla chips. So far, so good. Three days from now…. I forget. (I started writing this right after the 30 days and then walked away until we had completed the re-entry).


Was it worth it?

She: definitely

He:  Yes, I’m on the south side of 200, lipids are better, and I no longer nod off when I’m idle for more than 15 minutes.


Would I do it again knowing what I know now?

She: Yes, in a heartbeat. Because it made both of us realize some things about our eating habits. And because he finally started eating vegetables he has refused to eat his entire life. And, even though he threw fish in there a few times- I discovered that with enough mango salsa I can get it down.

He:  Absolutely I would do it again. It was not so much refusing to eat vegetables as never choosing to eat them. My mother’s approach to cooking most vegetables was opening a can and boiling them.  It was enough to scar anyone for life.


What’s the “aha” moment?

She: When Douglas realized how much sugar was actually in the food he ate, because he doesn’t eat “sweets”.  Some recipes worked for us and some didn’t. Some foods/food combos/ways of cooking I didn’t care for that he actually discovered he likes.

He:  I knew there was sugar in a lot of foods I eat, but to sit down and see it aggregated together was eye opening.


At what point did you want to quit?

She: I didn’t. I figured either it would do as advertised or not. It’s only 30 days of not eating like we usually did. And I hoped it would show us both how beneficial it would be for both of us- and it was.

He:  I’d say never because once started I was determined to finish. However, the most frustrating moment that I might have considered quitting was about a week in when tired of prepping and cooking, I just wanted a simple sandwich and chips type of meal that was not a salad. I had to learn how to make that happen.


What did you learn?

She: We are both are subject to mindless eating. Especially when the kids are around. We can live without a lot of the things we used to eat. That my appetite and hunger are not necessarily connected. I’ve not been hungry much on this- the first 3 days, looking back, I was, but after that the biggest thing I noticed that my appetite for food decreased to eating just what my body needed and I didn’t want seconds.

He: I learned I can go a month without eating cheese and not really miss it, that breakfast can be a real challenge when you can’t use a bread product, that beets are indeed edible if cooked the right way, that bypassing the drive-through and waiting to get home to eat takes discipline, and why my grandmother started working on lunch soon after breakfast was over and supper were leftovers from lunch …and every lunch prior till it was all eaten.


Did you miss anything or struggle with cravings?

She:  about two days before the end of it I found myself wanting chips and salsa at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I didn’t dream about them but just wanted the crunch, the taste, the sinus opening heat that the salsa would bring. I got over it but it surprised me- I’m the “sweets” eater in the house. I actually was surprise that it didn’t bother me not to have them and so far on this side, I’ve not wanted them either.

He: I was more surprised by what I didn’t miss. The only thing I struggled with and still struggle with is snacking, especially at night. It’s not so much snack foods I ate, but the habit of snacking. One of the concepts of the whole30 is to eat 3 regular full meals and not snack.



What’s next?

She: Hopefully, we will incorporate what we’ve done into a new way of eating that both of us can manage together. I’ve discovered that uncharacteristically, I really dislike prep work in the kitchen Fortunately, he does like the prep work- all that chopping- Tim the tool man comes to mind. And, maybe, just maybe there’s a biscuit (not a UK biscuit- a deep south, hot, fluffy, buttery bomb of goodness) in my future again- like once every month or so.

He: Figure out how to maintain this way of eating going forward so it becomes 2ndnature and  allow ourselves to occasionally enjoy off-diet foods without falling back into old habits



She: If you are thinking about trying this, go into it 100%. Go through your pantry, fridge, etc. and get rid of the food you aren’t supposed to eat on this plan.  We did have to be realistic because we have grands over a lot- we reserved one shelf in the pantry for foods that we knew they would want when they came over; the rest we donated to family and the local food pantry.

Really take stock of the reasons you are considering Whole30.

Is it to lose weight? That was not the objective for me, although, it has been a welcome side effect.

Is it to try to eat healthy for once in your life?  I had eaten healthy, long ago, but stress eating over the years took its toll. This enabled me to step back and look at how detrimental it has been and to realize that I want to eat healthy and demonstrate it’s possible to my kids and grands.

Is it to manage health issues you have now?  Those magic numbers the docs throw out at you about blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. they now become attainable goals with this plan. Neither of us is diabetic so I can’t address how this might help someone who is diabetic. But both of us saw changes in our lab work- enough, to continue eating according to this plan for the most part.

Do you want to “try something new because nothing else has worked very long”?  Is this the plan for you?  It’s retraining your body and mind to act in concert, to work together, to accept a few moments where your desires for food you normally eat could de-rail it all in a heartbeat. Going into this had to be a determined attitude- all or nothing. Every day. For the Whole30. It may surprise you that you can do this- it surprised me. Coming to the end of the 30 days, I know that my attitude about food has changed. It made me realize that a lot of the food I really like really doesn’t like me back. I’m now reluctant to re-introduce those foods.  I think now, more about what’s going to make my body work better and not make me feel physically bad (those post-meal hypoglycemic dives thanks to the insulin my body produced in response to what I ate) than spending time craving a burger and fries with ketchup or dare I say it- chocolate. I fully believe both of those are in my future- one of these days. Maybe. But only if I stay out of Central Market when it’s dinner time! Oh the smells…

In reality, I love food; I love cooking food that tastes good; I will always eat appreciatively- just not the same old way.


He:  Once you’ve decided to do it, deciding when to start it is critical. I mean, don’t even think about attempting it around Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m not sure I could have done this if I was still working. Between business travel and business meals I don’t think I could have found 30 contiguous days to do the whole30 program and subjecting colleagues and customers to my food zealotry is a non-starter. Nobody expects the nutritional inquisition!

We referred to the whole30 book itself a lot, more for understanding the program, seeing what we should be expecting, what’s allowed and not allowed, and why.  Having their pdf cheat sheets on your phone is handy when out shopping. We had the cook book as well and used some of the recipes, but very few we did as they appeared in the books. Most we tweaked and adjusted, but that’s the way we cook. We made a lot of the basics, mayo, dressings, rubs, etc. because it is often easier (and cheaper) to make than to try to find and buy whole30 complaint and it taste better.

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