Monday, April 8, 2013

How Whole30 Changed the Way I Eat

It's been over 2 months since I completed my first-ever Whole30 program. Time flies! Today I'm taking a look back to where I started my Whole30, where I ended on January 30th, where I am now in terms of eating habits, and where I'd like to be.

As a reminder, Whole30 is essentially a 30 day commitment to eliminate inflammatory and unhealthy foods from your diet. This includes getting rid of gluten and all grains, beans and legumes, soy and dairy, as well as added sugar and alcohol. Bascially a BIG focus on meat protein, vegetables and fruit.

Jan 1st, 2013- Started Whole30
I started my Whole 30 experience on January 1st, 2013. I had a definite sugar addition, I was still eating a lot of gluten and dairy, and not REALLY connecting the gross feelings I had after eating them with the foods themselves.

I was eating what I thought was a lot of vegetables, but still filling in with a lot of bread products, which was again causing irritation and inflammation.

Jan 30th, 2013- Post Whole30 Results
The best result of Whole30, for me, was that it really helped me to identify foods that cause inflammation in my body. I can objectively look at foods like pizza or big chunks of bread, and know the feelings of discomfort I will experience after eating them. That's powerful, to have reconnected with those signals my body is sending.

I chose to willing divorce several parts of Whole30 that don't currently fit into my lifestyle. One was complete elimination of dairy- I still wanted to have limited dairy in my life. The other part was the amount of meat I was eating. When you're on Whole 30, you eat a LOT of meat! It's expensive, and as a former vegetarian who wants to source as much of my meat in a local, organic way I didn't feel like it was really necessary for me to eat THAT much meat.

April 8th, 2013- 2 months post Whole30
The biggest part of Whole30 that I've carried on with me is saying no to inflammatory foods like dairy and gluten products. While I have re-introduced limited dairy into my diet (greek yogurt and cottage cheese), and will occasionally have tofu, beans, or lentils, I have stayed away from other dairy products, and have been eating a lot less grains and gluten. This has resulted in a lighter, happier me! 

I can consider before I eat tofu and beans and decide if it's worth the gas I'll experience later. I've only had pizza once since I finished Whole30- it used to be a go-to junk food for me and I'd eat it at least once a week. Now that I can associate it with (TMI, sorry) staying in the bathroom for an hour afterwards, it doesn't seem that appealing!

The biggest dietary struggle I've continued to wrestle with post-Whole30 is eliminating wheat and added sugars. For me, these two are often linked into the mostly unnecessary foods we call baked goods. I've been able to avoid other grains pretty successfully (making hamburgers with no bun, taco salads vs. a burrito, haven't had pasta in 3 months), but when I get stressed, I still want to chow down on a cookie. Or two! Not only do I think I might be sensitive to gluten products, but for me, things made of wheat or other grains often represent empty calories. There are foods made with whole grains that can be really good for you, but when you're eating conservatively to maintain your weight & fitness level, a 170 calorie tortilla is just hard to fit into your day. Same with a burger bun, or 2oz of pasta that is 220 calories!

The future- Incorporating Whole30 into my diet
My strategy lately has been to make sure I'm bringing enough whole foods to work for lunch and snacks, so I don't turn to filler foods I don't need. I've also taken to carrying around a few oranges, Picky Bars, or Kind bars, so I have a less-processed snack option available if I start to get hungry. Mostly, I've been able to find that I don't need that piece of toast, that roll, or that bagel. If you don't really need it, why eat it?
  • Limited dairy I've added into my diet has been working well for me so far- no real issues. 
  • Minus the baked goods debacle, I'm pretty successful at avoiding wheat and grains, although I'd like to be a bit more vigilant about it. 
  • I have beans or tofu 1-2 times a week, and that has been a good balance. 
  • My sugar intake has picked up- only in the dessert area. Otherwise, I am really good at screening out unnecessary sugars from my diet. 
  • LOTS more fruits and veggies, which has been AWESOME!
I plan to continue on eating in these ways, since the limited re-introduction of these products has worked for me.

Overall, I've been able to incorporate a lot of what I learned during my Whole30 into my day-to-day living, and I've benefited from it. I'll continue to do so, and I'm happy with that!

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