It’s a curious first world problem to stand in front of your well-stocked pantry and think, “There’s nothing in here I can eat.” To see cans of black beans and garbanzo beans, oatmeal and peanut butter and shake your head mournfully before closing the door. But that’s Whole30 for you.
Despite the deprivation and the world seeming to conspire against me, I actually enjoyed my test run. In fact, I recommend doing one before you launch into the full 30 days to trouble shoot all the ways you might get tripped up. (Kind Bars? Kinda off limits.) I think I’m going to keep going. Not strict adherence since I’m headed to New York next week but sticking to Whole30 as much as possible till I touch down in the Big Apple. (Apples allowed on Whole30, but in moderation.)
Here’s how my first week went:
Day 1: I got up and made two over-easy eggs with avocado and hot sauce and a couple of slices of London broil. My coffee was inky black. I had to drive to Chattanooga for a presentation to our Little Debbie client. Yes, a visit to Little Debbie headquarters on the first day of Whole30. Universe, I appreciate your sense of humor. I dutifully packed a giant crouton-less salad dressed with oil and vinegar to eat on the road rather than stopping for my usual road trip favorite, Chick-fil-a. I felt both satisfied and virtuous during my presentation. Oh and did I mention that when you leave Little Debbie headquarters, they load you down with new varieties to take back to the office? (Soon, Zebra Nutty Bars. Very soon.) I consoled myself with another cup of black coffee from Whole Foods, which you’d think would be the a safe place for people on the program, but all I saw were baked goods and specialty cheeses and an impressive liquor selection. My boyfriend, who rode up to Chattanooga with me got a slice of pizza. I may have kissed him just to taste cheese and pepperoni. I ate a banana on the way home.
Day 2: Breakfast was a repeat of the day before. At work, a vendor dropped by and brought bagels and a variety of cream cheeses. Of course, she did. I chewed my pen. My perseverance was rewarded when I got home for lunch by the sight of smoke pouring off the patio. My boyfriend had grilled up some pork chops and chicken to get me through the week. My kiss had no ulterior motives this time! I was able to pair the grilled meats with a veggie for most of the week.
Day 3: I ventured out to a restaurant with my friend, Jonathan. We have a standing Wednesday night date and I didn’t want to be the buzz kill whose high maintenance diet inconveniences others. We went to Babalu, a Mexican restaurant known for their (Whole30 compliant) table-side guacamole. For $2.00 extra you can get fresh veggies for dipping rather than chips. Love that. My “entrée” was the tuna ceviche, which is similar to the one I make. (Pictured below, minus the chips.) Yes there was a tequila-lime marinade on the fish that may have contained sugar (mine does not) but I thought I could risk it. Restaurant achievement unlocked!
Day 4: I definitely felt in my groove at this point. A friend told me about Lara bars which are good to have on hand when you need something quick. Or sweet. The lack of sugar hasn’t really bothered me but for some reason I’ve been craving creamy foods. Without dairy, chocolate, peanut butter, hummus, oatmeal, pasta or risotto, I find myself missing the texture of creamy foods the most. I pick up some almond butter and it helps. Daily doses of avocado help too. But queso would help the most.
Day 5: On Friday, my boyfriend headed out of town, so I decided I’d keep going with Whole30 over the weekend, except for a couple of previously scheduled engagements (supper club and porch time with some blogger friends.) But since this was the last official day of Whole30, I sat down to assess what I learned.
What I learned:
I can subsist on a lot less food than I usually eat.
Whole3o isn’t convenient … and that’s a good thing. Having to cook or assemble or sometimes scrounge for your food takes effort and I ended up eating less simply because my choices were so severely limited. Yet I was never hungry. I know I was eating more fat and fiber than I usually do but I read that’s the secret to many dieters’ success. I also know that it feels good to be satisfied without feeling full. I could get used to that.
Treats aren’t treats if you eat them all the time. That’s your diet.
Whole30 made me really aware of how often I “treat” myself with food. As you can see from my week, there were several opportunities to eat outside of meal times. And I’m not even talking about having Chick-fil-a instead of a salad. I mean that Nutty Bar, the half a bagel and cream cheese, cookies after my Wednesday night dinner out, the handful of chocolate covered almonds I regularly pop, hot chocolates and mini marshmallows I’ve started having before bed and at least 3 Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce’s a week. We’re talking an extra 2000 calories before you even count my alcoholic beverages. Yikes! I’m definitely going to be more conscious of that.
I like having that pause button.
Something about the word “complaint” bugs me. It makes Whole30 feel cultish. But stopping to assess whether a food you’re about to shove in your mouth or shopping cart is “Whole3o compliant” (Spoiler alert: it almost never is) is sometimes just the pause you need to make a better decision. I like that. I like cooking and eating more mindfully. I enjoy food more just by being more intentional with my choices. Always a good thing.
When I went off Whole30 on Saturday, I went way off: queso with chorizo and chips, a beer and two glasses of wine. Eh, it happens. I was right back on today. And I’ll let it work like that for a while – sticking with the program except when I don’t. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to commit to the whole 30 days. I have a week-long shoot coming up in May, then another in June. Then July is my birthday and probably a vacation …
Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.
How about you? Are you trying Whole30 or have you completed the program? What did you think?