For a few months now, I’ve been tempted to try Whole30, the nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. According to program creators Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, it’s like “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” This week I’m going to try a Whole30 test run.
The program is not a diet, per se. There aren’t any restrictions on portions or calorie counting. The restrictions – and there are plenty of them – revolve around the kinds of foods you’re eating. In short:
Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking.
Do not eat grains.
Do not eat legumes.
Do not eat dairy.
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.
Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats
That doesn’t sound too bad, right? A call to eat real, whole foods is a worthy goal and one I don’t think I fall too short of.
But apparently the program is really, really hard to maintain for 30 days, and while I love a challenge, I have a trip to New York planned in a couple of weeks. There’s no way I’m going to forgo drinks on rooftop bars or restrict myself the restaurants I’ve been diligently researching.
Still, when I heard 3 people at work talking about Whole30, I figured I could give it a 5-day test run, in preparation for a longer commitment. I’ve been reading up on the program and identified some potential pitfalls and how I plan to address them.
Potential Pitfalls and How I Plan to Address Them:
I Hate to Be Told No
Tell me I can’t have something and I immediately want it more. (See: The Dairy Dilemma). At first glance, Whole30 seems like a whole lotta no’s, but I’m going to focus on all the yeses. Since meat is allowed, meals should be satisfying and delicious. And I love vegetables. I’m going to stock up on both and concentrate on making tasty, simple meals that I look forward to.
The Dairy Dilemma
Give up bread, pasta and potatoes? No problem. Alcohol? Much harder but doable. But dairy, my beloved dairy. That’s where it gets tricky. I love my cheese. And how do you even eat breakfast without dairy? No yogurt and berries, green smoothies or cereal? And I can’t even fill the void with peanut butter, bread or oatmeal. Just last week I assured my doctor that I got plenty of dairy in my diet, so he didn’t prescribe a calcium supplement. Now I’ll take one with the Vitamin D he recommended. Gotta be smart about my bones. As for breakfast, I guess it’ll have to be eggs, avocados and berries. I get iffy about eggs sometimes so I welcome any other breakfast suggestions.
No legumes, really?
I love beans and was surprised that they’re not allowed. They’re plants, right? But apparently, we only eat the seed of the legume, which stores a lot of carbohydrates and aren’t a dense protein source. They may also contain “phytates — anti-nutrients which bind to minerals in the legumes, rendering them unavailable to our bodies.”
So no soy, black beans garbanzo beans or peanuts. And by extension, no tofu, peanut butter or hummus. Gulp. That hurts. I can however eat beans that are more pod than seed, such as green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. Also coffee “beans” are allowed. Whew.
Talk about a buzz kill. I can generally go without alcohol except on the weekends. This is the aspect of the program that made my boyfriend the saddest. On the test run this won’t be a problem, but when I commit to a month-long program, I think alcohol restriction will rise to the top.
The Death of Spontaneity
Eating like this won’t be easy. Breads, dairy, pre-packaged foods and peanut butter are easy to grab and eat on the go. I’ll need to stock up on approved foods, plan my meals and snacks ahead of time and be much more thoughtful about my eating while I’m on the program. But I guess that’s the whole point.
Have you tried Whole30? Any suggestions for breakfast? Want to join me for a 5-day test run?