Just finished up Whole30. Didn’t realize that there was an at-least-ten-day reintroduction period which basically makes it Whole41.
Because the whole point of the experiment is to see how different foods and food groups affect your body, of course you need a control (your body sans all these things for 30 days), then you need to add them back one at a time!
I learned a lot about a lot during my Whole30 adventure, so I can share some of the things here.
Firstly, I want to say that most likely, mistakes were made. I got the flu somewhere in the middle of my Whole30 life, and I’m not entirely certain I didn’t take a medicine with a non-approved ingredient. Scott and I also entertained some out of town guests, which brought us to a restaurant, where we did our best… but I’ll get to that. There’s a chance the sauce or the bacon may have had a little added sugar, in retrospect.
I’d like now to go through some of the pros and cons of my experience.
PRO: It does affect your body, for the good. I don’t know that I had more energy, although I feel like I had a bit more. But the energy was more even throughout the day. Scott claimed to be sleeping much better as well. Scott lost weight, but I didn’t.
(interlude) – I learned some things that I find amazing about the way our bodies are able to break down food for energy. At some point during Whole30 (probably around the headache period, near the end of the first week) a body will likely go into ketogenesis (also called ketosis). This is when your body is breaking down fats for energy instead of carbs and sugars. What I find fascinating is that our bodies can do this, and have been programmed from forever to be able to do this. I think the Atkins diet was probably based on the idea of sending bodies in to ketosis to cause them to start breaking down stored fats, but I think for my Whole30, I was just breaking down mostly the fats I was taking in (because I was in no way stingy on the fats, nor should one be when doing Whole30).
So I was thinking about our primitive human forbears and how their food situation in hunter-gatherer land was totally boom or bust, so when someone brought home a shitload of berries, you ate berries. When someone killed a big animal, it was meat for days, but not many days because fridge. So human bodies had to be able to handle all that, the sugars, the fats, and make excellent use of it or perish.
CON: You will spend a lot more money at the grocery store. Especially in week one when you are just shoving every compliant thing into your face that you can find.
PRO: You will save a lot of money by never going out to eat.
CON: You can basically never go out to eat. I mean, technically you can, but if you do, you have to be “that guy” and ask the waiter a million questions and at some point they are going to know that you aren’t allergic, that you’re just doing this because you want to, and if you’re really so sensitive about whether the bacon is cured or uncured and if so with sugar or not, then maybe you should make your own damn bacon in your own damn house and leave it be.
And you gratefully skitter home where all the food is safe and you don’t have to worry. And there you stay.
CON: It’s kind of anti-social. This for me is a pretty big con. Think about how much of spending time with people happens around food, usually out at a coffee shop, bar, restaurant or something. When you can’t drink, and can’t eat most of what’s on the menu (and then not without being that laborious guy), you end up staying home a lot. Furthermore, you end up turning down stuff people are offering you, which is normally no big deal, but I had a student who came to my room to bring me a hibiscus drink they’d made in greenhouse class because he thought I would like it, and I had to send him away because it had a little sugar in it.
CON: If you get stuck somewhere, you better have a Larabar stashed. No longer can you accept whatever food is available where you happen to be if you happen to get stuck at work or anywhere longer than planned. And if you forget your lunch, you’re screwed (we never did, though there were close calls).
PRO: You really will get a sense of how foods affect you. On my re-introduction period I started with “non gluten grains” and had corn chips, some rice, and a tiny oatmeal. We also went to a Mexican restaurant where I ordered something that looked like it was cheese free. It wasn’t though, and either the friedness of the tortilla chips (different than the baked ones I had at lunch) or the queso made my stomach hurt (not bad, and not for very long, just enough to notice and be aware). I noticed that eating a bunch of rice all at once made me kinda sleepy. My skin has been super clear during Whole30, which I think is because of the sugar (though Scott thinks dairy).
PRO: You learn a lot. From reading articles, from reading ingredient labels, from asking the internet if this or that is approved. Like how much added sugar is in Every. Fucking. Thing. And how much shit is in a lot of packaged foods that claim to be healthy.
PRO: You really do get to a place where you don’t crave the bad stuff you used to crave. Or.. when you do, you know it will pass. I still want bread, though, with something more like longing, less like craving. I miss it, but know we could be together again one day, maybe even soon… *_*
PRO: You learn some new recipes. I’ve discovered some great new things that are delicious and also quite nutritious. I bought a couple Paleo books, but one of the best resources is of course the internet. I have grown quite fond of avocado egg salad, “lamb thing” (which is a paleo moussaka), “salmon egg cake,” “Tom Brady pancakes,” along with curry cashew chicken, and “fish-mash salad” (which is either tuna or canned salmon mashed up with homemade aioli, mustard, and the triple threat of celery, red onion, and carrot finely chopped. Scott says I should never name things). I feel more adept in the kitchen.
PRO: No food guilt. You know that everything you are eating is nutrient-dense, especially compared to the bullshit filler that’s in most industrially processed foods. Feel a little smug. You deserve it.
CON: It takes a lot of time because you have to make all your food at home for yourself. Lots of researching (looking up recipes, figuring out if we have this or need that), shopping, prep time, experimenting. It’s actually kind of fun, but Scott and I are both teachers, which everyone knows is a 60+ hour/week job that gets paid for 37.5.
All in all, it reminds me of the meditation retreat, which was also difficult, and which I also did for my own good. I was only slightly tempted to quit. I wanted so much more just to get to the end.
An endeavor, then, worth doing, and even repeating, although not right away.