So we completed our first Whole 30. My husband and I set out to improve our health as well as lose some weight. He’s looking to lose the 60 pounds he’s put on since I began cooking for him and I’m looking to lose about 120 pounds. We were also hoping to see some improvement in allergies for him and several conditions for me. I’ve had GERD for close to 20 years, and was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and grade 1 esophagitis in 2000 or 2001. I took Prilosec and Nexiumm (and Tums) for years faithfully but in the last several years, I have tried to cut back on the Prilosec but I end up having to take about 2/3 of the time and still deal with painful acid reflux, since my stomach valve can’t completely close.
I also have PCOS, diagnosed sometime around 2001/2002. As a syndrome, not everyone has the same symptoms with PCOS, mine includes insulin resistance, dark skin patches, skin tags, intermittent acne, hirsutism – (yep chin hair growth… ick), irregular periods (mine tend to come every 21-23 days; most women’s do the opposite) and infertility. Oh and according to the one site I was looking at, I can blame my sleep apnea on it as well. When diagnosed I went on a large dose of metformin and after surviving the digestive issues to get on it, I managed to lose some weight. Then there was a job layoff, and eventually no health insurance. Through the years since I’d tried to get back on but haven’t managed to do it successfully for a long period of time. It’s hard to do a lot of things when you have to stay close to a bathroom at all times. In addition to that I’ve had trouble with swollen feet and more joint pain than I wanted to really admit. Oh yeah, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and Bakers Cysts in my knees in 2006.
Anyway, back to the Whole 30. After a false start in September, my husband and I, along with my wonderful in-laws, decided we were all going to do the whole 30, starting Jan. 1. Ok, truthfully, my in-laws had decided and we jumped in with them. We made the decision somewhat early in December so I had time to make peace with my Coke Zero addiction and say goodbye to it for 30 days; and now been extended to forever.
If you haven’t heard of the Whole 30 before, the diet in a nutshell is a 30 day elimination diet where you drop out all the foods that are known to cause inflammation and digestive/gut problems. What you do eat is real food… you know, the kind that doesn’t come in a box from the middle of the grocery store. Every type of animal protein is allowed, preferable the variety that has been grass-fed and pastured. So meat, and then veggies, lots of veggies… lots of variety. And fruit. But mostly meat and veggies, oh and fat. Healthy fat with MCTs and rich in Omega 3s. What is gone from the diet? Grains (both gluten and non-gluten), legumes (with a couple of exceptions), sugar in every form (well except what is natural in fruit and veggies) – so no stevia, honey, agave, cane sugar, etc., soy (including the soy in your canned tuna), and dairy.
We were ready to do this but I really expected that we’d have a hard time being dairy-free, and especially cheese-free. We do love cheese. A lot. Wild thing is, after a few days, we haven’t missed it. It was an adjustment eating breakfast, because neither of us ate breakfast except on weekends, unless you count coffee with half and half or two coke zeros.
You might be wondering how we eat now
Breakfast has been eggs (usually 2) – either over easy/medium or scrambled with veggie sauté which can include mushrooms, onion, spinach, red bell pepper and sometimes sweet potato hash browns and either leftover steak bites or ground pork with my own Italian spice blend to make a pretty good sausage patty and most days, half an avocado each. Generally it’s been rooibos tea or rooibos chai tea but we finally found a coffee that isn’t quite so bitter and we’ve had that with some coconut milk and a couple dates blended in.
Lunch is generally a salad of some sort, or occasionally leftover soup or chili. I sauté some leftover chicken or steak generally and we fill up big bowls of salad with my creamy balsamic dressing (add an egg or two to the oil and vinegar and it will help it hold the emulsification with a splash of orange juice to balance the dressing). And the salads always have a handful of kalamata olive and cashews tossed in to cover our fat needs. Sometimes we do tuna or salmon salad with homemade mayo. It’s taken a bit to get the homemade mayo worked out, but now that I have it down, I’ll never go back.
Dinner has been either beef or chicken mostly with shrimp tossed in now and then. I’ve been intending to slow roast a pork shoulder but we just haven’t gotten around to it yet. And I’ve been on a steak kick; I assume I need those B vitamins or something. And the veggies are generally sweet potatoes (white potatoes are out on this plan, not because they are bad but because there are more nutrient dense choices) and then a green veggie of some sort. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and Garlic spinach are the most popular in our house with carrots, mushroom and almost nightly sweet potato on the menu. Can you tell I had Protein, Starch and Veg drilled into me at culinary school? J Of course it’s now starchy veg and second veg. I also, thanks to sodastream, have a lemon or orange flavored fizzy water with dinner most nights. Early on it was essential to get me past my coke zero fixation and now it just feels like a special treat.
How we are feeling after 30 days?
Much better, unbelievably better. My joint pain is gone and has been for a few weeks. All the residual inflammation in my feet and even in my hands is gone. My GERD is better but not gone yet. I had a period during the first week that it was gone and then we had a bunch of tomatoes over a two day period and it was back with a vengeance. I’m suspecting that it’s a histamine issue like Chris Kesser wrote about, but I have more research to do about this. My gut still has healing to do, and we’ll be addressing that soon. I have finally started digestive enzymes and probiotics to help with the gut healing and look forward to continued improvement. Obviously the insulin resistance is still at play as well, so I want to research what I can do to help with that until I drop more weight. We’re both snoring less and our moods are better too.
We both lost about 7 pounds, which is a bit less than we were hoping but I’m suspecting that we need to reduce our sweet potato intake. I’m not sure what other adjustment we may need to make at this point. We’ve probably lost more than this because we have started riding our bikes and we were very sedentary before we started the Whole 30, so I suspect there’s a bit of muscle mass gain involved. We should have taken measurements but we didn’t. But we both need belts on our pants right now, so….
We are also sleeping better and waking feeling refreshed. We have solid energy throughout the whole day. No more spikes and dips, it’s really pretty amazing.
Basically we’re going to keep eating the same way. We feel pretty great and don’t want to change that, plus we’ve really been enjoying the food I’m producing. Both of our birthdays fall in the next two weeks, his on the 3rd and mine on the 16th so we are considering ourselves to be doing some initial testing to see what we can add back into the diet. We’ve been missing the awesome dogs from a local join, the Hotdogger, where Hubs works on Thursdays. The dogs are compliant except for a touch of sugar so we’re going to have then, sans bun, tonight. They’ll probably get tossed into the chili I made last night. Saturday we’re going for sushi so that will be our first test of off plan food. After that, we’ll check out cheese and greek yogurt. We probably won’t even try gluten at this point. Oh and we’ll have some wine.
Once we’re past my birthday we’re going to jump into a Whole 90. We’d do a 100 but our first anniversary is on May 18, which is Day 91. I find it’s easier for me, rather than get in the psychology of it being a “cheat day”, to just consider that we’re off the diet for those days. I’ve cheated at EVERY diet I’ve ever been on before the whole 30 and it just leads to me caving in. Good thing the Whole 30 isn’t a diet anyway. And we’re not planning to go crazy on off plan stuff, some cheese (hopefully) and some wine and a few days of mental relaxation.
We plan to keep at the Whole 30 until we’ve lost the weight we both need to lose, so for me, that’s at least the rest of this year. Once we’re both done, we’ll test and evaluate the foods again and see what can get added back and what just isn’t worth it.
I’ll also be updating this blog more regularly with some of my recipes that are quickly becoming staples so stay tuned.