Today is day 30! I’ve survived to tell the tale of my first Whole30. I started on 1/1, and committed to 30 days of whole eating, following the strict Whole30 rules. There were ups and downs. There were some tears…and maybe a couple cheats (on day 15 I had 4 sour gummy bears & on day 25 I had a few bites of pasta at a work lunch). Ooooops…I didn’t even tell my husband (sorry sweetheart if you are reading this now).
I usually share my day to day meals & happenings on Instagram at @LoveandLightKitchen, I hope you all have been following my journey on #thedrakesneedadetox. Today, I also wanted to share my top 10 lessons from the Whole30 so here we go:
I Have a Sweet Tooth
Avoiding sugar was hard for me. I have always had a sweet tooth and always craved sugar, but cutting it out and telling myself I couldn’t have it, made me crave sweets even more. After just a couple days I was craving fruit, and ate an entire cantaloupe in just two sittings. I know I reward myself with sugar, and I’ve never denied myself…which is a hard habit to break after 30 years.
Nut-Free Vegetarian Whole30 is Hard
I am a vegetarian who’s allergic to nuts and seeds. I started this Whole30 journey with my mom and my husband. They both wanted to kick-start better eating this year and lose some weight. I have decided that my personal policy is that if someone asks you to go on a diet with them, that is the universe telling you that YOU need to go on a diet too. I know Whole30 is more than a diet, it is a reset and re-training of your eating habits to adjust to eating whole, natural and healthy foods. I’ve never followed a plan or a diet, and I didn’t know if I could do it. Going into this process, I was scared I’d be starving. I knew this month, we’d have to eat at home more than ever, and I was worried I’d get bored or too busy to keep up with the cooking & the prep. It was hard, but I did learn that it is not impossible!
Whole30 Was Not As Hard As I Thought It Was Going To Be
With everything I just said above, it was hard, but it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I already eat and cook mostly whole healthy foods (with the exception of the extra cheesy and holiday baking recipes I post). I was worried I wouldn’t last 30 days if I tried to change too much. I started by going through all my favorite recipes, and looking for inspiration on other recipe blogs. Most of the recipes I made all month, were recipes I already loved, and I adjusted to be Whole30-approved (swapping coconut milk for cream, ghee for butter, zoodles for noodles, etc.). I added in a few new ingredients like coconut chips, dates and coconut flour, but I approached this as a challenge to make small adjustments for myself to align my meals with the Whole30 rules, without depriving myself too much.
Whole30 & a Social Life Don’t Mix
Thinking about the last 30 days, I can count on one hand how many times I went out to a meal or an event. Food is a HUGE part of my life (you all know that if you’re reading this or if you follow me on Instagram). I pride myself on cooking family dinners, bringing the perfect side or sweet to a party, on finding a new local brewery or planning the perfect girls’ wine trip. I love spending time with friends over a great meal and a bottle of wine, and get the most excited when I find a new restaurant with awesome vegetarian awesome and a quality drink menu. Eating out on Whole30 was hard. Going out with friends was hard. The drinking was not a challenge for me, it was the food! Having people over was hard. Part of creating the right atmosphere for me while hosting, is the food and drinks, and no one seemed quite as interested in my nut-free vegetarian Whole30 items, as they do when I make whiskey cake or homemade pasta and spicy rice balls!
I Missed Bread More Than Dairy & Beer More Than Wine
I thought I’d have cravings for cheese and crackers, creamy soups and ice cream. I really thought I’d miss my red wine. To my surprise, I was dreaming about beer (not wine) all month. I dreamt over IPAs and ambers! Although, I did miss my morning Greek yogurt (almost as much as anything else), I did not miss any other dairy. The items that tempted me the most were warm rolls at one of my favorite restaurants and an orange scone at a volunteer event (for those of you who witnessed my meltdown about this scone, I formally apologize).
I Don’t Hate Eggs
I’ve always gone back and forth between love and hate with eggs. Without my daily Greek yogurt, black beans and quinoa, I knew that I’d be relying on eggs throughout January for much needed protein. I was worried I’d get tired of eggs. This month, I’ve had scrambled eggs, poached eggs, hard boiled eggs, soft boiled eggs and fried eggs, and I’ve learned to love them.
Ingredients Are More Important Than Nutritional Facts
I had to explain this many times to my husband. The Whole30 is all about checking your ingredients. The nutritional information is not as important. I’ve trained myself to review ingredients for meat, and then for nuts and seeds. In the last couple of years, I’ve tried to review labels for unnecessary chemicals or add-ins, and throughout this month, I’ve checked all ingredients for sugar. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything with natural sugar (like fruit, coconut, etc.), it just means that you don’t want foods that add sugar.
I Love Espresso
I’ve always enjoyed my morning coffee. I like a cup of coffee with a bit of cream. I can live without it, but I prefer the routine of a morning mug full. For Christmas, my brother gave me a Nespresso, and it has changed my life. Espresso is stronger (and tastier) than coffee, it doesn’t make me have to run to the restroom before my first morning meeting and I drink it quick enough, that it never gets cold before I finish it. I now need my morning espresso and I’m not ashamed to say it!
Coconut Flour Is Awful
I was excited to work with coconut flour. I was really excited when my first recipe (coconut tortillas) turn out so well, but I’ve realized that I despise coconut flour. I tried using it in zucchini fritters, coconut pancakes and used it as a fry ingredient in veggie burgers and patties. The coconut flour sweetened everything and never bound the way I expected it to.
Whole30 Works, But Doesn’t Have To Be Life Changing
Maybe it is because I ate whole foods and cooked a lot at home before I started my Whole30, but I don’t know if I’d consider “life changing” like so many others report. With that said, I did learn a few things:
- I can do the Whole30! I can follow the rules, not drink and make healthy decisions for an entire month.
- I can lose 10.4 lbs in 30 days (and my husband can lose 27.4)!
- I can socialize without ordering a drink and an appetizer!
- I can pack my lunch for work instead of going out to eat!
- I can find natural whole substitutes for my sweet tooth!
Here are some of the items I could not have lived without during my Whole30:
- La Croix (currently obsessed with coconut, blackberry cucumber & kiwi watermelon)
- Yogi Tea (my favorites are Perfect Energy Tangerine and Lavendar Honey)
- Trader Joe’s Coconut Chips
- Chili Garlic Sauce
- Organic Unsweet Coconut Milk
- Plantain chips
- Freeze Dried Strawberries
- Hard boiled eggs (these saved me when I was hungry between meals)
- Raspberries (great source of fiber)
- Avocados (guac on EVERYTHING)
For all my favorite Whole30 recipes, click here. I’d love to hear about your #Whole30, #FirstWhole30 or #JanuaryWhole30 experience! Do you feel better/different? How will you reintroduce or continue eating? What did you learn? Would you do it again?