Alright-tighty, time to follow on from yesterday’s partial recap of my Whole45. I thought I’d continue in a similar vein, answering some of the FAQ I’ve come across… Without further ado!
What Did I Learn?
Prepare yourself for one hell of a bullet-point list…
In no particular order:
- The worst food cravings are survivable.
- I feel best with some animal protein at each meal.
- I sleep best when I avoid having liquids after dinner.
- I need to watch my running mileage more closely, and avoid increasing it too quickly.
- I can’t get away with skipping resistance training (typical runner… sigh).
- Dry roasted olives are disgusting.
- Preparation is key: hard-boil eggs, cook enough to leave leftover, make friends with the slow cooker, etc.
- Cashews and cashew nut butter are definitely dangerous – I find them too darn “more”ish.
- I need to work at maintaining a good balance with my fibre/FODMAP intake – I think this caused more problems during my Whole30 (with increased vegetable intake and all) than I actually realised at the time.
- I can get by just fine without dessert. Even when I had a tough day.
- When I incorporate a decent serve of fat with each meal, it really helps stabilise my hunger.
- Indeed, with this way of eating, I’m far less of a ravenous monster when I go a while without eating (The Dude I Live With can attest to this).
- I need to work more on balancing my carbohydrate intake – I suspect it is either too high, or too low. Tracking my energy levels alongside intake might be the way to go, as I don’t seem to have it “nailed” just yet.
- Pre-Whole45, I was using Paleo-ified treats to reward myself, to distract myself, to give myself a feeling of mastery and accomplishment and control (even when the rest of my day went to shit, I could still whip up a halfway decent Paleo banana bread, which was reassuring).
- I need to work on my spiritual experience of food – as hippy dippy as that sounds. I need to focus on my gratitude for the food I am eating, preparing and consuming food with love, and really experiencing the food as much as possible.
- I’m psychologically susceptible to food marketing, particularly for sweets. I can’t count the number of times I would see an ad for, say, a donut, and be salivating like a rabid dog at the thought of one… only to forget about it as soon as the ad was out of sight. Damn marketing geniuses.
- I’ve learned to be even more vigilant when it comes to reading food labels. My focus in this area has also changed – I no longer even glance at the calorie count, my numero uno concern is the ingredients list. If there’s something unnatural, or unrecognisable, on that list – it’s out.
- I like mackerel. And I’m completely capable of cooking salmon that doesn’t come in a tin.
So, as you can see, even though I didn’t get the physical pay-offs I was expecting, I certainly gained a lot from this experience.
What Am I Going To Do Now That It’s Over?
Well, I started off by plunging headfirst into a container of raw honeycomb. That went very well… at first. I felt fine with my re-introduction of higher levels of fructose – indeed, I actually felt a bit better, believe it or not. Right up until I found myself physically ill in the middle of the second night. I don’t think this was entirely attributable to the honey, but it probably didn’t help, and my experience was certainly traumatic enough to put me off the stuff again for a while.
Since then, I’ve reintroduced dairy as well… (drumroll please) with absolutely no problems whatsoever so far! Woohoo! Cheese truly owns my heart…
I even had a few sneaky not-quite-Paleo super-sweet treats over the weekend (strictly in the name of research, of course): some chocolate, and some ice cream. No major ramifications, but still not something I could bring myself to do on a daily basis.
What’s weirdest is, I actually feel better, and healthier (especially gut-wise), having re-introduced some of these foods. I’m guessing it’s likely a psychosomatic post-W45 dead cat bounce, or something like that, but it could also be due to a decrease in my fibre intake (when you’re having cheese and ice cream, some veggies inevitably fall by the wayside). Whatever it is, it makes me happy!
So, moving forward: I’m going to stick with some dairy (full-fat cheese that passes my rigorous ingredient checks, occasional cream/butter, perhaps a little yoghurt – I’m yet to test the latter), in addition to what I was eating on the Whole30 protocol (meat and veg). I think I may consciously try to reduce my fruit and nut intake a little, though. I have no interest in reintroducing grains or legumes at this stage; I was doing wonderfully without them pre-Whole30, so I see no reason to. I will loosen up my standards a little in terms of eating out – I’m desperate for some Thai from the amazing take-away place around the corner… Otherwise, I think I’m pretty happy to stay on track.
In the future, once the dust has settled, I do have plans to try a couple of other nutritional experiments – perhaps a 21 Day Sugar Detox, and/or a stint of nutritional ketosis. So stay tuned for those! In the more immediate future, I am planning on doing a few more posts delving deeper into a few more specific parts of my Whole45… so stay tuned for those too!
Would I Do It Again?
Yes, I would. Though, I must say, I would go into it with a completely different set of expectations as to what I would get out of the experience. I would probably also make a few more additional tweaks; this time around, I cut out bananas and dates, and most of the foods designated by the Hartwigs as only “sometimes” on a Whole30, all of my own volition (so, technically, each of these were “allowable”, but I chose not to have them, on top of all the other limitations). I wanted to make sure I really took this as far as it could go. However, in hindsight, I think I could have gone even further. In the event that I do a Whole30 again, I will probably look at cutting out nuts altogether as well, and perhaps imposing some further restrictions on fruits and starchy vegetables. I found these were the foods that became ”treats” within such a restricted nutritional paradigm, which isn’t necessarily any more healthy (physically or psychologically) than reaching for chocolate and ice cream.
All that said, I don’t think it will be happening anytime soon. I have a few other nutritional mountains to climb before I consider trekking back up this one again!
Would I Recommend It?
Well, I don’t really like “recommending” things per se – I’m not your mother. I’m sure you can make up your own mind as to whether the Whole30 is right for you. I guess what I am comfortable saying is this: I, personally, found the Whole30 to be an eye-opening, interesting, informative and enriching experience, and I have no doubt that others could also get a lot out of it if they wanted to give it a red hot go. I would also emphasise that the Whole30 is accessible to anyone, at any stage in their nutritional “joinery” – whether you’re going cold turkey from a fast-food lifestyle, or you’re a seasoned Paleo pro. People from all walks of life take this on, and it’s not as insurmountable as it appears. Furthermore, the program is available for free on the Whole9 website (reminder: http://whole9life.com/), and there are a multitude of free resources online, so there isn’t much stopping you if you decide this is something you want to try.
Finally, What Was My Favourite Meal?
Holy hell – there were 143 of them(!), so it’s pretty tough to choose… In the spirit of the Oscars, I might award winners in a few different categories.
Favourite Meat on the Bone: Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Tomato-ey Sauce on Sweet Potato Mash (Day 9)
Favourite Side Dish: Sweet Potato and Carrot Coconut “Noodles” (Day 7)
Favourite Slow-Cooker Meal: Smokey Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork (Day 6)
(also wins Best Leftovers)
Favourite Frittata: Taco Mince + Spinach (Day 12)
Favourite Salad: B.L.T.E.A. (Day 25)
Favourite Bone Broth: Lamb and Mint
Most Adventurous Dish: Blueberry Liver (Day 16)
Most Unexpected Favourite: Tinned Mackerel (Day 32)
Biggest Culinary Failure: Tripe! (Day 9)
So, I think that just about wraps it up for now. Like I said, there’ll be a few more Whole45-related posts to come, but they’ll get a bit more nitty-gritty than these general overviews. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to address or discuss, give me a holler!
What did you learn from your own Whole30? Did you learn anything from following along with mine? What was your favourite meal?