Sunday ended my Whole30 experience. I was truly surprised at how quickly the 30 days passed. I believe there are a few very important lessons from going through a 30 day cleanse from processed foods, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and grains. Being on the other side, I am always amazed at how much I learn about myself when I take on such eating based challenges.
Our relationship with food isn't simply based on providing the best nutrition for our bodies. If it was, we wouldn't have a multi-million dollar diet industry. I can also guarantee America wouldn't be facing a staggering 35.7% obesity rate. We eat what we like, we eat to pass the time, we eat because it comforts us. The majority of people I know try their best to provide their families with nourishing meals, choosing whole grains, organic when possible, limiting processed "junk foods". But still there's a huge disconnect, we find that we carry extra unwanted pounds, have low energy in the late afternoon, and often wrestle with a good night's sleep even though WE FEEL EXHAUSTED!
My Whole30 Top Lesssons!
The greatest lesson I always take away from any whole foods cleanse is staring my eating habits and my relationship with food directly in the eye. There is no place to hide comfort and mindless eating in Whole30. When I'm preparing food throughout my day, I take a slice or two of cheese when making the girls' sandwiches for lunch. I eat the crusts off of GL's sandwich before I eat my own. I pour a bowl of cheddar bunnies for the girls' snack and enjoy a handful myself. I bake treats at home and enjoy them throughout my day, just one or two at a time. No big deal right? Isn't that what we all do? I can't really answer that for anyone, but myself. I mindlessly eat through out my day or I could call it snacking because snacking is the acceptable term.
Would you be surprised to hear that I had no desire to snack when I was following the Whole30 plan?
Another great lesson to learn with Whole30 is recognizing how what we put into our bodies directly affects how we feel, our energy levels, how we sleep, and even what we crave. On a whole we are greatly miseducated about nutrition. We don't understand how our body digests processed foods. Let's say for example your Doctor mentions your blood sugar is running a bit high. The initial reaction is, but I don't even like dessert. We assume to threaten our health we have to be drinking 40oz sodas, eating at fast food restaurants, and enjoying a daily dessert or two. That's a huge misconception. Over the course of an average day, we are consuming 22 teaspoons of sugar hidden in our foods compared to in 1990 we were consuming 4 teaspoons a day. Here's a list of sneaky names for sugars, I urge you to please start reading your labels. I would be as bold to say there is some form of sugar in at least 90% of processed foods (foods that come in a bag or box, pre-packaged and factory produced). A great measure is to try to consume a snack that only has 10grams of sugar or less per serving. Be sure to check what constitutes a serving size as well, most of the time that is greatly misleading as a serving size is not standard, but manipulated by the manufacturer. Whole30 allowed me to take a break from my sugar cravings and mentally face how often I don't realize a little sugar here and there truly adds up in my day. It does sadden me to say, we are learning more and more about the toxic effects of sugar on our body. Currently I am not quite ready to reintroduce sugar back into my diet.
Once you mentally grasp the fact that you can do anything you set your mind to for 30 days, your body begins to respond in ways you could never imagine. We all have our list of foods we hold on to tightly that we could NEVER DO WITHOUT, but you can. What is there to lose from putting our ingrained habits on hold for 30 days and discovering new things about your body? The insight I have gained the past 30 days is profound. Just two months ago, I didn't want to get out of bed before 10am. Week2 of Whole30 and I was cycling 10 miles BEFORE 10am. I'm not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. My sleep habits changed, I found myself recognizing the signs that my body wanted to be in bed by 10-10:30 and I pride myself on being a night owl. I haven't looked back and I am sleeping solidly at night. I no longer have late afternoon lulls where I just want to go take a nap or put a bandaid on the vicious cycle with a late afternoon iced coffee (full of sugar and milk of course). My blood sugar is incredibly stable through out the day and I only snack post work out with recovery foods, like baked sweet potatoes. I don't have sugar crashes and intense sugar cravings. My skin is radiant and clear. I don't get bloated, even during the changes with my monthly cycle. My palate dramatically changed, I even find some foods like unsweetened apple sauce to be too sugary tasting to me (and I am a self professed cupcake connoisseur). Being on the other side of Whole30, I realized how much I've gained physically and mentally. Because so many people ask and want to know, I lost 12 pounds simply eating fresh foods over the course of Whole30, but it was not my focus. My body just responds incredibly to cutting out processed foods and my results are average. Slipping on a pair of pants I couldn't get over my hips a few months ago is all bonus to how I'm feeling.
So what's the Whole30 catch?
There is no catch. You are asked to give up sugars, processed foods, grains, alcohol, legumes, and dairy. It is simply eating fresh foods, think of it as foods that are perishable and would rot in a less than a week if left out on your counter. There are guidelines to help you understand what the best ratio is of the fresh foods you should eat. Imagine 1/2 a plate of vegetables, 1/4 of lean protein, some fat, and fruit, that's the major focus of Whole30. There are a ton of free resources on the web about Whole30 and the Paleo lifestyle. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about my experience!
Time: What You Need To Know About Sugar
Whole 9 Life