I started this year with a Whole30 challenge. I've tried 30 day challenges before, whether for cleaning or working out, and I've never completed one. Ever. I honestly don't know what convinced me to try it, but I did, and I finished it, and I'm incredibly proud I did it. That said, it definitely changed the way I look at food, the way I eat, and most life-changing, the way I drink my coffee. Here are 5 lessons I learned from my first Whole30:
1. Eat more greens.
Outside of my regular salad for lunch, it is REALLY hard for me to eat vegetables. I had no idea. During my Whole30, I was sticking random green vegetables in almost every meal I could. I needed the extra fiber to fill me up, but it wasn’t what I wanted or enjoyed. It almost began to feel like a chore because I knew I needed it. On the plus side, I am now aware of my avoidance tendencies and know to continue adding more to meals. If I wasn’t eating enough green things when I wasn’t allowing myself a ton of junk, imagine how much less green things I could eat when I have other options to fill their place.
2. Eat more but snack less.
That sounds so strange, but one of my goals with the Whole30 is not to snack and I am a snacking machine. So I had to continually increase the sizes of my meals until I could go from one to the next. This is where the green veggies came in. They took the place of rice, beans, and corn that I had come to rely on as “fillers.” I had a hard time not enjoying something sweet before bed though, and I still need to work on that. Of course, the switch from chocolate to dried fruit as dessert has been a fine substitute, but I still need to break that habit.
3. Tastes change.
I know, I just went on and on about snacking, but this is actually about coffee. I love coffee. I LIVE on coffee. Totally "sweetened-up--to-here and with room for cream" coffee. Well, at least I did. Then I had to spend 30 days figuring out how to drink coffee with no sweetener or dairy. The day after my Whole30 I tried a taste of my boyfriends coffee made the way I used to drink it… and spat it right back out. It was ridiculously sweet. Nastily sweet. This revelation makes me hope that I can use this whole30 on my way to breaking those sweet cravings.
4. Cooking healthy isn't hard (with planning)
The actual creation of meals wasn’t hard. Pick a meat, pick a veggie or two, cook in a different way than normal, and done. We have a Costco Membership, and that really was my saving grace. About once a month we go and load up on various meats and proteins, and some 5lb bags of frozen veggies, if they’re available. Supplement Costco purchases with fresh veggies or fresh fruit and we had enough protein to see us through the challenge. Matt and I became really creative finding new ways to cook our regular meal ideas, and spices definitely helped to alleviate the boredom.
5. Eating better = Feeling better
Well,duh… but I was actually shocked. This doesn’t count for the first week and a half, during which I felt pretty crappy. I actually followed the timeline pretty much exactly. Sugar withdrawal is real, people. But overall, I felt like my body was working the way it should. I did get sick during my whole30, but I also bounced back much quicker than usual. The way my body feels when eating on the Whole30 is keeping me from completely regressing to how I was eating before.
That's it. Was it hard? Abso-friggin-lutely. Would I do it again? Definitely. In fact, I'm already planning my next one based on what I learned from this one. I have several new recipes in the wings, better ideas for how to prepare, I'm actually looking forward to it!
Have you done a Whole30 before? What did you learn?