I have never been a big fan of diets. My general belief has been that if you eat a good variety of all the good food that God put on this earth, and avoid most junk food most of the time, you’ll be good to go.
So I wasn’t looking for the Whole30 program. A friend mentioned it and told me how pleased she was with the results. It seemed interesting. Then I found a copy of the Whole 30 book on the shelf when I was housesitting. I took a look and read of tantalizing, life changing results for whoever followed this program/way of life. My interest increased.
For those unaware, the Whole30 plan is to eliminate all “less-healthy” foods (that have been linked to various health issues) from your diet for 30 days. Then you slowly reintroduce each food, one at a time, and observe how each food affects you. You might find, for example, that certain grains make you tired, so going forward you will not eat grains. Or you could discover that dairy has no negative impact on you and so you can eat cheese to your heart’s delight. The idea is to end up with a unique diet tailored exactly to your needs.
This plan has apparently changed many people’s lives for the better. I imagined my life as it could be, with endless energy, emotional balance allll the time, and no allergies.
I promptly began my own 30 day journey.
Which lasted for about 14 days.
WHYYyyy did I stop half way through?? The reasons are many and complicated and involve a food budget way beyond my means and conscience, and the realization that I had been failing the entire time. (Added sugar and soy where I thought there was none. I thought I was a label checking expert. Apparently I have selective vision.)
My efforts were not wasted, however. Although I never found a food shaped scapegoat on which to blame my yawns, I did walk away with some worthy habits that were a part of the Whole30 program.
1. Protein + Carb + Fat = Balanced Meal
Under the Whole30 program, you are supposed to include a healthy protein, healthy carb, and healthy fat every time you eat. If you can’t check all three, get at least two. In other words, those raw carrot sticks ain’t doin much for ya all by themselves. Round it out by dipping them in some hummus.
This idea was not entirely new to me. My mom, an amateur research expert, used to hand us a cheese stick to go with any snack whether it was an apple or a granola bar. “You need some protein with that to help your body use it,” she would say.
I do find that the balance of protein, carbs and fat helps me stay fuller longer. I have a little bit of a hard time with the healthy fats, (maybe because they are all expensive!) but my go-to’s are nuts, coconut milk, and avocados.
My attempt at balanced meals these days has been looking like this:
*Note: The majority of these meals are not Whole30 approved.
- french toast (egg, milk, spices, ezekiel bread, ghee/butter) or
- oatmeal (with eggs, bananas and a little coconut milk mixed in) or
- homemade granola with almonds and yogurt
- banana or apple with nut butter
- ezekiel bread toast spread with hummus and sliced tomatoes and avocados or
- leftovers (let’s be honest)
- carrot sticks and cheese stick or
- trail mix (almonds, raisins etc.)
Supper: (the possibilities are endless, of course, but a few favorites…)
- chicken (pan fried in olive oil) with cauliflower mash (boiled cauliflower with coconut cream, butter, salt and pepper blended in…yummmmm) or
- chicken in a garden salad with avocado and veggies or
- sweet potato scramble (diced and pan fried with onions, veggies, and eggs or ground beef)
And because these nice, balanced meals keep you fuller for longer…
2. Wait 3+ Hours Between Meals
The Whole3o program encourages a break from eating between each meal. I think this is primarily to allow your body to digest better, but there are other benefits to this habit. I found that eliminating constant, mindless snacking is good for me mentally as well. It requires discipline, redefines the role food plays in my life (no more bored eating!) and helps me battle the need for instant gratification. It also reminds me that I am taken care of and have more than enough, compared to those who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from.
My metabolism is on the fast side, and I have found that 3 hours between meals is just right (if I consider my 2 snacks as meals.) I’m sure this varies from person to person, but the principle of waiting several hours between balanced meals remains the same.
So there you have it, the two habits I am working on, courtesy of the Whole30 program, are to include healthy protein, carbs, and fat in every meal, and to wait 3+ hours in between eating. I do not follow these habits like the law but I don’t think that is the point of life, either.
And I may attempt another 30 day journey in the future. It’s possible. But some simmering thoughts about the grand, global scheme of things/food may keep me from that. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
I would love to hear from you! Have you tried the Whole30 plan? What did you think? Any advise on affordable healthy fats??