Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Whole 30 Experience: Day 31

I did it. I completed the Whole 30 eating program.  Why the Whole 30?  From their website:
First and foremost, this will change your life.  We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact. This. Will. Change. Your. Life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. We know this because we did it, and hundreds of people have since done it, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion.
That’s a pretty compelling claim.

So what’s the deal with the Whole 30?  In a nutshell: Eat Real Food. 

More than that, however, it’s an eating program designed to remove the triggers of inflammation and perpetual cravings you may experience as a response to grains, dairy, legumes, vegetable oils, and all processed foods. Because I had no inflammation or digestive issues to resolve, and despite the intention of the program, to change your life, I viewed the Whole 30 as more of a challenge.  They explicitly tell you not to do that, but I had to try it in order to see if I felt any difference.  Also, I knew that no dairy meant no cheese, and I’ve been growing a little wary of my seemingly increasing dependence on cheese.
Well, here I am, over 30-days-without-cheese later, and I’d like to report it was a snap giving up grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and sugar.  Truthfully, I had given up grains as a staple a while ago. Still, I too often fell into the grain eating trap whenever the Pizza: it’s what’s for dinner Friday night family tradition loomed large over the household. Almost nightly, I had been eating cheese and salami while sharing a glass of wine with my husband.  I would eat cookies or crackers if offered to me while socializing on a night out, or, let’s face it, if found by me while foraging through the cabinets on a night in. But even when the temptation was so incredibly in my face (as in going to Finale’s in Boston before seeing Wicked earlier this month), I managed to successfully avoid these traps for the last 30 days.
Instead, I ate a LOT of eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and some fish, drank a LOT of water (did I mention that I am a HUGE milk drinker?), black tea and coffee, ate veggies and fruit (mostly berries, but some apples as well), and some seeds and nuts.  
The proponents of the program had a few real food concessions, but no cheats; and while I did not trip and fall face first into a box of Krispy Kremes, as they so eloquently warned me against, I did use their concessions liberally. In fact, you might say I went a little nuts.
It’s the crunch, man.
I was not driven mad by the lack of creamy goodness (did I mention I am a HUGE FAGE fan?) as I suspected I would be, but by the lack of CRUNCH! in my diet. Maybe it was the lack of butter which invariably creates a crispy shell when used for sautéing. Maybe it was the lack of occasionally foraged cookies. I’m not sure, but I constantly craved crunch.
In the past, the crunch of celery has only piqued my sense of deprivation, so I rarely tried to substitute it (and once, cucumbers with mild success) when I had the wild crunch hankering. Happily, since we had some freshly picked apples on hand, one of those sometimes satisfied that desire, but mostly I ate nuts: Pecans, macadamias, and occasionally cashews and sunflower seeds.  I would absolutely classify my nut eating as emergency-CRUNCH!-filler edging toward overdose.
Additionally, during the thirty days, I found an excellent new snack food: freeze-dried blueberries. At least I think it’s an excellent find, but I need to figure out ifother than the blood sugar and subsequent insulin spikes which can be brought on by eating any fruit—eating freeze-dried blueberries is good for you.  I mean, can they be considered real food? ‘Cause I’ll tell you, those freeze-dried blueberries have the most delicately and deeply satisfying crunch this side of the Cap’n’s crunchberries! They are that good.  (You can find them here and here and my birthday is at the end of the month.)
So what did I gain from my experience? 
I learned to taste my food. I discovered that red raspberries are just about the most perfectly luscious, sweetly yielding softness-approaching-creamy taste sensation on my tongue. Sure, I’ve had them before, but I never wanted to freeze them and play with them in my mouth, teasing myself with their compact bit of icy goodness clinking in a nearly tasteless, frozen suspension against my teeth only to delay the gratification that comes from sudden and violent chomping of them in order to explode their quickly thawed juicy goodness around! Seriously, I want to write a poem about them. I learned that even if you are the fruit of my loins (do I have loins?) you will not be absolved from the pain that results from diminishing my supply of precious red raspberries by even one. In this respect, Whole 30 has definitely changed my emotional relationship with food as it claimed it would: I’m just not sure what it means.
I learned that I can taste even the smallest amount of salt in food, even with my long-term love of all salty meat products. I learned that I would not die without milk, yogurt, or even cheese, and that sharing a glass of wine with my husband is a habit that I am not likely to give up again without specific medical reasons.
I learned that my cravings for crunch can be curbed without cookies, and discovered that I really didn’t have cravings for cake, pie (and there was some, freshly baked), potatoes, beans, Twinkies, or Finale’s individual cheesecake (though I did covet the red raspberry on top).  I learned that I could go out to eat and easily satisfy my dietary requirements in four different restaurant environments.  I learned that I could eat nuts and not gain weight (not sure what the nuts are doing to my Omega-3 fatty acid levels or its ratio with Omega-6 just yet).
I learned that if I eat real food, I don’t get hungry nearly as often and don’t feel weak or shaky with hunger as sometimes happened to me.  I learned that I can successfully work out on an empty stomach and that my body will adjust to the quality and quantity of nutrients I give it (aka: It’s alimentary, my dear Watson).  I learned that my family will begrudgingly adjust to my eating habits and maybe make some better choices for themselves regarding their own eating and exercise habits. (I could not help but smile as I watched my impossibly slight 12 year-old heave a heavy bin of Halloween decorations and carry it effortlessly into the house this weekend.) 
I learned that drinking clean, cold water can feel like a treat, and that I can sproing out of bed at 5:15 every morning! (Yes, this means that I fall into the bed by 9:30 every night, but I’m willing to accept that trade off.)
Oh, and I lost six pounds and, magically, stand much taller; but those may have more to do with my Woodshed Fitness experience which I also began 30 days ago, than any eating adjustments.
So, I have gained all this information about myself and my eating habits, and it’s worth noting that as I go to post this, that it’s past five o’clock in the afternoon.  My eating experiment has been over for twelve hours, and I had decided before I started to at least reclaim the dairy when it was over. Somehow, I’m just not all that excited to add it back in. 
Tonight, however, that Chilean wine is mine!


Woodshed said...

congratulations, Lynne. You earned that wine! Drink up!!!!

seriously inspiring.

Lynne said...

Thanks! And it was good.

It really wasn't all that difficult (especially because I have a dedicated cook who was able to suspend his "everything's better with butter" cooking style for just a little while).

Larry said...

I guess it should be no great revelation, but I love seeing my theories about Crossfit/paleo type lifestyles going hand in hand with Objectivist philosophy and libertarian politics come true. I love it, and I guess its all because when one searches for truth, and what is real, that is what you find with this kind of eating, and living. Thank you for spreading the word.


Anonymous said...

That was THE best description of how good it feels to eat a frozen raspberry *ever*. I'd say that right there you DID right a poem about them! Gorgeous, and totally captures the sensations that you start to experience when your taste buds are no longer tuned to Cap'n Crunch levels of sweet. Thanks for a great read! :)

Terry Comeau said...

Congrats. You found the key that Atkins, South Beach etc missed. Low carb, but more importantly real fresh nutrient dense foods. And remember the French are known for being slim and they consume large amounts of fresh butter, cream, creme fraiche, cheese, etc etc. But todays overly processed pasteurized and homogenized dairy products are too processed and not "real food" any more. But ya done good. Keep it up.

Lynne said...

Thanks, CleaningMyPlate. I'm glad you liked my description, and I still feel the same way about raspberries!

Thanks, Terry. I just started the second round of the Whole 30 4 days ago (a little jump start back on track). So far, so good.