This past month Brett and I participated in something called January Whole30. You can find all sorts of people doing this challenge on instagram by looking up the hashtag #whole30...I've had friends do this particular challenge before and from what I could tell the major part of the challenge was taking pictures of your meals. In a very similar way that people take selfies of themselves at the gym.
But being the little rebel that I was, I refused to do this food picture taking business. In fact, I really tried to keep my talk about this challenge to a minimal. I've had a long history of food-issues and I did NOT want be consumed by food or thoughts of food for a month.
However, the month has past and I thought maybe you, like myself have considered this challenge for yourself and so I will now share my take aways.
And so, without further ado....What I learned about Whole30 ( and about myself).
First off, my reason for doing this particular "diet" was to jump start healthy eating habits for the new year. Having a baby + the holidays had left me with one of the worst sugar habits I think I've ever had. It only got worse when I had to give up dairy because of Justice's reflux. Basically any time I I wanted a piece of cheese I'd eat a cookie instead ( makes super sense, right?! ha!)
Secondly, I like a challenge...I wanted to see if I could do it.
Here's what I learned:
1. Eating "healthy" is EXPENSIVE. By the halfway point ( day 15) I had spent the WHOLE MONTHS grocery budget. This challenge ended up putting my January budget in the Red. This did NOT make me a happy camper. Turns out eating only fresh fruits, veggies, meat, eggs and nuts for a month is basically the MOST expensive way to eat...add in the fact that I was having to "fill up" my husband who was doing this challenge with me-meant that we were going through a trillion million apples and eggs and pounds of meat a week. In the future I would probably only do this challenge one person in the family at a time. I was also having to feed three other people- my kids and my brother-in-law who lives with us, were obviously not eating under any restrictions...I'm not sure if that helped or hurt my budget.
2. Meal categories are not necessary.
This turned out to be a good thing, particularly since I was having a really hard time eating breakfast in the morning before I started this challenge. I just couldn't seem to find the time or figure out what I should eat. ( something both filling and fast!?! seemed impossible). I learned from this challenge that I have no problem eating lunch and dinner foods for breakfast and thus I have begun eating leftovers mixed with eggs for my breakfast. Weird? yes. Filling and healthier? also yes.
3. Eating healthier foods is time consuming.
Having to prepare fresh foods for every single meal ( unless there were any leftovers...but see the above comment about my husband being "starving" for most of the month...there were rarely leftovers) is beyond time consuming. Add in three kids plus often breastfeeding or pumping and feeding and...yeah. I'm not sure how there was time to do much else this month. I will be SO SO glad to go back to some simpler meals.
4. Eating healthier foods wasn't so hard.
I really really thought that I was going to struggle giving up some of my most favorite things: sugar, bread, rice ( and dairy, but I'd already had to give that one up so I guess that made this easier)....but once I figured out I could make date syrup for my morning coffee...life was pretty much about the same. I actually enjoyed eating this way! If it wasn't for the time and money sucking elements of this whole business I would probably just keep going....oh, and also the chocolate cake. I can't wait to eat some chocolate cake.
5. I have more willpower than I thought.
I've really never kept a diet well before this, I always cheated or obsessed about food the whole time. Maybe it was because I was eating such good foods and not really starving myself of anything ( at least anything GOOD that is!), but I didn't even think about the challenge much. I also found that I could watch my kids eat donuts and not loose my mind. Sure, it was hard, but it didn't kill me. I probably should remember that lesson for the future ;-)
6. Pre-pregnancy weight is a nice bonus.
I did loose something like 15 pounds this month. Which is, well, kind of substantial! Of course, I'm also breastfeeding so that helps a lot and I probably would have lost some weight even without this diet. That said, its nice to have such a kick start in getting back into my old pants ( incidentally I STILL can't fit in my old pants even though I'm back to the old weight...thanks, body, for changing after every kids! My hips, I fear, will never. ever. be. the. same...sigh)
My hope is that I will implement some of the rules of Whole30 into my normal life. Particularly for breakfast and lunches. I've picked up a couple of recipes that I've really enjoyed that I will probably use in our normal rotation. I am MUCH more aware of all the added sugar in things like salad dressings and pre-packaged foods. Even things like crackers or a lot of meats ( sausages and bacon) have added sugar. I feel much more equipped in making good decisions to keep our family healthy.
And yes, I will probably do Whole30 again in the future...but first I need to save up money for the grocery budget. ;-)