In July, I did my first Whole30. It made a huge impact on the way I feel, the way I eat, and the way I think. So despite its rough patches, I highly recommend it. The unfortunate part of doing the Whole30, however, is coming off of the Whole30. It’s a necessary part of the process. Basically you reintroduce each of the 4 food types that were verboten on the Whole30 (grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy) one at a time, and in a controlled manner (about 3 days apart). I took it a step further and looked at wheat and other grains separately, and ice cream (my weakness) separate from other sugars and dairy.
What I found was that each of these did one or move of the following damages: (more…)
The “rules” of the Paleo diet are pretty simple: no grains, sugar, dairy, or legumes. Its effects are extraordinary. People not only lose weight, but they are freed from long-term, and sometimes life-long afflictions. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Crones Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, lupus, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and allergies are but a few. That’s all pretty awesome, so what’s the problem? The name, and the premise push people away.
Lately my eyes have been opened wide to a really big problem. The food we are eating, the food our government, advertisers, the food industry, and even our health care providers are telling us to eat, is killing us. I don’t use those words lightly. I mean them quite literally. What I am seeing again and again is that these recommended foods contribute to all of the big killer diseases of our time. I’m seeing the pieces fall together and it both frightens and outrages me. And sadly the only motivation I can see behind this is money.
Fade in to stage, we find our host, “Gim Handsome” (pronounced “Jim”) sitting down with our latest Whole30 success story, “Wheat is My Crack”
Gim: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’m your host, Gim Handsome, and I’m here today with a very special guest. “Wheat Is My Crack”
Addict: Hey Gim, nice to meet you.
Gim: Yes it is! What kind of name is “Wheat Is My Crack” anyway? A little contrived, don’t you think?
I was introduced to Paleo by a good friend of mine. I researched it a little, and it really made sense. One of the things that I heard a lot and really liked was that it is not one-size-fits-all. You could take the basic framework, and tweak it to your specific body. If there were some things that “strict” Paleo “forbid” but your body had no issues with, you could continue to eat it. (The most common of these I heard of was dairy, and I loved cheese! So this was very appealing to me.)
So I created my own version of Paleo that I followed to the letter almost! No grains, especially wheat! Unless it was in the form of a tortilla or the occasional cookie. No sugar! But artificial sweetener in my coffee, and, of course, Ben and Jerry’s was OK! No legumes! Unless they are refried, or in the form of peanut butter. No dairy! Except for cheese, and sour cream, and dips for my chips. Those are all OK. But I was doing Paleo-ish!
I had convinced myself that I could do about 80% Paleo and see the benefits of Paleo. And sure enough, I lost weight! And gained weight. And lost weight! And gained weight. When I was truly doing what I was calling 80% Paleo, and really eliminating all wheat, and sugar, but allowing myself artificial sweeteners and dairy, my weight would indeed drop. I could take off, and keep off as much as 5 lbs per month. Not bad! But I would always stretch it, and my 80% Paleo would turn in to more like 50%. But at least I tried my harder than nothing!
Then I heard from several friends that they were doing the Whole30. It sounded interesting, so I asked about their experiences. They all told me the same thing about the first week, it sucked. They had different things to say about the 2nd through 4th weeks, from “I feel incredible”, to “I’m about the same”. Meh.
I asked the “I’m about the same” guys about their experience, and managed to get both of them to confess, “Well, I’m not doing it fully, I’ll allow myself a ‘normal’ dinner out once or twice a week.” I’d say, “So you’re not doing the ‘Whole30′ then, you’re doing the ‘Mostly30′”. “No, I’m doing the Whole30, it’s just going to take me 45 to 60 days.” WTF?
Perspective Employer: I’m looking for someone that can give me 110%! Are you that someone?
Me: Yes sir! I’m your man! I will definitely give it 80%, more or less!
Perspective Employer Excellent! Give it your almost and you’ll do great here!
I think my friends missed the point of the Whole30. Reduction (and hopefully elimination) of inflammation. Doing a Mostly30 is, to me, sort of like breaking your leg, being told to stay off of it for a month so it can heal, and deciding it’s probably OK if you jog a couple of times a week. It will still heal, but it will take a lot longer, and is likely to look pretty funky. Never quite right.
After 24 days of my Whole30 it is finally clear to me that I should not have ever considered tweaking Paleo to suit my body without first having a baseline to work from. The Whole30 (the whole thing! Not the Mostly30!) will give me that baseline. I feel terrific. When this is over, I may decide to reintroduce some foods, one at a time, and in a controlled fashion. I’ll eat some cheese and pay attention to how it makes me feel. When I eat it, after I eat it, and psychologically. I’ll introduce corn and see how it effects me. I’ll pay attention to what my body is telling me. I’ll eliminate things that make me feel worse (I’m currently noticing a big difference when I eat grass-fed vs. factory farmed beef, for example), and keep things that make me feel better from that Whole30 baseline. Then I’ll be doing Paleo my way, and will be WholeMe.
Not what I expected…
I really expected Week Three of my #Whole30 to be easy. I thought it would be all rainbows, unicorns, and energy to spare. Instead it was challenge after challenge after challenge. I’m happy to report that I faced each challenge and remained victorious. The most important thing I learned this week: I could not do this alone.
Here’s the thing. If life would have been “normal” this week, I think week 3 would have been a breeze. Instead it was super busy and super stressful. So I started noticing some of my “triggers”. Things that make my body scream, “GIVE ME JUNK FOOD!”. Those things are stress and boredom.
Everyone goes on and on about how great the Whole30 is. I’m not saying it doesn’t have it’s good points, but let’s face it, there are plenty of things that really suck! Looking for the lowlights of the Whole30? I got ‘em, baby! I highly encourage you to read this before starting your Whole30, because, damn it, you deserve to know the truth.
So here is my list, in no particular order (because I’m just not that organized!)