Now I know what you're thinking "Um, Megan....whole30 is something you do for 30 days...hence the name?" and you're correct. Except we only did it for 3 weeks so let's call is Whole21 for this post shall we?
4 weeks ago Bart started up the conversation about how he was feeling exhausted all the time, was emotionally eating (he was at the peak of the business between end of school, start of summer football and start of a new semester for his masters) and just overall not feeling super awesome about himself. So of course I immediately took advantage of his vulnerability and said we should do Whole30! It's not a secret that I have stuck to an anti-inflammatory diet for the last 4 years, but Whole30 is even different and "more strict" than that! So after some discussing and "but can I just have ranch and one cheat meal? (no and no)" he finally agreed to do it with me. This is the FIRST TIME EVER Bart has agreed to do something like this with me that actually had real rules with no exceptions and a required length of time. I was totally pumped because I see so much value in real food and it's connection with health that I knew this would be awesome for him. I was also looking forward to having some motivation for myself too.
So I make a menu, stock up on food and we get this party started. I think Bart asked "how do we feel about Ranch?" multiple times that first week- but he stuck to it! I have to say it was totally easy for me to do this kind of restrictive eating when he was along for the ride. We both had the same things for dinner. I didn't have to worry about adding anything to his plate. He complained about the situation, but not about me and my cooking :) I finally had my person on board with the boring and depressing way I had to eat- haha!
We got the hang of it and got sick of eating eggs for breakfast. Our new favorite snack was a heated up apple sausage with mustard on it. mmmm. Bart ate more vegetables than he had in the last year combined. I was more motivated and did much better too. I usually can have corn and rice, but Whole30 says nay, so we didn't. That was an adjustment for both of us, but I realized I am totally good without it! Bart really missed rice and tortillas, but seemed to be fine without bread. He also really missed his milk. I can usually eat dairy, but Whole30 says nope to that too, and again, I didn't miss cheese or yogurt that much at all! Sure, those things are convenient and make for a quick healthy snack, but not having them wasn't a big issue for me. Bart did fine without them too (although we both agreed cheese makes EVERYTHING taste better).
The hardest thing for both of us was our craving for sweets. A sweet at the end of a long day or on a Sunday night when the kids are in bed- let's just say we tried to fill that void with a smoothie or a bowl of fruit but it didn't quite hit the spot. I am so proud of Bart for staying away from Pepsi! Even though our Whole21 has ended (more on that later) he still hasn't had any soda. Proud wife moment.
Bart lost about 7 pounds almost instantly and I've lost 5 this past month. We weren't too motivated to exercise religiously so I say that's a pretty nice side effect! Bart didn't say "I'm tired" ONCE that first week and didn't need a Saturday nap (which was pretty awesome). I could tell he was seeing a change, even if he wasn't super vocal about it, because he really didn't complain or ask if we could be done. (okay, so he only did that a handful of times.)
To be honest, we stopped at 21 days because we were both just over it! Bored of the food, and straight up sick of all the time it took to cook/prep. We also felt like we had gained some really good habits and broke a lot of our bad ones (there's something about that 21 day mark!) We also had a discussion before we officially stopped and decided what we wanted to add back in. So we are saying yes to rice (even though I'll probably not include that just because I've been fine without it) and milk for him (but not the rest of the dairy products) and then a sweet treat on the weekends. Whole30 has SO MUCH PREP WORK in the kitchen. Like soooo many dishes and time spent prepping and cooking and cleaning. It can feel a bit much sometimes. But I tried to embrace it and find recipes that were realistic for us to cook and enjoy without taking hours to make. I should note that Kenzie ate mostly what we did, but did have yogurt and sandwiches for lunches here and there.
As much as I hated spending all that time in the kitchen, I was reminded of how warped our perception of eating has become. Our grandparents or great-grandparents spent all day in the kitchen cooking for the next meal. Real food means real cooking. And I'm trying to embrace that. We don't eat prepackaged/premade dinners anyway, but something about these specific food restrictions made it feel like we spent a lot more time prepping and cooking.
When we officially ended the first thing I ate was a bowl of plain cheerios with almond milk. It was so good- and then I INSTANTLY got a headache. -cue the eye roll emoji here- Despite it being gluten free, and only having 2 grams of sugar per serving, my body wasn't super happy about it. My autoimmune disease will always have a big impact on how my body reacts to things and at this point I've just gotten used to it!
So here is a sample menu from one of the weeks:
Fried egg "sandwich" (fried egg on top and bottom with a piece of turkey in the middle)
Sweet potato hash
Scrambled eggs + fruit
Sausage + veggie hash
Salsa chicken lettuce wraps
Turkey wraps (turkey, lettuce, bacon, avocado)
Fried cauliflower rice
Spaghetti squash + marinara sauce
Salmon + veggies
Pot roast + veggies
Grilled chicken strip salad
Veggies + hummus
Apple + peanut butter
So as you can see, there's nothing fancy about this menu! It's just whole, real food. We didn't make any "whole30 ranch" or our own mayo. We just stuck with what was naturally whole food.
One of my favorite things about doing a restrictive diet like this for a set amount of weeks, is that it helps reset your eating habits. It teaches you what "hungry" feels like, and it helps your mind get over the thought that you really NEED that the-kids-survived-another-day-and-you-deserve-a-treat moment that comes every other night. I don't think it's realistic to do this long term, but I would recommend it to anyone who feels like their eating habits are out of control. Because learning to control your eating and diet is such an empowering feeling! Not to mention your body loves you for it too :)