Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Whole30 - the first half

Those of you who know me in real life may find this post unutterably boring, as I've spoken of almost nothing else for the past fifteen days.  So please do feel free to stop reading now. No really, please do. Are they gone?  Good.  Poor devils have already had to put up with me going on and on about this.

Now, for everyone else - SURPRISE! I'm doing Whole30. In case you don't currently have time to click on that link, here is an overview giving you the general idea (if you're really busy, skip through all of the blue text and carry on reading, but if you do have time, do read the information, it explains a lot!).

Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.

So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.

The programme also claims that

This will change your life.

We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days 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 tens of thousands of people have done it since, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion.

The physical benefits of the Whole30 are profound. More than 95% of participants lose weight and improve their body composition, without counting or restricting calories. Also commonly reported: consistently high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and a sunnier disposition. (Yes, more than a few Whole30 graduates said they felt “strangely happy” during and after their program.)

The psychological benefits of the Whole30 may be even more dramatic. Through the program, participants report effectively changing long-standing, unhealthy habits related to food, developing a healthier body image, and a dramatic reduction or elimination of cravings, particularly for sugar and carbohydrates. The words so many Whole30 participants use to describe this place? “Food freedom.”

Finally, testimonials from thousands of Whole30 participants document the improvement or “cure” of any number of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

high blood pressure • high cholesterol • type 1 diabetes • type 2 diabetes • asthma • allergies • sinus infections • hives • skin conditions • endometriosis • PCOS • infertility • migraines • depression • bipolar disorder • heartburn • GERD • arthritis • joint pain • ADD • thyroid dysfunction • Lyme disease • fibromyalgia • chronic fatigue • lupus • leaky gut syndrome • Crohn’s • IBS • Celiac disease • diverticulitis • ulcerative colitis

So we've got some pretty bold claims going on right there.  Are they true? Well I can't answer for the programme as a whole, all I can do is share my own personal experience of doing it over the past fifteen days, as recommended by my trainer at the gym.

1.  This takes a crapload of organisation. I mean really. Until you commit to not eating anything with any added sugar of any kind, you truly have no idea how much of the food that is sold in supermarkets contains sugar. Such as bacon. Are you freaking kidding me?! Bacon?! If it doesn't contain sugar, sometimes it contains milk (this is also a no dairy kind of deal). Chorizo?! Whaaaaaaat?! Why the hell is there milk in chorizo? Aaaaanyway, the point is that you have to carefully read absolutely everything that you put in your shopping basket (except loose broccoli, mainly on account of the fact that there are no words on loose broccoli).

2. This takes a crapload of organisation. Seriously. Given that the programme clearly states that if you ingest (even accidentally) any of the forbidden foods, you go hurtling back to day one (can you imagine that happening on day 29? Gah! I'd probably just round it up to 30 at that point), you're pretty much committing to cooking all of your own food for the next 30 days. Because you can't just pop out in your lunchbreak and grab a quick sandwich (no bread allowed and it's probably got freaking sugar in it anyway) and it's tough to eat in a restaurant (you'd sit there asking "Is it cooked in butter? What kind of oil did you use? Is there sugar in the sauce?" until the waiter clubs you to death with the menu).  

To recap, it takes a lot of organisation to do this.  I recommend doing a bulk cook of compliant food that you like and having it ready in the fridge so that you can just grab it and pop it in the microwave.

3. It's possible to get bored of food that you really really like. For example, I really like scrambled egg, with bacon (you can buy it without added sugar, thankfully!) and chopped onions. It's the sort of breakfast that I really look forward to at the weekend. But having eaten it pretty much most mornings for the past fifteen days, it's losing its appeal. So get online and research - there are loads of great resources out there with Whole30 compliant recipes. Check out my Pinterest board as a starting point and Naturally Leah has got this down nicely with some great recipes (I'm trying out the green chicken curry tonight - looks really quick and simple, ideal for a busy work night).

4. Although this isn't really easy, it's not been as hard as I thought it might be. I've had a few moments where I've really missed cheese (mmmmm cheese) but mostly I've been ok and haven't had any major food cravings yet.  That's not to say that it's been a sweet ride.  In fact for days 2-4 I had a really horrible headache.  Three days of full on, pounding headache.  I think that was caffeine and sugar leaving my system and let me tell you, they did not go quietly. 

5. It is worth it.  It's all worth it.  I'm on day fifteen right now and I'm feeling amazing.  I have more energy, I feel sharper, more mentally alert.  I'm getting so much more done, it's incredible.  And (although you're not supposed to weigh yourself) I've lost 12lbs. In fifteen days.  So the first week when I was out networking at work events for two nights, nursing a glass of water when everyone else was enjoying wine and pizza? Worth it.  The constant and excessive pile of washing up that needs doing? Totally worth it.

I'll do another update at the end of the 30 days - watch this space!

PS - in Murdoch news, Murdoch is awesome.

Oh heeeeeeeeeyy!