written by: Kate, NutriChem staff
Allow Me to Introduce Myself
Hello! I’m Kate, a busy working mom of a 14-month old, and someone who is rapidly approaching the big 3-0. You might remember be from my first blog series, “From Bump to Baby” from April 2016. In that series, along with fantastic pregnancy and baby product recommendations, I also shared some personal body stuff. I tastefully detailed how my body changed during pregnancy, what I did to get it back to its (almost) pre-pregnancy weight, and lamented that I still had some issues even 1-year post delivery. In part 3 of that series, I talked about wanting to do the “Whole30” diet for the month of May.
Well, I am proudly here to tell you that I did just that!
An Intro to Whole30
Based off a Paleo Diet, the Whole30 involves having no sugar, grains, dairy or legumes for a full 30 days as these are considered “inflammatory food groups”. The reasoning behind the Whole30 is that by eliminating these inflammatory foods you are going to reset your metabolism and eliminate the systemic inflammation and other negative effects that these food choices have had on your health.
I did an elimination diet in January 2014 (read about it From Bump to Baby Part 1), so I was aware of foods that I should be avoiding (tomatoes are the worst for me because my eczema flares up and itches like crazy!). With that in mind, I set the following personal goals for my 30-day, Whole30 journey.
Outcome Goals for My Whole30:
- Reduce eczema and skin inflammation that had reached an all-time high in terms of itchiness and appearance, and to control its spread;
- Lose the last of the stubborn baby weight. Although neither is a weight loss “diet,” I lost 20 pounds on the elimination diet and wanted the Whole30 to at least help get me back to my pre-pregnancy weight;
- Reset my eating habits because I’d gotten into a lazy rut of eating convenience foods, over-snacking, and sometimes not eating anything until dinner… all bad food habits;
- Start preparing my body for a second pregnancy within the next 6 months;
- Help with gastro-intestinal issues. My digestive system has become so sensitive and disrupted post pregnancy; and
- Overall, to feel better inside and out!
My Tips for a Successful Whole30
Choose a start date and then PLAN, PREPARE, AND PLAN SOME MORE. Prioritize meal planning, shopping and meal prepping in your weekly schedule to make it easier on you. The Whole30 downloads page was a huge help.
There is never going to be an “ideal” time to start a new diet or eating regime, so just START IT!! You’ll be happy you did. Honestly, there will always be a friend’s birthday or a night out that month, but you can do it! (I managed to not cheat or drink alcohol participating in karaoke. That’s dedication.)
Meal preparation is going to be your best friend. I have never so diligently made my lunch except while on the Whole30. I also have never eaten so many eggs in my life for breakfast!
Don’t get discouraged! Remember what your goals are, maybe even write them down like I did and put them on the fridge to remind you when you get grumpy and hungry during the first week.
Get other family and friends on board! A friend of mine is doing the Whole30, and so are some family members as well! It’s really good to have people you can have Whole30 meals with – trust me on this one!
Follow Whole30 on one (or more!) social media platforms to help motivate you, inspire you, and even give you meal and snack ideas. There is a whole (ha!) community out there and it is very motivating. Instagram has been my social media preference to follow Whole30 because it’s image-based.
What I found in the first 2 weeks on the Whole30
I was so tired the first week that I literally felt like a zombie from The Walking Dead! I am not sure that the Whole30 wanted you to have 40 cups of black coffee a day, but that’s how I got through it. It’s interesting how adjusting your diet can make you feel like you are going through withdrawal: read more about those and find out why they happen in Elysia’s BCB Journey.
For the first 2 weeks, I felt like I was starving; I would practically be chewing my keyboard at 11:55am every day. I needed to amp up my calorie intake by a lot to feel full throughout the day. I absolutely had to eat breakfast, which was actually a good eating habit that I’d neglected after having my daughter.
I was itchy like crazy and my eczema was actually getting worse! This was happening since tomatoes are allowed on the Whole30 and I was eating more of them, but they’re a food that typically makes me itchy. I was told to stop torturing myself and eat according to the “nightshade-free” Whole30. After making that change, my eczema became much less red and itchy.
Food preparation for lunches and dinners takes anywhere from an hour to two hours a day. I have been living in my kitchen preparing food for my husband, my 14-month-old daughter and myself. However, all this preparation means that I don’t feel like I want to cheat: I’ve worked so hard for it, so I may as well work to maintain it! I’ve been eating very healthy meals as a result.
On the Whole30 no dessert at all is allowed, even if it meets the food guidelines of the diet. I was initially really annoyed by this, but I have found that not only is skipping dessert a healthier option, but that I am also not craving dessert anymore! This is huge for someone like me who typically has a super sweet tooth.
I was feeling like I’d lost weight but wanted to confirm, so I did something that the Whole30 does not allow: I weighed myself. Oops, sorry Whole30 people! But I’m glad I did because my suspicions were confirmed: I’m down almost 9 pounds! Almost all of the pesky final pregnancy weight is gone.
At the mid way mark my energy is back up and feeling great! I've almost lost count of the days and it has become my routine to eat clean!
The Whole30 Food
I purchased the Whole30 cookbook and it has been a huge help for recipes and easy guidelines. I strongly suggest purchasing this book if you are doing the Whole30 diet.
Two eggs, fruit salad, coconut oil baked potatoes, and nitrate-free bacon
Coconut curry chicken chowder (see photo, side)
Zucchini pasta with avocado pesto and Chicken parsley turkey meatballs (see photo, below)
I obnoxiously photographed most of my meals (especially the beautifully plated ones), and have included some pictures to give you inspiration. You can see them throughout this post!
Summary of the First 15 Days
I am feeling great and have really hit my stride.
I think that I’ll maintain a modified version of the Whole30, even after the 30 days is over! Maybe that’s ambitious, but I feel so good that I don’t want it to end!
So stay tuned for the second half of the Whole30 to see if I still feel the same way at the end of it all!
Read Part 2 of this two-part series here.