Good morning! It is the last day of July, and thus Day "31" of the Whole30, a strict 30 day plan designed by (the gorgeous) Melissa and Dallas Hartwig with no processed food, no alcohol, no legumes, no grains whatsoever, no white potatoes, no dairy (including butter), no sugar or sugar substitutes (even honey and whatnot).
I don't do diets, by the way. They don't work. And they make you crazy. And yet, in many ways, the Whole30 is unsustainable perfection unless there is a darn good reason.
So why did I do the Whole30? An experiment. And there is scientific validation for elimination diets - it is the gold standard way to determine certain food intolerances. What I admire about Dallas and Melissa is they make that clear - the Whole30 is about health and seeing if you find some positives with a strict month, it is not the rest of your life, it is not about losing weight. It is not a "diet" in that sense.
It was interesting to go forward with the Whole30 when my regular eating pattern was already fairly similar. That way, if there were issues, it would be easy to figure out the exact problems. And there are exactly seven differences between the Whole30 and the way I ate for most the year before the Whole30 (there is a Whole30 meal template that I did try to stick to also, which constitutes another difference, but just in terms of types of food consumed):
1) Rare added sugar (usually honey). By rare I mean rare. A teaspoon of honey in tea every couple of weeks. Honey in a flourless chocolate cake twice in six months. Except chocolate, which was usually a piece of a 85% dark chocolate bar every other day. A bar would usually last a week.
2) Artificial sweeteners (gum and Diet Coke)
3) Cheating (usually gluten in homemade pizza, sometimes Mexican food - but not that often - once a month)
4) High fat dairy - after 3 months of NO dairy at all last year, I added back butter regularly, sometimes yogurt, sometimes cream with berries, sometimes cheese. All told I probably ate high fat dairy not counting butter 3X a week.
5) White rice and white potatoes - these and other starchy carbs (winter squash, sweet potatoes, turnips) once daily - you are supposed to eat starchy carbs like winter squash and sweet potatoes on the Whole30, but not rice and potatoes.
6) Alcohol - 5 glasses of wine a week (I did try to keep it away from 2 hours before bedtime, as even one glass of wine will disturb my sleep if I drink it too close to bedtime)
7) IF ing - prior to Whole30, 24 hours usually on Monday, 16 hours a couple of other times during the week
Things I deliberately didn't change - amount of exercise and amount of starchy carb. I did try to eat Whole30 approved starchy carb in about the same amounts in my meals as I did before Whole30. In all likelihood I did consume more fruit on the Whole30 than before.
As I wrote about a week ago, I did go on vacation to a city with very fine restaurants, which means my Whole30 was not pristine. In addition, ever since having rather extreme morning sickness during my pregnancies, sometimes I still get very nauseated in the mornings, and a half a teaspoon of honey in tea cures it instantly. It's psychosomatic plus my typical lowish blood sugar, I believe. Anyway, I did have honey once, and several cheat meals involving a touch of dairy on the trip - fish with a very sparse crust of parmesan and (literally) a drizzle of buttermilk dressing on some romaine, for example. Which is fine, because it means that my Whole30 was more like my real life and the number of "differences" up there drops to 5 - forget 1) and 3).
So, what were the results and what was it like? I've lost 7 pounds - five of that happened in the first 10 days (I think - that is when the dress size loss happened). I feel energetic. I'm sleeping through the night better, but it is much harder to get to sleep - I used to collapse around 9 or 9:30 and wake up at 2-3am for a few hours. Now I can't generally get to sleep before 11, but I don't tend to wake up until 5am.
So fairly dramatic. I started out with a BMI of 23.2 and now it is 21.8. I'm wearing size 4-6 currently, which is typically a small. My clothes from 10 years ago (which was usually 6 or 8 or 10 or medium but sizes have ballooned in the intervening years) fit or are a little loose.
And I'm pretty convinced the major causative factor is the high fat dairy - because I had done little experiments in the past year removing artificial sweeteners or alcohol for a couple of weeks, and my weight was rock steady. And I don't see a qualitative difference between a similar amount of sweet potato and a regular potato or rice with respect to sudden weight loss that happens in a week. Also, there is a family history (two first degree relatives) with dairy intolerance so I should just buck up and cut it out (both family members can tolerate butter). But it could also be the chocolate or the insidious cheat creep that can happen.
What do I plan from here? I'm going to experiment with adding back in rice and white potatoes - they are cheap, convenient, and the kids love them. I will not add back artificial sweeteners. Honestly my strongest motivation for the Whole30 was not weight loss so much as kicking the Diet Coke habit that had crept back in over the last 6 months. I will drink wine, but will tend keep it more to special occasions, parties, meals out, etc. instead of "Woo it's friday night!" Heh. And life is too short not to have chocolate - maybe it won't be a bar a week. Chocolate keeps well. Chocolate is pretty much awesome in every way.
Oh, and IFing. I like the health data behind the intermittent fast, and I did like the "buzz" I got in the afternoon (probably cortisol, however), and I like the convenience. I didn't IF on the Whole30 because I was hungry, and I believe in eating when one is hungry. I'm guessing I will add it back in but not as aggressively as before. I hadn't realized how IF added stress in some ways until I stopped doing it.
So life after the Whole30 will be mostly similar to life on the Whole30, with more chocolate and alcohol. I'll do a more careful experiment with rice and potatoes. I'm very glad I decided to do the Whole30, even though I wasn't perfect and I already knew a lot about myself and diet from the "paleo" experiment of the previous year - I still learned a great deal. Elimination diets can be very useful for a variety of reasons.
Once again I am traveling this week - flurry of work to do then leaving Thursday morning for the Ancestral Health Symposium. This will likely be the last blog post (save, perhaps, some quick uploads to Psychology Today) until then.