Friday, August 31, 2012

Whole 30 Review

I mentioned in my 10 things post that I have been on a diet called the Whole30 for the last month. I finished my 30 days on Thursday, and here is my take on the Whole30.

Introduction: After having my little girl our diet pretty much went out the window. I was exhausted with the new mommy responsibilities, and cooking our meals from scratch just wasn't on the radar for awhile. We ate out a lot and had a number of meals given to us. I didn't even go grocery shopping in the first month. My primary goal was to eat plenty and establish a good milk supply. I was not cleared to exercise until 8 weeks postpartum, as my body needed time to recover. I'd gained 40 lbs of baby weight (50 if you count the fact that I lost 10lbs in the first trimester, and the got that back plus the 40lbs), and was in the worst shape physically that I've ever been. When I realized 6 weeks post-partum that I was struggling just to climb the stairs to our apartment I knew it was time to start focusing on health.

It was about this time that I heard of the Whole30. It reminded me a lot of the GAPS diet, which had been good for both hubby and me, and so I ordered the book It Starts with Food. After reading the book I discussed it with hubby, and he was on board. We started August 1.

Methods: For 30 days I eliminated dairy (except ghee, which has milk solids removed), processed foods, grains, legumes (including peanuts, soy, and soy products), alcohol, and all forms of sweeteners. Instead I focused on good amounts of protein in the form of eggs, meat, poultry and seafood; healthy fats (coconut oil, avacado, nuts, olive oil); lots of veggies (I used the higher carb veggies--such as sweet potato--sparingly), and fruit. I was 99% compliant (I did have a few pieces of bacon mid-month that I found out afterwards were cured with sugar. Also some nuts that I later realized were prepared with soybean oil. Other than that I was completely compliant).

I added exercise--gentle walking the first week until I was tired (first exercise since Tirza came, so I wanted to ease into it). About a mile each day. Second week I was up to two miles and jogging some. Third and fourth week I used a cardio exercise DVD that was VERY challenging.  (and if we're talking calories burned here, nursing did help)

Results: In 30 days I lost 10.7lbs (5 lbs the first week, and about 2lbs each following week). I no longer crave sweets, have learned new and healthier recipes, changed my tastes and became fat adapted. I lost at least one dress size (I don't really know because I'm not sure what size I was to begin with--it's been a year since I've been the same size for more than 6 consecutive weeks. But I know some things that were FAR from fitting in the waist/hip area at the beginning of the month, now are fitting pretty comfortably).

Discussion: I'm really impressed with the Whole30. Weight-loss was on-par with GAPS, but I feel like the 4 weeks I spent on Whole30 was more effective than the 6 weeks we spent on GAPS (I believe this had more to do with how we applied the diets, rather than the diets themselves. GAPS was good--just not as effective for us). I learned new recipes, and now think of salads in a completely different way. Sugar cravings are completely gone. I was surprised to realize a couple days ago that as I was browsing tasty and beautiful dessert recipes on Pintrest, I wanted to make the food more for the artistic experience than the culinary experience. Who makes a pretty cake just to give it away??? I totally could now. I've found that natural fruit tastes much sweeter than it ever has before--a favorite "occasional" dessert this month was plain coconut milk (which is semi-solid when cold) with some berries and freeze dried mango bits mixed in.

What's next: I've really enjoyed the food this month, and definitely will be keeping many of the recipes. Overall I'd like to continue this way of eating. There are some things that I've really been looking forward to eating once the month is passed, but now I'm not so sure. I've found a good system now, and I don't have cravings that are driving me to change it. On one hand I'm not sure the foods I'm thinking of will even taste as good as I remember. On the other hand, I'm afraid if I start too far down the "re-introduction" road it will be difficult to get back to where I am now. Is it worth it? I haven't decided. There are some things I plan to reintroduce, but I am going to do it gradually and evaluate as I go.

Specifics on reintroduction:
legumes: We don't use beans very often in our house, and in fact, our last meal before starting the Whole30 involved beans and both my hubby and I felt bloated and sick afterwords. Keeping these at a minimum will be neither challenging nor much of a sacrifice.  
Alcohol: We don't drink alcohol (my first glass of wine was when I was in labor-and I didn't like it :P). We occasionally use cooking wines. As that adds up to once or twice a month, we'll probably keep that as is. Use is minimal.  
Processed foods: I'm not going to go crazy reading labels, but I'm also going to avoid processed foods in general. Nearly all our meals are cooked at home from scratch, so this won't be a huge change. I kinda don't think processed foods will taste as good now anyway. 
Grains: This will be re-introduced, as I happen to be very fond of grains and am just not ready to give them up for the rest of my life. BUT they will be special-occasion only, especially while I'm still losing baby weight (I can't loose weight and eat lots of breads. It doesn't work). The only exception is I'm really hoping I can do granola in the mornings and still loose weight. I'll start experimenting with that in a couple weeks. I'm sick of eggs... :P 
Dairy: I will be reintroducing dairy, and hoping it goes well. We'll see. :-)

Final analysis: I'm pretty impressed. The Whole30 is an achievable cleansing diet that really does reshape eating patterns. I will probably make it a regular thing to do a Whole30 following the birth of a child, starting somewhere between 6-8 weeks (whenever I feel up to it). It's also an effective way to break sugar cravings, and to get a jump-start on a healthy lifestyle.


**Note for nursing moms: My only concerns in starting the Whole30 was whether it would cause an unhealthy detox (which would be passed on to Tirza) or effect my milk supply.The only time I noticed a drop in milk supply was when I didn't eat enough. The diet itself didn't seem to have any effect on supply. Tirza never seemed unhappy with the taste of the milk, or have any stomach-aches resulting from my diet. **


  1. I didn't see if you specified that you purchased organic meats. Be aware many 'regular' animal proteins carry with them the anti-biotics and hormones that were fed to the animal and this will be transfered to your child. The growing anti-biotic resistance in the country was a feature on the Dr. Oz show a few days back. You can probably access it on his website ( ) Increased hormones in meat have also been linked with young girls reaching puberty at earlier ages and possibly contributing to increased risk of cancers such as breast and ovarian. Going organic vegetarian or vegan is safer and ultimately healthier, but each must choose his own path.

  2. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by!!

    While I absolutely agree that organic or grass fed/ free range animal products are better, I also wouldn't want to discourage someone making baby-steps to healthier eating. If a family moves from eating mostly processed and fast foods to shopping in Wal-Mart for things that don't have ingredient labels (meat, veggies, etc), they have just taken a HUGE step forward. I would never undermine the accomplishment they have already made. Making positive long-term changes in diet takes a lot of determination, and is something to be proud of.

    Personally, I purchased most of my food for the Whole30 from Walmart. I know that wasn't the healthiest option, but our diets are a journey and that's where I was in my journey at the time. It still worked. I still made positive changes in my life. It was still worth it.

    Since then I have found several local farmers I LOVE to purchase foods from. Nearly all the animal products we use at home are farm fresh. It's where I am in the journey now.

    While vegetarian is certainly one way to avoid the hormones in lot-grown animal products, I feel it is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Pastured animal products (poultry, eggs, meat, milk)are rich sources of many nutrients the body needs. While plant foods may contain many (not all) of these nutrients, they are not as easy for the human body to use.

    The healthiest diet is one that includes BOTH high quality animal products and high quality plant products. This is probably one reason the Whole30 was so effective. It forced me to focus on the truly essential parts of a healthy diet.

  3. Thank you for you article ! I am working toward it, and really appreciate your experience. I know it will be tough for me, but I need it.