At the end of 2016, I decided that one of my 2017 goals would be completion of the Whole30 challenge. What appealed to me most was that it was only 30 days, and that it was based on eating real food 100% of the time. I also wanted a way to get rid of my “sugar dragon,” and what better way to do so than to starve the son of a gun…
In a nutshell the Whole30 challenge specifies: No sugar (except fruit), dairy, legumes, grains, or alcohol. What I can eat is meat, eggs, lots of veggies, some fruit, and healthy fats from oils, nuts, and seeds. Cheating means starting all over again.
After detoxing for 30 days I’m supposed to slowly reintroduce any “no list” items that I wish to bring back into my diet, and observe how each makes me feel. That way I can decide what foods affect my body negatively, and continue a regular diet that best suits me.
Great things to expect: Better sleep, beautiful skin, bounds of energy, and a dead sugar dragon.
How I Started
I began my challenge on Monday, January 9th, following a girl’s weekend. After divulging in cheese, crackers, champagne, mozzarella sticks, pizza, vodka, and lattes for two days, a major detox was needed.
I prepared by reading the Whole30 book a week prior, and stocked up on expensive whole foods at the grocery store.
Since January 9th I’ve been taking note of my personal experience, and compared it to that of the program’s official timeline. Here’s how Week One stacked up for me.
My Whole30 Challenge: Week 1
“So what’s the big deal?” An easy day. As predicted, I feel empowered and excited about this new “whole” journey. For breakfast I ate a pre-baked slice of chicken sausage and veggie frittata with a side of tomatoes. I missed my oatmeal, sure, but this would do. Lunch was a big salad with chicken and avocado plus some baby carrots and cashew butter. Nothing too unusual (peanut butter is a legume, and therefore not allowed). Dinner was different. I made some coconut cauliflower “rice” and snacked on Trader Joe’s Plantain Chip with guac. The latter was extremely addicting. I shouldn’t buy that anymore. Yay! Easy success today!
“The Hangover.” These days I should have felt “headaches, fatigue, and general malaise” due to the sudden lack of sugar. Because I wasn’t in the habit of eating a lot of sugar (on most days, anyway), this was not a huge issue for me. I did feel the mid day slump, but I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk nor did I experience terrible headaches. Instead: severe brain fog.
Talking to my coworkers was embarrassing. I got a haircut and ended up with bangs even though I just wanted a nice side-swept trim. At home I was irritable and grumpy. Not to mention CONSTANT NAGGING HUNGER.
The third day was better. I did experience a slight headache after I went for a 3.5 mile run, but my brain was much happier. One day after eating what I thought was a completely compliant custom salad at Panera Bread, I found out that their chicken has added sugar in it. So, lesson learned. An all-veggie salad is about all I can eat at Panera.
My favorite meal: Sautéed thin-sliced squash and zucchini mixed with lemon juice, ghee, and roasted pepper flakes next to cashew coconut mashed cauliflower. Also, here’s some real talk: digestive issues have surfaced.
“Kill ALL the things!” This phase must have hit me early on Day 2, because Days 4-5 were pretty normal. No irritation, except the amount of time I have to put into meal planning and prepping in the kitchen.
Physically I felt… well, bloated. And on Day 5 I had major, major sugar cravings. And unfortunately I gave in a little after dinner. It was all “compliant” sugar, mind you, but too much: Green apple chips, plantain chips, dried persimmons, and dried coconut banana chips. I can’t buy these items anymore. They are too close to “junk food” be eaten in safe quantities.
My favorite meal this period: chicken tenders fried with coconut flour and thin sliced sautéed zucchini with green olives, lemon juice, and chopped almonds.
“I just want a nap…” was not a true statement for me. I actually felt a slight increase in energy during this period. Perhaps weekend vibes were responsible, but I felt great. For breakfast both mornings I enjoyed a twice-baked sweet potato topped with a fried egg and mashed avocado. I always make good coffee at home, so cream and sugar wasn’t missed. For fun I made a Bulletproof coffee with coconut oil and ghee because why not?
On Saturday we went out to the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco to watch Manchester by the Sea. While my movie partner ordered the Bourbon Dandelion chocolate milkshake I stuck to a pot of hot coffee. I missed the gourmet popcorn and pizza, but managed.
For lunch we went to the Stinking Rose in North Beach. I ordered a side of garlic veggies and ate half of my partner’s prime rib smothered with garlic and parsley. I missed the bread and garlic cloves cooked in butter. I probably would have eaten the garlic ice cream too, but you know. Priorities. Still hungry after our meal, I ate half of a blueberry RX bar. I am always hungry.
In a Nutshell
Week 1 of Whole30 is hard, but not that hard. Mostly inconvenient, and takes some getting used to the lifestyle change. I can’t believe how hungry I get after all my meals, but I am so happy to be sleeping like a baby for the first time in a long time. Let’s see how it keeps up!!