Whole30 Journey: The Finale
So we have come to the “end” of our Whole30 road. I put end in quotes because i don’t really think it is the end. It is the end of the strict regimen that it is Whole30 but not the end of our eating well. Will we stay strict Paleo? I don’t know yet. I don’t think so but only time and reintroduction will tell. But before we get into all that, let’s talk about the things that impacted me the most in this journey.
Big Lessons Learned
Read labels, EVEN organic labels; especially organic labels. Just because there is a tag that seems good on a product doesn’t make it a good product for you to consume. Know what you are eating.
Read restaurant ingredient menus. This is a hard task, but like reading labels it is imperative to keep your real food eating on track. Being on Whole30 really drove us to look at ingredient lists at restaurants we frequent and I was SHOCKED at some of the ingredients I had no idea were being used at some of my favorite spots. In fact, I have struggled with some ill feelings and headaches at some of these places and when I started reading the ingredients I learned why – MSG. I am extremely sensitive to MSG and I have been shocked at the places we frequent that use them without me realizing. We will be reading restaurant ingredients from now on.
Spices are my new best friend. I learned that I can take some of my favorite dishes and remove the gluten and remove the sweeteners and be just as pleased with them as I have been in the past. Of course, our palettes have now changed that we have broken our sugar addiction so I will be working to revamp some of our family favorites to match our new way of eating. This also means that my spice cupboard needs replenished regularly as well, we go through a lot more of these flavoring our food.
Clearing the cupboard (and not by eating it, selling or giving it away). I have been on a whole foods journey for over a year so I thought I knew what was in my cupboard. I was wrong. And appalled. I am going through and removing products that contain sugar that I know don’t need sugar (tomato sauce, beef broth, etc). My kids snack cupboard is getting an overhaul as well.
Introduce new foods. I was forced to try new recipes and foods while on this regimen so that I would get the correct amount of foods each day. We had to be adventurous and along the way we discovered some foods we had no idea we loved.
- Dates (me) – who would have thought that I would not only like them but prefer them to a bowl of ice cream post-whole30.
- Cauliflower (my husband) – as rice, seasoned, plain. You name it he devoured it with a surprise and excitement in his eye.
- Spaghetti Squash/Zucchini Spaghetti (both) – I have had it before but fell in love with baking it and seasoning it new ways. This will be our new spaghetti noodle moving forward.
- Bacon (me) – I only mildly tolerated bacon before this regimen. But local, smoked, unsugared bacon? I LOVED it. Delicious. I am definitely not going back to over-processed nitrate laden bacon again.
Carbohydrates, oh how you slay me so. I knew I liked carbs but I had no idea how addicted to them I really was. And I had a serious problem. The first few weeks of this were brutal because of it. Now, as I settle into a new way of eating, I no longer crave and desire them. My new desire is to order burgers without the buns and to limit pasta to special and rare occasions. I will make choices about when I consume them and in moderation so as not to overload my system.
Breakfast (aka Meal 1). I am not a fan of breakfast foods, in general. This usually equates to me starting the day eating nothing or a loaded carb something. Not any more. If nothing else, this whole experience has taught me that starting the morning with protein is an important way to start the day. I am not starving by lunch or snacking in between. I am not grabbing for carbs. I feel more balanced. I am keeping up that habit no and into the foreseeable future.
Allergies. If it weren’t for this journey I would have NEVER known that I am allergic to chipotle; the peppers and the powder. How did I discover this? Quite by accident. I was working to prepare my husband chipotle type meats so that he could enjoy his favorite restaurant tastes without “cheating”. When I ate my culinary creations I got sudden and intense migraine headaches. I knew it had to be chipotle peppers because our diet had been so regimented that it was the only new product that we had had in that time period. And yes, I was silly and “tested” myself with eating it again. Bad news. But now I know. And it makes me wonder how many of the crazy migraines I have had over the years were secretly triggered by consuming this product unknowingly. It is in a surprising amount of products.
I’m still not completely sure about dairy and gluten products. I am in the middle of reintroduction with mixed results. It could be a little denial as I am sensing that dairy may cause me mild headaches and some digestion upset. This in turn causes me emotional upset because I really do love cheese, sour cream and cream cheese. Yes, I do like ice cream but not in the way I love the others. If this continues to be my observation I will only consume them on rare occasions.
I have been sharing with you my meal plans and our Paleo menus that can help you get started on your own journey. We will continue to have a Paleo menu available and are working diligently on creating a Paleo menu that is also Whole30 compliant for those wanting to tackle that journey. In the meantime feel free to look over my weekly meal plans I posted while on this journey – week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4.
Of course, Whole 9 Life and It Starts with Food, along with my companions were crucial in this process. And later this week I will share with you a post on some of the kitchen equipment I found myself using over and over again while going through this process.
I hope that I have been able to encourage you if you are considering a Whole30 journey for yourself or were in the midst of one. It is definitely a task better served in a community. I also don’t think I would have ever lasted past day 12 if it weren’t for my husband agreeing to do it alongside me. He was an amazing encourager and breakfast preparer!
Feel free to share your own experiences, lessons learned or encouragement to others here.