Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Whole30 | In Conclusion



Paleo Pad Thai with zucchini noodles. Perfectly paired with an episode of Breaking Bad.  

First, a confession: I had a glass of wine on Day 29. So, I didn't really make it The Whole30. I know.

Moving on.

I wrapped up the Whole30 almost two weeks ago. Since then I have not returned to my morning oatmeal addiction but I have had a glass of wine every single night since. Sometimes two. I've also had some dark chocolate, greek yogurt, corn chips, black beans and a little bit of cheese here and there. I've eaten a little bit of gluten without any noticeable adverse affects but for the most part am avoiding grains. Eating in a paleo way has resonated with me - we continue to eat mostly fish, veggies and eggs with healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil.

Here's what I learned while on the Whole30:

1. Eating with very strict rules is easier than practicing moderation. 
At some point it became very easy to feel like I didn't have the option to cheat, slip or give up on the Whole30. It's kind of like being a vegetarian for so long - I don't even consider dishes at restaurants with meat an option but I don't feel deprived. I look for what I can eat and make my choice from there. It was the same with the Whole30. At the grocery store I picked up what I could eat and everything else just didn't even feel like an option.

However, now on Saturdays I can choose to have a couple bites of my mom's homemade Chex mix (which we call "Texas Trash") or a bite of brownie. Sometimes these little bits of salty & sugary snacks leave me feeling a little... well... like trash. Right now I'm finding the need to recalibrate and find a balance that works for me, knowing what I know. I'm actually able to accurately "listen to my body" because after 30 days of clean eating it's not lying - I just need to remember to tune-in and be aware.

2. Nothing about the Whole30 is restrictive. 
After 30 days of eating really amazing food I decided nothing about the Whole30 is restrictive when it comes to what I'm eating. I approached the Whole30 as an experiment (vs. a diet) but it changed my relationship with food for the better.

3. In fact, I'm lucky. 
I'm really lucky that I can take such consideration into what I'm eating. A lot of people don't have that opportunity - so to complain about having to eat really healthy, nice food for 30 whole days would be pretty shitty.

4. But caring so much about everything you eat can make you crazy.
If you have a history of eating disorders I would be very careful going on something as strict as the Whole30. That said, at some point a switch flipped and it made sense that there was nothing disordered about choosing to eat real, nutrient-dense, food. At some point it transitioned from a new and weird obsession over food to adopting really healthy habits.

5. Food is how we bond with other people. 
Socially, the Whole30 was hard. Fortunately, Jeremy and I were cool with staying in and reconnecting with our home and kitchen after a month long adventure in Europe. But being so strict about what we ate out was somewhat of a damper on our social lives. I still make better food choices when I do go out to eat but I don't worry so much about whether or not my veggies were cooked in a less healthy oil or non-clarified butter. I'm able to bond with my friends and family over meals again.

6. Eating paleo can be expensive.
There are entire blogs and posts dedicated on how to eat paleo on a budget (just Google "paleo budget") but for us it was very expensive. We more than doubled our typical budget for both groceries and eating out by buying groceries consisting of quality seafood and organic produce. That said, we don't mind spending a good chunk of our money on food. It's a priority and we budget accordingly.

7. I got smaller. 
I get asked about my weight a lot since doing the Whole30. I don't weigh myself but I did get a little bit smaller. The benefits of radiant skin, no bloat and mentally knowing that I was doing what was right for my body far outweighed the side-effect of changing my body composition a little.

Overall, I've learned a lot. I've had the opportunity to have lots of great conversations about food. What we eat is important. The way food affects our mind and bodies is beyond profound. How we share our meals and the love we pour into ingredients while cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner matters.

Paleo Matters
Days 1-8
Days 9-16
Day 23 (+ a tuna steak recipe)

Whole 9 Life
Well Fed


  1. That was a pretty awesome experiment to follow along with. Congrats on completing it!

    Even though I don't plan on doing the strict paleo for 30 days thing, I have definitely added a couple of recipes to my dinnertime thanks to you!

  2. Awesome post. you are so damn inspiring kathleen. wether it's trekking everest or just giving up wine and cheese.

    because of you, I second guess my meals and try to eat healthier... but some days I just NEED my mac and cheese. like today. tho now its 9pm and I am POOPED and ready for bed. Oops... shouldnt have eaten the whole pan...

  3. I had been researching Paleo right around the time you started your Whole30 and I decided to take the challenge this month. So far I'm pleased with the results, although like you, I haven't seen drastic changes.
    My boyfriend is eating Paleo with me, but he isn't going quite as strict...so we were at Whole Foods yesterday looking for gluten free beer for him and I saw a beer bottle with your brother's face on it! So random! But it was fun to tell my boyfriend "Hey I know who that is!" haha :-)

  4. So quick question...I know I am super behind, but I'm interested in trying the Paleo diet. About alcohol- there are varying views online about if its acceptable along with coffee. Thoughts?

  5. Ashley - Good luck with your Whole30!

    Sky - It was really important for me to not drink alcohol during my Whole30. But only because I had been drinking at least a glass of wine daily for ... ever. Now I'm trying to limit it to just a few glasses of wine (total) a week. I'm not as concerned with the "Paleo" label as I am about my optimal health.

    For now I'm drinking coffee. It's staying for the time being.