Do you hear the word “diet” and cringe? Ya, me too. Nothing sounds worse than eliminating delicious foods and starving for days on end. I decided to adhere to a diet plan for Lent, and here’s why this one is different. For me, the Whole30 diet has taught me to read labels, find hidden sugars, cook new recipes, try new foods, and helped me to integrate this new plan into my existing lifestyle. And it only lasts 30 days (or 46 if you’re doing it for Lent). Thirty days of tough, thought out meal prepping and some curse words thrown at your spouse who’s not dieting, but overall, it has changed my life and it will change yours, too.
No Sugar: This was definitely the hardest for me because, unlike other diet plans, you are not allowed natural sugars like maple syrup or honey. The idea is after 30 days of absolutely no sweeteners, your body kicks the sweet cravings you had previously. And yes, it’s true, or at least it worked for me. Try fruit, pan fried plantains or dates to kill that sweets craving!
No Grains: Fun Fact, grains actually have a lot of vitamins and minerals that our body needs. However, modern day yeast that rises breads and the like actually blocks our bodies absorption of these vitamins and minerals. This leaves no nutritional value except calories for our body. Moreover, other grains like rice, corn and quinoa contains proteins that are hard for us to digest and cause digestive inflammation. Instead, try starchy vegetables to fill you up.
No Dairy: Is there any other animal that requires milk after their infant years? It’s a question that deserves some attentive thought. Think about, the cow milk we drink is designed to double or triple the size of a young calf. The effects of Casein and Whey, and, more commonly, Lactose cause a myriad of annoying symptoms (like headaches and digestive issues). Options for replacing this include Coconut Milk and Almond Milk, as long as they don’t have added sugars.
No MSG and the Like: Also carrageenan and sulfites. MSG (I had to look it up, otherwise known as Monosodium Glutamate) is known to make people feel like crap in the short term and potentially devastate your organs and make you very sick in the long term. No thanks. It’s found in 80% of processed foods, so that’s why they say “stay away from the middle aisles.”
No Alcohol: All forms of alcohol have some sort of sugar, right? Self explanatory…but still hard to give up my daily HUGE glass of Moscato.
No Legumes: New to me, but now I get it. Most legumes contain lecithin, which our human bodies have not evolved enough to tolerate completely. Cut out beans, peas, soy, lentils, and peanuts (even peanut butter). You can technically eat snap peas in a pod or green beans in the pod, because a lot of nutritional value is found in the pod itself to outweigh the risk of the tiny peas/beans. Try instead walnuts, pecans, or almond butter.
No Baked Goods with “Approved Ingredients”: The idea of this diet is to eliminate processed foods, not find sneaky ways to make it happen. Really commit to yourself for the 30 days. This means no “avocado chocolate mousse” or other desserts made with approved ingredients. After the thirsty days, you can integrate in your new, healthier recipes for desserts because I’m sure they are better for you than the alternative chocolate mousse or birthday cake.
Yes, Fruit: While I don’t recommend indulging a ton because yes, fruit has sugar, it does help as a sweet snack. Most fruits contain antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for your body to function efficiently.
Yes, Vegetables: Actually, the majority of your diet will be veggies. Low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals, and packed with everything your body needs. Duh.
Yes, Meat: Grass Fed is best, but not always accessible. I will say “Check your labels!” At my local grocer I grabbed a package of plan pork and low and behold, they had injected it with sugar. Que that crazy food industry Netflix documentary, it’s real.
On a side note, I would not recommend this diet for vegetarians. Your main sources of protein (beans and soy) are out, so it would be very hard to keep your protein at appropriate levels.
Yes, Healthy Fats: These will help you stay full. Think nuts, eggs, avocados. Yum!
Go into your new “diet” plan with a goal and hopefully a friend, because times get tough and you’re going to need to remember why you do this. For your health, the number on the scale, to fit into your wedding dress, whatever it is, write it down and keep that on your brain 24/7.
After my first round of Whole30, I only lost 3 lbs. I was discouraged, but after I started including sugar and grains again, I noticed a significant (negative) change in my sleeping, energy levels, bloating and headaches. It really did make a difference. Heads up, the first week I felt extremely hungry. This forced me to find new alternatives for my usual go-to snacks. I ate plantains for the first time and wow! When you fully commit to yourself and your goals, you are pushed outside your comfort zone and truly learn. And seriously, who doesn’t want to feel good all the time? It’s time to eat things that fuel us and help our body to run efficiently instead of break our bodies down.