the second 45

gimme 30

Posted in food,health by geodesia on February 4, 2011

The Whole30. We finished it off in January, T and me. The Whole30, abbreviated, is a challenge to eat for 30 days without processed foods or most trigger foods like grain, dairy, or sugar.

It was not so big a change for me, already gluten-free, as for my bread-baking, potato-loving husband. The thing I missed most, in fact, was my diet soda, and that stuff isn’t even food. I broke my morning coffee habit too, since it turned out that what I really wanted was coffee-flavored cream, and we weren’t doing that. It took about two weeks for the impulse towards these things to go away. I finished January with an emotional climate of calm happiness. Calm. Happiness. You don’t know what that means to me. Part of it was just from having T on board and accomplishing a challenge together, and part of it was from food-as-medicine, I’m certain.

The Whole30 is not a weight-loss plan. We ate a lot, but we ate it in three meals a day. Keeping them low carb and high fat meant no sugar crashes, no nap attacks, just sustained energy burning until the end of the day. We got very hungry and ate very much and then waited to get hungry again. I think I snacked twice in the whole month. By the end of the day we both felt quite tired—got a pretty consistent 8 or 9 hours of sleep, lucky us.

Results? Within one day all my reflux symptoms went away. Within a week my gut was happy – holiday eating had left it not so much – and within two, a couple of annoying hot spots on my skin had resolved. I lost 5 pounds altogether. I lost fat, not just bloat, and had to buy a new size in pants. My face looks different; my rings are falling off. This was all without any significant exercise to speak of, because I’m still doing physical therapy for my herniated disc, and that’s all I feel I have time for.

Insulin is the key to fat storage. The control of insulin release is the key to fat loss. I’m more convinced of it than ever. (Did I mention Gary Taubes?)

Midway I got a bit tired of cooking…rinsing, chopping, cooking almost every meal…you can’t eat out easily without getting processed foods, and we didn’t try. On the other hand, we ate so well! (Our chickens did too.) Shopping is very easy: go to the produce section, buy some of everything, check out the meat counter, and done!

We had not been on a food budget before, and we didn’t spend significantly more money eating this way. That diet soda habit, the alcohol we were putting away, and various convenience foods all cost money for advertising and packaging, way more than plain food, and we bypassed all that. Admittedly we were eating conventionally-finished meat from the supermarket, not grass-fed. If you’ve been living on rice and beans, this way of eating is going to cost you. But I choose to think it’s pay now or pay later, like all prevention.

I’ve added butter and cream back in now that the Whole30 is over—I missed them. Tried a cup of coffee and got a stomachache, which I had forgotten about but immediately recognized: oh yeah, the coffee stomachache. Why did I drink this stuff again? So that’s not coming back; tea will take its place. The diet soda is banished—as incentive, I’m brewing kombucha, which I love. It’s fizzy and it’s real food. It’s also somewhat insulinogenic since I don’t like it vinegar-sour, so I have to limit it and not drink it like water…as I shouldn’t have been drinking the diet soda, either.

Interested in trying the Whole30? First, get on board with the idea that saturated fat is not your enemy. (Good introductions to this topic on Mark’s Daily Apple and Kurt Harris’s Panu blog.) Next, sharpen your knives and find an extra cutting board (two is not enough). Get acquainted with Mel and her Dino-Chow recipes, maybe take a trip to Penzeys.


Don’t do this for weight loss. Don’t weigh yourself during your 30 days. Take a set of before and after measurements. Keep a journal and write down how you feel a couple of times a day.

You may surprise yourself.