Whole30 recap thoughts and food reintroduction

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Now that it's over, I wanted to jot down my feelings about the Whole30 program. So many people have been asking how I'm feeling now that I'm eating sugar, dairy and grains again, and what our diets will look like going forward, but I wanted to give us a couple weeks to experiment, observe and discuss.

As a refresher, here were my Whole30 goals before starting:

  • Be healthy for Eric and Rooney and baby boy
  • Support Eric's desire to eat healthier
  • Be the healthiest I've ever been, nutritionally
  • Give this baby boy all the nutrients he needs to grow (and not deplete my own nutrition while doing so)
  • Have more energy to get out of bed in the morning (or in the middle of the night, if needed)
  • Loosen sugar's grip on me (it's poison!)
  • Clearer skin
  • Better understand how dairy and gluten affect me personally
  • Sugar tastes good initially but I really don't feel that great afterward...darn headaches!

I think I achieved all of these thing, except maybe the second to last one, because my willpower was very low after 30 days and I did not follow the Whole30 suggested reintroduction, which is:

WHOLE30 SUGGESTED REINTRODUCTION

  • Day 1: Reintroduce legumes (beans, peas, peanuts), followed by two days of Whole30
  • Day 4: Reintroduce gluten-free grains, followed by two days of Whole30
  • Day 7: Reintroduce dairy, followed by two days of Whole30
  • Day 10: Reintroduce gluten, followed by two days of Whole30

But can we back up for a minute and just talk candidly about the Whole30?

THE HARDEST PARTS

  • Remembering why I was doing this (especially in the first two weeks).
  • Not having a treat after Rooney went to bed at night. It's such a victory for us, and I missed celebrating.
  • Worrying if baby boy was getting enough calories.
  • Being around yummy foods that I couldn't enjoy.
  • Missing out on restaurant meals with family.
  • Overspending. We spent about $1,000 feeding our family of three during the Whole30 (we usually spend $600). I think it's so sad that it's cheaper to feed our family at McDonald's than it is to buy nutritious foods that our bodies need to function properly.

SUGAR WITHDRAWALS

Sugar definitely had a hold on me before the Whole30. It still does. Maybe 30 days wasn't long enough for me and I should have gone 60. I was just so irritable the first two weeks, as well as a few random days sprinkled into the last two weeks. It was hard. Really hard. I wanted to quit so many times. But we kept at it, day after day, and it was empowering. I dealt with some stressful things in those 30 days (and survived Valentine's Day and two birthday parties, one of which was my daughter's). It's amazing how much I use food to "cope" with stress. I put "cope" in quotes, because it really doesn't help at all...in the long run. I'm not proud of the way I acted toward Eric during a couple of the really bad cravings. But after the halfway point, it got much easier, and I even seemed to have more willpower than him at the end. The Whole30 timeline was pretty accurate for us, although we always felt things a couple days sooner than they said we would. Everybody is different!

THE BEST PARTS

  • Family meals were a thing. We had those 30-minute family breakfasts that you only see in the movies! Rooney would sometimes complain about what we were having, but then she'd go on to eat most of what we were having. When we started, she said she didn't like sugar snap peas, but she was eating them by the end!
  • We learned what comprises a healthy meal, and now have some great dinners that we all enjoy and will continue to include in our diets, like chicken drummies and smashburgers
  • We learned which fats are better than others (cashew butter > almond butter > sunflower seed butter > peanut butter)
  • We learned which fruits are better than others (best: apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi, melon, plums, raspberries and strawberries)
  • We learned which veggies are better than others (tomatoes are preferred over spaghetti squash, for instance)
  • We learned that peas and corn are NOT vegetables
  • We set a goal together, and reached it!

WEIGHT LOSS

Weight loss was not a goal of ours, but it did happen for us both. I started and ended with a normal BMI (Eric did, too - we actually have nearly the same exact BMI). I lost 4.3 pounds (while growing a baby, who grew at a normal rate). Most of the weight I lost was in the first couple weeks, before I started tracking my calories using the Lose It! app. Here is a great article on keeping weight on during Whole30. My arms and legs were noticeably smaller now (I wish I would have measured them before, but I can just tell from photos and how my clothes fit).

ON DOING WHOLE30 WHILE PREGNANT

When you're pregnant, your body is going through lots of changes already. You feel aches and pains and you don't want protein and you have cravings. Your bowels and digestion and acne and stress levels and heartburn and reflux and energy levels and hormones and everything is different when you're pregnant, so it's hard to know what Whole30 if affecting and what pregnancy is affecting. Am I tired because I'm creating eye balls, or is my body just reacting to the fact that it no longer gets sugar? This was true for the reintroduction phase, as well. Am I sleeping worse because I'm now in the third trimester, or was it the ice cream? Do I have dark patches of skin on my face because of pregnancy (chloasma), or is it a result of sugar? To be honest, I wish I had done the Whole30 when I was not pregnant. I would have enjoyed the weight loss more, and I think I would have been better able to distinguish how my body was reacting. I'm glad I was in the second trimester though, instead of the first or third. I will repeat myself, though: I lost weight, but my baby grew at a normal rate (because I have an abnormal placenta, I had an ultrasound two weeks before starting Whole30 and again on the last day of Whole30, so I had a very accurate check on things). My midwife was aware of my diet change before I started, and she did not have any issues with it, except that she didn't want me to stress out about it. I 100% think the Whole30 diet is absolutely amazing for anyone, including a woman who is growing a child. It was hard, though, to keep weight on, so if that is a concern for you, you may want to reconsider. (I have gained all the weight back now, by the way.)

GOING FORWARD

  • I never want to do the Whole30 in its entirety again :-)
  • I think we plan to eat more homemade meals than we did prior to the Whole30. I think we will continue to eat some of our Whole30 favorites, even if the ketchup or bacon have added sugar. We will keep it all in mind, but won't be as strict as we were during the Whole30.
  • One thing we wonder about is that the Bible talks a lot about bread, or manna. Jesus fed the 5,000 with fish and bread! I'm not saying our bread today is the same as in Jesus' day, but perhaps bread really isn't all that bad for us? We haven't bought bread for years, but that's what I often order when we're out to eat.
  • My lunches will probably look very similar to my Whole30 lunches (which was not an unusual lunch for me pre-Whole30, actually), I just might treat myself to a cupcake afterward :-) I don't plan to deprive myself of all sweets, but I do want to only indulge in the treats that are special to me.

FOOD REINTRODUCTION

Alright...the part everyone is curious about. I will admit that it didn't take me long to reintroduce sugar! As soon as I was able, I ate a conversation heart (which tasted amazing) and a small bowl of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (also amazing). I didn't notice any ill side effects that night. It all tasted even better than before...I think my taste buds appreciate it more now.

The next day I made chocolate chip cookies and ate more hearts. We also had a pizza-flavored goulash for supper. I was expecting an immediate stomach ache or headache, but none of those things happened. Four days after the Whole30 was our niece's 4th birthday party, and my stomach was angry after that (I think it was the macaroni and cheese, which honestly didn't taste as good going down as I thought it would. I have very little desire to eat pasta after the Whole30). I have yet to reintroduce soda, but it's probably just a matter of time...

After two weeks of evaluation, here are some symptoms I think may be caused by sugar, dairy and grains in my diet:

  • Face breakouts (this was the first thing I noticed, but honestly hasn't been an issue since the first few days after Whole30)
  • Increased anxiety/depression (it's hard to know, though, since I did experience anxiety during the Whole30 as well). The day after Whole30, I had a spotting scare and was also dealing with some things I can't blog about yet.
  • Waking up hungry and being more hungry overall. I'm feeling like a real pregnant person lately, waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to eat, and driving through Culver's just a few hours after I've eaten lunch. I was rarely hungry during the Whole30! (However, this could be partially related to the fact that I'm in the third trimester now. I looked back through my blog, and I had an increase in appetite at this point in my last pregnancy, too. See what I mean about pregnancy complicating my results?)
  • Stomach ache/gas

Even with these side effects, I am overall a MUCH happier person now that I'm back to eating whatever I want. It's been really nice to be able to enjoy pizza with my coworkers and ice cream with my family, for the social aspect. So...maybe I'm one of the "lucky" ones who doesn't really feel a significant difference between when I eat well and when I don't? Or maybe I'm just in denial and telling myself that I feel the same? Eric says he feels worse now, but that he's getting used to it and doesn't want to go back to the Whole30.

I know lots of people who say they could/would never go back to their old way of eating after the Whole30, but I can't say we feel the same. We are, however, very glad that we did it! It was an amazing accomplishment and we appreciate ice cream so much more now :-)