Just over a year ago, I went dairy-free. Cold turkey. For a couple of years I had been having stomach issues (which I won’t go into, you’re welcome) and deep down I knew dairy was the issue but wasn’t mentally prepared to tackle the issue (I really, really like cheese).
Well, the discomfort was bad enough, and somewhere mentally my brain shifted, and I was ready to get healthy. So during that cold, dreary February, I ate my last chunk of delicious, creamy, blissful cheese, and chose my health.
The effect of quitting dairy was incredible. I lost 20 lbs in 3 months. If that wasn’t a clear enough message that my body hated dairy, the instant relief to my digestive track sure was. I also began to dabble in probiotics since I would no longer be getting them from dairy, and am a HUGE believer in their power. I ultimately settled on this one from Schiff, and it makes me feel so good that I never miss a day of taking it.
In the meantime, I started to read about the Whole 30 program that was becoming very popular. There are definitely mixed reviews about the program, but for me, I was ready to know my body’s relationship with all foods. After witnessing the impact of dairy on my system, I knew I was not yet functioning at 100% of my body’s potential.
Whole 30 is a program that guides you through 30 days of detoxing your body from all of the things that may (or may not) be effecting it negatively. That means additives, antibiotics, chemicals in addition to the general guidelines of eliminating dairy, all sugar (including maple syrup, honey, agave, etc), all grains, all legumes and alcohol. By doing this for 30 days, and then reintroducing them slowly and independently, you get to better understand your relationship with these ingredients.Obviously dairy was not a problem to cut out for me, since it was already gone. Alcohol is also not a problem for me since I am almost always the self-volunteered designated driver, and don’t understand the appeal of a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day (I know, you are probably thinking I am a freak about right now, but I just could never get into it). Grains, legumes and sugar on the other hand….well they are in everything!
Over the next few weeks, I am planning to write more about my Whole 30 adventures, and share some of my favorite recipes with you. I will share that this way of eating was addictive for me. Because of the habits I have developed over the last year, it wasn’t too terribly different from my usual eating patterns. I just needed to be more aware and better informed about my foods. As someone who loves (obsesses over?) food, that was actually pretty fun for me.
Now that I have finished a 40 day stint on the Whole 30, it is a new way of life for me. Grains, sugar and alcohol are the exception to my eating rules now, instead of the base of them. I know this way of life is not for everyone, but by doing a Whole 30, I feel like anyone can learn from it, and hopefully become more healthy in the long-term.
Over the next few weeks (months), I am going to share some of the things I learned, and a lot of really delicious recipes that are perfect even if you just want to eat cleaner, and don’t necessarily want to try an entire Whole 30. For now though, I am going to leave you with some of my tips for success on this journey.
Whole 30 Tips for Success:
- Food prep for the week is not optional – You will not succeed if you do not spend time planning. The hardest part about being successful is never giving in even an inch. You need to be prepared with snacks in case you get hungry, salad dressing in case the salad bar doesn’t have something compliant, lunches because you don’t know what oil a restaurant uses, and a million other situations you can’t predict. Be prepared. I spent my Sundays making menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner and having those foods prepared so I didn’t have an instance to second guess what I was going to eat.
- Have a support group in place – This is going to be really hard if the people you are around the most are constantly waiving donuts or pizza in your face. Ryan was more supportive of my shenanigans than I could have ever wished for, even eating my creations and enjoying them! I did make alterations to his portions to make it a bit easier. I also had a great group of my work colleagues in on the fun. We each took a week to menu plan for the week, and set-up a DropBox to share recipes and menu plans. This was KEY!! In addition, my grade-school friend set-up an amazing Facebook (private) Whole 30 support group that shared recipes, successes and failures together. YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE!
- Have snacks – One of the guidelines for the Whole 30 is to eat three meals a day and limit snacks. This did not work for me. That is what I found out about my relationship food, I function better eating smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. Some keys to my snacking success were these blueberry, banana muffins from Bakerita, all natural LARABARs made with dates, almonds, and fruit (read your labels!!), and fruit. Watermelon was always my after-dinner treat…but that was true even before taking on this program.
- Read every label – If you can’t find out what every ingredient in a food is, err on the side of not eating it. There is hidden sugar in EVERYTHING!! If you can’t read a label, or have the chef explain every ingredient, don’t risk it.
- Follow like-minded clean eaters on social media – Instagram and Facebook are a mecca for Whole 30 recipes. You can also adapt paleo recipes to work within the guidelines as well. But trust me, follow a few of the people using the hashtag #Whole30recipes, and you will fill up your menu plan VERY quickly!
I look forward to sharing more of my tips and some fantastic recipes with you! Leave me a comment below to let me know if you are thinking of/already doing the Whole 30. I’d love to hear your tips and recipes too!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post in any way. Everything I share about the Whole 30 are my own beliefs and thoughts. If, at any time, a post is sponsored, I will make sure it is obvious to you all….and as always it will be my honest, personal opinions.