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My Whole30 Journey (Week 1): What To Eat & How I’m Feeling

Back in 2010, my wife, Lynne, bought a book on the Whole30 Program. We didn’t start on the diet and instead set the guide on a shelf, not really give it much more thought over the years. Fast forward to today.

Folks, I am in my first full week of this diet plan.

This was not my idea, although I agreed to go along with it. My wife brought the Whole30 Program back up at the start of this year when we were on a drive down to the beach to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This wasn’t a gentle nudge that I need to lose a few pounds; the theory is that Whole30 has health and wellness benefits beyond weight loss. More on this in a moment.

Lynne was excited about it. Her enthusiasm was partly because some mutual friends of ours, Ben and Mary Katherine, had embarked on Whole30 a month or so before, and were feeling great – more energetic and less achy – and had lost some weight along the way. When Lynn brought it up, I was skeptical but answered, “Why not?”

Regular readers know that I’m fascinated by Blue Zones, those parts of the world where people seem to live longer, healthier lives. I love to explore issues related to health, diet, and longevity. In fact, this past year I went on a Mediterranean-style diet I discovered in a book about Blue Zones. I ate lots of olive oil, veggies, fish and low-fat cheese. I felt great. Whole30 is my next “experiment,” so to speak. I’m dubious, but I’m giving it an honest try.

Whole 30 promises such benefits as improved energy, skin, sleep, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar. It also allegedly helps alleviate digestive issues (gas, bloating, pain, constipation, or diarrhea), joint pain/swelling, asthma, and migraines. The idea behind the diet is that you’re cutting out foods that cause inflammation in your body, thereby eliminating the adverse effects of inflammation.

With Whole30, you change what you eat, but it’s technically not a traditional “diet.” Still, as an added benefit, researchers say that 96% of participants lose weight on the program, without counting calories or weighing or measuring their food. So, it’s a win-win life change.

This week, I have cut out sugar, dairy, grains, legumes (beans and soy), processed foods, and (wait for it) alcohol. And my wife has too. We’ve been good about sticking to the guidelines, even swapping out cocktails for sparkling water. To make meal prep more manageable, we’ve been using Atlanta Meal Prep, which delivers pre-prepared healthy meals. The hardest part of this experience is breaking the sugar and carb habits that were formed years and years ago — but we’re doing it.

How do I feel? Well, it’s a mixed bag. As I write this, I have a roaring headache and feel a bit fatigued. I’m in the phase where my body is pushing me to question why in the hell I agreed to do this thing. But I’ve read that this is part of the process of Whole 30; the first week is marked by periods called “the hangover” and “I just want a nap.”

The good news is that my body does feel better and cleaner. I’ve done my own research into the program, and the premise is to “relearn food” and to figure out which foods make you feel good and which make you feel crummy.

Now, the jury’s still out. Will Whole 30 work, or am I depriving myself for nothing? I’ll have another update in a couple of weeks – unless I’m in bed with a headache or have thrown in the towel and mixed myself a highball.

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