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My Whole30 Journey (Week 2): Snacking & Meal Prep

It’s been two weeks since I started the Whole30 Program, and I’m still standing! I haven’t wasted away from lack of dairy and carbs — yet.

Here’s how things are going.

I’m learning a lot about food. For instance, I have discovered just how much diet impacts our well-being. Until recently, if you asked me for the secret to staying in shape, I would have told you it’s 80% exercise and 20% what you eat. I had that equation reversed – experts say that it’s 80% what you eat and 20% how you exercise that really makes up your overall health and weight.

We tend to take things like diet and exercise for granted when we’re young because our metabolism is so revved up. In high school and college, for instance, I stayed fit by playing a bunch of different sports; it didn’t matter what I ate!

In my late-20s, I started working long hours, so exercise went by the wayside and nutrition became whatever was quick and easy. My waistline ballooned. At age 30, I discovered the boot camps and workout programs that went a long way to help me understand the importance of regular exercise. So, while I was devoting time and energy to exercise, I wasn’t making the effort to eat properly.

And here I am, in the second week of my Whole30 Program. Both my wife, Lynne, and I have hewed to the guidelines and are still in the game. The most interesting behavioral change that I’ve noticed is that I’m learning how to grocery shop.

I now circle the aisles at Whole Foods like a discerning vulture, reading labels to make sure there are no artificial ingredients or added sugars in my choices. Shopping for fresh produce is easier, and I’ve been eating more of my favorite fruits, like Pink Lady apples and clementine oranges.

I’m a huge fan of peanut butter, but it’s not allowed on Whole30, so I’ve been discovering other nut butters, like almond butter. These days you can find a variety of options; you just have to make sure they’re not loaded with sugar. Georgia Grinders makes all-natural, no-sugar-added nut butters that are incredibly good. I’m now one of their regulars.

During this journey towards better health, perspective has been key for me. I think about my food in terms of what I can eat instead of what I can’t eat. This approach has made the process more palatable if you’ll excuse the pun. For example, snacking is a major problem for me. Instead of eliminating snacks I’ve traded pretzels and peanut butter for apple slices, almond butter, and baby carrots.

Generally, I love the foods that are allowed on Whole30 – chicken, beef, turkey, pork, carrots, green beans, mashed white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fresh salads that I’ve been dressing with my very own vinaigrette (a simple mix of good olive oil, white wine vinegar, onion powder, garlic, lemon and salt, and pepper).

I can’t tell if I’m eating fewer calories than usual, because it doesn’t feel like I’m depriving myself. But something is working. According to the Whole30 Program, this week was the time when my body would re-learn how to burn natural fats relative to sugar and carbs. It’s supposed to be a tough week.

I felt a tad more amped up, on the verge of being irritable. But, it wasn’t as bad as the Whole30 map has laid out. I didn’t feel so energetic that I was bouncing off the walls, although I did feel slightly more awake throughout the day.

So, I’m hanging in there. I did have a difficult test last Saturday night. I went to a friend’s surprise 40th birthday party. He loves wine, so his wife threw him a fancy wine-tasting dinner. My wife and I were the only guests who did not drink. Turns out, not having a glass of wine with dinner wasn’t as strange as I feared. I actually had a really good time.

And so, I’m looking ahead to next week, which is supposed to be the turning point with Whole30, when your energy levels are supposed to rise to “tiger blood” territory. I don’t know what that means, but I guess I’ll find out.

What I do know for now is that I’m learning to eat in a healthier, more natural way. This is where I’m seeing the most benefit.

Hiring a meal prep company has been key to our success on Whole30. The company prepares simple, healthy, Whole30-compliant meals that can simply be heated and served. A typical dinner might consist of shredded chicken or beef brisket along with sweet potato wedges and broccoli. Or roasted carrots and roasted red potatoes with ground beef. I’ve even been eating mashed cauliflower (which takes a significant backseat to mashed potatoes), but with enough salt and pepper tastes surprisingly good.

Stay tuned to see where next week takes us.

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