I'm a runner and a writer trying to make sense of life through words and movement.

After Whole30

Since finishing Whole30 a week ago, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I've learnt from the experience. On the whole, it has been a positive experience, challenging how I think about food and the decisions I make, and I feel like I am coming out of it with a healthier attitude. My body feels like it has had a reboot, and I no longer feel like I am dragging around a bag of potatoes each time I run. However, what has stuck with me more is what I have learnt after Whole30...
Finishing Whole30 I was pretty excited to start experimenting with different foods and test the effect that they had on my body. Picking up my usual salad at lunch I added on some chocolate covered rice crackers, one of my favourite faux-healthy snacks. While they were tasty, I quickly realised I didn't need them to feel satisfied with my meal, if anything they were making me feel a little over full. Then there was the Ben and Jerry's I had been saving up, it was delicious, but within hours I had belly ache (really, I should have known it was coming...dairy doesn't generally agree) and a headache (hey sugar!). So at least I now know what not to eat!

What has been interesting is the impact of grains. I had truly thought that this was  going to be the food group to avoid moving forward. My first experiment was with porridge. I really missed being able to eat porridge for breakfast and it was great to have the option of something so quick and easy again. Made with nut milk and served with a little fruit, protein powder (do not use hemp protein, it tastes fine, but turns porridge the colour of manure!) and some chia seeds, I was full up until lunch. No bloating, nothing. Plus, Graze delivers my porridge in perfect, serving sized portions, so no over eating! Plus, if I thought I had energy on Whole30, the addition of grains has pushed it over the edge! I'm bouncy beyond belief!
My next experiment was a little more radical...a pre-race calzone...yeah, I know, not the healthiest choice, but that massive lunch filled me up for hours! I felt no need to snack at all, and I had a tonne of energy for my race the next day. Calzone is not something that I would have on the menu regularly, but it is also nice to know that it is an option as an occasional treat!
Since then I've gone on to explore bread (hazelnut butter on toast is awesome), granola (Special K's new one is delicious, but I can't help but worry about it's sugar content) and chocolate (meh, I haven't been missing out)...listed it makes me sound like I've been on some mega unhealthy binge, I haven't, there has been lots of other, Whole30 compliant, eating going on, I promise!

One thing I have noticed is that I no longer feel compelled to snack. I am fuller for longer, and no longer have the impulse to snack because I am bored or craving sugar. One of my big aims for my Whole30 was to end my grazing habit and associated sugar addiction, and I am pleased to say it has been successful! I no longer feel the need to eat all of the time, or mainline every bag of sweets that enters my field of vision!

As I've experimented with foods over the last week or so, it has made me think a lot about balance. I wouldn't want to totally forego treats, but equally, I want to eat better moving forwards. If the last week has been anything to go by, freewheeling is hard! There is temptation everywhere, and it can be very hard to say no if you don't have some principles to guide you. This got me thinking about what my eating principles should be. Obviously I want to focus them around balance, but to simply say 'have balance' isn't structured enough (I need rules, what can I say!). No, for me it is a matter of maximise and minimise...
maximise -
  • meals based around protein
  • plan what you are going to eat in advance
  • veggies and some fruit
  • make a meal of breakfast
  • eat three, well thought out, meals a day
  • cook from scratch so that you know what is in your food
  • if you must have a snack, think about what you are eating
  • make sure you are actually hungry, not tired or thirsty, before you eat
  • remember that if you eat something 'bad' it isn't the end of the world, no one is perfect
minimise -
  • snacks on the run, because you are less likely to think about what you are eating
  • all types of sugar
  • dairy (you know it gives you belly ache)
  • processed foods, especially ones which contains ingredients you've never heard of
My Whole30 was a challenge and it had it's ups and downs, but I am pleased that I saw it through. It made me think more about what I put in my body and the impact that my food choices can have. I can't promise that I will eat clear forevermore, every so often I will mainline a dirty burger, or a pint of ice-cream (even through I know it will give me belly ache), but I do know that I will think more about what I eat everyday and aim to make the best choices that I can.

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Women's Running London Lee Valley 10k