Today I have a guest post to share with you from Erin. Everybody gets a health makeover in January but I watched with interest as Erin did the #Paleo30 and made it look easy on Instagram. Of course it wasn’t easy but I asked her to share her experiences with you guys here in case you’re interested. Thanks Erin!
Hello Readers! When Rebecca asked me to write a post about the Paleo diet I followed throughout January, I jumped at the chance. I’m what you would probably describe as a normal dieter. Every so often I feel like I need a reset so for a while I count my calories, eat less and exercise more. I don’t tend to go in for diet fads as I don’t believe they are sustainable long term, and well, I love cooking and food! Whilst my favoured strategy has worked for me in the past, adding a child into the mix means there is far less time for the latter.
I’ve always been one of those women who can’t shift a lot of weight with food alone. In the lead up to our Wedding in March 2011 I started exercising in earnest the Summer before, just after we got engaged, and found myself in the gym 4 out of 5 mornings before work, and then at least once of a weekend. The results after 6 months of (more or less) this routine spoke for themselves, with me being the probably the lightest I’ve been in my adult life, but not only that, toned too.
I digress. Now that I’m a Mum to a 19-month old, who works full time, time for myself is rare and therefore, gym time is pretty non-existent. Just getting out of the door in the mornings is a miracle, and by the time the food, bath and bedtime routine is done, speed is of the essence with the food we prepare. I have been trying to watch what I eat, but it’s difficult to remain healthy all of the time.
After the excesses of the festive season last year, and having read about it last year on Jessica’s blog, both my husband Richard and I decided to give the Whole30 a go. Not so much a diet as a way of eating, I hoped it would act as a re-education exercise too.
What is the Whole30?
Put simply, it’s eating only whole foods for 30 days (or in our case, the month of January). It follows the Paleo principles of eating… but is just a bit more extreme as it’s meant to act as a reset for previous bad food habits. When people asked what Paleo eating was, I usually described it as “eating like a caveman” meaning you were only allowed food that you could hunt or gather – nothing that has gone through a process.
No sugar, no grains, no diary, no legumes and no alcohol.
Richard and I decided if we were going to do this, we were going to do it the right way. Taking the plan from It Starts with Food (which you don’t need to buy, it’s more about the science behind it – the website has most of the information), we cleared out our fridge and hid all the alcohol. Coming from months of diary, wheat, alcohol and grains, we were pretty much left with a bare fridge. After a VERY expensive shop (guided by what to buy), it was full of colourful vegetables, meat, fish and berries, and our cupboards were full of coconut oil, nuts and lots of spices. We were ready.
How to do it…
If you are embarking on this diet, and you don’t have the willpower to watch your partner devour another slice of bread, it’s easier to do it together if you can. Having the support of your partner is invaluable, and you really can spur each other on. The other point to note is that you need to meal plan. Rich and I are meal planners anyway, as we find it easier to shop this way for the week ahead, but we had to add breakfasts and lunches into the mix as well.
Breakfast’s were easy for us both as we both have microwaves at our workplaces, so making scrambled eggs was pretty simple. Eggs will definitely be your friend during this. I’m not actually sure what we’d have done for breakfast if we weren’t egg lovers!
Lunches were slightly harder since you can’t pick things up on the hoof. Mostly mine consisted of chicken that I’d roasted at home mixed with mashed avocado and rolled in a Gem Lettuce leaf, or a portion of leftover supper from the night before. This is a good tip – make more for dinner so you can eat it for lunch the next day.
Dinner’s were fine as they were usually planned in advance with ingredients bought for specific recipes.
Have in your mind that there will be a lot of repetition for the month – this helped me get through. Yes, eating the same thing for breakfast for a whole month seemed daunting, dull and boring, but the reality was fine. The simpler the better.
- Scrambled Eggs with Avocado for breakfast
- Egg and Bacon “Cupcakes” for breakfast
- Steak with Sweet Potato Chips and Green Veg
- Prawn & Cucumber Curry with Cauliflower Rice
- Homemade Spiced Chicken Legs
The obvious one is weight-loss, but the Whole30 is more than that, which I’ll get to. I also haven’t really done any extra exercise in this period so the loss is all down to changing my eating habits.
Better sleep and consistent energy levels
A more efficient digestive system
Learning how to spice food properly for taste
Changing the way I think about food and what I eat. The Whole30 really has made me realize what and how to eat in order to maintain a healthy, well running body. You will be AMAZED at how much sugar is added to everyday things, even down to roasted chicken fillets from good old M&S! It’s definitely made me look more closely at what we buy.
The cost. Our weekly shops have gone up by about 50% during the month, and that’s down to the organic produce and fresh food gracing our trolleys. The weekly visits to Whole Foods haven’t helped either.
Making your baby yummy looking shepherd’s and fish pies, tasty looking sandwiches and watching him eat creamy yoghurts is torture!
Eating on the hoof is impossible, and this goes for eating out too. Rich and I had a huge row whilst out in our local town on the second weekend as we wanted to eat lunch out, but the choice of your usual Italian establishments and sandwich shops didn’t offer anything we could have. Cue us missing lunch altogether and having a really nice steak supper.
I’m not going to lie, the first week was hard. Hungry, tired, suffering from bloating and headaches, you wonder why on earth you are doing this and what the benefits will be. Most of these symptoms are reactions from the change in the way in which your body is fuelled, and as we hit day 7, we were feeling less tired, less bloated and as if it was actually making a difference.
Strangely enough, about half way through, both Rich and I suffered from VIVID dreams of cheese – it’s the point at which you think you should just eat the damn cheese but we persevered and the feelings passed.
The end of the month then came pretty quickly actually and after having not weighed myself all month which you are told not to do, I’m amazed to report that not only have I lost 6kgs (which in old money is just under a stone), I’m sleeping better, my skin is so much clearer and less dry, my energy levels are constant (I don’t have the mid-afternoon slump) and I’m not suffering from some of the digestive issues I was having before I started on this way of eating.
All in all, it’s been an eye-opening month. I can honestly say that it really has changed the way I am going to eat. I know I have labored that point, but it really has. I’m following a whole host of new Paleo inspired blogs and getting lots of ideas for new suppers and snacks to try. My spice draw is full of new flavours and I’m in love with everything Coconut (Oil, Milk, Flour, Water!) You can also eat out. Rich and I managed lunches at Byron Burger (Skinny Burger with a Mushroom and a side salad with dressing on the side) and a dinner at a Shellfish restaurant in Soho. I also managed to stick to it whilst I was on a work trip to the US. We were strict with ourselves, but that was the point. This is a month reset, but I know I won’t be going back to my old way of eating.
As a detox, or perhaps a reset before a holiday, it’s worth thinking about giving the Whole30 a go. Once everything is planned, it’s easy! Good luck if you are going to give it a try, you won’t regret it.
Read more from Erin over on her blog Love From Cornfield, or follow her on Twitter @CornfieldLove and @ErinLauraWalsh