You know who is the worst? People who talk about their diets. You know who I had to become this last month? Someone who super reluctantly had to bring up her diet. Mostly when people shoved gelato in my face and I had to explain why I was crying uncontrollably.
I know it may be hard to believe, because, I don't know, I've been blogging about mac & cheese and brownies and whiskey all month, but yeah, I just completed a Whole 30. As in, an entire month of hardcore paleo eating. Hi, who am I?
For those of you who don't know, the Whole 30 is a 30-day challenge of eating basically only fruits and veggies and meat. Can you have sugar? No. Can you eat dairy? No. What about grains? No. Can you eat — PROBABLY NOT.
The Whole 30 is mostly paleo, but also cuts out any "substitution" food, like paleo cupcakes, and any and all sweeteners, like the delicious nectar of honey. It's what the creators of the Whole 30 call "sex with your pants on" foods. Ha ha, nutritionists can have a sense of humor (jerks).
People go on the Whole 30 for many different reasons and isn't just supposed to be a weight loss diet. Many people who have health issues give it a whirl to try to pinpoint if certain things they are eating — like gluten or processed sugars — are what's causing their stomach problems or other ailments. Some people do it to lose weight. I did it for a couple different small reasons.
Last year, through calorie counting and mild exercise, I lost 30 pounds. I felt super good and awesome and...then I moved to Italy. After living with my parents all summer and having all my last (insert bagel, Chinese meal, taco, or other ethnic food item here) meal in America about a dozen times, followed by eating all the amazing carbs Italy has to offer, I gained half of it back. I started trying what worked for me before to lose the weight, and it was just exhausting. I was so over counting calories and the insanely slow process of losing weight. It took me like three months to lose 5 pounds because every time the scale would move down, I would discover a new Italian pasta (there are a lot of them). I wanted to get over my plateau.
I also have terrible skin. I have what's called cystic acne, and I thought, perhaps, if I cut processed sugars out of my diet, my skin might clear up a bit (spoiler alert: it didn't, really, and I went to a dermatologist instead).
So, the Whole 30 didn't super help my acne (though it might if you don't have a terrible clinical skin diagnosis!), but it did get the other results I was hoping so. I returned to my pre-Italy weight after losing 8 pounds during the month of March! And I lost six inches total, three of them on my waist. Of course, I couldn't eat desserts for a month to achieve those results, which super sucked, but I was very pleased with my outcome.
I'm not huge on diets, and I abhor anything #fitfam in my Instagram feed. But, the Whole 30 was surprisingly not that hard. I didn't love it — I had super bad sugar withdrawal headaches in the beginning (imagine that) and I didn't really feel that supposed "tiger blood" energy that's supposed to come toward the end. But it did benefit me in a few ways that I am excited to apply to non-Whole 30, carb-eatin', everyday life.
As the days went on, I was very surprised at how much less I ate. The Whole 30 allows you to eat as much as you want, but it does ask that you pay close attention to your body's fullness signals and to stop eating when you're full. Like, OK, not rocket science, but apparently I am not great at doing that. I also noticed how much less I "grazed" or, that thing where you open the fridge to eat something just because you have to eat something. This was mostly because if I ate another goddamn egg I was going to lose my shit and there was nothing in the fridge that was Whole 30-approved that I wanted to eat. This month taught me that my eating habits were less about being hungry and more about my love of ALL TEH FOODZ, not at appropriate times.
The Whole 30 also introduced me to a lot of new foods and made me a more adventurous eater, which I 100% loved. Obviously, not all the food was delicious — cauliflower rice is some bullshit, y'all. But I ate a lot of things I've never eaten before, and ate them voraciously. I am now a huge fan of blood oranges and lover of asparagus, my new favorite appetizer is bacon-wrapped dates and balsamic vinegar should be added onto everything.
In summary, would I recommend the Whole 30? Sure, if you want. It was interesting. It was definitely annoying, being that person that went out to eat and made everyone feel super guilty about ordering dessert while I sat there like a sad panda. Also: no wine! The horror! But I was also surprised at how easy it was to eat out, how un-tempted I felt to eat un-approved foods, how fun it was to find different ways of eating, and I did learn a lot about label-reading (there is some dumb shit in our food).
Do the Whole 30 if you want. I will be over here eating cake (occasionally!), but also a slab of baby back ribs, which happens to be paleo. And if you do plan on attempting the Whole 30, I'll share with you some bomb-ass recipes I will 100% be incorporating into my forever life — it doesn't matter that they're Whole 30-approved or whatever, they're downright delicious. Let me know how you do — I'll be rooting for you as you count down the days.
Red thai meatball curry — Regretful without rice, but still super yummy and easy to make
Balsamic roasted chicken — 100% my new favorite meal. OMG, y'all. Slap some potatoes or asparagus around the side in those juicy chicken drippings. Mmhmm.
Red capsicum, tomato and chorizo frittata — I had never had a frittata before the Whole 30. I was super missing out. Pro tip: Get an iron skillet. It's by far my favorite kitchen tool, and I used it a ton over the last 30 days.
Brown butter squash and sweet potato bacon soup — Cold day savior. Dat bacon tho.
Homemade barbecue sauce for ribs — Cook some ribs in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours on low with 1 T vinegar, a cup of water and a barbecue rub of your choice, then slap this sauce on the ribs and stick them in the oven at 425 F for 20 minutes. Oh baby (back ribs). Eat with some sweet potato fries drizzled in olive oil and topped with sea salt.
Grilled pork chops with balsamic blackberry sauce — Also, pork chops with caramelized onions and sautéed apples. Yeah.
Blueberry breakfast sausage — A non-egg option for breakfast! Hooray!
Crispy eggs — My new favorite way to eat eggs. Heat up that skillet and get cracklin'.
Snack food tips: Planters Pistachios, Simply Orange Juice, Sunbutter on everything (bananas, apples), Tajin chili seasoning on cucumbers and oranges, veggie chips with cheese-less pesto and deviled eggs for days.
Also: I've got a pretty extensive Pinterest board with paleo recipes that your belly is waiting for
Photos copyright Naked Cuisine, Eat Drink Paleo, or Katie Currid, text copyright Katie Currid, © 2015.