In January I changed my diet. I hadn’t been eating foods that would generally be thought of as unhealthy, so I didn’t think this would be a very disruptive experiment. My wife and I had been directed to the Whole30 idea, which basically boils down to eating:
Slightly stricter than the Paleo diet it’s based on, it rules out all:
You’d be surprised how sneaky soy and sugar infest nearly everything in the grocery store. You may also be shocked at how expensive it is to shop for meat and produce, even cutting out those expensive processed foods, and alcohol.
The Whole30 program works like a detox: eliminating food groups that are the usual suspects for food allergens for 30 days, then reintroducing them one at a time. Some symptoms I looked forward to getting rid of: congestion in the mornings, overall fatigue, and once a month headaches. With some skepticism, we decided the pros outweighed the cons, and started the day after New Year’s Day.
We struggled through the first week without too much complaining. Going without half and half in our coffee was a tiny challenge with a nice boost of pride. “Room for cream?” the barista asks. “None for me, thanks; I like it black,” I would smugly say. Going without a glass of wine at dinner was less satisfying, and cutting out beer made me sad. I think I compensated for my lack of beer by over doing the caffeine. My next detox diet will be to go 30 days without caffeine – crazy, I know.
What was most noticeable during the month was the fact that I was always thinking about my diet – even when I wasn’t hungry. It became a part of my identity. I was someone with dietary restrictions. With no history of known food allergies, I’d never had to really think about what I ate. Now, every bite was first mentally reviewed, and queried with the database of “compliant” foods. When my son left a good spoonful of yogurt uneaten, I had to catch myself from finishing up after him. But I felt good – I had clear sinuses each morning, steady energy levels all day, and I felt confident because of my self-discipline.
When you cut out most carbohydrates – and rice, bread, and potatoes previously made up a large portion of my meals – you’re often left hungry. It takes a while for your body to look to proteins and fat for quick energy, when it’s used to getting its fix from carbs. The Whole30 authors also encourage refraining from over-snacking. Somehow, I was supposed to get by on three filling meals and be done with eating. Maybe someone with a slower metabolism could hack that, but I need to eat!
For snacks, I chose:
Snackable Whole30 Compliant Protein from Shurky Jurky
But it was difficult to find snack-able proteins. I liked the idea of finding a good beef jerky for snacking. However, most beef jerky in grocery stores have sugar, added flavors, preservatives, and on and on. With serendipitous timing, the guys from Shurky Jurky had recently sent us a sample of their Whole30 compliant beef jerky. If you want to be adventurous, there’s also their chocolate covered jerky. I’m highly tempted to order their monthly subscription – monthly meat, delivered to my door. I’m not usually a fan of jerky – I find it too peppery and spicy – but this was different. It was chewable, smoky, and delicious beef. And it filled the gaps between meals.
January is over, and I can go back to eating whatever I want. It’s a little scary, to be honest. Even though I had to follow a restrictive regimen, my body felt good, and I didn’t have to guess what was causing annoying symptoms, aches, and fatigue. I weathered the gentlest cold virus ever over the last week. I’m not going to attribute mystical healing powers to the Whole30 (c’mon, you gotta admit diet programs can be a little cult-like). But I do think my immune system was strengthened. I’m looking forward to spring in the Pacific Northwest, and testing my immunity against the evil hay-fever. I think my body adjusted to higher amounts of protein from beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables, and nuts, and lower amounts of starchy foods. And I don’t want to ruin all my hard work. I’m in a difficult position of deciding how to proceed.
Do I want to keep certain food groups out of my diet, even though my experiment is over? Who does that make me – Brian, who doesn’t eat grains or drink beer anymore? Now, I get to choose.
A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary package of the Whole30 Compliant Shurky Jurky for purposes of review. All opinions are those of A Well Crafted Man. The portable protein snack is created from beef, bison, turkey, or pork. It is Paleo, Gluten-Free, Primal, & Whole30 compliant. Check out the Shurky Jurky website for more information and to purchase your own gourmet jerky.