February of this year marked my second round of Whole30 with my husband. If you are unfamiliar, it is a wonderful, but torturous month focused on eating all things lovely and fresh. We cut out dairy, legumes, any added sugars and sweeteners, carbs, wheat and grains, and even limited our fruit intake. The first few weeks were absolutely horrible. Seriously. Horrible. Massive headaches, hungry all the time, and constant cravings for sugar or those wonderful afternoon salty snacks. But through it all, I survived round two and once again learned a few things along the way. Here are the six things I learned this time around:
- Coconut Oil is Clutch: If you haven’t gotten on the coconut oil train, get over it and join in! It’s a healthy fat that tastes awesome and smells like you are vacationing in the tropics. We buy this stuff in bulk at Costco because we go through it so quickly. I recommend coconut oil that is organic, cold-pressed and unrefined. We’ve tried other versions and it isn’t as good! Sweet potatoes in coconut oil? Awesome. Pan-fried plantains in coconut oil? Awesome. Coconut oil in cookies instead of butter? Awesome. And you know what is even better? If I get a little bit on my hand in the process of scooping, I can just rub it in because it’s moisturizing. Win. Win. Win!
- Sweet Potatoes are Power: We/I love sweet potatoes. Our favorite go-to recipe is Coconut Oil Pan-Fried Sweet Potatoes. We ate this EVERY night on Whole30 and still do. It’s the perfect mix of salty and sweet, but also crunchy. I already knew I loved sweet potatoes, but Whole30 solidified them as one of my all time favorites.
- Always Read the Labels: Nearly every pre-packaged food in the grocery store contains added sugar. Seriously. Everything. Whole30 required a lot of label reading resulting in a lot of frustration at the state of the food industry in this country. If I am going to eat sugar, I want to know that I’m eating it. Did you know that pasta sauce is full of sugar? Or ketchup? Those delicious, salty crackers? Sugar. Even things that are sugar free have things like sucralose in them, which is another way of saying SUGAR. I truly am thankful for this lesson. I am now adamant about knowing what I put in my body. If I’m eating chocolate or a dessert, I know I am indulging in something majorly sweet, pre-packaged, processed nightmare. Rant over.
- Afternoon Cravings are a Sham: I am usually hungry at the end of the day, but before Whole30, I would come home and just go to town on a bag of chips or another salty snack we had around the kitchen. Now, I know that those salty, “I need it now” cravings were really all in my head. I bring an apple, cashews, and a Larabar everyday now to satisfy any mid-afternoon hunger pangs. Instead of overeating on things I don’t need, I am filling my body with fruit and some healthy fats. Plus, I do love Honeycrisp apples.
- Hazelnut Coffee and Hold the Creamer: One of the hardest things about Whole30 is the no creamer or fancy-shmancy coffee drinks. I love Starbucks, and I NEED coffee. So talk about a challenge! Coconut milk was my saving grace here, but even still, coffee just was not the same without a little sweet kick. That’s where hazelnut coffee comes in. During Whole30, we spent the weekend in Nashville, and I discovered that I could actually drink hazelnut coffee black. Me! The one who loves creamer and sweeteners and Starbucks. Black coffee. It was quite the surprise! I am happy to say that I am still on the hazelnut coffee train and plan on staying there.
- A Hearty Breakfast Makes All the Difference : I used to be a girl of convenience when it came to breakfast. Oatmeal or cereal was my breakfast of choice. Despite the pleadings of my husband, I continued to eat those things only to be left hungry at 9 a.m. Whole30 forced a change of habit and a change to the morning menu. I switched to two over-easy fried eggs with two slices of canadian bacon. Add a little salt and pepper and you have a meal that will stick with you until at least 11 a.m. (my lunch time).
Whole30 is hard, but I love that even a couple months later our refrigerator is stocked full of fresh veggies, fruit, and meat. We eat more veggies than we ever did before, and I love it! I feel better, have more energy, and don’t have to feel guilty when I indulge in a lovely dessert from say Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple. Even if Whole30 isn’t up your alley, I challenge you to take notice of what you are putting in your body because as they say, “you are what you eat.”