Week four began with an ambitious list of recipes and the drive to finish strong. 9 more days! 9 more days!
And then Drew woke up monday morning with the stomach flu. I quarantined him in our bedroom, borrowed a friends’ diffuser and thieves oil and did my best to keep the rest of us far far away. Poor Drew was so miserable and slept pretty much straight through the next 24 hours. Thankfully he was starting to feel better by tuesday morning when I woke up with it. Ugh. I did not recover quite so quickly – nursing through the flu was absolutely exhausting and I was down for the count until friday. By then we were so utterly spent (the twins seemed to get a mild stomach flu and colds, neither of which made for good sleeping), sick of eating bananas and almond butter and too worn down to cook a whole30 approved meal. Plus, after not eating for four days, chicken breast and veggies were not exactly at the top of my list.
So, we called it quits. I sent Drew out for mexican (I know. Not only did we give up early, we totally did not follow the rules for reintegrating foods into our diet!) from the place that just opened in our neighborhood and we feasted on shredded chicken enchiladas and rice. Also a Jaritos. Yeah. It was a disaster. The 24 hours following that choice were almost as miserable as the entirety of the stomach flu.
After that debacle, we pretty much returned to our whole30 diet, with a bit of peanut butter and yogurt thrown in. I made a black bean/quinoa/chicken bake with a little bit of cheese on top one night, and we’ve enjoyed more than a few glasses of wine, but we haven’t deviated too intensely or waded back into the world of processed foods. I did find half of an 85% dark chocolate bar that we devoured and it tasted like heaven. And I made a delicious and almost healthy pumpkin pie, which is convenient considering I then ate the entire thing (minus the slice I forced upon Drew) in the next 24 hours.
I suppose this means I still haven’t learned much in the way of self-restraint. I don’t crave sugar or really much of anything post-30, but once I have some in my system I find it irresistible and borderline obsess about wanting to eat more.
I still have mixed feelings about the whole project. Here are my top pros and cons of our whole30.
- We lost weight and inches. 15.8 lbs and 6 inches for me, 10.2 lbs and 6.75 inches for Drew. I’m sure the stomach flu helped us knock off the last one or two, but I’m pretty impressed to see such big numbers over four short weeks!
- Learning to prepare veggies in lots of different ways and incorporate loads of them into our daily diet.
- I became more mindful of snacking and more aware of real hunger. It was helpful to have a push to make a mini-meal (protein + veggie) when I was hungry rather than eat handfuls of nuts or fruit. Protein is so satisfying!
- Breakfasts. I’ve always eaten light breakfasts but then reached for sugary snacks mid-morning to deal with my hunger. Not anymore! Huge plates of scrambled eggs and sautéed veggies have cured me of my fruit and yogurt or oatmeal squares!
- Avocados! With a mandate to eat healthy fats, we justified a daily avocado and I enjoyed every last one. Is there anything that can’t be improved by that creamy green goodness?
- I feel so much better eating this way. I’m not sure that I have specific allergies for any of the forbidden foods, but I feel amazing having cut out all the sugar and excessive carbage and adding in all the veggies.
- THIS IS SO EXPENSIVE. I don’t know how people do this diet long-term. I didn’t tally up all our receipts for the month, but I believe we spent almost double over a typical month.
- Eggs-austion. Har har. So many eggs. We ate through at least 4 dozen a week and while I still love them for breakfasts, I’m glad to have a few more options.
- Extremely time-intensive. Depending on what kind of day the twins were having, prepping, making, and cleaning up after 4-6 meals ranged from annoying to impossible. I tried to batch-cook veggies and meat, but we seemed to use it all up by the end of the day.
- Hungry all the time. I think this is specific to nursing, because Drew was supremely satisfied with large portions of veggies and meat, but I just could not get enough calories. It got to the point where I would be just famished by 10pm but so exhausted from the day that I could not stand to spend another ten minutes in the kitchen cooking another meal. By the end I was relying heavily on my homemade larabars, which isn’t really in the spirit of the whole30.
- The ‘spirit of the whole30’. Humph. I was so eager to embrace this new way of thinking about food, freeing myself from the bonds of emotional eating (and over-eating) but by the end I was eating in this weirdly detached way. It was a practical, functional task, but not one that I enjoyed or shared. I have to believe that there is a way to celebrate the richness of family and friends gathered around a good meal, and to enjoy those memories later upon eating the same foods, without necessarily sending unhealthy messages to my brain about portion sizes and the like. It just seems too cut and dry.
In the end, I’m glad we committed to this and saw it almost all the way through. It felt good to practice an adult virtue like self-control and it has made me more mindful of what place food has (and could/should have) in our lives. If I was childless, I might have time to read a few books about food/be thoughtful/enjoy long conversations on the topic over a fancy foodie dinner with friends.
But I am not. So instead we enjoyed dinner with neighbor-friends and all the kids. We ate this delicious chili and pumpkin cornbread while sitting on our living room floor, surrounded by our children and piles of laundry and baby toys and all the other chaos of a typical day. We talked about food and family and unexpected parenting adventures. It ended with cookies and let-it-be-bedtime screeching but we ate well and we ate together and it was so good.