For the whole of this month, I have been following a version of a Paleolithic diet called The Whole 30. I initially started it because the guy I am seeing was starting it, and it looked interesting to me so I thought I would give it a try along with him. The diet is set up as a kind of 30-day reset for your body, and it serves as a kind of neat science experiment in how your body responds to various foods that can be considered problematic. Strictly speaking, the diet is over for me in a few days, but I have been really happy with the results and will continue parts of it (with less rigidity) going forward.
Roughly speaking, all I was allowed to eat over the past month was meat (beef, chicken, pork, seafood, lamb, etc), veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, and a few healthy oils. That’s it. And although coffee was allowed, everything else that gives my life joy was out. No alcohol. No dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt,…ice cream!). No legumes (meaning any kind of bean, chickpea, even peanuts). No grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc, etc). Basically nothing that was a product of civilization. This was one of the hardest things I have had to do with my diet, ever. Mostly this is because a very large portion of my regular diet involved dairy and grains. I can honestly say I have never gone more than a few days my entire life without some kind of milk product.
The first few days were total hell as my body experienced terrible cravings. But then, I started to feel better. I started to notice much more even and higher energy levels. My workouts were more productive (I increased what I could lift significantly this month), and I lost fat weight – 10 pounds of it.
I also became hyper aware (as I needed to be) of how much industrialized, processed crap is in our everyday food supply. By eating so simply, I naturally cut out most of the preservatives and processing that goes into what we eat. It was fascinating perusing the ingredients lists of various foods I would previously buy and noticing how many non-recognizable-as-food things were in them (mostly thickeners, preservatives, flavor “enhancers”, and coloring). Eating in the Whole30 way was definitely more work, but it also put me in touch with what I was consuming in a much more conscious way.
Roughly, here were the pros and cons:
- Higher energy levels
- Lost fat weight
- Gained muscle
- Much better sleep
- Greater awareness of how processed our normal food environment is
- Feeling better, fewer aches and pains all around
- Lower blood pressure (not that I needed it much)
- Total disappearance of acid reflux
- Annoying to friends and waiters (asking in detail about every little ingredient)
- Cravings (mostly for whiskey and ice cream)
- More work to prepare food
- More work to procure food (being extra careful looking at ingredients)
- Some boredom with food choices
So there you have it. Going forward, I will slowly reintroduce some things like dairy, grains, and alcohol, all in small amounts. I will then see how they affect me. I don’t think I need to be so extreme, life is meant to be enjoyed after all. But I do like how my body feels right now and would like to keep feeling that way, even while indulging a little from time to time. One thing I will really try to keep though is the simplicity. If I can at all help it, I am only going to eat things whose entire ingredient list can be recognized as food.