Or…My Whole30 Experience
By Brian Dutter
WHY DID I DO IT?
“Was that your stomach?” Kate asked from across the office.
The gurgling was loud enough to be heard in the next ZIP code, and I was the only other person in the office so there was no denying it.
“Maybe…” I said sheepishly. For the past few months, I had been noticing a lot of noise from my stomach that had never been there before. I assumed it was from something I was eating, but I had not paid enough attention to figure out just what it was. I said as much to Kate.
“Why don’t you try the Whole30 Diet?” she asked.
I am a relatively skinny guy, and I have never been on a diet. While I know a little bit about most diets just from reading about them, I don’t pay close attention to what’s trending in the diet world, and I knew nothing about the Whole30 Diet.
“You cut out all sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol for 30 days, which allows your body to reset, and when you start reintroducing those foods, maybe you can figure out what is bugging your belly,” Kate explained.
“Hmmm…I can pretty much do anything for 30 days,” I thought to myself, and decided to talk to my wife Shannon to see if she would do the diet with me.
Of course, I already knew that she would. Like many women, Shannon holds fast to the imaginary notion that her body carries an elusive 2 or 3 extra pounds that forever stand between her and “weight perfection,” so she is familiar with dieting and what it entails. Due to the regulations of marital law, I am now required, at this point, to state firmly that I, of course, do not feel that my wife needs to lose weight. However, this was a very restrictive diet, so I wanted her on board for moral support and to help with the meal planning.
I wasn’t surprised that Shannon was gung-ho to give the Whole30 diet a whirl. Her only caveat was that I had to help with the food shopping and meal preparation. No problem there. I am of the opinion that the only way to get cool stuff when you go grocery shopping is to make sure you put it into the cart yourself. And the internet is filled with websites where people love to tell you the best way to cook meals. With the Whole30 Diet being fairly trendy these days, it was easy to find lots of recipes online, and with that we were off and running on our Whole30 adventure.
WHAT IS IT?
Before we move on, here’s some background information on the Whole30 diet (*see editor’s note at the end of the article). According to the program’s website (www.whole30.com), Whole30 is an “elimination diet” that can be used to identify food sensitivities. Basically, you stop eating a bunch of different “potentially problematic” foods for 30 days, and then slowly reintroduce them back into your diet to see how they make you feel…if you feel bad after reintroducing a food, then obviously you know not to eat it anymore. The Whole30 website claims that the diet was “… created to help you curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and calm your immune system.”
While on this diet, the website says you can, “Eat meat, seafood, and eggs; vegetables and fruit; natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.” You are not allowed to consume any of the following: added sugar, real or artificial; alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking; grains; legumes; dairy; carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites; or baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. You are allowed the following exceptions in your diet: Ghee or clarified butter; fruit juice; certain legumes (green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas); vinegar; coconut aminos; and salt. The website also insists that you, “Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days.”
HOW DID IT GO?
The first few days went well. The house was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables that we had cut up into snack sizes, and we were eager to try out the most interesting of the recipes that I had discovered online. The meals were tasty enough for us to muddle through for 30 days…but please don’t try to convince my stomach that spaghetti squash is an equal substitute for spaghetti or that cauliflower rice is in any way related to real rice. On the plus side, though, I had expected to be hungry all the time, but I wasn’t— there actually is no limit to the amount of food you can eat as long as it is on the approved list. Also, as a lifelong sugar hound, I had expected my sweet tooth to bark loudly throughout the 30 days, but the sugar cravings gradually subsided, and I definitely learned to appreciate fruit as a dessert alternative.
The Whole30 diet requires a lot of time and effort for prepping meals, and at the end of 30 days, Shannon and I were definitely ready to be done with it. It was now time to assess if I had eliminated anything—other than fun— while on this diet adventure. I noted, at this point, before reintroducing any of the banned foods, that my stomach was still rumbling. So, using the transitive property of multiplication, I did the math and decided that if my stomach was still causing a commotion after eliminating all those “problematic” foods from my diet, there was no need for their slow reintroduction. And, as soon as the bell rang, signaling the end of the 30 days, you bettter believe I piled into a big, juicy hamburger, with no regrets.
What I did learn from this diet is that I lost a couple more pounds than Shannon did, which in the language of dieters is “not fair.” I also found I had an increased awareness of what I was eating, as well as learned a few healthy alternatives to some less healthy food choices. But as mutually consenting, busy adults, Shannon and I were happy to move on and renew our vows with pizza.
SO, WHAT ABOUT THE RUMBLING TUMMY?
I went to my primary care physician and told her about my noisy “plumbing” problem. She ran all of my blood work, which came back normal. She asked if the rumbling ever hurt, and I told her no. Then she told me her old house analogy. Old houses develop creaking and squeaking noises as they settle, and this was probably just one of the ways my body was telling me that I am getting older. Hmmmm…I wonder if my doctor is actually the secret identity of the super hero, Captain Obvious. Of course, I am getting older…that’s how time works! If this is my new normal though, I may as well learn to accept it. Anybody have the number of a good plumber?