Well it’s over. I survived. It is possible to do Whole30 even as a vegetarian. Here’s a few things I learned.
1. You will most likely lose weight. I won’t give you exact inches or pounds, but you will look and feel thinner. Within the first week I was already noticing a difference. Others noticed the weight loss in my face, while I was able to recognize my abdomen and c-section scar area flatten (this has always been a trouble area for me even with exercise and ab workouts). I’ll chalk this up to all the anti inflammatory foods I was eating.
2. It was hard, but not that hard. I’ve tried no carb diets before and have never been successful. This is the first diet I’ve actual been able to follow and stick to for 30 days. Not counting calories was great! Being able to eat something Whole30 approved when you’re hungry was also a game changer.
3. I have been and will always be a grazer. Even when I tried not to ‘snack,’ I couldn’t help it. I like to eat smaller portions throughout the day and if they are healthy then why not? Lara Bar minis may be my new favorite. (PST Target has their own brand that are always on sale and they taste great too-but check the sugars-)
4. Say no to dairy. As much as I’ve played with the idea to cut out dairy I was never able to do it. I was always worried it’d mess with my proteins or calcium levels because I’m a vegetarian I’ve relied on dairy for over a decade. Now that I’ve not had it for 30 days I think it’s completely possible to cut ties, including most cheese. Less acne, less stress, less hormonal mood swings, less cramping, and less bloating. My husband also benefited from this Immensely (he is definitely lactose intolerant but won’t come to terms with it). Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can say goodbye to pizza forever.
5. Who knew almonds were so versatile? Almond milk, almond butter, almonds, almond creamer. These nutty flavors are some of my new favorites and are now staples in our home. (Now I just need to get my kids to drink it too.) Target has their own brand and it’s reasonably priced. Cashews have tons of creative uses too!
6. Expensive. Honestly it costs a little extra starting out, but a lot of it was because we needed to replace things that’ll last a long time. For example replacing cooking oils, replacing butter with ghee, replacing cows milk, replacing peanut butter, replacing ketchup etc. Most of the items I bought a month ago and I’m still using. I’ve just had to buy fresh/packaged fruit and vegetables. The things I was investing money into held up well. Almond milk lasts a long time in the fridge. Bananas are the item I’ve bought the most of and those are relatively inexpensive. The nuts for trail mix I mixed with other less expensive items such as raisins and unsweetened coconut flakes and repackaged them in portion control baggies. These have lasted the entire month with plenty to spare.
7. Lara Bars. I’ve always been a huge granola bar fan and now I am hooked on these Lara bars. When you compare cost you can get a box of granola bars pretty cheap, but they usually have a TON of added sugars. Lara Bars have a lot of calories and can be more expensive, but are more filling to me than a granola bar and provide lots of energy too.
8. Goodbye Starbucks. In 30 days I think I went to Starbucks twice. I got an iced unsweetened green tea and a venti unsweetened green tea with 100% apple juice. While I can’t say I will never go to Starbucks ever again, I may have broken a 15+ year bad habit. Within just 30 days I saved myself about 300 teaspoons of added sugar and 420 grams of fat by not going to Starbucks every day. (Not to mention about $150 minus whatever was spent at my new favorite locally owned Bon Bons’). In the future, at any coffee establishment I’ll get almond or coconut milk, no added sweetener, and only sugar free syrups. Someone should rally to get unsweetened almond milk or macadamia milk at Starbucks just saying. Hint Hint.
9. Picky eater. I always knew I was a picky eater, but it really showed during this challenge. That’s why you’ll see a lot of the same foods and meals on my food diary. I’m really picky with textures, acidic tastes, spicy foods, and vinegar flavors. So don’t look at the foods I ate and think that’s all you can have. There’s a lot of creative options out there for Whole30 I just was not a fan. For example: noodles made from strange things (like zoodles, heart of palm, or spaghetti squash) I could not no matter how many times I tried get over the textures of these foods. JUST GIVE ME THE REAL DEAL. They maybe great for some, but not for me. There are lots of sugar free dressings Whole30 approved, but I don’t like the potent taste. You’ll notice I opted for salsa or guacamole as a dressing instead. (Off topic but I also cannot stand the taste of soy sauce or sweet and sour, or teriyaki).
10. Ranch-No Whole30 even comes close to real Ranch. I just gave up and went without.
11. Alcohol- I can’t lie it definitely felt like I was pregnant or something. The level of commitment to having NO DRINKS whatsoever was on an entirely level.
12. Trader Joe’s, Target, and Kroger-These were my go-to places to get Whole30 foods at a reasonable price. Kroger had a lot of frozen and fresh produce, Trader Joe’s had the best almond milk, pre-made dishes, and the only place I could find a soup both vegetarian as Whole30, and Target also had a fair selection of guacamole, lots of bananas, their own brand of almond milk and great eggs.
13. Going Out to Eat- no easy way to put this. “Just plain sucks.” Avoid at all cost.
14. Be prepared. My worst day for Whole30 was a busy day where I simply didn’t plan ahead. I was hungry and you don’t make good choices when you’re hungry. It’s that simple. Bring a snack or two, and don’t be afraid to be little bit of a bother to get yourself something to eat before your hunger monster kicks in. You won’t win.
15. Cauliflower the vegetable in disguise. One of my new favorite substitutes. Cauliflower can supplement just about any grain based food.
16. Banana Poops-The description says it all.
17. Cleaning Almond Butter is Even Worse than Peanut Butter The first time I sent something through my dishwasher with almond butter on it I could’ve sworn my kids put Kinetic Sand through the cycle. It’s tough cleaning but even harder to get off stuff after it’s been cooked in. Tip: just hand wash the utensils or items with almond butter separately.
18. Ghee I never knew this even existed before Whole30 and now I’m making my own!
19. New Recipes-I didn’t just learn how to make my own ghee but I found some new ice cream recipes, cashew Alfredo sauce, zoodles, and banana cookies. I also feel like my grocery habits have changed and will likely stick around.
20. The Truth: I didn’t stick to Whole30 100%. My daily B12 vitamins had 1 gram organic cane sugar and I simply couldn’t part with my almond milk coffee creamer that had 4 grams cane sugar. Also I had the worst day 23 ever and ate 1 Girl Scout cookie and 1 gluten free cupcake. (Which were totally not worth it by the way). So yes I failed and no I didn’t restart. I may have also caved on day 28 with a date night. Giordano’s was calling my name. I got to enjoy deep dish pizza, ranch, Parmesan fries, and an entire pitcher of beer. I didn’t have any adverse reactions after reintroducing foods. They were greatly missed. So I didn’t make it the full 30 days…but I made it a lot further than I ever thought I would. I still feel like Whole30 was a success and I learned a ton, but there’s just some things more ‘worth’ it.