Today marks the end of my Whole 30 challenge, and a challenge it was! I gave up sugar, sweets, grains, legumes, and so much more, to get back my stomach. Food becomes so much more than something that we nourish our bodies with. We use food to get us through the hard times, when we are bored, when we are sad, when we are celebrating, and all the times in between. It can be such a positive thing or such a negative thing. I know I can through so many ups and downs, even in just one day. Through this experience I learned so much about myself over these 30 days.
One thing I was really able to accomplish was to stop drinking soda. I use soda as a crunch to get through my really hard days at school. I sometimes needed a pick me up craving something sweet and something with caffeine. I became much better at preparing for my day to prepare for this time (usually around 3-4PM). I made sure to have water nearby, always fresh and cold, and I would drink this instead. I began to realize that I really didn’t need it and got through my day. This is something that I really wanted to kick and I am really happy I was able to!
I rediscovered my love of fruit. I know this sounds really weird, but I have started eating a lot less fruit over the last months for a variety of reasons. It is so hard to keep fresh fruit around without it going bad. I feel like every time I get a box of blackberries or raspberries, they are moldy within 24 hours. And I really, really loathe wasting food, it really bothers me! I began getting fruit more regularly, allowing me to get less fruit at a time and having some always around. I kept it readily cut in the fridge to eat and snack on, replacing my old junk food. Now, I crave fruit all the time and freak out when I don’t have any around. My favorites right now are oranges and mangos!
Making breakfast at home has become much easier than I remembered. I used to rely on bagels for breakfast because they were easy to eat. You can get them anywhere, and they last for a while once they are made, which can be key in the morning in a hectic hospital. Making a wholesome and filling breakfast added only about fifteen minutes to my routine, and I felt better throughout my day and actually full. I started making eggs in the morning with bacon and avocados. I really enjoyed mixing these up with added things like mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, and spinach.
Lunch was definitely my hardest meal. At school, we don’t always have the most time for lunch. Sometimes, we only get ten minutes to eat before moving on to the next thing. You don’t get to enjoy your lunch, you kind of have to just shovel it in. If you forget to pack a lunch, you really don’t have the time to get something good for you either. You have to just get what you can, which is not always good for you. I had to really plan what I was going to do for lunch. I have a problem where I get bored of food really easily, making salads hard to pack every day because the toppings begin to bore me. I kept mixing up my toppings or I would buy a salad from a local store. I definitely noticed a difference when I wasn’t eating junky foods for lunch.
The second hardest thing for me was not snacking at night. I have a routine where I come home, ride my bike, and then walk the dogs. After all this, I eat dinner. I have to be careful not to eat everything in the kitchen while I wait for dinner to cook because I am usually way past being hungry at this point. After dinner, I usually relax and watch some TV to unwind. This is when I eat whatever I can find in the kitchen. Kicking this habit has been really hard. I had to keep healthy snacks, like carrots or bananas or apples, readily available to snack on. Or, I brushed my teeth to stop me from eating. Both options worked in their own ways.
I am currently for some long distance mountain bike races. Luckily, I only had one race during these last thirty days and it was only 24 miles. Anything longer and I would have needed to eat something along the way. Foods that are easy to eat while biking are not Whole 30 approved! I was afraid of feeling guilty for cheating on the Whole 30 while training and riding these long rides, which definitely made my long rides a little harder. My brother definitely got after me about needing to eat more while riding!
Overall, I really enjoyed this journey. I learned how to have some self-control. I mean, I went out to eat and didn’t devour the entire bread basket. That’s a win in anyone’s book! I found foods to keep around the house that feel like a sweet treat without me eating a pint of ice cream. There are somethings I am looking forward to having back and adding back in to my diet, and others I am happily going to continue to avoid and not rely on! All in all, I feel so much better with a ton more energy!