So today is my last day on Whole 30, a nutrition program (or a challenge) where I stayed away from grains, lentils, sugar, chemicals, and processed foods for 30 days (here is experience with onweek 1, week 2, week 3). My focus was to consume mostly farm-raised meat, eggs, fresh vegetables, some fruits, and healthy fats in the form of nuts/seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil. I read about it online and joined a facebook group for additional questions/support. There is a book 'It Starts with Food' if you are interested to read further. The general idea behind whole 30 is to change the way you think about food, change some of your habits (cravings), experience improvements on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are some more benefits. I did this challenge simply because I like to do challenges every now and then and to see if it will benefit my skin and over all health. Here are my final thoughts..
Planning is the key:One of the main reasons I was able to stick to 30 days is because I planned my meals and did grocery shopping ahead of time. I talked about meal planning earlier but it's even more important when you are on a restricted diet since you can't fix yourself a quick sandwich or go to a drive through.
Social life suffers (a lot): This is something I absolutely disliked about whole30. I enjoy going out and hanging out with my friends especially on the weekends.. I felt extremely limited with eating out. For a beef/pork eater, there are many restaurants that offers grass-fed steak etc but if you eat just chicken your choices are basically grilled chicken, some sort of salad (given you bring your own dressing), or Chipotle.
Feel good effect:I did my best to purchase organic, farm raised eggs and chicken, used all fresh produce, no chemicals etc and it felt great knowing that my body is nourished with good stuff. Not only physically, but I felt good emotionally as well.
Whole30 is not cheap: It may not seem like it but when you buy everything farm-raised, organic, and special ingredients - your grocery bills add up rather quickly.
Getting creative with your meals:I tried to get creative and made few amazing meals during whole 30 which I am really proud of..
And finally Easy Chicken Kebabs (scroll down for the recipe)
So to answer the most frequently asked question by everyone. Did you feel any difference?Honestly no, I did not experience anything that significant in terms of energy levels, skin, hunger, eating habits etc. It was a good feeling knowing I am eating healthier, good quality stuff but it was at the cost of my social life, my daily dose of chocolate, and bread. I did lose a couple of pounds/inches which is always a bonus but this is not a weight-loss diet.
I noticed a lot of people on whole30 talk about headaches, sugar-crash, feeling hung over, extremely tired/sleepy etc, thankfully I had none of that at least not to that extreme. There were days I was little more tired than usual but that's pretty normal. I was able to do my usual workouts and daily activities with no problem.
Looking back at things and my personal experience with whole30, if you are someone who eat relatively healthy on most days of the week, you probably won't notice significant difference. Also, it is important to note that there are no large studies done to prove the effectiveness of whole30 when excluding beans/legumes, grains, dairy etc besides anecdotal reports. It could be beneficial for people with unresolved allergies/intolerance to find out what is bothering their system. For anyone with sugar dependence, or who eats a lot of processed food - whole30 could be a great lifestyle change. I don't know how vegetarians/vegan will thrive on this diet, I know I could not do it. There are 1000's of people who reported great benefits being on whole30 but I was definitely not one of them. It is a well-known fact that sugar, all-purpose flour, processed food and chemicals are not the greatest for us but in my opinion instead of restricting isn't the answer. It's important to work towards building a healthier relationship with food to practice 'everything moderation including moderation' & achieve a balance between mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health!
If anyone is thinking on starting whole30, or have additional questions, feel free to email me. Also, don't forget to check out Arman's and Amy's whole30 experience.
...now can we please talk about chicken kebabs? I made them four times within the last two weeks and I am already craving for more. Kebab is ubiquitous in all cultures although the type of meat used, the shape of kebab, and how its prepared varies. This is my take on chicken kebab that is juicy, flavorful and can be made within an hour on your grill pan (or outdoor grill). If chicken is not your thing, head over to Spicy Black Beans Kebab or Vegetarian Kebab.
Easy Chicken Kebabs + My thoughts on Whole 30
Author: Dixya @Food, Pleasure, and Health
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon cumin seed
1 lbs ground chicken
8 oz mushroom, washed and very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small piece of ginger, minced
1 red jalapeno, finely chopped ( or use green chili)
2 heaping tablespoon chopped mint
2 heaping tablespoon chopped cilantro (may use parsley)
1 tablespoon neutral oil + more for grilling
In a small pan over medium-high heat, toast cumin and coriander seed until its fragrant and starts popping. Remove from heat and use mortal and pestle to crush them together.
In a large bowl combine all of the above ingredients and mix them well.
Line a large tray with parchment paper. Shape the kebab mixture into small balls and flatten them just a little bit. Arrange them on a tray and freeze it for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a grill pan (or outdoor grill) and brush it with little oil over medium-high heat. Cook kebab for 2-3 minutes on one side, brush it then gently flip on the other side. Continue cooking until it is cooked on both sides and oil it as needed. It should take about 8-10 minutes.
Arrange it on the platter with sliced onions, herbs such as cilantro, mint, lemon slices etc and serve it hot.
Cooking Notes:[br]- Freezing them for 10-15 minutes helps keep them together; all four times, not even a single kebab fell apart.[br]- While grilling the kebab, do not press them with an spatula as it oozes all the juices out leaving your kebab dry. Let it cook slowly over medium heat.[br]- I highly recommend toasting and crushing the whole spices using mortal and pestle, do not grind them into a powder though.
It can be enjoyed alone as an appetizer, over a salad, with grains, or made into a sandwich or wrap. They can be made in advance and frozen for later use or can be made and reheated the next day.
In case you were wondering what I will break my whole30 with ? Banana bread breakfast cookies are waiting for me.
Have you done whole30? or followed any diet? I'd love to hear your thoughts.