Weekend Whole 30 Breakfast: Mushroom/Avocado omelette with zucchini, potato and carrot hash and a side of marinara.
In January of this year I did my first Whole 30. It was a definite change for me. It was difficult at times but overall easier than I thought it might be. I also managed to lose around 7 pounds, but I never felt hungry. Mostly I felt very proud of myself and I had more energy, eating the right foods and drinking less alcohol will do that for you. My sister had already done it several times and my brother did it with me. It was very helpful to have support to get through and share recipes. I know I will do it again when I fall back into worse habits, but it really has changed my diet and outlook for the better.
What is Whole 30?
Zoodles with mushrooms and artichoke hearts and basic marinara. I didn’t even miss the pasta!
Whole 30 is a 30-day reset for your diet, where you are not allowed to eat grains, legumes, carrageenan, MSG, fake sugar, alcohol or dairy for 30 days. Then you reintroduce those things back into your diet to see if there are some items that trigger you or make you feel worse than normal. Sometimes, though we are not allergic, certain foods can trigger a negative reaction in your body. On Whole 30 the dietary restrictions forced me to eat healthier, many more salads, sandwiches with lettuce instead of bread, zoodles instead of spaghetti, roasted fish, etc. What I was not expecting, was how well Whole 30 would tie into sustainability.
Whole 30 makes you mindful of all the ingredients in packaged or canned foods alike. Because I ran into issues with so many additives or added sugar in ketchup, barbecue sauce, and even some marinara, I began to make things myself or look for items that did not include restricted ingredients. When I found items that were Whole 30 compliant, they were often labeled Organic.
The USDA defines organic: “Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity in accordance with the USDA organic regulations. This means that organic operations must maintain or enhance soil and water quality, while also conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”
Organic is basically food or any items that are produced with efforts to maintain sustainable farmlands, food and water. Whole 30 made me aware, that this also usually means less ingredients and additives whose names I can’t pronounce. Eating without additives led me to buying organic. This practice has continued long after Whole 30. Whole 30 created a habit of reading labels and choosing products that have less items that I can’t pronounce. Not only has it made my diet healthier (I still indulge in non-compliant products), it has made my diet more sustainable.
Whole 30 led me to choose a sustainably caught tuna. I had no idea that most canned tuna in water also contains soybean oil! The compliant tuna that I found was Wild Planet. They sell it as Costco and it is pole and troll caught and contains no added water or oil. You take it out of the can and stir it, no draining required. It is sourced in appropriate places in the ocean and caught using the best practice methods advocated by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Guide.
During my Whole 30, I ate a ton of fruits and vegetables. Even after my Whole 30, I eat more fruit and vegetables than I did before. Because I was eating more fruits and vegetables and using my mesh produce bags, I cut down packaging waste on my diet immensely. Going back to basics, making my own mayo, ranch and using less ingredients, significantly reduced my plastic waste. Whole 30 proved to me that recipes with fewer ingredients, that required less packaging because the ingredients were fresh, are healthier and delicious. I did not realize that making some of the products I buy would be as easy as it was. Guacamole? SO Easy and so good homemade! Eating fresh ingredients over packaged food with additives decreases the need for packaging waste. It really is a win-win.
Eliminating Dairy and Sugar
I had already cut down on dairy after becoming a pescatarian, but in Whole 30, you are not allowed to have it. Other than cheese, I didn’t miss it. We know that products from livestock are unsustainable, that is why I had cut meat from my diet in the first place.
I never knew how much I could do without sugar. Whole 30 helped me realize that I really do love the taste of coffee. A little almond creamer or pea protein milk is all that I usually use now in my coffee. I never would have known or come to appreciate it without giving it up for a time. After Whole 30, everything tasted sweet. Even Ketchup tasted so sweet. I began looking for items that were lower in sugar. Production of sugarcane has certainly led to a decrease in biodiversity, is a very thirsty crop, and is often responsible for polluting fresh water in many places where it has been grown. Practices are getting better, but I believe eating less sugar is more sustainable. The added benefits are less packaging and a healthier diet.
Whole 30 was a great diet to improve mindfulness and sustainability in my life. It wasn’t always easy, but many of the practices have stayed with me. I highly recommend trying it, at least once. Have you tried Whole 30? Did it bring permanent changes to your life. I’d love to hear about your experience.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/ USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. (2016).The National Organic Program. Washington, DC: USDA accessed at https://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/about-national-organic-program on April 20, 2018.