Whole 30 – March Challenge

I dont know about you but I don’t mind a good group challenge. I have done a few 30 day squat challenges in the past and am currently doing a 30 day plank challenge. You can click here if you want to join . In addition, as a follow on from a nutrition seminar that Hilltop Crossfit held, they are running a group challenge to encourage members to make some improvements to their nutrition and stick with that change for a month. Click here if you want a list of suggested changes. I think this is a great idea and while I got into Paleo long before I got involved with Cross fit, plenty of people end up adapting a Paleo/real food diet after doing these challenges as they notice improvements in their energy levels and performance.
One goal that I set myself this year was to complete another Whole30 before June 2014. I completed my first Whole30 in April 2013, well technically (confession time), I cheated a little so attempted would be a better word. A couple of days in the first 2 weeks I had a small amount of honey in black tea, were talking approx 1/4 of a teaspoon and according to the ‘rule book’ this means I should have started over. Guilt aside, it was my first attempt and I was proud of myself for giving it ago and despite my ‘cheats’, I experienced plenty of benefits. I am excited for round 2 and am committed to being 100% compliant this time and besides I no longer have black tea with honey anyway. I figure that blogging my experience is bound to keep me honest so prepare for my site to be taken over with Whole30 approved recipes and photos of meals.
My plan was to do the Whole30 from the 20th Jan to 20th Feb (between my birthday and a weekend away with friends), but right in the middle will be a catered camp where I can’t guarantee what will be added to all food. I have let the caterers know that I am gluten free, dairy free and limit sugar however I don’t want to question everything. So my new date will be from the 1st to 30th (or even the 31st) of March.
If your interested in joining me or want to know more about it read on…

What is the Whole30? The whole30 is a program designed by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, authors of It Starts With Food. Simply speaking, it is following strict Paleo for 30 days however being that there is no ONE paleo diet, Dallas & Melissa clear up some of the grey areas around things sometimes included like potatoes, white rice, paleo treats and natural sweeteners. The Whole30 cuts out problematic foods with the aim of letting the body heal, and improving energy levels, digestion, skin issues, allergies and more that may be a result of the foods we are eating.
What to include: Meat, seafood, eggs, some fruit, lots of vegetables, herbs, spices and good fats from oils, nuts and seeds. The best option is to choose foods without a nutritional label, or with very few added ingredients. Food quality is important but don’t be too concerned for now if you can’t get organic, grass fed, pastured or free range.
What to avoid:
  • Sugar of any kind including honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar as well as the obvious sucrose, agave nectar, stevia and artificial sweeteners. Make sure you check labels carefully as there are many different names for sugar and it may be added to the most unexpected products.
  • Alcohol (even in cooking)
  • Grains including wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, sprouted grains and pseudo grains (quinoa). Again its important to read food labels as grains as often used as a main ingredient or in small amounts as a thickener.
  • Legumes: all beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts (yes they are a legume) and all soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu, etc).
  • Dairy except for clarified butter or ghee. Milk, cream, cheese, conventional butter, kefir and yoghurt from cows, goats or sheep are all out.
  • White potatoes are often associated with chips and fries as well as raising insulin levels, so for the purpose of changing habits, potatoes are best avoided during the whole 30.
  • Any processed foods containing carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
  • Paleo-fied baked goods and desserts. Because the program aims to breaking bad habits, its best to change the habits completely instead of replicating junk food with paleo approved ingredients. Some examples are banana egg pancakes, flour less brownies and coconut milk ice cream.
  • The scales: Not food related but for the duration of the program take a break from weighing or measuring yourself. There are plenty of other ways to measure your health and heres an extensive list http://whole30.com/2012/08/new-health-scale/ 
The exceptions:
  • Clarified butter or ghee: acceptable because the milk proteins and sugar (lactose) have been removed
  • Fruit juice as a sweetener: small amounts of fruit juice used in products or recipes as a sweetener is allowed but try and keep it minimal.
  • Certain legumes: green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas are all fine.
  • Vinegar: most types of vinegar (white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine and rice) are allowed unless they contain gluten (malt vinegar) or have added sugar and vegetable oils.
  • Cocoa or cacao: in small amounts this can be added to meals as a spice/seasoning.
30 days… Thats all, sure you can extend it if you like but first commit 100% to the full 30 days. No cheats, slip ups, special occasions or “just one bite” of this or that otherwise you risk experiencing the full benefits and as the rules say, should start again at day 1. Chances are it won’t be easy but there are plenty of guides and resources on the the Whole9 website  to help and there are plenty of books and websites to find delicious Whole30 approved recipes.
For the official Whole30 Program, a detailed step by step guide to starting and some tough love, click hereBut for now I’ll leave you with a little encouragement from Dallas and Melissa Hartwig themselves.
“You can do this. You’ve come too far to back out now. You want to do this. You need to do this. And we believe that you can do this. So stop thinking about it, and start doing. Right now, this very minute, tell someone that you are starting the Whole30.”

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