NO to dairy. No grains of any kind. No legumes. No sugar. No alcohol. No white potatoes.
YES to vegetables, fruits, animal proteins (eggs, meat, poultry, & fish), nuts & seeds, and sweet potatoes.
I just finished seven days on this diet, inspired by the Whole30 movement. (They recommend doing it for 30 days to get the full benefit. I committed myself to 7 days, to try it out.) I'm somewhat surprised to report that I made it through the 7 days with no slip-ups. Here is what I learned:
I didn't feel hungry, because I was focused on eating the things I could eat, and I didn't restrict calories or even portion sizes. I just ate when I felt hungry, making sure that I was only eating foods that were allowed on my diet.
I lost about 6 pounds in 7 days, which sounds crazy. I'm sure it must be some weird effect of making a big change, and is not something I can count on staying off. Nevertheless, I'll take it, as a good jump start to a continued focus on more conscious and deliberate eating this spring.
I liked having a structure and set of rules to guide my meal choices. It was really helpful to make decisions based on something objective, rather than based on my mood, my cravings, or my location (i.e. like the time I found myself at an ice cream parlor with 9 people who were ALL eating ice cream.) It was good for me to prove to myself that I could do it.
Based on both cleanses I've tried over the past year (which were quite different, click here to read about the last one I tried), I would say that I'm a believer in using a specific plan to make diet changes for a specific period of time. I make no claim to support (or not) any specific cleanse, especially when it comes to their various claims and questionable science. But I do think it's helpful to practice being highly deliberate and disciplined in our food choices, while we break some habits and try out some new ones. Ultimately, I think that's the true benefit of doing programs like these.
So, now that I've achieved my goal of 7 days, I think it's time to make some modifications. I thought it was odd that the cleanse allowed caffeine, but outlawed legumes (examples: black beans, lentils, hummus). It allowed red meat, but no quinoa. Interesting, right? While fine for a short time, (and maybe even beneficial to "heal" the digestive system, as they claim???), I can't see the sense it in longer term. I've read too much about the dangers of red meat and too much about the benefits of legumes and certain whole grains. So....
Here's my modified plan for this week, which I think is more sustainable longer term, and also more consistent with what I believe to be a healthy diet.
- No sugar.
- No alcohol.
- No cheese. (But I'm bringing back limited dairy -- the splash of milk in my coffee, and plain greek yogurt.)
- No refined carbs (like bread, bagels, pasta).
- No red meat.
Feels good to have a plan. Wish me luck in sticking to it this week!