*WARNING - this is loooong*
WHAT IS IT?
Soooo, Whole 30. Everyone at work keeps saying, "are you still on your weird diet?" The last time I went to the pub I had water. But I haven't had any sugar, dairy, grains, legumes or sulphites for seven days and I'm feeling pretty good (you can read more about the whole thing here). If you know me and how much I love food, and love going out for dinner, you will know this is a real challenge (the pictures are from my friend Suze's birthday party, which conveniently was the night before I started, so I could bid my favourite pizza place the fond farewell it deserved).
WHY AM I BOTHERING?
But why am I bothering to do it, especially over a 15-day stretch at work, and when I have no time for food prep? Well, I'll tell you. I joined a gym recently, inspired by No Zero Days (click on the top post and read it - pretty inspirational stuff, but the short and short of it is, stop whining, start going after your goal in whatever big or small way you can, read more, exercise more, eat better).
I had definitely been in a rut exercise-wise (I was loving Wonder Woman Workshops UK's classes but they only fit with my unpredictable schedule sporadically, and I wasn't doing enough in between). I joined Charlton Lido, largely because they have an outdoor pool and a sun terrace and decent yoga and pilates classes. However, going to Wonder Woman is such an education in terms of training, diet and general good living that I keep seeing Suze and Kirsty's instagram posts and being inspired by them (they're @wonderwomanworkshopsuk and @cavegirlkitchen if you want to follow them - they're based around Greenwich/Blackheath).
I saw from their blog that they were doing Whole 30, and researched it more but thought it sounded a bit strict. I mean, I didn't even eat paleo before this. I bumped into them once in work and I thought they were a more interesting spot than Tom Daley (who lives nearby) because I was really curious about what they eat. And they don't eat sugar, full stop. I, on the other hand, if I've had a long day at work, would easily devour a whole bag of chocolate buttons on the journey home then still have ice cream for dessert. And on really long stressful days, a brownie for second breakfast, after my usual raisin cinnamon bagel with salty butter (man I do miss those a bit).
With this awful sugar habit in mind, and the fact that I was caning it at the gym but not really feeling much different, I thought nutrition was probably the issue, and the reason I often felt tired, moody and drained. I was also drinking three very strong coffees a day (like, double-espresso-strong) which I've cut down to one every second day (no milk? no problem). Whole 30 is like a reset, after which you re-introduce everything you've cut out (to a point) and find out the impact it has on you. You know how sometimes after a plate of pancakes or a huge pizza you feel really bloated and awful? You don't feel like that EVER on Whole 30, and it's really satisfying that everything you're eating is really good for you.
James and I recently booked a holiday to New York in November too, and we want to save up for it - which is easier when you're not going out for dinner all the time (seriously, we were out like twice a week). I won't know if it's made a difference to my weight until the end - you're not allowed to weigh yourself until the very end, but I started at 66kg (which is overweight for my height, according to my BMI, though BMI is nonsense - I certainly could stand to be a bit leaner though.
HOW IT'S GOING (on day 7)
So far, I've surprised myself by missing cheese much, much more than chocolate. Especially melted cheese - oh man I love that stuff. I've been getting reasonable sleeps, waking up earlier and generally having a lot more energy to get things done - I've been staying focussed all day at work, and my productivity is better despite having a massive workload this week and next.
Things that I wouldn't classify as sweet have started to taste sweet to me (nut butters, brocolli, tomatoes) and I've been finding creative ways to eat eggs where I can't really taste them (thank you @cleaneatingalice on Instagram and Paleo Parents for this geniousness).
I feel slimmer, and don't feel bloated at all - we went running after pancakes on Saturday and I beat my 5k time by 2 whole minutes, which is a big deal for me! Despite spending more on groceries, my bank account hasn't suffered at all because we're not eating out so I've been able to buy new work clothes and a new handbag instead (thank you also to packed lunches in this instance).
As a nice gesture, for everyone eating normally, I will make you a wee list at the end of this of the best places to go and eat in London (why should we all suffer eh?) But first:
Buy lots of tupperware - you're gonna need it.
Cook large batches so you have tons to eat all the time - this makes life MUCH easier, and starts to make you see food as fuel, which I like - it's not so much "what am I eating?" as "what is this doing for me?"
Take a little packet of nuts in your bag - for those days when you don't get out of work on time.
ALWAYS REMEMBER that if you quit you need to start again - there, that should focus you. I don't want to do a whole37, and also, it's only 30 DAYS. It's not really that long.
IF YOU'RE STILL READING...
Here are some places to go for lunch/dinner if you're not doing Whole 30. Luckily I've been so many times that I give them to you without longing or regret in my heart (except Red Cow Carvery - oh, their melted cheese...)
Homeslice in Neal's Yard - a total hidden gem, nice and cheap, and the best pizza in town.
Red Cow Carvery @ Greenwich Market - roast beef, melted cheddar, what more do you need to know? Best savoury food in the market.
The Scullery in Blackheath - beautiful buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup.
Bounty Slice from the big orange bakery stall, Greenwich Market - to die for.
Cinnamon Roll from the Italian bakery, Greenwich Market - the biggest, softest and squishiest around.
Flatbreads from Mike and Ollie, and candied bacon burgers from Motherflipper, @ Brockley Market
(you can see we eat a lot of street food...)
Bianco in Greenwich for delicious Italian food
Decent chains worthy of a mention: Byron (burgers), Wahaca (Mexican), Busaba (Thai).
Brasserie Zedel near Piccadilly for excellent service, great food and a bargain pre-theate menu.
If you ARE doing Whole 30 - Cau in Blackheath is the best at working around your needs, so head there if you still want to go out for your tea.
Phew! You made it to the end! I will update you on how my Whole 30 is going soon - back to googling "no-egg whole 30 breakfasts" for now...