A diet I never thought I’d go on has changed the way I eat

Published 4:23 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

When I was home for Easter in April, my two oldest sisters slammed down a huge tome onto the kitchen table and began pouring over the pages.

It was a diet book, some program called “Whole30” that was guaranteed to change the chemistry in your gut and cure all those food-related ailments that kept you from being the healthiest version of yourself.

For 30 days, the diet called for no sugar, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no nothing. Instead, your diet had to be centered around meat, veggies, fruit and… Well, that’s about it.

My sisters followed through with the program to great results. One sister has an array of stomach issues, and she said Whole30 eliminated virtually all of them. With nothing but lean, wholesome, fiber-rich food going in her stomach, she was able to feel healthier and more comfortable.

I wasn’t buying it. I laughed and proceeded to slurp down my milkshake. The laughing stopped when I couldn’t fit into some pants I needed to wear for an event. OK, maybe a diet was in order. That’s when my girlfriend mentioned Whole30. God bless her for doing that.

Come Sunday, she and I will have completed the Whole30 program. I’ve lost almost 10 pounds, feel less bloated and have a handful of delicious recipes on hand I never would have tried otherwise. The biggest change, though, comes in how I choose what I eat.

First and foremost, this program’s strict guidelines forces you to check and re-check food labels. Sugar is in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It’s actually kind of frightening just how much food we eat that is cooked with the stuff.

That realization probably would never have dawned on me if it weren’t for this diet. While I’ve had a few cheat meals (and holy cow were they satisfying), I’ve really fought every day to avoid artificial sugar—that is, what’s not naturally in the apples or watermelon I eat.

Those kinds of fruits became my go-to dessert. I prepared meals that were lean, flavorful and best of all, simple. Yes, they probably would have been tastier loaded with cheese and bread, but whereas before I couldn’t have a meal without those foods, I’ve learned to improvise and find healthier replacements.

Come Sunday, I fully plan to end Whole30 with a giant, unhealthy bang. The event will probably involve some of my favorite foods: ice cream, peanut butter, Italian bread drenched in olive oil and herbs—you get the idea. But the habits I’ve formed over the last four weeks will continue. I’m proud to say I haven’t had so much as a sip of soda or sweet tea in a month. Just water for me, thank you. That alone has made me feel cleaner than ever before. Other than for very special treats, I plan on keeping soda an indulgence of the past.