Life After Whole30: What Reintroduction Is Really Like

Life After Whole30

So far, we have been successful at staying Whole30 at home and it doesn’t even take extra effort anymore. The Whole30 way of eating has become just a natural part of our everyday, and while that’s something we can cheer about, what’s even more exciting is that we’ve been able to stick to Whole30 compliant while traveling, road tripping, and dining out.

Since wrapping up Whole30 Round Two:

  • We took the family out to lunch to celebrate my daughter’s eight grade promotion and transition to high school next year.
  • We took a three day, family road trip to see Dead And Company play two nights in Mountain View at Shoreline Amphitheater.
  • Brian and I spent a long weekend in Boulder to see Dead And Company play two shows at Folsom Field.
  • We visited friends in San Marcos for five days and ate out an several awesome restaurants!

Whole30 While Dining Out

Natalie’s promotion ceremony was in the morning, so we went out to lunch afterward. She wanted a burger, fries, and a milkshake, so we opted for Smash Burger. Everyone got exactly what they wanted. Brian ordered a grilled chicken sandwich (no cheese, no bun) and veggie frites. I ordered a large burger with bacon and avocado (no cheese, no bun) and fries. No, restaurant fries aren’t Whole30 compliant when following the strict rules. But now that we’re adapting the Whole30 rules to real life and long-term, sustainable, healthy eating, we’re allowing french fries, as long as it’s only every once in a while because they just make me happy.

For our road trip to the bay area, we stayed at an Embassy Suites that included breakfast, so we had made to order omelets packed with veggies and breakfast potatoes to start off our days. We ate at restaurants for lunch while out exploring and visiting museums like the Computer History Museum, The Tech Museum of Innovation, Mission Santa Clara, the NASA Ames Exploration Center, and Stanford University. For dinner, we packed an ice chest with food and mixed nuts and RxBars, for a parking lot meal before heading into the concert each night.

When eating out, we’ve found that pubs and burger joints are the easiest places to eat and stay close to Whole30. Ordering a chicken sandwich or burger without a bun is so much more simple than trying to ask for a bunch of menu item modifications elsewhere. Plus, the kids always love those restaurants. Carter even had a Bavarian Pretzel that was larger than his entire head! I did bring an RxBar into the stadium, which was awesome… but there were also food trucks and one night Brian and I had some incredible chicken tacos on corn tortillas.

While in Colorado, we had to eat out for every meal. It isn’t ideal, but it’s real life. We slept in late enough in the mornings, that we just ate an RxBar and some mixed nuts in the car on the way to whatever we were exploring first that day, like Dinosaur Ridge or the Flatirons. We ate lunch and dinner at breweries and pubs at the 16th Street Mall in Denver and the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. We both had fantastic salmon tacos with a cabbage slaw, waffle fries dipped in salsa, and burgers and chicken sandwiches sans the buns.

While in San Marcos, we ate out several times. We ate at some incredible restaurants, including Campfire, Sublime Ale House, and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill. I did go off plan with some incredible desserts, but for every other meal, I was able to stay very close to the Whole30 way of eating. I made breakfast every morning, so we had eggs and lots of veggies to kick off our day. And when eating out, I ordered things like burgers with no bun and stuck to sides of vegetables and fresh salads.

Identifying Problem Foods

Not everything since ending our strict Whole30 rounds has been positive. Now that I am slowly reincorporating some foods, I am definitely identifying some major food sensitivities.

  • I ate Orange Chicken, which is breaded, from Panda Express and about 12 hours later had digestive issues.
  • I ate a pizza with vegan cheese at Blaze Pizza for lunch, and that night my guts were not at all happy.
  • I ate a burger with the bun, and a few hours later felt bloated and gross.

I know I have no issues with gluten based on tests my doctor has done previously, but based on the above and some other foods I have tried, I am discovering that I have a sensitivity to wheat. In fact, this may actually explain why, after cutting out dairy, I was still plagued with the same symptoms, but in a more sporadic manner.

Needless to say, I’ll be minimizing my intake of wheat from here on out.

I’ve also noticed that when eating anything with added sugar, I feel wonky and tired afterward. I ate dessert and some candy on vacation and didn’t like the way I felt afterward. Also, I made some delicious Instant Pot shredded chicken with normal barbecue sauce because we were out of the Tessemae’s BBQ Sauce (and they’re ALWAYS sold out), and I didn’t feel quite right later. No digestive issues, but just a sugar crash about 20 minutes after the meal.

We’ll also be continuing to avoid added sugars.

I also noticed that after a few weeks, I slowly began slipping back into some of my old eating habits. Not fully, and not terribly, but enough that I began to feel a bit more sluggish and a bit more bloated all the time. So, out of curiosity, I adjusted my diet to stay Paleo for a while and began to feel great again — just like I felt during Whole30.

One of the biggest keys to staying successful post-Whole30 has been continuing to shop as if we’re doing Whole30.

You are what you eat, and you tend to eat what you buy. So if you only buy the good stuff, you’ll only eat the good stuff.

The Paleo Way

By grocery shopping as if we’re in the middle of Whole30, it’s easy to eat healthy and make good food choices every day at home. It also allows us to be a little more lax when we go out with friends.

For example:

  • We no longer drink at home, so a glass of wine or a beer or two while out with friends or out on a date night isn’t a big deal. The bonus side effect is that we both feel buzzed sooner, which means overall we drink less when we do drink.
  • No desserts at home. We avoid added sugar at home and allow no cheats at home — and we’re home most of time — so that means when we do dine out, and there is a dairy-free dessert option available, I feel no guilt indulging.

We’re Staying Paleo

Whole30 is insanely strict and it is because Whole30 is not a diet and its not a long term lifestyle. It’s a temporary reset. A Paleo lifestyle is very similar to Whole30 — eat low on the food chain — but more relaxed, and frankly more realistic.

I’m still learning about the Paleo lifestyle and what it all entails, as this isn’t an overnight transition, but the basics are:

  • Eat whole unprocessed foods, leafy greens, fresh pesticide-free vegetables, nuts, fruits on occasion, grass-fed meat, pastured free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish.
  • Move your body every day and get exercise.

The biggest difference is that while Whole30 has rules against recreating baked goods, Paleo doesn’t. So technically cauliflower pizza crust is not allowed on Whole30, but allowed in the Paleo diet. And I want to try that cauliflower crust! Not because I love pizza — but because I’d like more variety in how I eat my vegetables.

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