Dieting, productivity, and the Whole30

Many of you know I’ve been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for the past 3 months due to some mild GI problems I’ve suffered from since late 2011. Among other things, the SCD controls the types and quantities of certain difficult-to-digest carbohydrates that are common in the modern food supply.

SCD has been, in a word, amazing. I began seeing improvement in my symptoms almost immediately. My initial goal was to spend 90 days on the diet and evaluate at that point if I wanted to continue. Well, I hit my 90 days on Friday, January 9th and am still doing SCD. Not only have my symptoms improved, but I feel so incredible that I can’t imagine going back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) at this point. I wake up every morning with plenty of energy that lasts through the entire day. I’ve lost weight without even trying. And my productivity at work has soared.

This eating plan has been a big win. However, I’ve struggled to communicate with my friends about why I’m not eating the way they do any more. Part of this is a marketing problem. The SCD was developed by Elaine Gottschall and explained in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, published in 1994. Now I enjoyed reading her book, but it does have a lot of science in it and frankly, it makes the diet seem very complex. So it’s not a book I find myself recommending very often.

Not only does it present the SCD as being complex, it doesn’t describe just how darn amazing a person can feel by eating whole, unprocessed foods and focusing on healthy fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates. This is a shame since I didn’t realize how lousy I was feeling eating the SAD until I changed my diet.

Enter the Whole30. I recently finished reading It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig where they introduce a 30-day plan for eating whole, unprocessed foods. It’s essentially the SCD but with better marketing. Now this is a book I can recommend wholeheartedly! The authors do a great job explaining the science behind the Whole30 in an easy to understand way, and they go even further by describing the myriad benefits of eating this way. They also include plenty of practical advice about how to eat whole foods in a world where processed is the norm.

Now sure, there are foods like pizza and doughnuts that I find myself longing for at times. But the fact is, there is so much real food that I can eat that doesn’t make me feel lousy, and it’s downright delicious. I was never much of a cook and I worried about having to become one if I changed my diet, but this hasn’t been a problem either. It’s been fun learning a new skill, and it didn’t take long to come up with some basic dishes that I enjoy fixing on a regular basis.

Saturday has become my big cooking day. I do my shopping early in the morning, cook all my veggies for the week, and stick them in the fridge. I’m usually done by noon. Then all I have left to fix each evening is the meat. I fix a double portion which I use for dinner than night. Leftovers serve as lunch the next day. That way I’m only cooking once a day during the week (excluding breakfast but my breakfast lately has been Bulletproof Coffee which doesn’t require any cooking).

I can say without reservation that, after experiencing what it’s like to be on a whole foods diet, I will never go back to eating the SAD again. If you’re curious and want to experience these incredible results for yourself, I encourage you to at least read through the book once. You don’t have to follow the plan if it seems silly to you. But at least read the material. I guarantee you’ll learn something you never knew before.

Have you tried the Whole30 or a similar diet? How did it work for you? I’d enjoy hearing what your experience has been. Please feel free to leave a comment below.