Blue Water Healthy Living
Perspectives

Are You Looking for a Healthy Food Plan that Really Works?

By Dennis Grimski

Originally Published on March 19, 2018

I have been overweight since my early 30s.  I am now retired and in my late 60s.  Up until age 30 I was never overweight because physical exercise (basketball, tennis, baseball) kept my weight down. But as work and family began to compete for my time, and as my hormones changed, the weight began to creep on.  In truth, I never learned how to eat healthy.  

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During the past 30 years, I have tried every diet plan under the sun and, sadly, all have failed.  In December, I was doing a Bible study on the book of Romans, and I felt the Lord challenge me to get serious about my health and, specifically, my diet.  At that time I was reading Romans 8, and the below Scripture verse is what impacted me:

Romans 8:5-6

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

This Scripture passage challenged me to get serious with my life.  I realized that food had become an addiction in my life, and, was, for me, sin.  I had realized I was using food to satiate my need to be fed, instead of God’s Word.  After prayer, and much research, I decided on a twofold approach to a new life plan for 2018:

  1. To engage in a bible study called: “The Lord’s Table,” where I am learning to turn to Jesus Christ instead of food to satiate my appetite when I feel like eating when I am not truly hungry; and 
  2. To engage in a new lifestyle eating plan called the “Whole30 Program.”       

This article is not about my new Spiritual walk. Instead, this article is solely about my personal experience using the diet plan called: Whole30. A plan that has been working wonders for my wife and myself.

Whole30 is a Paleo-style eating plan, but this program is much less flexible for 30 days.  The Whole30 program is a 30-day Paleo-style elimination diet that is built around whole natural foods, instead of refined and processed foods.  The Program is a 30 day guide to TOTAL HEALTH and FOOD FREEDOM.   

But before you jump into this program for the sole purpose of losing weight, know this: At its core, Whole30 is an eating program focused on helping you to eat more healthy and to feel your best; it is not a weight loss plan, per se. There is no calorie counting, no “exchanges” “replacements” or “point counting.”  On this program people are only advised to step on the scale at the start and at the end of the 30-day program.  

With this said, in my opinion, if you follow the plan’s guidelines you just might lose weight. Plenty of people who try Whole30 end up losing significant weight during the 30-day program. Myself, I lost 20 lbs. after only 30 days of following the plan. My wife lost 14 lbs., in 30 days, and she wasn’t much overweight.  Moreover, I have already lost an additional 10 lbs in February, but we are now following a more flexible Paleo-eating plan after our 30 days on the plan.

The overall benefit of Whole30 program, however, is not weight loss.  Instead, its goal is to help you develop a healthy eating lifestyle that will allow you to have long-term health, and to obtain freedom from foods that negatively impact your body.  The Program encourages eating whole foods, which are foods in their most natural state.  Cutting out sugar means that you’ll probably end up avoiding empty calories from desserts, baked goods, and alcohol. You might also find that your stomach feels better as a result of avoiding highly processed packaged foods, which tend to be loaded with sodium and chemicals not needed (or desired) by your body. 

So, Dennis, how does the Program work?

Whole30 Program Synopsis

Those following the Whole30 diet give up sugar (including artificial sweeteners), grains, dairy, legumes, beans, rice, saturated fats/ refined and processed oils, peanuts, and alcohol for 30 days. Whew, sounds like a lot! In my opinion, after only 30 days you may have substantially reduced inflammation in your body.

The Whole30 program means the vast majority of packaged foods—from cookies to mayonnaise to most salad dressings—are out.  [Note: We have found non-sugar based mayo and salad dressings at Amazon.] Alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) are also out for 30 days.   Foods that are typically considered good-for-you – such as quinoa, cheese, hummus, and yogurt, are also out, because they all fall into one of the above restricted categories.  As you can quickly see, this plan is restrictive and, as such, may not be suited for everyone. 

Why so strict? According to the diet’s founders (Melissa & Dallas Hartwig),  these are the foods that are most likely to cause inflammation and cause gut damage that can make you sick or just leave you feeling bad. They’re also the foods that the founders say destabilize blood sugar levels and lead to cravings. Some of these food restrictions are not needed by everyone long term, and the Program has a method to reintroduce these restricted foods back into your diet after 30 days if they don’t negatively impact your functioning.  Regardless, in general, I have found limiting sugar, processed foods and alcohol was always a good idea for me. 

With sugar, grains, dairy, legumes and other stuff off-limits, here’s what you can eat under the plan:

  • Fresh fruits (unlimited);
  • Vegetables (unlimited; (but no corn [a grain], or peas [a legume])
  • Proteins, such as fish, poultry, beef, and pork (preferably grass-fed and organic).  [Note: If no sugar or nitrates are added by your local meat market, the category of meats can also include bacon, breakfast sausage, and other meats.  Just check with your butcher.]
  • Eggs (unlimited)
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil,  or ghee (for butter).
  • Nuts and nut butters, such as cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, and almond butter.  [Note: No peanuts because they’re considered a legume and not a nut.)

Why 30 days? That’s the amount of time it takes for your body to reset and start the healing process, the plan authors say. It’s also enough time to change your tastes and improve your relationship with food, so you naturally begin to prefer whole foods to their highly processed counterparts.   After the 30 days are up, you’re left with two options:

  • You can move on to a more long term eating plan like the Paleo Diet, which is very similar to Whole30, but offers much more flexibility for the long-term; or 
  • You can slowly reintroduce off-limits foods to see what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Of course, a month of clean eating isn’t enough to guarantee that you won’t boomerang back to your old ways. But it might be enough time to lay the foundation for new habits and reorient your taste buds toward healthier foods.  

Again, Whole30 is not a food plan for everyone.  But for my wife and I, it has been life changing.  After 30 days, we moved on to a Paleo eating plan, which is similar but more flexible (e.g. allows honey for sugar; allows some gluten free grains).  We also now exercise regularly, and we continue to lose weigh, all without being hungry.  Why, because we have learned to snack on healthy foods instead when we’re hungry at night. 

Eating out at restaurants on this plan takes planning, but can be done.  We have found numerous Whole30 friendly foods at local restaurants, including McDonalds (e.g. Egg McMuffin, no bun or cheese; Lettuce burgers with all the veggie trimmings).  

If you are serious about turning your eating habits into a healthier lifestyle, this plan may be worth checking out and giving a try.  After all, it’s only a 30-day investment. To start, I suggest first researching the plan online, or by buying one of authors many books.  After all, you are worth being the best you can be!

Starting Weight: 318 lbs.  (Jan 1, 2018)

Current Weight: 288 lbs.   (March 1, 2018)

Total Loss:           30 lbs. (60 days)

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Dennis is a 40+ year resident of the Blue Water area. He is a retired Executive Officer for two regional healthcare organizations; and was the CEO for his own successful Management Consulting firm. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from Western Michigan University; a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from WMU; and a Specialist Degree in Psychology/Behavior Modification from the UM. Dennis is a Christ-follower, husband, father, grandfather, and loves golf, board games, and discussing politics and religion. He is a leader in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF); disciples several men; and has been an Elder, children’s bible teacher, Sunday school teacher, Life Group leader, and Men’s ministry leader in his church.

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