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The Extreme Diet I Would Do Again — & Again

But, all that fervor serves a purpose: to get you to on board, completely and fully. Because, once you start, nothing is to interfere with you and Whole30. There is no tasting or testing or trying “just one” of something. A zero-tolerance policy is in effect. If you do slip up, you’re supposed to go back to day one. Because — and this is what no one will tell you up-front — Whole30 is actually a high-stakes game of Chutes and Ladders.

Shira Lenchewski, an NYC/L.A.-based nutritionist, says there are benefits to a back-to-basics diet like Whole30, but she questions its restrictive nature. “When clients are looking to jump-start a healthy routine,” she explains, “I often recommend eliminating inflammatory foods: added sugar (which often creeps in as evaporated cane juice), gluten, and refined carbohydrates (like white potatoes and white rice), alcohol, and processed food. I don’t, on the other hand, recommend giving up legumes, Greek yogurt and yogurt cheese, or gluten-free whole grains like certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, and brown rice.” None of these, however, are permitted during Whole30.

Luckily, the better your diet, the easier the transition to Whole30. Or, at least that’s what its site tells you. I was still off gluten when I began, but I had slipped back into sugar. And, in my days leading up to Whole30, anything could (and did) happen: chocolate, ice cream, frosting on a fork — my own little sugar rumspringa, before I took my virtuous-eating vows. And for that I paid.

It was like babysitting a two-year-old at first. Every other minute, I had to tell myself “no.” No, I could not touch those chocolate-covered, salted almonds. No, I could not eat that gluten-free cereal. And, no, almond milk (which Whole30 considers “too processed,” unless you plan on making it yourself) does not make a latte okay. But, each day got easier, and by the end of the week I was in — a believer, a black-coffee drinker.

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