As I read the blog series about Carol Venclik’s journey with the Engine 2 Diet, and her awesome success with it, I kept seeing emphasis on whole grains. If I’d read that during my first week of Whole30, I would have wondered why I was trying this crazy diet that cuts out delicious grains when I could be trying Engine 2 and indulging in them!
But since I have completed an entire Whole30, knowing how it makes me feel to drop grains, I just kept thinking how all those grains would make me feel… like I had lost control over my energy levels and my own body.
The argument against grain (including whole grains) in Whole30 is multifold, but the most profound part for me is the disproportionate volume/carbohydrate ratio. It contributes to spikes and crashes in energy levels, which I experience quickly and dramatically.
The next thing that stands out in the Engine 2 Diet is the near total absence of animal proteins. I cannot imagine going back to a lifestyle without regular animal protein in my diet.
I’ve said it before, but I want to be clear: paleo does not mean that every meal is a meat-fest. My plates tend to be stuffed with vegetables, with a nice portion of high-quality meat squeezed in there (although some meals are vegetarian). In my mind, it is a plant-based diet, based on the proportion of foods I consume, by volume. With this perspective, there is actually an awful lot that proponents of Engine 2, Whole30 and other vegetarian/vegan diets can agree on.
As I moved through my Whole30, I realized that my mood and energy levels were stabilizing and even improving. I wondered if it was just a matter of adapting, and returning to where I was before the change, or if it was an actual improvement over how I’d felt beforehand.
I can tell you without a doubt that when I deviated from the diet after 30 days I didn’t feel completely awful but I felt noticeably sluggish and bloated. I was certain that eating this way made me feel better than I ever had. I’ve now been eating what I call a “paleo-informed” diet for about 6 months, and I cannot ever see going back. I use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from Whole30 and make choices that I enjoy and make me feel good. For instance, I had apple crisp this morning for breakfast, and it was delicious! My wife made it with coconut flour in order to minimize the amount of gluten and grains in it, and she cut the sugar down (so it actually tasted like apples, instead of syrup). This isn’t the way I would typically eat now, but since we were given a bucket of apples it was a nice treat.
I mentioned at the beginning that the Whole30 has changed my perspective and relationship with food. In my final entry, I will discuss this a little bit more, as well as some philosophical similarities that I believe a lot of “diets” share, including Engine 2 and Whole30.
Grain-free breakfast, snack or dessert treat recipes:
Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti made with almond and coconut flours
Grain-Free Apple Crisp with sprouted nuts and organic coconut