Clean January

I usually manage to quit eating so much chocolate after Christmas, but as a general rule I’ve never had any serious success at a real diet overhaul as a New Year’s Resolution. I quit making those resolutions years ago. But for some reason, hearing Amy and Holly write about doing Whole 30 in January really put a bug in my brain this year and I decided to do a month of clean eating in January.

The idea behind the Whole 30 plan is a 30-day program is intended to be a “nutritional reset”. Briefly, on the Whole 30 plan, you may not eat any of the following for 30 days:

  • All grains including oats, rice, wheat, barley, millet, buckwheat, and corn. I find this overly restrictive and unhealthy.
  • All legumes including beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, and peanuts. I also find this overly restrictive and unhealthy.
  • All forms of sugar and sweeteners including honey, maple syrup and agave.
  • All forms of dairy with the exception of clarified butter (ghee)
  • Carrageenan, MSG, or any sulfites.
  • Any alcohol
  • White potatoes

I couldn’t quite get on board with all of this; it primarily seems concerning to eliminate all grains and legumes entirely. As well, I find eliminating all forms of sweetener to be overly restrictive. But the idea was still there to do a 30 day “cleanse” utilizing real, whole foods and so I decided to do a modified Whole 30. What I really want is to eliminate the foods that are actually a problem in my diet for long enough to stop craving them regularly, so that I can then reintroduce them on an occasional basis. So here’s what my plan looks like for the month:

  • No grains until dinner
  • No pasta, white rice, bread or “pastry” type desserts such as donuts, muffins, danishes, cake or pie
  • No white sugar or artificial sweeteners (i.e. Stevia, aspartame, Sweet ‘N Low). Natural sweeteners such as honey & agave are okay in small quantities for tea and salad dressings.
  • No dairy, with the exception of goat cheese, low fat milk, and small amounts of butter.
  • No coffee. One caffeinated tea on work mornings is ok.
  • No alcohol
  • No chocolate
  • Small amounts of oil okay for cooking and salad dressings
  • Lots of lean protein such as fish, poultry and eggs
  • As much fruit & vegetables as my little heart desires
  • Drink mostly water
  • Legumes, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and non-caffeinated tea all okay

I started on the first of the month by weighing myself to get a starting point. Here’s an embarrassing picture I never thought I’d post on the internet:

Starting weight. Image source: my own!

Starting weight. Image source: my own!

I’ve been struggling in a major way with my weight for the last two years. A lot of it is related to physical limitations with exercise due to my herniated disc, but a lot of it is also related to my diet. I’ve been hovering between 180-185 lbs for the last two years and have had very real trouble getting and staying under 180 lbs. I am determined to do it this month and never see that number again on the scale.

The biggest food items I struggle to eliminate usually are sweet baked goods, sugar in just about any form, cream in my coffee (heck I even named my blog after this one!), and cheese. Though I do love them, I don’t consume enough healthy complex grains and vegetables. So my personal 30 day clean eating plan directly addresses these specific food issues and will hopefully create some much healthier habits for me.

I’ve stuck to this regime with only 1 real slip-up this week: I made quickie butternut squash pasta the night I’d been planning to make chili, because my roommate had a date over and was watching a movie with him. My clattering of pots & pans while cooking up a storm would have been loud and distracting, and I would have felt like a jerk! So far I am down almost 2 full pounds in only 6 days. I’ve been more conscious of what I put into my body, more connected to my food, and more motivated to move my body. And the weirdest experience: I have had absolutely no trouble eliminating sugar, but I have had a recurring craving for wine, of all things! What the heck?! This is unprecedented! Watch Clean January transform me from having a wicked sweet tooth into a wino instead.

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8 thoughts on “Clean January

  1. Julia

    That sounds awesome Laura! I really like that you’re focusing on the stuff that’s a problem for YOU instead of just blindly following a program that might work for someone else. Can’t wait to hear how the rest of the month goes!
    Fatcityfit.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. Magalie

    Your version sounds way better than the original! Talk about not being able to eat anything… Regarding the wine though, there is a lot of sugar in alcohol, so maybe your sweet tooth is still around! All the best, this is amazing 🙂

    Reply
    1. A Little Coffee Post author

      Haha yes true Maggie. It’s just a super weird craving for me, I never crave alcohol EVER… sugar/carb cravings usually manifest in the form of wanting brownies or some sort of sweet fruit pastry or muffin. The wine craving seems to have passed, and I’m still not craving sugary carbs very much. But I would probably do really inappropriate things for a plate of pasta and cheese right now. I like simple carbs too much for my own good… I have been enjoying quinoa and barley recently though so maybe there’s hope for me yet!

      Reply
  3. Caryn

    I am sooo proud of you! I love that you posted the scale. YOU CAN DO IT! I am doing something similar- I just started the eating clean lifestyle. So if we’re both still at it in May at BiSC, we’ll at least have each other!

    Reply
    1. A Little Coffee Post author

      Awesome Caryn! I don’t expect I’ll be doing it as strictly on vacation but I am really hoping I can make healthy eating into a more consistent habit over the long term so the whole trip won’t be one long pizza and dessert fest! Nice to have a salad buddy to hang out with.

      Reply
  4. Kelly L.

    I first heard about Whole 30 not long ago, and while it sounds like a great idea in theory (man, I’d love to reboot my system and feel better!), it sounds… really hard. Like REALLY hard. And somewhat impractical. I like your version better.

    Reply
    1. A Little Coffee Post author

      I get that they say if you have even one granule of sugar it ruins the whole thing, but I’m not sure I really believe in a “system reboot” honestly. At least not for me… I’m not low on energy, I’m not overly stressed, I get enough sleep, the only physical side effect I have from the way I usually eat is that I have trouble losing weight (which I should do) but that’s to be expected because, well duh. What I need is to break some habits and patterns, which is mental. I need to stop reaching for carbs + cheese as auto-pilot food and having a muffin or pastry as a normal snack. So I think, if you really think about what *you* want to accomplish rather than sticking within the parameters of a plan that’s already out there, you’ll come up with the plan that actually makes sense for you.

      And I also think that if you decided to do Whole 30 for a month, and you slipped up once or twice, then holy crap! You did 28 days of perfect clean eating! Probably a massive improvement, right?

      Reply

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