Since being in Ghana I’ve really struggled with eating healthily. If you know anything about Ghanaian cuisine it’s mostly centred around starch. Starch and some more starch. So combined with my work schedule…blah blah *insert other excuses* I fell into the trap of eating what was convenient and naturally not always the healthiest.
So as I was trawling through Instagram I came across 2 Ghanaian ladies doing the Whole 30 challenge. I was intrigued.
So what is the Whole 30 challenge? (Taken from their website)
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health. The most important reason to keep reading?
This will change your life.
We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. We know this because we did it, and tens of thousands of people have done it since, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion. (Need convincing? Just read some of our stunning testimonials.)
Yes: Eat real food.
Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.
No: Avoid for 30 days.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
- Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
All the necessary info to take part is free. You don’t have to buy any nutrition packets or supplements or anything. Plus they also have some really helpful forums where you can ask questions til your heart is content.
The biggest challenge for me was the sugar (big sweet tooth), alcohol (no wine :-(), no grains (no oats, eku egbeemii, hausa koko, no rice, no bulgar wheat, no pasta – even brown?!). The rest didn’t really affect me, dairy makes me want to vom.
I’m on day 21 and going strong. So far I feel fantastic, my energy levels have increased, I feel lighter and I just feel better. It’s difficult to explain but when you’re only putting healthy wholesome food in your body you just feel your best. I’m not even craving bread or rice believe it or not. Naturally when the 30 days are up I will of course have bread, rice and pasta again during my lifetime but it will be limited. I would definitely recommend trying the programme. It’s given me a new level of discipline. And it’s also made me realise that Haribos are evil. Below are some examples of what I’ve been eating. I’m not really consistent in my picture taking. Some other stuff I eat include yams, sweet potato, grilled chicken breast, more fish, more salad etc.
Boiled ripe plantain and spinach stew.
Grilled tilapia, kontonmire and salad with meko (onions, tomatoes and peppers)
Phillipo’s grilled tilapia and homemade salad!
Scrambled eggs, red onions and tomato with black pepper.
Pan fried beef fillet steak (seasoned with ground fresh herbs, black pepper and garlic) in extra virgin olive oil and a cucumber salad.
Beetroot. carrot, apple and ginger smoothie. Divine.
Egg salad for breakfast.
My fake Spanish omelette – eggs, red onion, sweet potato chunks, a few strips of the pan fried beef from last night’s dinner and salad!