A real-world look at Dry January and the Whole30 program

I’m combining “Dry January” with Whole30 — a “clean eating” way of looking at your meals.

January got off to a rough start. On top of the post-holiday blues and bitter cold that sat on top of our city, I resolved to spend the month alcohol-free as well as carb, dairy, bean, sugar, soda, chocolate and everything-else-that’s-good-free. I’m combining “Dry January” with Whole30 — a “clean eating” way of looking at your meals.

Sure, the idea seemed great in the midst of the holiday bustle, when overindulgence is just part of the season. But, how would I feel mid-January when cold weather is at its peak and blankets, comfort food and a hot toddy make for the perfect night in?

The answer? Just fine! Seventeen days into the new year, I’m happy to report I don’t miss the stuff … much.  Sure, the craving for a chocolate chip cookie (my kryptonite) sneaks up on me every once in a while and a night out with girlfriends just isn’t the same without a cocktail in hand, but I know I’m doing a wealth of good for my body by resetting my system by cleaning up my diet.

“Going all-in with Whole30 and Dry January can be the drastic commitment that many need to find their healthy balance for life,” said Erin Wiedmar, clinical nutritionist, Norton Healthcare.

Wiedmar credits Whole30 and Dry January for setting people on the right track with their health at the start of the year. She sometimes recommends Whole30 to her patients in an effort to help eliminate added sugar to their diets, which she says can help with disease management, food cravings and addiction, weight control, mental health, inflammation and more.

Whole30 has allowed me to explore new ways of cooking that include a lot of coconut (who knew it is the perfect baking substitute for practically everything!) and dishes (literally, my dishwasher is running nonstop!) I’ve added color on top of nutrients to my diet when snacking on foods like avocados, blueberries and cherry tomatoes. And the perfect end to my night is now a nice, cold glass of cashew milk.

I’m already feeling the health benefits. My energy level is up — way up! I breeze by the 3 p.m. workday slump, when I usually would reach for a soda and chocolate bar. My gut health has improved by leaps and bounds (TMI?) and I feel more alert and on top of tasks. I’ve also noticed some weight loss although that wasn’t my intended goal. And, the weekends? Productivity is through the roof as I bounce out of bed earlier, feeling refreshed because I wasn’t out late filling up on food and drink. I’ve used the extra time to explore recipes that are more complex and to get ready for the workweek by planning and prepping meals.

I hope these habits stick once the 30-day commitment has expired. I’ve practiced time-restricted food changes before (hello, Lent!) and have quickly jumped off the bandwagon once the 40 days have ended.

Everyone can agree that it is easy to be committed to your health when the new year ticks over and you have a fresh start. However, food and drink habits are more about your sustained well-being. It’s not just something to do for the sake of saying you’re doing it. That realization is important for meaningful change.

And, while it’s a cliché, you really are what you eat! When you fuel your body with good, healthy foods, you feel so much better. When you fill your tank with junk, you are going to be puttering on empty much quicker.

Call me crazy, but clean eating is for me! Sure, I spend more time at night in my kitchen rather than on my couch catching up on the Real Housewives, but the payoff is well worth it. I hope to report back on a successful, cheat-free month of healthy eating and alcohol-free living! Wish me well!

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