Greetings from the Whole 30 vortex! Between the freezing weather and starting the program, the past seven days have been quite Whole 30-centric. I’m hoping that as we continue trucking along through the program, the food part will become second-nature and I’ll be back to focusing mainly on, you know, life.
After a December of truly naughty eating (i.e. Christmas cookies for breakfast with my coffee), I decided I wanted to come back to the Whole 30 for a few reasons. One reason being to stabilize my energy and moods by cutting out added sugar. Another reason being to just fill myself and the baby up on nutritious food after indulging in so many sweets, treats, pizza, restaurant food, etc. over the holidays. And lastly, redemption! I attempted the Whole 30 about a year and a half ago, made it halfway through and never got to really feeling all of the benefits of completing the entire program. So here I am! I’ve made it through day 7 and am beginning day 8 with my coffee that is black (like my soul) but also with a dash of hope.
I’m not going to get into detail about what the Whole 30 is. You can read about it here, but chances are, you already know someone who is doing it and won’t shut up about it (like myself right now). In a nutshell, it’s 30 days eliminating added sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, legumes and alcohol from your system and instead eating all of the fruits, veggies, and protein that you can tolerate. And then you slowly and systematically reintroduce the foods that you’ve cut out and figure out how they affect you, if you have any sensitivities that may have been overlooked before, etc.
Translation: No bread, chocolate, or cheese. Or cream in my coffee. For 30 days.
At least I knew I could really slay the no-alcohol part this time.
It sounds rough. It is rough. A big part of the program is about examining your relationship with food and establishing healthy habits which means different things for different people. I have no desire to banish bread, chocolate, and cheese permanently from my life. No freaking way. But. I want to learn how to eat one or two slices of pizza, and not feel like I have to consume the entire pie. Or have a reasonable serving size of birthday cake and not licking the plate. It’s always been my party trick that I can eat SO much and seemingly be unaffected weight-wise. And it’s definitely not healthy. I’m 30 and having my third baby and I would love if I could develop a more balanced mind-set when it comes to food, not only to be taking care of myself but to set a good example for our kids. Beside, The Whole 30 promises that after you’ve made it halfway or so through the program, you will feel tiger blood coursing through your veins. I currently have what would probably be the equivalent of pigeon blood so there’s that.
Here are a few of the meals I’ve made this week:
Mango chicken salad
Beef burgers with homemade ketchup and portabella mushroom “buns.”
Chicken breaded with almond flour, homemade tomato sauce, and spaghetti squash
And the finale to our week. Pork carnitas with cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, fajita vegetables, salsa, and guacamole. (If this appears to be an attempt to fill the Chipotle burrito bowl-shaped hole in my heart, you would be right.)
Honestly, these were all very tasty and satisfying meals and I’m excited to keep on coming up with new ideas for this upcoming week.
Having been unsuccessful completing this in the past, there were things I was able to take from my experience to make this go-around better and get myself off to a successful start.
1. Clearing out the non-compliant food before the program begins. The week prior to beginning the Whole 30, we stopped buying non-compliant food. So once we ran out of bread, butter, yogurt, etc., it did not get replaced. This helped ease us into the program a little more.
2. True meal planning and food prepping. On Fridays we’ve done the grocery shopping and on Sundays I’ve made ahead several staples (prepped fruit, chicken, breakfast potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and a few sauces). Anything you can do to save yourself time, energy, and brainpower that first week is majorly helpful. I already cook a lot in general, so for this was really a matter of just not using cheese or any jarred sauces or dressings.
Week one prep
3. Finding support. Last time I did this, it was just me and my cookbook. It was lonely. This time I have several friends and family members participating (including Joe who is along for the ride) who I’ve been able to reach out to for support. This has made a big difference. It feels great to not only receive encouragement, but to give it as well! And thank you again to my bestie for talking me off a ledge on dark day and convincing me to NOT eat the girls’ gingerbread houses.
4. Having a plan/bringing your own food. I don’t know what the most common scenarios are for people who go off-plan, but I’m guessing it usually has to do when you are out of your house, hungry, and without compliant food options. We haven’t been out and about much this week, but bringing our own food along is key to not getting derailed. We also got invited over for dinner at Joe’s sister’s house, and bless their hearts, they made us a Whole 30 compliant venison stew. I don’t know that most people are going to be quite so accommodating, but I felt like that day was such a big win!
5. Following the rules. Again, in my previous attempt at the Whole 30, I remember sneaking a couple bites of the kids’ food and eating a few chocolate-covered raisins that were in our pantry. The rules are pretty strict in that once you cheat, you start again from the beginning. Which is extreme, I know. And I know lots of other meal plans/diets figure out ways to accommodate cheat days and cheat meals which I think can lead people into obsessing about their upcoming cheats and trying to make the most out of them. So The Whole 30 does not give you cheating as an option. Personally, I feel once I let allow a bite of off-plan food here and there, it adds up and I don’t know how and where to stop. So this time, I’m trying to take it one day at a time, one meal at a time, and one bite at a time and getting through it without a single cheat-bite.
I’m hoping if I stick to it and have a positive experience, I’ll be posting in a few weeks about completing it! If you made it to the end, thanks for reading!