Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WHOLE 30 DONE! (kind of)

Yes!  I finished it!  Woohoo!  The last week of Whole 30 was difficult.  We had employee campaign events at work that all involved food.  I made it through a whole day at the office smelling caramel brownies. (Yes, I took one home and put it in the freezer.)  I made it through a weekend at the lake with family where one breakfast included waffles and sticky buns.  As in, that's it.  (I brought my own food.)  My reflections below are of the program/month as a whole.

My family did not do the Whole30 with me.  I didn't cook separate meals for them, but I did cook extra food for them for dinner.  For example, I sometimes made rice/pasta/grain for them and just did not eat it myself.  Overall though, I think their consumption of these foods went down because I do the majority of the meal planning/cooking in our house.

However, Whole30 is a huge pain in the ass in terms of meal prep and planning.  Prior to Whole30, I regularly planned meals a week in advance and we ate at home the majority of the time so I didn't really think this would be a big deal.  I was wrong.  Whole30 added a lot of prep work to our meals.  When days went smoothly - I got out of work on time, picked the kids up and they were playing blissfully without fighting while I prepared the meal - it was fine.  When days did not go smoothly, getting food on the table was stressful.  I will concede that I could have done much more prep work at night after my kids were in bed, and I did do that sometimes, but then I felt like my whole night was centered around food.  I also had to do way more grocery shopping mid-week, which is not something I would do pre-Whole30 because I would run out of food that was compliant.  (We went through almost 4 dozen eggs/week.)  I do think that over time, this would even out a little.  My daily schedule was also a bit off from making breakfast.  Previously I would put some oatmeal in a container and make that at work for breakfast.  During May, I made eggs every morning which made me get to work about 15-20 minutes later than usual, which meant I was getting home later, and circle back to the beginning of this paragraph.

I generally avoided going out to eat during May, although Pre-Whole 30 we generally took the kids out once a week.  My family was not a fan of the going out to eat ban, and frankly, neither was I.  We ended up going out to eat twice during the month, as part of larger family get togethers.  It was ok, but I guarantee during those times I probably inadvertently ate some oil that was not Whole30 compliant.

I have commented before that I didn't like how food basically dictated my month.  I felt like I was constantly thinking about what I was going to eat for my next meal.  Part of this is likely personality driven.  I tried to follow all of the Whole30 rules to a T.  In the interest of full transparency, there are two instances where I unknowingly cheated:

1) Nate wanted to make bacon for me for Mother's Day.  I read all of the ingredients of the varieties of bacon at Woodmans (A TON) and picked a Nueske's variety that I thought was compliant.  I ate that bacon up!  The next time I went to buy it, I couldn't remember the exact variety so I grabbed the package that looked familiar and scanned the ingredients.  There it was. "less than 2% solution includes sugar".  Shit.  The next pack of bacon I bought was the Pedersen's variety from Whole Foods (which is not our regular grocery store).

2) We had a salsa and guacamole competition to raise money for employee campaign at work.  I wanted to participate so I taste tested the varieties with a spoon rather than with a tortilla chip.  Thought I was all good.  There ended up being corn in one of the guacamoles.  Sue me.

Finally, I am so.sick. of eating meat at nearly every meal.  Also, Whole30 compliant brats are so far from being a real brat.  My 2 yo son is a bit of a brat connoisseur and he spit them out. #truth

I blabbed enough about this but most of my oral allergies have not been symptomatic while on Whole 30.  I am planning on eating these foods while introducing food groups during the reintroduction phase to see if any one group of foods (legumes, gluten free grains, dairy, gluten) trigger the allergy.  Today I ate strawberries on peanut butter and had no reaction so it appears that legumes are ok.

After my first week, I really felt like it was impossible to be a runner and do Whole 30.  I don't think that is the case, after figuring out proportions of fat, protein and carbs that worked for me.  Caveat - I am not doing any marathon training right now, so I don't know if I would feel the same then.  (My mileage has been in the 20s per week.) However, I do know plenty of paleo distance athletes!

I do not know this for a fact because I do not own a scale, but I did not lose any weight on Whole 30. I lost some during the first week because that was when I was primarily only eating vegetables and wasn't doing enough protein and fat.  At this time, none of my clothes fit differently, which is usually my weight barometer.  I even wore some tight pants today and they fit me as they always have!

The Good
Ok, so thus far I have made Whole30 sound pretty awful, which isn't my intention.  However, I think the sensationalism of "whole30 changed my life" just did not ring true to me. I did not notice any difference in my energy levels.  I ended up sleeping more on Whole30 than previous - feeling tired around 9 PM and dragging myself out of bed at 6 AM (early morning runs were pretty nonexistant!) My motivation to do Whole30 was a big science experiment to see if I could stop taking acne medications that made me feel awful by making some dietary modifications.  In that regard, I see Whole30 as a success, even if I don't find a certain trigger food in the reintroduction.  My face is far from entirely clear, but it is better even compared to when I was taking two medications a day and putting prescription cream on my face every night.

I don't recall feeling that uncomfortable stuffed from eating feeling all month, but I wasn't bloat free.

Protein!  Aside from all of the have-nots, the biggest dietary change for me was eating tons of protein and I really liked it, particularly for breakfast.  Learning how to incorporate protein + fat into EVERY meal was a big positive of this program (which was mostly from reading It Starts With Food).

Cooking!  Yes, I couldn't fall back on all of my reliable weeknight meals, however there were several meals that I was used to making that were Whole30 compliant and I did enjoy branching out a bit and trying new things and new methods of cooking. Some things, like zucchini noodles, I will keep making because I love them and don't feel that true pasta is necessary in all situations.  Others, like cauliflower pizza crust, may not be in the heavy rotation, unless gluten ends up causing me symptoms.  There are other things that I didn't really miss.  I bought organic grass fed, yadda yadda butter to make clarified butter at the beginning of the month.  I haven't made it yet and haven't entirely missed butter.  I think this is because foods that I normally associate with butter were not Whole30 compliant (e.g., popcorn).

Grocery bills.  Ok.  There was that $15 rotisserie chicken.  Overall, though, I didn't find Whole30 to cause any significant increase in our grocery store bills.  The biggest difference in our grocery shopping habits is that we did not enter the middle of the grocery store.  Ever.  It was kind of exciting.

The Food!
People's first comment when they hear about Whole30 is, "I could never do that." Indeed, this was my own comment last year when I first found out that my SIL was doing it.  Maybe it is some of the Whole30 "tough love" rubbing off on me, but really anyone can do this.  It is challenging, it does take a lot of pre-planning, and there are some moments when you're like "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN I EAT A COOKIE" but overall, as the website says, you aren't curing cancer.  And really, everything I ate in the past month has been YUM-O (with the exception of those Whole30 compliant brats.  Eesh.)  I found it really helpful to add a few paleo/Whole30 instagram accounts to my feed to keep me motivated and provide new ideas as well as some blogs.

At the beginning of the month, I kept a food diary because I was going to report on everything I ate.  That was beginning to make me feel even more like food was controlling my life, though, so I stopped.  Here is generally what I ate, in case you are curious:

I had eggs for breakfast every day.  I varied how I would make them to avoid from getting bored. Before I started Whole30, I was pretty egg obsessed and even after eating dozens of them in the past month, I still love them.  I even ate them for dinner sometimes!  I would often have 3 over easy eggs on top of leftover roasted veggies from the previous night's dinner.  Or, I would scramble them with other veggies.  One night we had a fritatta for dinner so I had that for breakfast the next day.  On rare occasions, I would eat 3 eggs with meat - I recall doing this with the adobo pork I made because I loved it so much.  Often I would cut up 1/2 avocado to include with the egg/veggie combo.  Sometimes, I ate 4 eggs.

I started eating only 2 eggs at breakfast and would be so hungry before lunch.  Once I added an egg, that was better.

I really loved these breakfasts and by the time I got the hang of it (and added more food), I didn't feel the need to have a mid-morning snack anymore.

I also had 16 oz of coffee, blended with a TB or two of coconut oil every day.  This was a habit I got into mid-February after trying to reduce dairy consumption.  (Coconut oil replaced half and half for me.)

Lunch was mostly leftovers from the previous night, which is what I was having for lunch pre-Whole30.  I love the Whole 30 hamburgers with mushrooms, onions, avocado and peppers on top.  I also love this fennel chicken on top of salad greens with hardboiled egg, tomato, cucumber, and avocado with the basil dressing mentioned in the recipe.  I would often have fruit with lunch in addition and more veggies.  I had a salad every day too with homemade dressing - either olive oil or avocado oil with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and salt & pepper.  Also, I had a lot of cream of broccoli or cream of butternut squash soup made with coconut milk (both recipes from the Whole 30 Cookbook).

I often had a handful of nuts (macademia, almonds or cashews) when I got home while making dinner.  If it was really bad, I would also have a few dried apricots or dehydrated apples with the nuts.  I was always really hungry when I got home, which wasn't a previous snacking time for me.  However, before Whole30 I always had 2 or 3 afternoon snacks at work, which I cut out this month.

While dinner was often stressful to make, we ate some yummy food. Here are some of the meals we ate in the past month:

1.  Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Ginger Sauce from Whole30 cookbook

2. Baja Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa (modified a recipe from Fresh20) and lettuce cups for the taco shell

3.  Crock Pot Carnitas:
serve in lettuce wraps topped with guac - YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I made these twice in the month.  Loved them!

4. The aforementioned Basil Chicken - also made this a few times

5. Cold Thai Salad with Shrimp https://www.pinterest.com/pin/90353536252901502/

6.  Tilapia Puttanesca with green beans

7.  Burgers on grill - used portabella mushroom caps for bun topped with peppers, avocado and onions - made these often

8.  Salmon with Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes

9.  Rotisserie chicken on top of zucchini and yellow squash garlic zoodles

10.  Zucchini noodles with Romesco Sauce and Shrimp

11.  Salmon with salsa and roasted potatoes

12.  Green Bay Packers Fritatta (I named it that so my kids would eat it) - just sauteed yellow pepper, mushroom and asparagus in a fritatta with italian seasoning and garlic - and Pederson's Bacon

13.  Cauliflower Pizza Crust with veggies (*Admittedly this lacks protein.)

14. Chicken, Broccoli and Carrot Stir Fry with Sesame Seeds - use coconut aminos and sesame seed oil as the sauce.  I ate without rice, but the fam ate on top of rice.

15. Cauliflower rice with salmon and roasted veggies

16.  Chicken meatballs with zucchini noodles.  Not providing the recipe because these were not that good.

17.  Sweet potato and ground beef and onion hash

18.  Grilled flank steak with grilled zucchini and red potatoes - another one that we ate a few times!

19. Garlic Zucchini noodles with over easy eggs on top and roasted sweet potatoes

20. Pheasant Poppers - Nate's Uncle made these and they were yummy!  A chunk of pheasant meat and a slice of jalapeno on a toothpick, wrapped in bacon and roasted in the oven.  Everyone else ate them dipped in ranch dressing :)

Because I was doing this to see if any foods trigger acne, I am going to do the reintroduction that is outlined in the book.  What does this mean? Basically I have 10 more days of Whole 30.  

Day 1 (Today):  Eat Whole 30 + add in legumes

Day 2: Eat Whole 30

Day 3: Eat Whole 30

Day 4:  Eat whole 30 + non-gluten grains (e.g., corn, rice, quinoa)

Day 5: Eat Whole 30

Day 6: Eat Whole 30

Day 7: Eat Whole 30 + dairy

Day 8: Eat Whole 30

Day 9: Eat whole 30

Day 10:  Eat Whole 30 + gluten

What does this mean for you dear reader?  MORE WHOLE30 POSTS! ha ha ha {evil laugh}.


  1. First of all, congrats on making it through! That sounds ridiculously tough. I seriously hope that anyone who is considering Whole30 finds your blog and reads this, because they will know exactly what they are getting themselves into. As a former ED sufferer, I understand how hard it is when you feel like you have to be so rigorous with your food! It can have an affect on other areas of your life. It sounds like you managed it really well, all while feeding a family and going to work and running! Yay! Now go have some cookies and ice cream!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I actually just read the chapter in your book where you begin talking about dieting and counting calories. I am enjoying the read so far!

  2. Congrats on entering the reintroduction phase! Bummer about the brats though. I guess I should try to avoid real brats so that I don't realize what's lacking in the WhoFo brats that I love ;)

    1. Thanks M! Thank you for all of the guidance you provided in the early days! I send you a photo via Instagram of the WhoFo brats I bought (Brat Hans brand) because I am curious about what brand you buy. All of my favorite brats that I typically buy have a small amount of sugar in the ingredients.