*Be warned, this is an incredibly long and somewhat tedious entry. It’s probably only interesting to anyone that has done the Whole 30 program, or is interested in doing it! I’m not offended if you don’t fall into one of those categories!
So, August 26th (purposefully coincided with the first day of school), our family embarked on a new way of life. We jumped on the Whole 30 bandwagon! I knew it would be great if Trey did it with me, for the accountability, but I knew it had a lot better chance of success if the whole family did it together.
The Whole 30 plan is basically eating paleo (or more specifically eating the way our ancestors did before farming and industrialization. I keep telling the kids, and myself, that it’s eating food the way God created it. Without the chemicals, sugars, and preservatives that we put in our food these days). A big part of it, for me, has been retraining my taste buds to enjoy and appreciate what’s natural: realizing that raisins and peaches are sweet. That nuts do taste buttery. It’s definitely forcing all of us to rethink what we put in our bodies.
One of the first things the authors tell you (and it’s a great book by the way; a good balance of science, common sense, and sound advice) is to ask yourself, “is what I’m eating making me more healthy or less healthy?” I’m honest enough with myself to admit that I can be lazy and I have a husband that loves me and thinks I’m attractive no matter what the scale says, so I had definitely been primarily eating food, for years, that was making me less healthy.
Once the entire family was on board (kicking and screaming) it was an easy decision to make… not necessarily an easy decision to follow through on! Haha!
This is a cookbook I found. Honestly, I haven’t used it much because the recipes are a little fancy for my boring (and somewhat childish) taste buds, but I have gotten some great ideas from it!
I will say that eating paleo in our culture requires strict budgeting and planning. It just does. Because almost all of your ingredients are fresh, you have to plan around that. My biggest challenge was breakfast. Ummm, eggs and bacon anyone? How about eggs and sausage? I know! How about eggs and… But, again it was retraining our minds to realize that healthy, nutritious foods can be eaten any time! Our second breakfast was baked sweet potatoes with bananas and almonds. And it was delicious!
Here are pictures from my first Whole 30 grocery run…
This is the first thing I’ve ever done (I don’t want to say diet, because I really want this to be a lifestyle), where I’m not miserably hungry! That’s my favorite part. Every meal, I eat until I’m full. Every meal has protein, veggies, and fruit. Every. Meal.
Our typical breakfast is eggs with veggies (spinach, asparagus, etc.) mixed in and a side of fruit. I’m usually really not hungry again until lunch. I have mastered my lunch salad and I love it! I make my own balsamic dressing, top it with diced chicken and pumpkin seeds (excellent source of protein and a great ‘crunch’ instead of croutons) and voila! Yummy and filling!
On the way to get the kids, usually around 3 or 3:30 I have a snack. It’s some form of trail mix. This is one of those areas where I trained my taste buds! I didn’t think I liked almonds or coconut or raisins. But I do! I feel like such a grown up.
Dinner is the most fun for me. Again, it takes planning and a lot of cooking. I’m cooking a lot more than I was before we started the Whole 30. One of our first dinners was steak, mushrooms, and sauteed summer squash. What’s not to love there?
One part of the program is that good fats are okay. So, we swapped out butter for coconut oil and ghee. I also started saving our bacon fat (something I thought I’d never do!). That’s it in the mug. It adds so much flavor to whatever it is I’m cooking. Plus, I hate waste, so win win!
Here’s a picture of the guacamole I made (using my mortar and pestle, thank you very much!). It was delicious! I’m not gonna lie… I’d love to know what it tastes like on chips. But, in the meantime, it is pretty dang amazing on carrots!
The ghee and coconut milk (pictured above) are great alternatives to using dairy. Technically, ghee comes from cows, but all of the dairy is removed from it, so it’s paleo friendly. The coconut milk I just add in to our eggs. It’s not something I’m ready to drink a big glass of yet.
The first day or two were pretty easy. I think it was the excitement of getting started. Days three and four were pretty hard as my body detoxed from all that sugar and stuff.
My biggest praise for this program is that it has expanded our horizons. All of us. The kids enjoy a peach as dessert now. A snack of nuts and raisins tastes yummy and tides me over. The biggest problem has been the money aspect and living in a small town. We don’t have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to run to. So, I’ve had to learn to adjust to that. And I’ve had to cut some corners. The kids will eat frozen sweet potato fries (not paleo, but still better than white potatoes) and cake at birthday parties. And it has definitely not been an easy battle. We’re having to talk to them through a lot of meals. But, they’ve done great all in all.
There have definitely been some struggles along the way. We are going through fruits, veggies, and eggs like never before! This may sound silly, but I’ve had to realize that since we’re eating eggs most mornings for breakfast we’re going through a lot more than a dozen a week. And that’s okay. We’re not eating out, and we’re not spending money on a bunch of processed stuff, so it’s okay if I spend it in the produce section. Some things I have noticed? I’m sleepy at night and falling asleep earlier than I have for years (bedtime before the program: 11:30-12:30, bedtime now: 10-10:30). I’m more awake in the mornings even though I’ve had to give up coffee altogether because I just can’t stomach it without cream. I’m going to give it another shot with almond milk, because coconut milk just wasn’t doing it for me. ***Update: Almond milk for the win! Thanks Heather, for the suggestion! My skin is looking better, not as red. I’m not sure, but I think my clothes are fitting just a wee bit better. I have another mild headache today, but not too bad. I’ve also had to accept the fact that we are not wealthy and I just can’t be as strict as the authors of the book would like me to be. For example, they make their own olive oil mayo. Olive oil is not cheap. So, I bought the olive oil mayo at the grocery store. It has some of the “bad” oils. I’m tempted to see that as a failure, but I’ve had to talk myself into believing that it’s okay! Our food is 99% healthier than it was 8 days ago (as Trey keeps encouraging me).
Here’s a bowl of chili I made, per Trey’s request, earlier in the week. No beans, added some zucchini and yummy! I think my guacamole would’ve been amazing on it, so I’ll have to try that next time it’s chili night.
I seem to have adjusted to the fact that I need to buy and prepare more food, finally. A trip to Winco in Idaho Falls really helped with that, this past weekend. I had heard that prices are crazy cheap there and it’s true. Winco is kind of like a cross between Costco and Aldi. Bulk prices, no frills, but a lot of name brands. I was enjoying my trip through the produce and had definitely noticed better prices, but when I reached the nuts and raisins aisle I almost wet my pants! HUGE bins of every kind of “healthy” nut that is encouraged in the Whole 30 program and the prices were outrageous. I went crazy! I stocked up on almonds, pistachios, cashews, raisins, and dried apple slices (my new favorite snack). I can’t wait to go back!
I’ve also begun the process of coming out of the Whole 30 closet. I, personally, have been very put off by other people and their attempts to eat healthier and work out more, constantly posting about it on Facebook. So, I intentionally kept it close to the chest so I’m not inundating people with this change in our family. However, it’s coming up more and more. The book warns about mixed responses from friends and loved ones and they were RIGHT ON! Some people have been uber-supportive and encouraging, others have made fun of us and told us we were torturing our children, most don’t really care. So, that’s been interesting. I definitely wish I understood the science behind it better (it all makes so much sense when I’m reading the book), but I just kind of smile and nod and explain how much better I’m feeling.
I have to say I’m really proud of myself, Trey, and the kids. They are eating a much wider variety of foods than before. Trey has gotten on board and been so supportive of me and patient with the kids as he explains the whole program to them. He’s also gone down a belt size! I am amazed at how my body is on a strict schedule now. It never has been. I wake up at 6:30 ready to take on the day. I have energy all day until bedtime. Around 8:30 I start to slow down and by 10 I’m ready for lights out! My jeans are definitely fitting better too.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have cravings. It’s definitely been easy for me to say “no” to a lot of food. But, food was such an emotional crutch for so long that it’s a hard cycle to break. The other day I passed my driver’s test (second time’s always a charm for me… also actually reading the manual probably helped) and all I wanted was to run to Oddfellow’s and grab a pastry as a reward. I didn’t! But, it was tempting.
Today my children ate eggs and bacon with raspberries for breakfast (before we started the Whole 30 program, Sean was the only child that would eat eggs), and asked for more. My friend Ellen and I went to Oddfellow’s Bakery and Junkyard Bistro (she had to taste some of Salmon’s best!). At Oddfellow’s I drank a cup of Earl Grey and learned that they can make a latte with almond milk (yay). At Junkyard, I ordered their famous garlic burger with a side salad (no tomato soup) and I ate it without the bun. Learning that I can enjoy some of my favorite restaurants was huge for me (I’m a little nervous for when I’m set free in to the “real world” in a couple of weeks)! At dinner, the kids all ate spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce. I’d say it was a very successful and encouraging day. One of my favorite outcomes of this Whole 30 program is that the kids’ horizons have expanded with what they’re eating! Success!
Today I realized a couple of things. I was standing at the checkout line in the grocery store. I saw the M&M’s and realized that 2 and a half weeks ago I would’ve snatched those up and saved them up for a midnight snack. While I won’t say the temptation wasn’t there a little, it was easy to pass up. I also realized that I’m not missing my midnight snack like I did at first. I’m perfectly satisfied with a cup of herbal tea before bed (and I can’t believe that’s possible). Another thing I realized is that a sweet potato is like my favorite treat right now. After a long day, that was how I treated myself! That’s so alien to me (usually it’s Ben and Jerry’s). Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite breakfasts now too. A little bit of ghee, chopped up banana, and some almonds for protein and I’m more than full! Yum!
So, I never mentioned this on these days, but days 16 and 17 of the program were kind of funny. I was insanely thirsty. Like, unquenchable! My mouth was crazy dry and felt like I’d been in a desert for a week, no matter how much water I drank. I finally googled it and sure enough, thirst is a side effect of the Whole 30 program. Apparently, the more protein you eat (a lot more for me) the more water you’re supposed to drink. Well, it seems to have balanced itself out and I did start drinking more water. Day 17 I made 9 loaves of zucchini bread and didn’t even taste a bite. That was hard! Day 18 was Charli’s birthday party and again I didn’t even taste a bite of that cake. And it looked so good. I also ate a sweet potato instead of pizza, like everyone else!
I did wrap up the cake and freeze it today to be enjoyed in a couple of weeks! I continue to be amazed by how much I’m enjoying nuts and raisins. And I don’t feel guilty after eating them! My taste buds have completely adjusted to almond milk in my coffee and I doubt I will go back to dairy after it’s over. Success! Today, I made my second run to Winco. It’s like Christmas for me. Those bins of insanely cheap dried apples and pistachios just make me swoon. I realized while we were there that I could grind my own almond butter! This has become one of the boys’ favorite treats. They love to dip apples in it. But, it’s so stinking expensive (literally $12/jar). But at Winco I could grind it myself for $6/lb! Woohoo!
I took one more picture at Winco today. I just love looking at the food we’re eating now. I feel proud at the cash register. I know that what I’m feeding our family right now is completely healthy. That’s a good feeling. It makes me happy to open the refrigerator and see all of the colors.
Tonight’s dinner was fun. I used chicken stock (that I’ve been making myself, thank you very much) and made turkey meatballs. Once I added the spinach, it was a yummy soup. I used almond flour for the first time in the meatballs. It seemed to work (and taste) just fine!
Today was discouraging for some reason. Partly because in some ways I feel like I should have washboard abs after just 20 days. I know that seems silly (especially since I’m not working out at all), but I feel like I should be noticeably thinner by now! Logically, I know that I have a long way to go and this doesn’t happen overnight and that my clothes are already fitting a lot better. It’s just one of those days, I guess. I think all women have them. The other part of my frustration today was just poor planning. Usually on Sundays our big meal is at lunchtime and then we have a light dinner. Today, it got away from me and we had a light lunch and then I was at a loss for dinner. I came really close to giving up (on behalf of the kids) and fixing them some cereal that’s waiting for us to be out of the Whole 30. Really close. But, then I looked in our cabinet and saw all of those nuts, raisins, and seeds, and decided that they could do trail mix, instead. They got some protein and nutrients that way, which they would not have gotten from honey nut cheerios. Trey and I had some of the leftover soup from last night, so we were fine. But, I didn’t eat enough so then I was hungry at bedtime (something I haven’t been in 20 days). So, now I’m lying in bed eating dried apple slices and cashews. Again, I have to remind myself that this is better than M&M’s or chocolate chip cookies or birthday cake. But, I still feel like a bit of a failure today. Tomorrow is a new day!
Less than one week. I’m really getting more scared about being released into the “real world.” I don’t want to be like a kid let loose in a candy store, but I also don’t want to be so obsessed with the whole thing that I feel guilty over a little treat. I still can’t believe we’ve done as well as we have these past three weeks. It’s gone by super fast in some ways, and in others it feels so natural now, as if this is how we’ve always eaten. I realized yesterday, that some things will be easy for me to continue to forgo.. the bun on the hamburger? I don’t really miss it. Walking into Oddfellows and not buying a pastry? That’s another story altogether! But, I feel like the book prepares you really well for life after the Whole30 and I’ve seen so many benefits that I don’t think we’ll go back to where we were.
One funny side effect that I haven’t mentioned has been restless legs! I’ve had restless legs sporadically over the last few years, but since we started the Whole 30, I’ve had them nearly every day! I finally googled it and it’s not uncommon. So, I’m going to take some magnesium (allowed) and hope that helps. It seemed to help some people on the forum that I read.
The other thing I keep meaning to mention is that since we started we have not wasted one vegetable or one fruit! Before, I’d buy fruits and veggies at the store very optimistically. But, when it came down to it, we’d end up eating all of the other junk and forgo the produce. Then, a couple of weeks later I’d throw out the rotted produce (that kind of waste makes me batty). Not any more! If I buy it, we eat it. That’s a good feeling!
Just a couple of thoughts today…
#1- Not all almond milks are created equal.
I saw the Organic label and thought “yay!” But OMG ewwww. Not for me. And my coffee is pretty dang important to me. So, I ran to Saveway yesterday and got the Blue Diamond. Who knew two of the same product could taste so different?
#2- Please forgive this picture. I know it really doesn’t look all that appetizing, but it was so, so, so good! I made chili last night for dinner. SEAN made the guacamole to go on top. He did an amazing job! It tasted so good. And, I didn’t even miss my cheese and sour cream! Win win!
So, today I committed a major Whole 30 sin… and I’m totally okay with it. They are really big on you not eating in front of the TV. You should sit and savor each bite. Talk to your family. Make memories.
For the most part, we have done just that! We are having breakfast together every single morning and it’s a great way to start the day. It’s one of my favorite changes as a family. Before we started the Whole 30, Madeline and Sean would get up and fix a baggie of dry cereal for the kids (wow, that’s embarrassing to admit now) and I’d stagger in and fix my coffee while they ate their baggies of cereal in front of the TV. Finally, a few hours later, I’d eat some cereal or oatmeal. Now, every morning we’re all up and at em and I’m preparing a hot breakfast every day.
And since we’re not driving through eating fast food or stopping to grab pastries from Odd Fellows and soup from Junkyard Bistro, we’re eating all of our dinners together at the table and even most of our lunches (those of us that are not in school).
But, today I cheated. And it was fun. I was watching Persuasion (sighhh) and decided to just go for it. But again, instead of plopping in front of the TV and eating an ungodly amount of junk, I ate a wonderful and filling salad for lunch.
It was a pretty great way to cheat, if you ask me…
Trey and I have just been talking about what life post- Whole 30 will look like. We’ve agreed that it will look a lot like it has the past month. We will continue to fix nutritious, whole foods at home and enjoy ourselves if we’re out or at a party. We think that’s pretty reasonable and easy to maintain.
I’m getting nervous about weighing myself. Part of me is really curious and the other part of me is scared that I didn’t lose nearly as much as I think I did. I’m sure Trey will tell me that doesn’t matter and we’re all healthier from this past month, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not a fear of mine.
I still can’t believe I did this. Me! I never thought I had it in me!
It. Is. Finished. Except (and not to sound too corny here), it’s just the beginning! We survived the 30 days. We didn’t just survive them, though… we thrived in them! I’m so proud of the whole family. There’s a whole re-entry process for reintroducing food you haven’t eaten in the past month. I’m not quite ready to start that, but I am looking forward to pizza with friends on Saturday night!
I weighed myself at the clinic this morning. I have to confess that I didn’t weigh right before I started the program, but I’d been at the same weight for the past few years. This morning I was 12 pounds lighter than that! 12 pounds in one month? Very exciting and encouraging to continue.
I would recommend the book/program to anyone! At the very least, it’s an interesting experiment. It’s changed our lives for sure. Feel free to ask me questions. I’m not an expert, obviously, but I can give you some tips I’ve learned the past month. I can encourage you those first few days when your body is detoxing and those later days when you wonder if it’s doing any good! I can testify to the transformation.
And when you see me, please feel free to gently remind me and hold me accountable for this!