Updated: Aug 13
Hey, so it’s Day 21. I meant to blog every day about what was happening for me, but I quickly realized a) nobody would actually care and b) I was way too busy making food and doing dishes to sit down and write every day.
So, hats off to anyone who meticulously blogs their way through the Whole30, complete with artful pictures of all the amazing food they were eating. Not gonna happen over here.
The fact is, the food is frickin’ amazing. I would highly recommend Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom to anyone who is bored with their usual menu and looking for some easy and very delicious recipes, even if you don’t want to jump on the whole Whole30 bandwagon.
I learned so much in the first few days of using this book. How to prepare foods, cooking techniques I’d never known about, and various hacks, like the mise-en-place, to make your cooking process less messy (I still have a ways to go on this front).
So far, I’m really happy with this little food experiment. I’m no longer hungry between meals and all of my food cravings are more or less gone. I don’t know if I’m losing weight (Whole30 says you can’t get on a scale during the 30 days), and I would like to be able to say the pounds are just melting off, but I don’t think they are.
I had a lot of vaguely upset stomach over the past three weeks, but for the last few days that has pretty much vanished, which is awesome. I think in my regular life I almost always feel kind of bloated and over-full, and I love NOT feeling that way.
I’ve adhered very strictly to the rules and made a bunch of the recipes in the book, almost all of which have been total winners. Homemade vinaigrette and homemade mayo are SO GOOD and so easy. I don’t ever want to eat that store-made crap again. Gotta love a diet that encourages mayo.
I think the hardest part was the first few days, when my coffee tasted so bitter and foul without my usual 2 tbsp cream and ¾ tsp sugar. I did have a lot of cravings at first, too. One day I was dying for a cookie, or piece of bread, or a family-size chocolate bar an hour or two after lunch. I went online for non-sugary snack ideas and learned potatoes were okay! I nuked a potato and ate it slathered with mayo (a legitimate snack, although not a top pick) and just about swooned. Those beautiful, compliant carbs just saved my day.
I’ve tried not to have any kind of sweet treat in response to a craving, although a couple of times I did snack on some raisins and cashews (just not when I was craving sweet stuff). This is nothing short of amazing, considering the amount of sugar and refined carbs I was pouring into myself every day before I started the plan.
The funny thing is, it turns out that sweet potatoes are really sweet! Even though they are one of the star foods of the Whole30, I feel almost guilty about eating them since they are like dessert to me now. Especially when I put a tiny bit of that shredded coconut on them…
I know, this sounds crazy.
Here’s another strange thing. I had lost interest in cooking before I started this plan. I have a picky eater, a starving teenage boy, a vegetarian, and myself to cook for, and it’s tiring trying to keep everyone fed.
We were so busy with our kids’ and our own activities almost every night and all weekend, too, and it’s kind of depressing to make food when people are literally just grabbing and going. I had no game anymore. It was all just tacos, burgers, quesadillas and pizza, plus cut veggies or a salad. Not that healthy. And when your kids kind of go, “Oh. Pizza again,” when you tell them what’s for dinner, you know that’s not a good sign.
(My kids and husband do cook, before you suggest this. But I’m the one who mostly thinks about the food and makes sure we have food in the house and helps the kids decide what to make when it’s their night, etc. This is why I was tired of cooking.)
So this diet meant I had to think about what I wanted to cook, what I wanted to eat, what worked for ME. I started making food I wanted to eat and basically figured everyone else could fend for themselves for a month. I mean, they can all make pasta and stuff.
But what happened was everyone started wanting to eat my new recipes. The kids loved all the meat recipes, and Veggie Boy was thrilled that suddenly there were always tasty vegetable leftovers like roasted squash, coconut cauliflower, slaws and salads, etc. So it’s been a win all around. We’re all eating better and enjoying food more, even the picky one, though he still gets all dramatic about beets.
I also bought a LOT of stuff. Some of this stuff might not have been absolutely necessary, but the process of stocking my kitchen for Whole30 kept me—and my bank card—busy in the first few weeks. It’s settled down now, but wow. With the exception of the stem stripper, the mesh bags, and the steaming basket, they've all been very useful additions to the kitchen and I still feel gleeful when using them.
Here is a partial list of kitchen gadgets:
· Mandoline (I bought a cheap one at Superstore)
· Small manual lemon juicer
· Avocado cutter/pitter/slicer
· Stem stripper
· Fine-mesh strainer
· Steaming basket
· Extra set of measuring spoons
· Extra flipper
· Extra spatula
· Wide-mouth funnel
· Meat thermometer
· Fine mesh bags to strain homemade almond milk (I only made it once and it was meh)
After borrowing my friend’s Whole30 book for a bit, I bought my own copy and also The Whole30 Day by Day, which breaks down what you can expect on each day of the program (even though everyone’s experience is different, there is a basic sequence of events that most people will cycle through). It’s helpful to have since you can journal what you eat every day.
And then there’s the food I bought. In the first week, I learned the word “non-compliant,” which I had previously associated mainly with my kids when they were toddlers. Although we generally have a pretty healthy diet and not a ton of processed foods, I still had a lot of non-compliant food in the house. That's anything with added sugar or artificial sweetners, carageenan, MSG and added sulphites, plus all the stuff that's expressly forbidden (dairy, soy, legumes, grains including rice, oats, quinoa, etc.)
I also had three people in the house who were not getting on board with my Whole30, so I had to keep all that stuff around. Crackers! Cupcake sprinkles! Pasta! Butter! I just pretend I don’t even see it.
Here are some food items I bought that I’d never bought before:
· Unsweetened coconut with no added sulphites
· Raisins with no added sulphites
· Shallots (this was a mistake – I was supposed to buy scallions, but I got confused. We call those green onions around these parts. And on a side note, just how are shallots different from onions? They look the same, taste the same, etc. I think they just have better PR, since they are way more expensive than onions for no discernible reason.)
· Almond flour
· Coconut aminos (like soy sauce, but way more expensive)
· Capers (why the hell did I buy capers?)
· Sesame seeds (why the hell did I buy sesame seeds?
· Kale – oh my gosh, does my family ever hate kale – but at least I now know I can eat it
Below are some pics of my various breakfasts: taco salad, kale and almonds (I had fried eggs, too), chicken and bok choy, and Mexican taco boats. You eat one of these giant meals, with lots of fat and protein AND also lots of veggies, and you stay full until it's time for the next meal. It's really kind of miraculous.
When I started this experiment, I had quite a bit of trepidation, but now that I'm well over the half-way hump, I'm enjoying my food much more and not feeling deprived (I did look sadly at mini-quiches and pizza this week, but it was a fleeting sadness). I'm definitely looking forward to my first glass of wine in ten days' time!
If you're interested in knowing more, feel free to email me or message me on Facebook. If I can do this thing, anyone can, and I think it's worthwhile - and very tasty - experiment.