whole30: week 1 meal highlights

It’s been 10 days since I started my Whole30, but I haven’t really written much here about the journey so far.  I have posted food photos on social media, so follow me to see those.

First, I’ll tell you a little about how I prepared for us to start our Whole30.

Initially, I thought I would leave all the non-compliant salad dressings and other items in the fridge and work around them, but feared Andrew would get confused or tempted to use them.  Thankfully, we have a fridge in our basement, so after trashing most of the items (mostly because they were almost empty or old), I took a few things downstairs for safe-keeping.  (I’m not sure I’ll even use them again, but I was finding it really difficult to dump entire bottles of soy sauce and brand-new mayo in the trash.)  I also grabbed anything non-compliant from the pantry and stashed it downstairs and out of Andrew’s sight.

Here’s what remained:

  It’s like you could hear crickets in there!  I was shocked at how many items in my fridge contained sugar or soy or gluten.  Not that I’m necessarily against any of those things, but they’re forbidden during the Whole30, so out they went.

Then, (after giving the fridge a nice wipe-down, of course), I filled it back up.
 I bought tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, six pounds of meat, a few ’emergency’ bars to keep in the car or my purse, coconut oil, coconut milk, approved salsa (for eggs!), coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute), a jar of organic sauerkraut (for probiotics), shredded coconut (for ‘breading’ meat), almond butter (peanut butter isn’t allowed) and kombucha.

I started Friday, April 1 with coconut milk in my coffee (that lasted 5 days, I’m on tea now), two hard-boiled eggs and a clementine.  Also part of my plan: my Made to Crave devotional.  I’m doing the Whole30 because I noticed I was starting to eat more sugar/sweets/unhealthy foods for no good reason, and then would feel bad (physically and emotionally) afterward.  Time to get back to being filled by God, not food! While I’m not posting all my meals on social media, I am trying to photo some of the better/more memorable ones to inspire others to eat healthy, real food.

Our Saturday breakfasts aren’t always big, but in the past I’ve tried to whip up pancakes or something else Andrew likes more often than not.  So, for day #2, I made a veggie-egg scramble with roasted sweet potatoes (topped with clarified butter and cinnamon), a grapefruit half and some low-sodium V8.  Often, my source of fat is avocado and Andrew’s is nuts.
 After church on Sunday, the family went to Wegmans for lunch, where I made a beautiful salad with shredded beets, carrots and zucchini, berries and salmon.    One of our first dinners was an Asian stir-fry with ground beef, veggies and coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce!), steamed baby bok choy and a clementine.
 Another dinner: buffalo chicken chili topped with pickled jalapeños and homemade ranch dressing.  I had to grab lunch out on Wednesday after teaching my body conditioning class, so I made a salad with chicken, guacamole and pico de gallo.  Fruit to balance the spicy pico!
 On Friday night, we brought dinner over to the Nye’s house, and I wanted to pull out all the stops to show them that this ‘diet’ is really delicious and not a bummer at all.  (I was expecting quite the ribbing from both of them, but was pleasantly surprised by the lack of comments.)  I made stuffed peppers, a cilantro-lime ‘cauli’ rice and cabbage slaw.    For breakfast the next Saturday morning, I again tried to ‘wow’ Andrew a bit.  Fresh fruit salads for both of us, a little kraut, avocado with salsa and two poached eggs for me, and cooked chicken and pepper slices for Andrew.
 Overall, I would say week 1 was easier than I anticipated it being, and other than some slight fatigue (which, according to the Whole30 timeline, is normal), I feel great!  I’ve eaten ‘paleo-style’ before and really enjoyed it, so I figured I would enjoy this as well.

The Whole30 is definitely restrictive, and I miss my morning coffee (I get what they say about needing to buy ‘good’ coffee to enjoy drinking it black, but I DO buy good coffee, and I still really like the mouthfeel of a little sugar and cream).  Not pictured here: the meal I had to send back at restaurant that came out with a cream sauce that was NOT mentioned in the menu description.

Coming next week: walnut-crusted pork tenderloin, red sauce and meatballs over spaghetti squash, a chicken ‘hash’ with sweet potatoes and apple (looks divine!) and a chicken chowder.



Today was Day 1 of my first Whole30.

-no SUGAR (unless it’s in a fruit or vegetable)

-no grains

-no dairy

-no legumes

-no alcohol

*There are a few other things on the ‘no-no’ list, like MSG and sulfites, but suffice it to say it’s basically Paleo on steroids.  Super restrictive.  Probably the only way I’ll curb my sweet tooth.

*Note: As a dietitian, I’m always wary of any eating plan that removes entire food groups.  However, by eating a varied selection of fruits and vegetables, a person can get all the nutrients grains and dairy provide.  Additionally, grains and dairy are often over-consumed in high-calorie, nutrient-poor forms (think crackers and ice cream) by many people, which doesn’t lead to optimum body weight or health.  Therefore, removing those two food groups isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds.  Difficult, yes.  Impossible, no. Lastly, the Whole30 removes these food groups for specific reasons (explained in-depth in the book) and also REINTRODUCES them after 30 days so individuals can assess their impact for themselves. End note.*

I’m super excited, even though I know it’s going to be really difficult sometimes.  A few years ago, I skimmed through Melissa Hartwig’s book, It Starts With Food, and thought ‘hell no!’ and slammed the book shut.

However, a few weeks ago, after seeing it mentioned somewhere on social media, it was all I could think about.  It’s amazing how different seasons of life change our perspectives.

The truth is, I’ve known for awhile now that I’ve needed a change.  A reset.  A shock to my system.  It’s been four years since I’ve been happy with how I look (thanks, school, for negatively impacting my body through stress…NOT), and more recently, I’ve realized how badly I feel when I overeat/eat certain things.  While I eat a lot of healthy foods, I also have about zero willpower when it comes to sweets.

(The recent blog re-org and trip down memory lane while reading past posts reminded me how great I feel when I’m eating better, not to mention how great I looked a few years ago. Sigh.)

These last couple months have been a double-whammy for me in terms of my health and routine.  First, I’ve been experiencing pain in my lower back since January (recently diagnosed as a bulging disc by an MRI) and an inflamed nerve in my elbow, both of which sidelined me from my usual high-intensity workouts and weight-lifting sessions.  (The cause: all that heavy lifting and landscaping last summer.  Boo.) At the same time, I’ve been stressed and splurging on sugary treats even more since my gym time decreased.  Go figure.

All that to say, I’ve been slowly accepting that I need to take charge over my diet in order to feel better–physically and mentally.  On a sleepless night Easter weekend, I read up on the entire Whole30 plan by the light of my phone and committed right then and there that I would start soon.

The next morning I asked Andrew if he’d do the Whole30 with me (lucky for him, he loves meat, hates cheese and beans, doesn’t do a lot of dairy and doesn’t crave sweets) and he agreed.  I bought the books that night and pored over them all Easter weekend, hopefully not at the expense of spending quality time with family–sorry, grandma!

As I said before, I’m really excited, because I know in my heart it’s what I need to get back on track.  I really DO love being healthy and fit, so I need to stop letting sugar win and take back control of what I eat.  In essence, I need to practice what I preach!

For extra motivation, I’m re-reading the Made to Crave devotional, on which I relied heavily a few years ago on a weight-loss journey.

I won’t be blogging what I eat every day throughout this 30-day period (like I did with our Paleo Challenge last year), but I will post some photos on Instagram (username: hollyrlayer).  I will, however, be posting a book review of It Starts With Food (not to mention all the other ‘diet’ books I’ve read) and perhaps some topical posts based on the program, like how to get calcium without eating dairy.  (You can, and it’s easy!)