Whole 30: Day 16

As of today, I am more than halfway done my first Whole 30! I thought this would be a good time for an update on how things are going and what I’ve found out so far.

Whole30- Day 16

First things first, let’s talk about not eating sugar for more than 2 weeks. The first week was rough, especially the first few days. I mentioned this before, but I didn’t ever realize how much sugar I have in a day until I couldn’t have it. Two weeks ago, it was a struggle to not eat treats at work, or sweet recipes I was testing, or the ice cream my boyfriend has in the freezer. By this week though, it’s completely a non-issue. I don’t think about the box of Rice Krispie squares around the corner from my desk. I don’t look for something sweet after dinner (besides my ever-trusty cup of tea, which is beside me right now). This I feel like is a huge victory for me because I’m not just eating mindlessly, and my mood and energy levels are not completely reliant on sugar.

Speaking of my mood and energy levels, I wouldn’t say I’m in the “Tiger Blood” zone exactly (this is Whole 30 speak), but I do find I have more consistent energy throughout the day, and that I even have lots of energy puttering around the house or working on the blog or whatever after work and the gym. I also feel like I can focus on tasks at work more, and can focus on my workout when I’m at the gym, even when I’m sweaty and tired and want to just lie down on the ground.

A big goal for me around starting Whole 30 was improving my GI health and function. I will not go into details for you, because that’s gross, but I do feel better overall. I’ve also noticed that my clothes fit a little bit looser, but not hugely. I will never be a super skinny little person, but I feel like eating mindfully, and eating nutrient dense foods are definitely making a difference. I upped the amount I’ve been going to the gym not long before starting Whole 30, so any body composition changes over this period I know will be a combination of both factors.

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I am eating tooooonnnssss of veggies and fruit. Partly this is because we are hauling in lots of strawberries and kale from the garden every second night, which is amazing, but also this is because they’re the easiest thing for me to snack on, since crackers, cheese, and junk food are out of the question. I found that eating all raw vegetables was a little bit hard on my system, but I’ve found a happy balance between some raw veggies and some cooked that seems to be working.

I am meal planning every week. This meal plan isn’t totally set in stone, and doesn’t always pan out exactly, but eating is just so much easier when I don’t have to think about what I’m going to make. Except today where I forgot to defrost chicken for dinner until 7 pm, but I had emergency tuna salad ready to go in the fridge! I’ve also been making sure to prep my lunch while dinner is cooking the night before, so there’s never a frantic scramble to find foods I can eat.

On the other hand, being a normal social person is a little hard. I was at a strawberry fundraiser last weekend and everyone wanted to know why I wasn’t having any strawberry short cake! I just said I wasn’t hungry, instead of explaining to the entire population of Mitchell about Whole 30. At work, I have told everyone what I’m doing and why, so that I have the support to make good food choices.

So, to wrap up, I’m really happy with how this nutrition experiment is going and I’m excited to see what other changes happen in the next couple weeks! I’m starting to figure out how my re-introduction process is going to go, so stay tuned to hear about that!

Does my experience seem normal compared to anyone else who’s done this? Let me know in the comments or on facebook!

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Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce

One of the easiest parts of doing Whole 30 while the weather is nice and warm is that I can BBQ some meat and grill some veggies to throw together a meal any night I want. But it’s nice to have some easy recipes to fall back on when I’m just not feeling that.

Enter spaghetti squash. Is it the same as eating spaghetti? No, obviously not. It’s squash. Is it it’s own fabulous thing that can be cooked and served in many different ways? Yes. Will a bucket of it fill me up without making me feel like a blimp about to explode? Yes. For this dish, I cooked my spaghetti squash and made an easy meat sauce on the stove from some canned crushed tomatoes and ground pork. While the sauce is simmering and the squash is in the microwave, there was even tons of time for me to finish throwing together my lunch for tomorrow.

Those of your not doing Whole 30 or some kind of paleo diet, you could smother this in a beautiful layer of Parmesan and it would be amazing. But I surprisingly didn’t miss the cheese too much, which is a huge win. Today is Day 11 of my Whole 30, and I feel pretty good. I’m finding I’m not tired and lethargic too much in the middle of the afternoon, and I have tons of energy at the gym. I also feel more focused on the tasks I’m doing (i.e. not getting distracted by every single little thing while writing a blog post).

This recipe makes 4-6 servings, depending on how big you are and whether you just came home from Crossfit.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground pork or beef
  • 1 can (798 mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp prepared crushed garlic
  • 3 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chili pepper (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place 1 half of the squash, cut-side down, in a small casserole dish. Add 1 inch of water. Microwave for 12 minutes, or until squash can be easily scraped out with a fork. Transfer squash strands to a bowl. Repeat with remaining squash half.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the pork (or beef) and cook until meat is no longer pink, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  4. Transfer squash to sauce and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Strawberries and Coconut Cream (and a Whole 30 update)

Happy Saturday everyone! And happy Day 6 of Whole 30 for me! Today I’ve got a quick mini-recipe for you guys, and I’ll recap how the last few days have been going.

On Wednesday (Day 3), I woke up feeling ok, but by the end of the day, felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Everything hurt and I had a headache and I just felt off.  But I powered through, taking it easy at the gym, sticking to my meal plan, and drinking lots of water. Thursday and Friday were both fine, and I’m finding that sticking to Whole 30 foods is fairly straight forward, as long I’m prepared and plan ahead. It’s almost a relief to not debate about each food I eat throughout the day or bargain with myself that because I had salad for lunch and I’m going to the gym that I can eat whatever food it is that I’m craving. It’s just not an option, I don’t eat it. If I’m legitimately hungry, I always have almonds, fruit and veggies on hand for quick snacking, and if I’m just bored I make a cup of tea. Avoiding my “foods with no brakes” really puts me in control of what I’m eating, instead of fighting and caving to every single craving that comes along. Other changes are that I feel less gassy and bloated even after just a few days, which is pretty exciting!

“Foods with no brakes” are the things that we just can’t stop eating, or eat huge portions of. For me, these are anything sweet (gummies, chocolate, my boyfriend’s amazing chocolate chip cookies, etc.), potato chips, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, and fries, to name a few. While some of these foods do have lots of nutritional value, I know I can never just a little peanut butter on my toast or one small slice of cheese. These foods will be different for everyone, and might be things we know are bad, or foods that are supposed to be good for us in relatively small amounts (i.e. not a whole block of cheese). My mini-recipe today looks a little bit dessert-like, I know, but there is absolutely no added sugar, nor do I mean for my coconut cream to be a substitute for whipped cream, which would obviously be non-compliant. But if whipped cream is one of your foods with no brakes, this is a recipe to avoid. Take your strawberries and walk away. For me though, it was a way to use up some coconut cream and have a snack.

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Ingredients:

  • Strawberries
  • Chill coconut cream

Place coconut cream in bowl. Beat with electric mixer until it starts to look fluffy. If you really want more of a whipped cream, keep beating until soft peaks form. I left mine a little runny still, so I could stay on this side of dessert territory. Spoon cream over berries.

Whole 30: Day 1 & 2

Yesterday I officially started Whole 30. And I’m happy to say I’m still alive. So far, so good. So here’s an update on how things are going up to this point, for those who are interested.

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Over the weekend, I did a fair bit of meal prep. I made mayo to use in tuna salad. I chopped some veggies and fruit. I boiled a bunch of eggs. I made “Sunshine Sauce” from Whole 30, which is awesome on the cut veggies. I don’t know about how anyone else would handle this, but knowing I had food handy that fit in the plan made me much calmer, instead of whirling around wondering what on earth I could eat.

On Monday morning, I ate 2 hard boiled eggs, a grapefruit, and 1/4 avocado. I normally have toast, oatmeal, or fruit and yogurt for breakfast, so I kind of had to brainstorm here and come up with new ideas. My breakfast options also have to be quick and easy to put together, since I have my morning routine down more or less to the minute. This works. I cut the grapefruit up the night before and just had to grab the bowl from the fridge. But then I was hungry by 10. I packed a big container of veggies and some dip, which didn’t quite hold me over until lunch. By the time it was lunch time, I was STARVING! I had tuna salad on greens (lettuce and some kale from the garden), and a whole bunch of berries. Towards the end of day, before heading to the gym, I munched on a banana and a handful of almonds, which tied me over until I got home, impressively. Dinner was burgers wrapped in lettuce with grilled veggies. And then an hour later I was hungry. Like actually hungry, not just craving ice cream. Tea and a handful of dates solved the problem.

My biggest challenge for Day 1 was really wanting something sweet around the middle of the afternoon. I’m so used to there being sweet stuff at work, either recipes being tested, or just finding something to much on, that I was really struggling. I drank a big mug of tea, which kind of helped, but I never realized I must go through this and eat mindlessly every afternoon. The tea at least helped fight the grogginess.

Today was better. I had the same breakfast and snack in the morning but I felt like they both tied me over better. There were definitely more opportunities to eat “non-compliant” foods today, but I felt very strong for sticking to the plan. It’s kind of like when you’re running an awful distance or part way into a terrible workout and you tell yourself to keep going. But it’s with food. And I have 28 days left of this marathon. For dinner, I threw a leftover burger on top of a salad, and added some avocado for some fat to keep me full. A tip from Whole 30, and from friends who have done similar diets, is that if you find you’re hungry, you’re probably not taking in enough fat. This is so counter-intuitive to someone who automatically looks for the low-fat option,  but being hungry around 8pm is a little miserable. I had way less sugar cravings and more energy today, but it might just be because it isn’t Monday. I don’t feel super deprived of anything, since I’m focusing on eating foods I like within the Whole 30 guidelines.

So, things I’ve learned so far:

  •  I will not starve in the next month. There are lots of things I can eat, even if it seems like there’s so many things I can’t.
  • I have to keep focusing on how good I’m going to feel, instead of being frustrated that I can’t eat certain foods right now.
  • Meal prep and meal planning make the whole thing so much less stressful.

Stay tuned to see how the rest of the week goes!

 

Prepping and Planning for Whole 30

Hello! Quick background here, in this post I talked about why I think trying Whole 30 for a month will be good for me. If you haven’t read that, check it out, then come back and read about what I’m up to now.

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So, after weighing all the pros and cons of Whole 30, I’ve decided I’m starting next Monday, June 13th. While Dallas and Melissa Hartwig recommend not putting off starting, I needed some time to study up, to plan, and to wrap my head around not eating cheese/putting milk in my coffee/eating anything with sugar, etc. So, in a nutshell, here’s what my prepping and planning looks like:

  • I marked my start-date in my planner. And my work calendar. There’s no way to get out of this now.
  • I ordered and read Whole 30, the official book where all the rules and guidelines are laid out and where almost every question I had was answered. There’s also recipes! Booyah!
  • I signed up for the forum on whole30.com, where there are lots of lovely people asking and answering every question imaginable.
  • I got hold of It Starts with Food through inter-library loan. I haven’t really gotten into it yet, but it lays out more the scientific basis behinds the recommendations made in the Whole 30.
  • I started telling people what I’m going to do (like in real life, not on the blog, although there’s some overlap). This will hold me accountable. If everyone wants to know how my diet’s going, I can’t exactly bail halfway through. Also, this means people will know why I’m not eating certain foods ahead of time.
  • I made a rough meal plan. It is not set in stone and it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s a rough guide for what I’ll eat next week. To find ideas, I flipped through Whole 30, hunted the interwebs for paleo recipes that sounded interesting, and brainstormed meal ideas from what I normally eat that are either already compliant, or can be with a few quick changes. From this plan, I started a grocery list, and I made a list of what needs to be prepped ahead of time. And all of this is on the fridge for easy access. I like lists. My plan is to do groceries next weekend and then set some time aside to start getting everything ready for the week.
  • When I did groceries this weekend, I started checking for things I know I’ll need for the plan next week. I was lucky enough to stock up on chicken thighs, canned tuna, and canned salmon, all on sale. This saves me a few things to buy next week.
  • I’m reading food labels more, and evaluating the foods I eat frequently. Of tonight’s dinner, grilled zucchini fits the plan. Jalapeno and cheddar sausage? Not so much. My lunch was weird leftovers from work but my snacks were Whole30-ish. Lots of cut veggies and fruit, and a handful of almonds. The only exception was a little bit of cheese. By wrapping my head around what is and isn’t compliant now, I’ll save time and stress later freaking out about whether certain foods fit or not.

Anyone have other suggestions? Words of advice? Super cool recipes you love and think I’ll need in my Whole 30 life? Leave a comment below, or check me out on Facebook!