After the wrath of the cold that hit me like a ton of bricks, I finally started feeling better. I honestly only felt "sick" for one day, while the following days were just the annoying symptoms like sinus congestion and runny nose. Other than that, I bounced back more quickly than I usually do-- and you bet I attribute that to the way I've been eating. When your body has a constant supply of abundant nutrients--minus the inflammatory stuff-- there is no doubt that it is better equipped to deal with sickness!
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I am writing in retrospect, so all the days have started to blend into one another. But I think that's a good thing! Instead of remembering specific challenges and rough spots, I am only now recalling a smooth ride. Luckily, I did organize my meals for each day, so lucky you-- you get to see them all ;) (If you think that part is boring, I apologize! But I always love to see what other people eat!)
Day 18 meals (below):
Breakfast (not pictured): 2 pieces of veggie/chicken frittata, decaf coffee with coconut cream
Lunch: Homemade chicken soup (made with bones)-- the best healing food when you're sick!
Pre-workout snack: Banana pear zucchini baby food pouch
Dinner: (Take-out from Blu Fig in Stony Point)- Rosemary roasted chicken, salad with grilled vegetables and shrimp, steamed vegetables
Snack: Chipotle Seasnax
Day 19 meals (above):
Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, 1 Italian Bilinski chicken sausage, and some leftover zucchini & cauliflower soup
Mid-morning: Decaf French press with coconut oil and butter
Lunch: Kettlebell Kitchen's Wild Salmon Cakes
Pre-workout snack: Chia/date/coconut squares from Sweet Pea's Market
Dinner: Smoky chicken thighs (seriously, this spice blend from Practical Paleo is my new favorite), salad with homemade dressing, rosemary/sage yucca, and more zucchini & cauliflower soup
It's really important that if you consider yourself an athlete, or just are a fairly active person, that you are getting a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, especially during the Whole30. When you cut out grains, you cut out a very significant source of carbs (and calories), and for some, it can be difficult to replace with just meat, veggies, and fats. Vegetables do provide carbs, but most are not super carb-dense, and it is extremely difficult to get the carbs you need from just greens. Yucca has therefore become a staple for me since it is one of those very carb dense roots (along with white potatoes, plantains, and yams).We usually just boil it and then bake or saute "fries", but have been experimenting with different ways to make it this Whole30 to keep things interesting. Our new favorite is boiling it and then putting it into the blender (or food processor) with coconut milk, garlic, and salt. This time, I tried it like I make white potatoes-- sauteed on the stove with butter, rosemary, and sage. It was delicious!
Day 20 meals:
Breakfast (above): Decaf with collagen/coconut oil/butter, leftover yucca, shredded zucchini, 2 fried eggs, and uncured bacon
Lunch (not pictured): Bacon-wrapped date & pineapple, chili and plantain chips
Dinner (not pictured): Shredded buffalo chicken on Stupid Easy Paleo's Simple Paleo Tortillas, topped with Practical Paleo's Rainbow Slaw
"Dessert": Homemade chia pudding (coconut milk, chia seeds, and baby food-- simplest thing ever!)
Day 21 was a fairly busy day-- we spent over half the day away from home, and the second half we spent preparing for the upcoming "blizzard"-- so food shopping and prepping meals. We went to the gym a little later than our usual time, so that meant we could cook breakfast before (Before the Whole30, I became so accustomed to grabbing a bar on the way out the door on Sundays-- a habit I am glad to have broken!) We went to the gym, grabbed lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill, and then went to yoga from there.
Day 21 meals (below):
Breakfast: 1 fried egg with 1/2 chicken sausage and leftover rainbow salad on 1/2 leftover tortilla, decaf coffee with butter and coconut oil
Lunch (not pictured) (at Moe's): Salad with chicken, sauteed peppers and onions, guacamole, and salsa
Pre-yoga: Peppermint tea from Starbucks
Dinner: Smoky baked chicken thighs, roasted potato wedges, and salad with homemade dressing
Day 22 was all about gearing up for the upcoming "history-making blizzard." We were all so anxious for the forecasted 2-3 feet of snow (that never even ended up coming!). But I left work early, rushed to workout while I still could get to the basement, and then spent the evening preparing to be snowed in-- food was prepped, snacks were bought, movies to watch were all picked out!
Day 22 meals (below):
Breakfast: Leftover tortilla with 1 Italian Bilinski sausage, spinach sauteed in coconut oil, and salsa & decaf coffee with butter and collagen
Lunch (not pictured): Leftover chicken thigh, potato wedges, and mango slaw
Dinner: Pot roast with gravy and brown mustard, carrots, baked sweet potato, steamed green beans
Movie snack: Chipotle Seasnax and sweet potato chips
Usually, being snowed in means wine/beer and junk food (or at least "paleo-ized treats"), so I admit, preparing to be stuck in the house for the next day or two without comfort food did cross my mind. But luckily, that situation never even became a reality, since the blizzard passed us by 50 or so miles, and we only got a few inches of snow! But still, it was kind of nice to relax Monday night and have dinner and watch a movie with my family, without any expectations for the next day!
So has the Whole30 become monotonous at this point? By no means whatsoever. Yes, many days I eat leftovers and the same foods for some meals, but that's what makes life easy. I have created a new routine for myself, but also am keeping things interesting by creating new meals and trying out new recipes. Plus, I am without a doubt enjoying everything I am eating-- there is no boring steamed tilapia and broccoli here. On the other hand, I don't need to be eating pizza and donuts either. My food is full of flavor and nutrients-- win-win. I could truly eat this way forever. Will I? Of course not. It's not sustainable, or even healthy, to aim for perfection all of the time. But let's leave that for another blog post :)
So now, 3 weeks have passed, and just 1 left to go! I will follow-up on the final week of the Whole30, give my final recap, and blog about my post-Whole30 thoughts and suggestions next week!
Day 16 is when the "tiger blood" is supposed to kick in. I admit, I've been feeling pretty damn good, and feeling like I've gotten past the biggest challenges of these 30 days- all day I had tons of energy and I felt really strong during my workout... but I knew I was getting sick. By the time I got home around 8PM, I had no energy to cook, and luckily didn't need to!
Day 16 meals (below):
Breakfast: Two pieces of veggie/chicken quiche (not pictured), herbal "coffee" with coconut cream
Lunch: Leftovers-- baked chicken with mango jalapeno sauce, Brussels sprouts with uncured bacon, 1/2 baked potato
Pre-workout (not pictured): Justin's Classic Almond Butter pouch
Dinner: Kettebell Kitchen's Plantain Lasagna (maybe my favorite meal so far!) with extra veggies and mango jalapeno sauce
Day 17: So you’re in the middle of your Whole30 and feeling invincible... and then you wake up one morning with a terrible cold. That was me, day 17—the time when everything was supposed to “click”— when I woke up barely able to breathe and feeling like a cat scratched my throat. Luckily, I have a flexible job that allowed me to take the day off.
But then it hit me—what the heck am I going to take that is compliant with the Whole30 guidelines? Even my usual go-to natural remedies were out of the question (things like tea with raw honey or slippery elm/maple syrup lozenges). I had told myself I was doing this 100%, and I wasn’t going to let a stupid cold screw me up when I was over ½ way done!
I did a quick Google search, and found this is a pretty common problem among Whole30-ers. And there isn’t much info available that’s specific to a no-sugar, no-grain, no dairy-diet. So I figured, this may make a good blog post… and surprisingly, I came up with a ton of info to post about!
I hit the cold medicine aisle in the grocery store and started examining all of the cold remedies I usually would go for, and was pretty displeased. Every popular cold and flu medicine and cough drop was full of absolute crap. Granted, there are a few health food stores near me that I know I could have found much better options, but: 1) I would have had to drive 20 minutes further to get to one, and 2) I know most people don’t have these stores nearby and/or would rather just drive 5 minutes down the road to the nearest store or pharmacy. So I figured I would make do with what was offered, and try to find the best remedies available.
Without calling out any particular brands, here’s a little sample of the ingredients in some pretty popular cold medicines:
Are you going to die if you take these things? Of course not! But why do these products need all the crap ingredients, if they are "inactive" anyway? Plus, so much is marketed to us as being"natural" when it really isn't. For example:
Plus, when you're trying to stick to Whole30 guidelines, even the most natural products can have sweeteners or even lactose in them, so it can be a challenge to find something! So here I have compiled what I would categorize as the “good” and “best” cold/flu/cough/sore throat remedies, as well as those I chose to use during my Whole30 and my go-to natural cold remedies. Of course this is no where near a comprehensive list, but just some examples of what I found in my grocery store. I am sure if I went to a health food store, I would have much better options and a wide variety of choices.
(Note- I am not a doctor, and therefore none of this should be misconstrued as medical advice or a substitute for medical advice! I am solely giving my opinion and recommendations as well as sharing my personal experience.)
The above two medicines are homeopathic, meaning instead of just suppressing symptoms, they work with your body, stimulating it to fight off whatever pathogen is causing you to be sick. The ingredients lists are fairly natural, but they do include sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (a milk protein).
Although there are still synthetic vitamins in the above drink, there are at least no artificial sweeteners! And your body can use the vitamins... just not as well as vitamins from food. I think a lot of the benefit of an "immune boosting" tea like this one is truly due to the warm apple cider flavor, which is definitely soothing!
The above two brands of cough drops/lozenges are what I usually choose over popular brands. Ricola has many blends, which usually include herbs that support the immune system (just watch for artificial sweeteners in different flavors), and I love Jakemans-- this flavor in particular-- due to the cooling eucalyptus and warming licorice. Both due have sugar, so not Whole30-compliant, but otherwise, I don't sweat it.
I was so pleasantly surprised with this Maty's Cough Syrup that I bought it just to have on hand for future colds. Not only are the ingredients amazing, but the company's story is so interesting and their philosophy rings pretty true to my own. Plus, many of its ingredients are foods and spices I use at home when I'm sick, so I am sure this works great.
Again, another great natural cough syrup with great ingredients. It doesn't seem to have anything in it that would suppress your cold symptoms, but it does have melatonin, which is a hormone made by your own body to regulate your sleep cycles.
Zinc and echinacea are great immune system supporters, and this brand is only sweetened with brown rice syrup, which no, isn't the best thing, but I prefer it over high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and pure sugar.
So what did I take?
It is a kid's cold medicine, but it scored #1 with me for a few reasons: 1) It is a homeopathic remedy and 2) It technically is the absolute closest to Whole30-compliant I could find. Citric acid is an acceptable additive and sodium benzoate is an acceptable preservative. Glycyrrhiza extract and vegetable glycerin are sweeteners, but from licorice and vegetables, so I was willing to bend a bit-- there was no artificial junk, gluten, grains, soy, or dairy, and I wasn't chugging the bottle as a replacement for a lollipop, so to me, this was okay. (PS: Whole30 101: The Official “Can I Have…” Guide to the Whole30® is a good place to look up specific ingredients!)
Plus some of my go-to remedies:
Nutrient-dense food: The best way to inundate your body with the nutrients it needs to promote optimal function (and return to it when you are sick) is a variety of whole, properly-prepared, colorful food!
Day 17 meals (below):
Breakfast (at the local diner): Decaf coffee with coconut cream (I brought my own), egg omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, & broccoli, home fries (I requested that this all be cooked in butter and not veg oil... the waitress did think I was insane)
Lunch: Spinach egg drop soup (Add chicken broth, spinach, fresh garlic, and sage to a pot, bring to a boil, drop in 2 eggs and let them cook-- simplest meal!)
Dinner: Salad with homemade dressing (with, among other ingredients, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice-- two great "foods" when you're sick), grassfed short ribs (from Lowland Farm in Warwick, NY), yucca mash (with coconut milk and spices), and a huge mug of bone broth (that I couldn't nearly finish!)
Bone broth: Just search "why is bone broth healthy?" and hundreds of articles will come up. It truly is the original superfood!
Among the reasons why it's so great when you're sick? It promotes good gut health, which is where most of your immune system actually lies!
Every time I or someone in my house gets sick, a huge pot of chicken soup is started right away!
Homemade immune-support gummies: Often, when I'm sick, I make "tea" with herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey. Without the honey, I couldn't stomach it. I was given a recipe for homemade natural cough drops, but they needed maple syrup or honey in order to turn into actual "drops." So I improvised using gelatin (I use Great Lakes brand, since it is from grass-fed animals).
I first made tea (Yogi Echinacea Immune Support), then added it to a pot with lemon juice, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger until it began to boil, added a few tbsp. of gelatin and stirred until dissolved. Then I poured it into a dish, refrigerated it, and in about 20 minutes, I cut it into cubes. They actually came out pretty good-- and a lot easier to eat a couple than drink a cup of liquid made with the same ingredients!
Herbal tea: I'm a big fan of drinking herbal teas to soothe any ailment-- sore throat, upset stomach, cold, & even sore muscles. In particular, I use Yogi, since they are all natural, don't have sweeteners, soy lecithin, gluten, or other unwanted ingredients, and truly work. Cold Season, Echinacea Immune Support, Throat Comfort, Egyptian Licorice Mint, and Ginger are the ones we seem to go through the quickest in my house!
Supplements: I am a huge advocate for getting all the nutrition we need from food, but sometimes it really just isn't possible-- we may have a digestive issue preventing us from absorbing enough nutrients, we may not be able to get particular nutrients from food due to geographic constraints or changing seasons, or certain organs and systems may need extra support-- which is often the case when you are sick. Certain vitamins and minerals get used up in greater amounts and at faster rates when your body is working overtime. But it's vitally important to know what you're taking, why, and any possible interactions or contraindications.
Pictured above is my arsenal of immune-supporting supplements. All of these are gluten, sugar, dairy, legume, soy, and grain-free.
Prescript Assist probiotics: Prescript Assist probiotics are different than the majority of probiotics out there. They are soil-based, and contain different strains, so they actually help to repopulate the colonies of good bacteria in the gut
Adrenal Assist: This is a blend of adaptogenic herbs, which help the adrenal glands deal with stress. Since the body is under stress when it is sick, the adrenal glands are affected. I also have low cortisol levels, so under any stress, I make sure I take these.
Chlorella: Chlorella is a type of algae that is extremely dense in nutrients-- especially amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids, chlorophyll, and minerals.
Dessicated Liver: No this isn't a liver-support supplement, it is actually liver. I actually have been taking it daily for about a month and am feeling such a positive difference. Organ meats from healthy animals (this is from grassfed cows) are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat-- but I, like many, have trouble getting healthy organ meats in my diet. Therefore, this is a simple and cost-effective way to get 3g of liver in my diet every day. Liver is rich in amino acids, minerals, B vitamins, vitamin A, and iron-- but since it is a food, the body digests and absorbs the nutrients much better than if they were from a synthetic vitamin supplement.
Zinc: Zinc is one of those minerals that the body uses up quickly in times of stress, but it also helps with digestion (it's needed to make stomach acid) and helps the body heal by assisting in tissue repair. I also know I don't get enough of it in my diet (our soil is not as rich in minerals as it once was!)
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually more of a hormone than a vitamin, and has tons of immune-supporting benefits. Along with the other fat-soluble vitamins (A,E, & K), it was one of the nutrients founded by Dr. Weston Price to be crucial to our health. (Read this if you have more interest!)
Vitamin C: We have all heard about vitamin C being able to prevent and lessen the severity of colds. We see tons of "immune boosting" supplements, drinks, and foods that are high in vitamin C. There's a lot of conflicting information about if it really helps, but this is what I know: the adrenal glands love vitamin C, and they use it rapidly when they are overworked. Sick = stress = need for more vitamin C.
Lastly, essential oils & balms: There has been a huge increase in the sales of essential oils, and recently tons of multi-level marketing companies have entered the essential oil market with all these different blends.. but I stick to the basics when I'm sick: eucalyptus oil and camphor oil. In a diffuser or a burner, or in a balm-- I make one with coconut oil, Shea butter, beeswax, and eucalyptus, camphor, and peppermint essential oils. I apply it to my chest and neck, temples, and even under my nose since it helps to open my nasal passages.
On day 18, I woke up feeling about 50% better! My sore throat is gone and my congestion has mostly cleared. I’m still keeping up with the homeopathic, herbal tea, supplements, gummies, and good food (especially bone broth). At this rate, I think I will be feeling back to my usual self by the weekend!
I admit, every time I've done a Whole30 before this, I never counted off the days or stayed accountable the way I've done it this time. Maybe it's the fact that this time I have a stronger "why," or that I have more accountability buddies-- especially those who actually live with me, or that I decided to publicly share my journey on a blog-- I am sure it's the combination of all the factors. But right now, why I'm staying on track really doesn't matter to me as much as the simple fact that I am staying on track, and feeling pretty damn good.
Although the challenge of my birthday had come and gone, I wasn't in the clear, since days 13-15 fell on a weekend--a long weekend at that--and there were still plenty of birthdays (not just mine) to celebrate... meaning more cakes, lots of them.
Day 13 was a busy day, but not very exciting to most. We slept in, made brunch, I and spent the day entire day in the house doing schoolwork-- although I wanted to be doing any thing else, catching up on work was necessary. It actually was one of those days where I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing, that I forget to eat. Around 4pm, I desperately opened the fridge hoping to find some sort of leftovers to reheat, but we had cleared out everything. Luckily, my boyfriend and I each had one Kettlebell Kitchen meal left from the week, which was perfect-- no cooking or cleaning involved. Although it was mine and Edwin's anniversary, we decided to cook dinner home instead of going out, since that was what we had done the previous two nights. Dinner turned out to be better than what I would have ordered anyway-- thanks to my boyfriend, the chef. We then saw a movie, snack-free (yes, it's possible!)
Day 13 meals (above):
Breakfast: An overeasy egg, uncured bacon, pan-fried yucca with smoked paprika, spicy okra, berries, sauteed red onions, and decaf coffee with 1t butter (made with my brand new French press!
Lunch: Kettlebell Kitchen Ginger Scallion Chicken, seltzer
Dinner: A burger wrapped in lettuce, topped with sauteed onions and homemade "ketchup," Brussels sprouts cooked with uncured bacon, baked sweet potato, and a homemade dill pickle
My family loves burgers-- they are a go-to meal in my house. And while we have all given up the traditional "bun," and we are okay with that, but I completely forgot that we wouldn't be able to have ketchup-- even the one we buy without HFCS still has sugar in it. So I looked up a last-minute ketchup recipe before dinner, and tried my best to duplicate it with what we had in the house. (I settled on a blend between this one and this one). It actually turned out pretty good-- however, it didn't really taste like traditional ketchup to me--but still delicious on a burger!
Day 14 was another challenging day. We woke up to horrible weather, which made our usual Sunday gym rendezvous impossible. So we settled on working out at home, which just isn't the same. For the remainder of the day, we had plans to spend the day watching football with family and friends, so we went food shopping before so that we were prepared. A day of football means tons of food-- pizza, wings, chips, beer-- and we had a few things to celebrate, so 2 more cakes to resist! I knew I would feel tempted-- to have a beer, to mindlessly snack-- so I made sure I ate enough so that I didn't feel hungry and need to snack. We bought an organic rotisserie chicken (it felt almost impossible to find one without sugar, but we did!), a package of organic salad greens, and compliant plantain chips, sweet potato chips, and salsa.
Day 14 meals (below):
Breakfast: An overeasy egg, pan-fried yucca, and leftover Brussels sprouts with bacon
Lunch (not pictured): Routisserie chicken over salad with green olives, apple cider vinegar, and oregano, plantain chips
Snack: Sweet potato chips with salsa
Dinner: Roast pork, sauerkraut, steamed green beans, and a baked potato with butter and salt
Day 15- the halfway point! I went to sleep late the night before, so I woke up to go to the gym and my body did not want to move-- but I am happy I did. Although my legs were pretty sore, I felt really good during my workout. A few months ago, I would feel great for the first 3-5 minutes of my workout and then crash. But lately, I've been finding I don't burn out mid workout, and I know it's not just because of the food I've been eating, but how my body is responding to the food-- and how, hopefully, my body is functioning more efficiently because it's being fueled properly-- minus all the extra crap that causes inflammation and bogs down my system.
Day 15 also fell on another birthday-- my cousin, Jeff's-- who is also doing the Whole30 with us. So four of us Whole30ers went out to brunch at Art Cafe, where we knew we could get a meal that wasn't only compliant, but delicious-- shakshuka (eggs baked in a spiced tomato sauce) with eggplant-- minus the usual feta cheese and pita that accompanies the dish. And yes, I brought my own coconut oil and butter to make coffee (still decaf for me)!
The rest of the day was spent, again, around the house-- I doing schoolwork and folding laundry, while Edwin cooked and did food prep and juggled the laundry. Exciting, I know. But again, necessary! Again, we used Practical Paleo to get some new recipes, and Edwin made an amazing mango jalapeno sauce from The Performance Paleo Cookbook.
Day 15 meals (above):
Pre workout (not pictured): 1 egg, pan-fried yucca, 1/2 Beef Epic Bar
Brunch: At Art Cafe- Decaf French press coffee with 1t butter, 1t coconut oil, side salad (not pictured) with olive oil, shakshuka with eggplant
Snack: Practical Paleo's Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
Dinner: Practical Paleo's Smoky Chicken Wings with mango jalapeno sauce from The Performance Paleo Cookbook, pan-fried yucca, and steamed broccoli
"Dessert:" Fruit... not cake! :)
And after dinner, we had our last of the birthday celebrations. Since my birthday and two of my cousin's birthdays fall within 4 days of one another, we always celebrate together with our family. So yet another cake, and another cake that all 3 of us had to resist! My aunt brought fruit for us instead, and again, it was just as delicious to us-- although I know her cake was amazing.
I must admit, I am finally feeling like eating this way is my routine again. For a while, although I was eating really well, I was just letting too much slip-- the Whole30 does a great job at proving to you how easy it is to just let things slip. When you aren't doing all (or at least the vast majority) or your own food prep, are letting certain ingredients by that don't seem so "bad", swearing to yourself that the little bit of cream in your coffee/that one yogurt each day/the few pieces of cheese you have per day aren't really bothering you, it opens the flood gates to allowing foods and ingredients into your body that your body actually doesn't like. You feel like crap and you don't know what food is doing it. And all these little slips add up- sure a grain and dairy-free fruit bar isn't an unhealthy choice, but when you are having 1 every day, and snacking on them between meals when your body isn't even hungry, you actually are doing more harm than good. Those couple of beers on Friday and Saturday night don't seem to be affecting you, until you realize how much better you feel on the weekends without the empty calories, gluten, and alcohol. Sure, rice is gluten-free, let me load up my plate (with loads of refined carbs and no nutrients at all). You get the point!
The Whole30 also really makes you appreciate good, real, nutritious food. I am enjoying every single thing I eat, am feeling satisfied and energized, and never getting that "I'm starving, give me food or I will die" feeling. And I have definitely reached the point where I don't crave anything! Sure, when there's cookies and cake and bread all around me, I don't feel invincible, but I am realizing that when I do want something non-Whole30, it's 100% because it's "forbidden." And it passes... much quickly than ever. I am feeling more energetic, less achy (did I mention that my ever-cracking knees haven't once cracked or popped since I started the Whole30-- despite doing hundreds of squats the past week?), and more vibrant than I have in a while. My clothes are fitting better, I feel stronger, I'm sleeping deeply through the night, my skin is clear, my hair is shiny, and my nails are strong and growing at a rapid pace!
I am really considering taking a one or two day "break" after Day 30 (I really could just go for a "paleo" muffin or pancake at this point!) and continuing for another 15 or even 30 days-- but let's not rush things! I am taking everything day by day and truly enjoying the experience along the way!
Well, I expected these days to be the hardest--- it's week 2 and I expected to get bored of food, frustrated with food prep, and according to the Whole30 timeline, I was prepared for the day 8-11 slump. Plus, my birthday weekend (days 11-14) conveniently fell right smack in the middle of the 30 days! A birthday with no cake? Yep!
But it's become apparent to me that for whatever reason, I've deviated from the projected schedule of the Whole30-- maybe because I've done this before, but I think it is just simply because of the concept of bio-individuality-- we are all biologically unique beings, so we will react differently to different foods and eating styles. I can say one thing for sure: I am, without a doubt, feeling and seeing positive changes-- but there were certainly humps to get over!
Day 8: The start of week 2-- also the beginning of the first week back to my normal work routine since before Christmas! Since we spent the previous day in the city, we did our usual-Sunday food shopping and prep on Saturday, which was crucial!
Maybe it was all the excitement on Sunday-- with getting home late and not getting quality sleep-- but Monday (day 8), I felt miserable. My body just did not want to function. It took all of my energy just to sit at work and get through the day.
So my meals were pretty boring-- eating was just a task I had to do. So again, food prep: crucial.
Day 8 meals (below):
Breakfast: Quiche and herbal "coffee" with 1t coconut oil, 2t collagen (a bit extra since my body was so exhausted!), and 1t butter.
Lunch (not pictured): Practical Paleo Orange Braised Beef with potato wedges
Dinner: Pork roast, raw sauerkraut, green beans, baked sweet potato, & gravy
Day 9 definitely picked up. I got much better sleep, got to the gym, and ate much better--- which all helps!
Day 9 meals (above):
Breakfast: Quiche & herbal coffee with collagen, coconut oil, and butter (Seeing a trend here? I am boring.)
Lunch: Sausage and peppers with broccoli
Pre-workout snack: Plain roasted almond butter
Dinner: Cracklin chicken thighs, mashed yucca, and salad (We had no salad dressing, so I whipped some up on a whim, and it was definitely the best dressing I have ever created! The secret ingredient? Green olive juice! (Again, just check your labels!)
Day 10- Wednesdays are turning out to be my longest days since I work, go to the gym, and then teach nutrition classes at night. So I need to be extra prepared with food (and clothes-- I swear I am a bag lady). This particular Wednesday was definitely full of temptation-- in celebration of a woman I work with, who publishing a book, our department threw her a post-lunch "dessert party." A huge table filled with loads of sugar and flour-- all kinds of cookies, cakes, and muffins I "could not" have. (The super fun part was going shopping for the party!)
"Could not": On any normal circumstance (meaning non-Whole30), no part of me would be phased by desserts. Sure, if I wanted a cookie, I would have one-- but I honestly never want it. Yet on this day, the thought that I am not allowed not even a bite or taste, just prompted me to want it. I had to continually-remind myself of a concept that I always teach others (and sometimes forget myself). My food choices are not imposed on me. They are just that: choices. Yes, the Whole30 has "rules" that need to be followed, but I am the one who decided to do the Whole30. So it's not about "I cannot eat ____", it's actually "I choose not to eat ___." I sucked it up and had some fruit instead-- which actually was quite delicious, especially after not having any sugar in 10 days!
Day 10 meals (below):
Breakfast: Quiche & herbal "coffee" (again.... but look, I got a plate this time!)
Lunch: Kettlebell Kitchen Chorizo Chicken Gumbo
Snack: sliced berries and pear
Post-workout: Leftover cracklin chicken
Dinner: Homemade minestrone soup (with bacon, onion, cabbage, zucchini, chard, carrots, tomatoes, & broth) with sausage & leftover mashed yucca
Day 11- my 27th birthday! (How am I 27? I don't know.)
I did have to work on my birthday (I guess that's what happens when you're 27), but I did have a shorter-than-usual day since I left a bit early to get a birthday workout in before dinner!
And yes, I stayed Whole30 all day. A few different people asked me if I was going to indulge, and I heard the "one day/meal/bite won't kill you" and "you're not going to have cake on your birthday!?!" lines often. But I made my mind up to do this, and do it right this time. And to do the Whole30 right, you need to be 100% for 30 days. Sure, it sounds harsh and to some, overly restrictive. But there are hundreds of reasons why the Whole30 is the way it is. (And if you are doing a Whole30, or plan to do one, I suggest you definitely read-- the website, the book-- all about these why's. I personally think that when you know why you are doing something, you are more motivated to be compliant and stick with it!) At least, start here: Do I Really Have to Start My Whole30 Over?
Day 11/birthday meals (below):
Breakfast: Same as every day (I spared you a boring picture of the monotony, but did pour my coffee into a funky mug!)
Lunch: Leftover minestrone soup with sausage over mashed yucca
Dinner (at Union Restaurant): Appetizer- shrimp ceviche with plantain chips (half), salad with bacon, tomatoes, & balsamic vinegar, and roast duckling with fried yucca and vegetables
Cake: "Fruit" cake :)
We planned to go out to dinner, so the night before my birthday, we did some research on where would be the "best" (most Whole30-friendly) restaurant to go to. We settled on Union, which is actually one of my favorite restaurants, and where I have celebrated my birthday at least 5 times in the past 7 years. The food is unique, full of flavor, and for the most part, very healthy! And the best part-- everything gluten-free (and vegetarian) is labeled-- which is so helpful because many meals that you would suspect are gluten-free actually aren't. (Gluten-free doesn't mean grain-free, and obviously not dairy or sugar-free, but it does help you identify which meals have hidden gluten in them-- things like flour used in gravies or to pan fry meats and fish). For everything else-- we just asked! Our ceviche was 100% Whole30, but our salads came with a Parmesan dressing and feta cheese, and our dinners came with rice, so we substituted yucca and sweet plantains.
When you go out to eat on the Whole30, you must become comfortable with talking to your waiter. Ask what ingredients are in dishes you want to order. Ask what types of oils/fats foods are cooked in. Ask for no sauce, no oil, no dressing. Always ask for substitutions-- if it's on the menu somewhere, they can put it on your plate! And don't be afraid to pack your own condiments-- salad dressing, mayo, homemade sauces, ghee, coconut oil, even good sea salt!
Now- cake. I rarely have cake on my birthday-- it has to be really worth it. And plus, I would prefer a steak (or roast duck) over cake any day! But my parents insisted that they have to sing "Happy birthday" and I have to have candles to blow out, so for the past few years, my mom has been constructing a "cake" made of fruit for my birthday--- and every year, we devour it (unlike every single family birthday when at least half of the cake is left over!) This year's "cake" was just as good, if not better, than any actual cake-- especially since half of my family has been doing the Whole30 and hasn't been eating any sugar. (You may hear how your tastes change and I can attest to this 100%!) We spent the rest of the night eating "dessert" and watching Friends on Netflix-- perfect. And I felt good-- and not just because it was my birthday, but because my body just felt better than it has in a long time!
Day 12: I took off work to get some schoolwork done and then spend the day with my mom and cousin, Alex, whose birthday is the day after mine. Every year for the past 5+ years, we have a birthday tradition of going shopping at Anthropologie and Free People. My boyfriend also took the day off, so he made us an amazing brunch (left).
I made one monumental mistake though. When we woke up, my dad had already made coffee. Since there was no regular coffee canister in the cabinet, we assumed he made decaf. I made myself a nice big mug and drank it all-- and within one minute, I knew-- that was not decaf. A phone call to my dad confirmed my suspicion (Stupid me to call after I drank it!).
Going almost 2 weeks without caffeine has been one of the best things I have ever done for my body. I have more energy-- and stable energy-- throughout the day than ever before. My anxiety has decreased tenfold. I feel stronger and have better endurance in my workouts. Weird aches and pains in my body have gone away (and yes, a lot of this is likely due to food... but having the caffeine by accident showed me that it truly is not just the food.) I immediately felt like my body was buzzing, my fingers started tingling, I felt nauseous... and the entire day I just felt "off"--- rushed and wired. A great reminder: Stay away from the caffeine. And make your own damn coffee, Kim!
On a positive note, not only did I have an amazing day of spending time with my mom and cousin shopping at our favorite stores-- but I had an amazing day because I actually wanted to try on clothes. For at least a year, I have really not bought myself new clothes, unless I needed to. I hated trying on clothes, because I had gained weight and things just didn't fit the way they used to. I no longer knew just what size to grab on the rack, because I didn't know what size I was anymore. This day was different. I actually liked the way clothes were looking on me. I was trying pants on in a whole size smaller than usual! No, I haven't weighed myself (I don't plan to until after the 30 days are up), but my body is changing and the best part is that I am truly starting to notice it myself!
That evening, my cousins, sister, and good friends went to a BBQ restaurant and had dinner. Although at the place where we normally treat ourselves to beer, wings, cornbread, and BBQ, we were all able to eat according to Whole30 guidelines-- 11 of the 14 in our group is doing Whole30, so it made it a lot easier to stay on plan and be accountable. The urge to get a beer isn't as strong when no one else is drinking-- and dinner is a heck of a lot less expensive sans alcohol! Gong out to dinner may not be as interesting when no one is indulging, but enjoying the company of friends is the same, minus the not-so-healthy (but oh so delicious) food and drink!
Day 12 meals:
Brunch(above): scrambled eggs with broccoli, sauteed red onions with lemon, leftover mashed yucca, uncured bacon, and coffee (not shown)
Lunch: None-- Brunch was so satiating that I didn't feel any hunger all day, until about 5pm!
Snack: Raw walnuts and a small bowl of leftover minestrone soup
Dinner: Salad (with tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli) w/ oil & vinegar, smoked chicken (without sauce), plain baked potato, & spicy collard greens (with bacon, tomatoes, garlic, & red chili flakes)
After dinner: black decaf coffee
So overall, I had an amazing birthday/birthday weekend (which is still ongoing!)-- even without sugar, grains, gluten, and yes-- even without a glass of wine or a beer! I spent time with my family, my boyfriend, and my best friends-- what else really matters? When you take away the traditional "celebratory" foods on your birthday, what you have left is the core of why you even celebrate at all-- the people in your life who you love, and who love you, most. Who the hell needs a cake?
Week 1 of the Whole30 has come and gone. Overall, I would say it's been a positive experience-- but not without its challenges (and cravings)! Fortunately, it means I am 1/4 of the way done with this 30 day journey, but as time goes on, I am seeing I may need to take a little more than 30 days to do what I need to do! However, I truly am seeing how certain "small" things I let slip over the past year or so, actually aren't very small at all.
Day 5: Friday-- usually a day to look forward to... the end of the work week, the beginning of the weekend. On the Whole30, it's bittersweet. It means the next few days will be less organized, less regimented, with guaranteed temptations.
Friday, I took the day off work, but only to work (for my small business), so luckily, I kept really busy throughout the day with little time to think about food! In fact, too little time. I ate a pretty small lunch, and then found myself scrambling to find a compliant pre-workout snack before I went to the gym in the afternoon. That's what happens when it's the end of the week and all of your previously-prepared food has all been eaten!
Day 5 meals (above):
Breakfast: 2 pieces of quiche, leftover potatoes sauteed in garlic, rosemary, sage, & clarified butter; herbal coffee with 1t butter and 1T collagen
Lunch: Leftover chicken soup (chicken including bones, carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery, & a bit of apple cider vinegar to leach minerals from the bones!)
Pre-workout snack (not pictured): 2 hardboiled eggs
Dinner: Burger with mushrooms, onions, bacon, over mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, & balsamic vinegar
Snack: Roasted chipotle seaweed
Friday night was difficult, since my boyfriend and I usually go out to eat (or order in), and while what we eat is usually not far from Whole30's standards, it also isn't exactly compliant. Friday nights are sometimes nights we treat ourselves--sometimes we get sushi, & sometimes we get gluten-free pizza-- & the hardest part, we usually have a beer or glass of wine, or some dark chocolate (maybe both). So, I feel conditioned to crave these foods on Friday nights. The good news is that we know plenty of places to go that we can get a delicious Whole30-compliant dinner! (I may do a little post about ordering at restaurants and Whole30-- it can be a pain, but once you know just what to ask for, it's pretty simple!) The place we chose is actually a burger place, but they make great salads. In fact, I order what I normally would-- but this time, there was no "I'll just have a few fries." I closed the menu and got over it- my food was so good, I forgot about fries pretty quick!
The more difficult part was after dinner. What do we do? It seems that everything involves food or drinks, and I found myself especially wanting a good, dark beer. We debated going to the movies, but couldn't find anything we wanted to watch. Going home to watch a movie was an idea, but I knew we would want a snack, which usually is paleo cookies or banana ice cream-- both which are not allowed on Whole30, and also full of sugar! We settled on trying something new-- pool. A few of my cousins met us (1 who is also doing Whole30), and we just played pool. Yes, there was a bar there, and yes I wanted a beer, but having accountability and support makes all the difference.
Before we got there, we stopped at the store to run in and pick up a few snacks, which took us much longer than we thought. It is so difficult to find, even grain/dairy/soy-free snacks without some sort of sweetener! We settled on some Sea Snax roasted chipotle seaweed "chips" and dried unsulphured mango.
On Day 6, we slept in a bit, and then spent some time cooking brunch. I love breakfast food, but especially on the weekends, when we have nowhere to be and can take our time cooking and actually sitting down to eat together. We then spent the day shopping, and stopped at Chipotle to grab lunch (which no, isn't perfect, but in a mall food court, your options are extremely limited!)
Day 6 meals (breakfast above, lunch & dinner below):
Breakfast: Uncured bacon, hashbrowns cooked in bacon fat, 2 eggs with onions and zucchini, and mixed berries; decaf coffee with 1t of butter and coconut oil
Lunch: Chipotle- Salad with pulled pork, grilled peppers & onions, fresh tomato salsa, & guacamole
Dinner: Practical Paleo's Pesto Shrimp & Squash Fettuccine & a baked potato
According to the Whole30 Timeline, Day 6 is when I should be in the "I just want to nap" stage... but I was more in the "give me all the chocolate" stage. It seemed everywhere I turned (probably because I was in a mall), there was chocolate. I stayed strong! I know that cravings for chocolate can be the body's cry for magnesium, so I made sure to up my dose that night and get a good night's sleep (stress deprives the body of magnesium). It definitely helped, but temptation was still all around me!
Day 7- another tough day (temptation-wise), but an amazing one! For Christmas, my brother bought my family (including my boyfriend) tickets to see Les Mis on Broadway. It is turning into a tradition that each year we all see a show and spend the day in the city-- one of my favorite things to do. When on a Whole30 though, it's a challenge! Fortunately, we set ourselves up for success-- we cooked breakfast and ate together as a family, packed compliant snacks, and planned to get dinner at my absolute favorite place, Hu Kitchen.
However, spending a day in the city is special, and usually a time when I treat myself-- Nuts 4 Nuts on every corner was a serious obstacle for me. Every time I go to the city, I have to get the roasted coconut-- it's one of my favorite treats. But, it's coated in sugar. And every time we walked by a cart (which seemed to be every block), I had to march on through a cloud of nutty, sweet smoke.
Day 7 meals (below):
Breakfast: Quiche with chicken sausage, carrots, red onion, zucchini (this is becoming a staple in our house!), baked potato wedges with smoked paprika, berries, and decaf coffee with 1t of butter, 1t of coconut oil, and 1T of collagen
Lunch (not pictured because it was eaten mid-show!): A beef Epic Bar (some of my absolute favorite "paleo" snacks-- not all are Whole30, but most are!)
Dinner (at Hu Kitchen): Wild elk/beef/pork meatloaf, roasted sweet potato, and sauteed rainbow chard
Snack: Sweet Kale Crunch from Hu Kitchen
If you live close to NYC and haven't been to Hu Kitchen, you must go ASAP-- especially if you are doing a Whole30 or eat a paleo/real food/traditional/nutrient-dense/gluten-free/whatever you want to call it diet. This place is free of gluten, modern dairy, soy, canola, GMO, grain-fed animal products. The only grains served are quinoa. The only oils cooked with are grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. The only sweeteners used are coconut sugar, unfiltered raw honey, and maple syrup. They make their own almond milk, have a paleo parfait bar, and offer things like kombucha tea on tap and even "crack coffee," which is blended with coconut oil and grass-fed butter-- I could go on and on.
Best of all, their philosophy is amazing-- real, nutrient-dense food-- the way we are meant to eat. (Read their philosophy here). I think this place is revolutionary (although when you think about it, the concept is as natural and innate as humanely possible... the food industry has just taken us so far from it!). But either way, we need more places like this!
Oh yeah, and the food is absolutely amazing- every time. Perhaps the best part is their huge selection of grain/dairy-free desserts, which are unfortunately not allowed on Whole30...even though my family all indulged, I held out for a hot peppermint tea! I did, however, pick up a delicious (and compliant) sweet kale crunch, and some snacks for post-Whole30 (like Exo Bars, which I have been dying to try!)
So all in all, week 1 was pretty successful. I learned a lot about myself and how my body responds to food, already. I realized what foods, environments, and emotions set off hunger and cravings. And I learned what is working for me, and what isn't. So far, my thoughts are:
Kim Jordan, NTP - Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, health educator, CrossFitter, nature lover, student of life, once-aspiring writer. Owner of Root and Branch Nutrition.