Alternatively titled: I miss toast.
We are almost finished with our first ever attempt at whole30 (I know, I hate me too) and I wanted to share some thoughts & tips with you all. I have gotten tons of emails and messages about what we are doing, how it is going and advice for anyone who is going to try it. I will start by saying, there are SO many amazing resources for whole30 so please don’t let this be your main resource, do tons of research before starting and decide what foods you will and won’t eat. We decided to do ours after basically binge eating & drinking all the sugary things and junk food on our beach trip, we came home feeling like we needed to hit the reset button. It helped so much to have each other to hold accountable, and Brandon was a champ, both at grilling lots of the meals and also putting up with me saying “I’m hungry” two thousand times a day.
I learned after we started that there are a lot of different levels of whole30, we basically followed the rules on the whole30 site & the grocery list. Some people don’t eat any fruit because of the natural sugar, some don’t eat potatoes at all, etc. but we did the less strict version and I realized there is no way I could have done it any other way. We printed this grocery list and based most of our meal planning on what was on it. We tried to keep meals super simple, rather than complicated and full of substitutes. We also basically stopped going out to eat for the most part, it felt overwhelming thinking about what was in all of the dishes, so aside from when I was travelling, we cooked basically everything at home.
Some of the biggest struggles for me were finding food I liked for breakfast that would also keep me full. I looove my sweets at breakfast (waffles, pancakes, french toast, TOAST) and usually do not wake up wanting to eat salty/savory food, so it was hard to eat eggs early in the morning. I started eating a banana when I first woke up and then would wait and do a later second breakfast of eggs + sweet potatoes or avocado. Also, the banana + 2 egg pancakes are legit and topped with some fruit and shredded coconut can be a pretty great substitute. Although the whole time I eat them I can’t help but think, “stop trying to make whole30 pancakes happen, they’re never going to happen.” Strangely I didn’t miss milk or cream in my coffee, I had no problem drinking it black (I tried unsweetened almond milk but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in taste) but I reeeeaally miss having yogurt and fruit for breakfast.
One thing that I think made our things a little easier was doing it during summer when fruit is in season & grilling is always an option. We eat a ton of grilled chicken, fish, burgers, and pork chops. Roasted veggies are everything, we did lots of cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, squash and sweet potatoes. Ohhh the sweet potatoes, they were my saving grace, either in the oven or sauteed in some olive oil, YUM. I could still eat them for every meal. LaraBars, RX Bars & LaCroix are life savers, and adding essential oils like Peppermint, Orange, Grapefruit & Lemon to my water helped to curb sugar cravings. I made a lot of smoothies using unsweetened almond milk, frozen fruits, almond butter & shredded coconut.
Some of our favorite dishes include burger bowls (grilled burger over sweet potato hash, topped with a fried egg, sauteed onions & avocado), chicken fried cauliflower-rice (using my favorite chicken fried rice recipe but substituting frozen/steamed riced cauliflower + sweet potato), chicken salad (best mayo option), sweet potato breakfast bowls, chicken or turkey lettuce wraps, and the best ever cracklin’ chicken. I followed this blog religiously for amazing recipes & love this list of breakfast food options.
What I learned from doing this so far is how bad my eating habits were prior to making a point to eat healthy. I never ate a ton of junk food, but would never turn down pancakes for breakfast, and could easily follow it with grilled cheese for lunch or fries with my dinner. Not to mention the handfuls of goldfish or peanut butter crackers I would eat here and there with the kids. Doing whole30 has helped me change my perspective on food, to view it as fuel instead of treats. I have learned what sweets are necessary in my life (yogurt + granola) and what is not (donuts). For the first time ever, I paid attention to added sugar and feel that I can make much better decisions on meals for our whole family.
Did I do the best whole30 ever with absolutely no cheating? Not a chance. There were meals when I was travelling unexpectedly last week that I couldn’t really avoid (although I did my best), I drank at a concert because #lukebryan, and I definitely ate a few pieces of homemade popcorn without even thinking about it. But when I think of all the food I did not eat (and drinks I did not drink!) and all of the amazing, healthy meals that I now love and will make often, I feel really good about it. To be honest, I never thought I would make it through a week, so to have done this much is a huge accomplishment!
So if you are thinking about attempting your first whole30, my advice would be yes, try it!!! Even if you only make it a week, the knowledge you will take away from it is worth it, and you will see amazing changes in your energy & body after just a few days which is so encouraging.
Have a happy weekend, friends!! XO259