(I considered creating a blog page just to detail this attempt at following the Whole 30 Program(R); but truthfully, it was just too much trouble. So here is my log with my impressions, successes, and challenges during this 30 day plan. I do not represent the perfectly compliant follower of this plan, so don’t look to me for advice. If you have no interest in reading a log about my attempts to complete this month-long challenge, skip!)
MY WHOLE 30 LOG
Not sure what convinced me to try this plan, because it is super restrictive. Oh yeah, how about nearly 3 months of misery in my gut? Not to mention I could not stop gaining weight (5 years ago I lost 75 lbs, and felt wonderful. Since then, 30 lbs have crept back). It was starting to become a pound a month; no diet or deprivation seemed to work. But this truly came to a head mid-July. I was plagued by a UTI that just wouldn’t go away. Followed by the antibiotic macrobid, and then the horrible Cipro. Cipro is an over-prescribed, broad-spectrum drug, with horrendous life-altering side affects and I avoid it like the plague (google “Cipro toxicity” or “floxin/fluroquinolone poisoning”). Sometimes in your UTI suffering you make desperate choices.
I now realize that 3 months of misery was in fact the Cipro annihilating my good gut flora– to the extent that it hurt to just sit down, ride in a car, enjoy my husband, and involved an emergency room visit for excruciating upper abdomen pains. After a CT scan, blood work, Gastro ER doc report, and a follow up with a Uro-gynecologist and fears I had some form of cancer or bladder mesh erosion, I was pronounced “ok.” No medical professional even considered for a minute blaming Cipro or bad intestinal health.
Not to belabor this, but from hours of research I realized my entire digestive tract was damaged. The best advice given from an essential oils friend was to take LIVE probiotics (found in fridge section of health food stores). Within a couple of days my 3-month saga of pains subsided.
This was a wake up call. I needed to feed my body with good, healthy, natural foods, and heal it. Whole 30 fits that description. This really isn’t gimmicky or a fad-diet. It’s rather normal.
I’d already known the benefits of trying a gluten-restricted diet. Even my Upper Respiratory allergy issues improved when I restricted gluten. I love veggies and fruits, try to cook healthy meals, but sugar and crunchy, salty snack foods was my real addiction. My first successful diet (75 lbs in 5 months on Medifast– yes, that’s fast but very gratifying) forbade fruits because of sugar, so I have always been very selective to pick the lowest sugar fruits like berries.
I was game to eliminating sugar, dairy, grains, and all fake/unpronounceable additives for 30 days, and instead eat clean, single-ingredient natural foods.
Here’s my journey!
September 28-30: asked hubby if he’d like to join me in this 30-day eating challenge, starting October 1. He says yes. I promptly start cleaning out all the forbidden foods remaining in our cupboard or fridge by binge-eating: chips, crackers, breads, pasta, microwave butter popcorn, Tasty Kakes, chocolate, cheese, Halo Top ice cream. Finish the “healthy 80-calorie greek yogurt.” Kill the open bottle of wine. Although I’d already been weaning off my twice a week Diet Coke, I had my last ones in these days. I’m eating like a condemned woman.
Shop Whole Foods and Mom’s for acceptable shelf items like ghee, coconut aminos, LaCroix waters, and kombucha. Will be sourcing as many organic and unprocessed fruits, veggies, and meats as possible (organic, non-GMO, and clean/ethically raised is recommended– hey, isn’t this what we basically called “FOOD” 40-50 years ago?). Panic about an upcoming trip and find Epic meat bars and certain Lara Bars are Whole30 compliant (always check ingredients for sugars etc; these are “emergency food” with “legal” ingredients, and not recommended too often; but isn’t it utterly amazing you rarely can find a packaged food with 3 ingredients or less? Lara bars are exceptional in this way). Research, research, research (Whole30.com). Print pages of FREE helpful guidelines, shopping lists, and put in a binder. Screen shot a few pages for ready reference on my phone.
October 1: Hubby and I embark on our W30 journey. Black coffee is UGH (I’m a stevia and low-sugar flavored Coffee Mate gal). Dinner is zucchini “noodles” with a meat sauce made from scratch: veggies, herbs, simple tomatoes and paste; plus a salad with avocado, walnuts, strawberries S&P, oil/vinegar. Dessert is strawberries.
October 2: I leave 4:45 am for my 4-day trip. Packed refillable Nalgene water bottle, apple, tangerine, Epic and Lara bars. Have “Mr. T’s” Bloody Mary mix on plane, only to find out later it’s completely NOT W30 compliant (neither is innocuous sounding Dasani lime water– both have high-fructose and sugar along with other unpronounceables). By 3:30pm I’m starving and have head ache. Hubby texts: “Was dizzy this morning. Had my appointment w doc. Really low blood pressure. Probably from diet. Still a little blurry. Made my cod dish – not bad. Miss you.” (Note: his BP was 107/70– his norm is 140/90).
Dad’s senior-living dining room thankfully has a big salad bar and plain meat and veggie options on buffet.
October 3: hotel breakfast has hard boiled eggs and basic fruit. I took the turkey sausage knowing full well it probably was not compliant and full of bad additives. Patting myself on the back I avoided waffles, pastries, muffins, bagels, yogurts, cereals. Paltry salad lunch at Dad’s club. Stop at store to buy compliant kombucha, freeze-dried fruit, Lara bars at Walmart. Later for my dinner (Dad has his left-over Reuben and an early night) I’m combing the aisles of local grocery and finding NOTHING. Eventually settle for the healthiest frozen meal I can find, a salad and fruit. Find one brand of sliced turkey without sugar or additives. I consider this a coup, since most options involved fast food, Chinese, pizza or tacos.
October 4: stay as compliant as possible with hotel breakfast bar (I know the bacon isn’t the compliant kind, but who resists bacon???). Black coffee results in less temptation for 2nd and 3rd cups (but REALLY looking forward to the W30-compliant Nutpods coffee creamer I’ve ordered) Lunch: plain burger patty and simple salad (scrape off cheese and croutons but not before brother notices). Dinner: Dad wants to treat me to a “nice restaurant dinner” and suggests the Italian place. Nothing on that menu is W30. I suggest the other restaurant and have filet steak, sweet potato with no toppings, asparagus and salad (while breathing in the aroma of Dad’s yummy BBQ ribs). A feast and I couldn’t finish!!! Dad now has at least two meals in leftovers boxes between his and mine.
October 5: Hotel breakfast bar, same as yesterday. Proud of my travel-food prep today: in my backpack I have my compliant turkey slices; carrot sticks, banana and an apple for lunch (too much fruit but better than alternatives). At about 3pm at 35,000 ft. I resist the airplane pretzels and have fully researched the compliant beverage options (I ask for seltzer and OJ–having asked flight attendant before take off to look at ingredients on OJ). Have also figured out an herbal tea bag in my Nalgene’s cool water lends it a nice subtle flavor. Also packed are oven-roasted almonds, Orange, Epic and Lara bars– I won’t land until 7pm and don’t want to be ravenous and tempted to cheat (and with the 3 hour delay, I’m not home until 10).
According to W30, ANY “cheat” puts you back to day one, and this is understandable but rather sad. I know these first days had a few things that would not be 100% compliant, but I think in spirit I did the best I could with a lot of uncontrolled factors that come with travel. Possibly sugar detox is happening.
October 6 – Now at home I can have better control (I hope). On the run this morning so a HB egg and some grapefruit. Did the big shopping today for healthy stuff, planned a menu, did a lot of prep. Lunch scrambled eggs with a touch of onion, spinach and potato. I wonder if Ore-Ida hash browns are legal? No bad ingredients listed… Nutpods hazelnut “creamer” is ok but not great. I mostly miss my stevia sweetness in coffee.
Tonight’s crockpot veggie-packed beef stew was a little disappointing; the beef was tough; without Lipton’s Onion soup mix it was missing flavor. Threw in a diced turnip, a first. Ground up the remaining stew meat for leftovers.
Also roasted beets today (another first– always used jarred), sliced for salads and pickled an few as well. Homemade Mayo is excellent and quite easy to make.
Oh– and why is arrowroot so expensive? $7 for a small spice jar size?? Need a cornstarch replacement for thickening sauces and stews.
The redeeming part of today was the pumpkin custard which was amazing but probably qualifies as SWYPO (“sex with your pants on,” aka an “almost cheat” because technically I guess it’s a dessert-y thing). Still, it felt virtuous because there was no sugar, dairy or gluten; it purports to be W30 compliant (more about these boasts later). It’ll be a breakfast alternative when the eggs get old.
A pitcher of Raspberry Zinger iced tea, and LaCroix flavored waters provide more appealing beverage choices.
October 7: spinach onion frittata with a handful of OreIda frozen potato cubes. Cooked up 6 pieces of the pricey sugar-free bacon, intending to have leftovers. We each had 3. So delish (W30 is right to caution that bacon can be abused; good thing the “legal” kind is so expensive, won’t be buying often). Tomatoes, avocado garnish, 6 grapes. For lunch I coat thin turkey cutlets with almond-coconut flour and seasonings and cook in coconut oil. Slice over raw spinach with 2 sliced strawberries, several pecans, dribbles of Italian dressing made from W30 Mayo. Satisfying. Mid afternoon I’m hungry so a small hand of mixed nuts, and a Larabar. Dinner out with friends (we requested a steakhouse): 4oz filet, plain baked potato (asked for drawn butter vs regular– isn’t this close to “clarified?) and asparagus. Later at home we have a small serving of pumpkin custard. Are we feeding our “sugar dragon” with this? Always have craved “something sweet” after a meal; so, how is it different than if we ate the component ingredients of this custard? Also, can’t resist stepping on the scale so broke that “rule.” I just need that motivation any time I’m restricting food. Small reductions are motivating.
Reflection on Week One: It’s officially one week on Whole30 and the jury is still out for me. The more I read up about this plan, the more Nazi-like I find it (as each day an illegal choice comes along). And, I accept it’s ONLY 30 days, AND you can eat delicious REAL food. Whole30 requires a TON of careful label-reading as you shop, lots of prep and cooking to have control over ingredients and what you’re putting in your body (which is why I chose October, it was a month I knew I had more time). But forget about any concoction that reminds you of dessert or sugar, which feeds your “sugar dragon,” or qualifies as “Sex with your pants on (SWYPO).” Sure, fruit is “legal,” but in small portions and with meals so you’re not pouring sugar into your bloodstream (which apparently disturbs the good things this plan does for your body, especially weight loss). Of course W30 doesn’t want to demonize healthy fruit in reasonable portions (and even opines it is “optional”). But what disturbs me is that W30 says I can’t mix “legal” ingredients like coconut milk, fruit, and OJ into a smoothie. Or, eggs, coconut milk, banana, and pumpkin into a yummy custard– because these things are “desserts” or “treats,” and the point of Whole30 is to get out of this need/mentality. I despise black coffee, and the Nutpods “creamer” really doesn’t cut it. One side of me agrees that’s good and for 30 days I should be able to; the other side (the side that enjoys life and food) says this is too harsh, and decidedly not fun. Gotta start focusing on all the good points.
Learning to make sure my purse is always stocked with emergency snacks: Epic! Bar, Larabar, nuts. All of these things are considered “last resort” options but better than going on a desperate fast food binge while out.
I “illegally” have weighed myself, which is something I just need to do. And the news is good, so I stay motivated.
The “good” I take away from week one: I’m pretty much off sugar; I’m down a couple pounds; I managed to stay with it even when traveling and it wasn’t easy to find foods; my GI system feels better; my water intake is up; I haven’t had one packaged salty or sweet snack food or drink in a week (aside from legal Epic and Lara bars); and I’m not consuming lots of chemical additives.
Now on to Week 2. Eggs for breakfast is getting old.