My Whole 30 Journey (week 2)

WEEK 2

October 8:  It’s a baking day. In South Africa this eating style is called “Banting,” this paleo-esque diet. The Real Meal Revolution book was introduced to me by a SA friend. My two favorite recipes from the book appear W30 compliant; nutty seed crackers (delicious crunchy crackers made purely with seeds and water– psyllium husks make it doughy enough to bake; and nut granola, which as its name implies is nuts toasted in coconut oil and spices. Since the nut granola usually was a garnish for yogurt or oatmeal (and rarely, to dress up ice cream), I’m not quite sure its use now… I’m sure I’ll find a way.

Dinner: Roasted Za’atar chicken breasts (bone in and with skin, cuz it’s juicier) with lots of veggies–Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, red potato– cuz roasted veggies are so flavorful. This is an easy meal cuz you just toss ingredients in olive oil and Za’atar spices (most inexpensively found in middle eastern stores, online for a bit more; or you can make your own if you can find the ingredients; sumac lends it the exotic touch).  You can use other spices like Italian or Herbes de Province.  Roast together in one pan 40 minutes. Served with half a sliced pear. We eat the last of our pumpkin custard; oh wait, I just happened to have half a can of coconut milk leftover so add 2 eggs, a couple mashed dates, and half can pumpkin, pp spices — blend in bullet, voila, 4 mini custards. Top with nut granola.

October 9: Breakfast: two fried eggs, hash brown patty (baked from frozen and possibly not legal, because it tastes so good… white potatoes have always felt “wrong” on a diet) and a slice of amazing pineapple that tastes like candy (also not good… my body needs to not want this sweet taste).  Lunch- my fav chicken salad with HB eggs and homemade Mayo, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, and a few grapes sliced super tiny. Delish on 3 seed crackers, and I’m full and happy!!!
Movies: ahhhh!! Have to resist hot buttered popcorn smells, but proud that I did (even though my companions were indulging!). Larabar and seed crackers in purse, smuggled in a kombucha. Coffee after was black. I hate black coffee.  Dinner Cuban picadillo hash, grilled plantains (bananas since I don’t have) and pineapple slice; green salad with W30 Mayo-based dressing. This is a dish that begs black beans and rice… was so hungry I didn’t miss so much.

October 10:   This morning black coffee or with Nutpods was not cutting it. I used a few drops of “illegal” stevia extract. This has been so intolerable, the plain coffee. It’s one thing to sugar up my diet with teaspoons upon teaspoons of pure sugar (aka a real Coke). It’s another to just enjoy coffee that tastes good in the morning. Nutpods does little more than just change the color of the coffee (and sometimes seems to separate into an oily mess on top of the coffee).  Breakfast: Spinach/pepper/potato scrambled eggs.  Getting tired of this.  Lunch: finished off yesterday’s chicken salad, and unsweetened grapefruit slices.  A couple hours later succumb to the call of the “Key Lime Pie” Larabar.  It is delicious. Somewhere in the back of my head “Delicious=Bad.” Dinner: Friday’s left-over stew. Snacks at Bible study are tempting, I have a few grapes and one Trader Joe’s chili mango slice—before checking ingredients and seeing it has added sugar.

October 11: Hubby out of town. Challenge for “if no one sees it, it’s not really cheating.” Breakfast:  Eggs for breakfast are getting very old, so I try a version of this “Grain Free Oatmeal” recipe adding a few tweaks of my own (stuff already in fridge: a tablespoon of pumpkin puree, coconut milk, some of my nut granola, and one egg for a protein boost… I microwave the concoction 1:30, and find it really good and satisfying.  I return to coffee, no sweetner today, and it’s not as objectionable. Today’ goal will be eating more veggies, and avoiding snacks (especially after dinner).  More shopping at Trader Joe’s for Whole 30 compliant foods (including turkey and ham slices!!!  This is a major coup, to find these without added sugars and chemicals).  Dinner is a hearty chicken crock pot stew which will provide several meals this week.  Try tapioca flour in place of cornstarch for thickening and it works great (learned a new cooking term: “slurry,” which means a mix of a flour with water to thicken a soup, stew, etc.)

Today I just couldn’t resist a piece of my favorite sugar-free (chemical laden) gum because dragon breath just wasn’t cutting it with a client.  Yes, burning fat does stink up your breath.

October 12:  Hallelujah!  I feel I’ve found the holy grail of breakfast—grain-free “oatmeal” is delicious and a great alternative to eggs every day (I put one egg in my mix of chopped apples, one date, a few tablespoons each of coconut milk pumpkin, coconut and slivered almonds; dash of pumpkin spice mix; 2 minutes in the microwave results in a creamy-custardy deliciously filling concoction.  Lunch (out): Great compliant salad with lots of greens and grilled chicken; Dinner:  chicken salad with homemade mayo for evening snack.

Noted: The past couple of nights have been good and restful sleep, without the help of Ambien.

October 13:  Found a recipe for W30 pork sausage.  It was pretty good, but in spite of all the seasonings I added, it wasn’t like the “real deal.” Big protein breakfast, not too hungry rest of day.  Today I put a few drops of stevia in coffee to enjoy, thus making it a “cheat day.”  This evening I’ll see what looks good.  My friend arrives today for the weekend, and she’s the one who is willing to adapt to whatever crazy diet I’m on.  I will miss wine and snacks, but we will enjoy each other’s company most.  I’ve prepared lots of reheatable meals that are W30.  Just thought how I’ve now gone more than 2 weeks without cheese; today’s the first day I really miss it.  We end up having reheated butternut squash soup (made paleo with coconut milk and other veggies, it’s good but quite sweet).

I’ve noticed in recent days some return of belly issues—slight cramping and loose bowels.  Not sure if it was the extremely cruciferous salad yesterday; that it was “restaurant food;” or, i don’t want to face it– is it the few drops of stevia?

October 14:   Everything for my girls’ weekend is super planned-out, but easy, as my friend Lynn wants to experience a Whole30 eating experience. Prepare breakfast of veggie-loaded spinach frittata with enough for another day. Late lunch is a picnic of veggie sticks, chicken salad, seed crackers, apple, Larabar “treats” (bad—not supposed to have “treats”). As we road-trip today, I do crave a Coke or some other beverage but water, but resist.  I also can’t resist a piece of SF gum because breath stinks. I must congratulate myself more often rather than chastise.  On most normal road trips I’d buy some bad packaged snacks, and I resist this time even when at a store and confronted with these.  At home, a light meal of leftover Cuban Picadillo.

Our weekend together is a success for staying on Whole 30, as I introduce a few “recipes” to her.

Week Two Reflections: 

I should start with the “good” before I complain.  I have lost another few pounds (illegally weighing myself– but this just is a non-negotiable for me, I need the reinforcement of the scale) so perhaps from my highest, most bloated number 14 days ago this makes about 5 lbs lost (but I’m thinking more like 3-4)? For me, it’s not fast loss, but it’s loss with healthy “real” foods and some deprivation (without starvation).  No outright bad packaged foods and no glaring cheats.  A bit of longing for pizza, donuts–the latter I rarely indulge in (sadly I pass donut shops as well as other restaurants in my daily walks, and yes I need a different route).   I have reduced cravings for salty and sweet snacks and junk and managed to race through the cookie or baked goods aisle without “noticing.”  I am also sleeping better.

I’ve been on a variety of diets over the years.  Among them are Weight Watchers, Adkins, South Beach, Mayo Clinic, “Banting,” and Medifast.  Each had it attributes and drawbacks, most were ketogenic/paleo/protein types.  Weight Watchers always was a sane eating plan, but there was so much cheat factor for me because there were too many choices and opportunities to negotiate with myself. When WW changed their rules every few years, I grew disenchanted.  Medifast was the one that helped me lose a massive amount of weight; yet after 75 pounds, I neglected to follow their transition and maintenance programs, which would have likely helped me to move on to healthier choices rather than return to the poorer habits (and I see they have updated their plans to give more options, like “fast loss” and “slow and steady.”  I’ve got to wonder if others have had the same regain issues that I have; in all fairness, Medifast was created by Johns Hopkins’ doctors to help morbidly obese patients lose dangerous weight fast before surgery).  Medifast “helped” me because the choices were easy and clear;  5 of my 6 meals were their packaged products (technically not “real food,” mostly “add water,” and very soy-based).  But I felt full, and the gluten-free aspects were helpful for my body; I got refined sugar out of my body but not sweet tastes as they have fake sugar. I hated not having fruit.  I believe there was something to eating smaller “meals” every 2-3 hours was helpful for my metabolism.

As I go through Whole 30, I have the sense that I am truly “feeding” and “healing” my body.  I’ve taken away chemicals and harmful foods; I’m healing my gut (I hope–this last week has seen a return of a few small belly discomforts, and some small RA flares).  It’s teaching me to reach for more natural options, to read ingredients, and not to be lulled into thinking everything is healthy just because packaging tells me it is.

Will I forever give up my favorite guilty pleasures like Utz Special Dark Pretzels or Barbeque potato chips, or Tasty Kakes Peanut Butter Kandykakes (the only time I want to have milk)?  Chocolate? Lovely cheeses? Yogurt? Occasional ice cream?  Fake sweetners?  I doubt it, but hopefully  I will use these as very occasional treats rather than staples, and more often reach for “real foods.” I prefer the concept of eating healthy, ethically produced real food, no additives, and am more educated than ever about how difficult these are becoming to find and afford.

W30 says: Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. (and goes on to comparing “hard” as cancer, childbirth, and death of a parent). It’s hard to argue, but to me it’s an apples and oranges comparison.  I hate black coffee, so I’m faced with a dilemma.  I don’t want to give up my coffee… (OK, beyond caffeine, it has a “laxative effect” for me and keeps me regular) and I don’t want it black.  I have been putting a few drops of Stevia in it, half of what I’d normally do, but no dairy, so I suppose I’m not contributing to my gut healing… I’m mustering the motivation to this coming week to resist stevia.  I may need to just go to herbal teas, which I can manage without sweetner… yet that proposes some caffeine withdrawal which I’m not looking forward to.

Their site says: “Whole30 is, at its heart, an elimination diet.  Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and firing up the immune system.  One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the batter in the 30-day period and you’ve broken the reset button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.  It’s only 30 days.”

This strict program can be a set-up for failure among the less strong of us.  Nearly every single day a small, tiny choice has come my way (eating a piece of SF gum for stinky breath; coffee with stevia; wanting a sweet taste after a meal, even if I’ve not done any refined sugars and only “natural” sugars from dates (high sugar) or other fruits).  To claim total “defeat” isn’t helpful.  I’d say I’ve been 90% compliant.  But for this program that’s not enough, only 100% compliance counts–and I do understand what they’re all about and can’t argue it.  I’ll continue and see if I truly can get sweet tastes out of my life, and finish this 30 days of less-than-perfect compliance out with more compliance.  That will be my personal achievement, even if 90%.

For me, in spite of not meeting the strictest of requirements, I feel it’s been a success.  I wish I could be as disciplined as they require for “success”: eliminating all dairy, grains, sugar, artificial sweetners, legumes, alcohol, additives carregeenan, MSG, sulfites, treats, and stepping on the scale.  But even a 90% has been beneficial for me.

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