Follow Up to the Whole 30

Clean Eating

Since posting my Whole 30 experiment I’ve had so many of you ask questions that I’ve wanted to follow up on. Let’s get right to it! 

Are you still following the Whole 30 guidelines? For the most part - yes.  I make exceptions for about two to three meals a week, depending on my social plans. Through trial and error, I’ve decided there are some things that just aren’t worth it.  I’ve had very bad reactions to beer and bar food (duh), mild reactions to dairy (enough to pass on cheese or milk) and no noticable reaction to things like sushi (white rice), bread (although I’ve only had it twice), wine or chocolate. 

Now this is going to sound really dramatic, but before the Whole 30, I had a little phase of mourning the foods I was never going to eat again.  I was raised on pasta, bread and potatoes and thought of these foods as the fuel I needed to keep going. It scared me to think I could never eat these again, but in reality, I can eat whatever I want as long as I’m able to take on the consequences. And ya know what else? I really don’t crave those kinds of foods like I used to. Just as I said before, some things aren’t worth it. Some are. I think it’s also very important to not feel guilty about treating yourself to something you enjoy once and a while.  I’m not great with moderation (more on that later), so it works for me to be strict 18-19 meals a week. 

Is eating paleo hard? (Paleo, short for paleolithic or pre-historic and generally means foods that ancient people could hunt or gather (versus grow or process) But is eating paleo hard? No. It does take effort and planning. We can’t (and don’t) eat out as often as we used to.  We work hard to make sure there’s always a protein source and lots of veggies in the house. It’s all about effort. 

Before the Whole 30, I was not much of a cook. I started with base recipes - how to properly make eggs, meat and veggies and just started playing around with spices and textures.  I used the recipes from It Starts with Food at first, but now I just wing it.  The more you cook, the better you get!

What the the main differences you’ve noticed between clean and regular eating? There are a few. I’m usually never hungry, like I was when I had a bagel and coffee each morning. When I eat clean, I never have stomach pains, but when I don’t (bar food and beer) I feel really, really terrible. The other thing that I’m most happy with is my complexion. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best it’s been in 20 years. 

My food cravings have majorly changed as well. My favorites are scrambled eggs, avocados, berries, apples with almond butter with coconut flakes and raisins. A good grass fed burger or fresh chicken from the butcher. Food has become so much more flavorful.

Any ideas for eating paleo on a busy schedule?  It’s all about the planning and left overs. We try to make four portions at dinner, eat two and pack the others for the next day’s lunch. If you have time on Sunday afternoon, make and peel a batch of hard boiled eggs - they’re a fast, high protein snack.  I also like to cook up all of my chicken strips for the week and pack them into glass containers in the fridge. We use these in stir fries all week.  Roasting sweet potatoes has been great to do ahead of time too (I peel and cut into 1" cubes and coat with coconut oil. Bake for 40 minutes at 425, turning cubes at least once). 

If you don’t have access to a microwave at work, you can pack your salad greens in one container and the fixings in the other. That pre-cooked chicken is awesome on salads, along with a veggie, some nuts, dried or fresh berries. 

Planning.  Planning. Planning! 

What about eating out? Any suggestions? The first step is picking a place that you know has high quality ingredients, like farm to table restaurants.  In Bloomington we often eat at FARM, Uptown, Village Deli, Feast and Bub’s.  If you’re on the road and don’t have that option, ordering something that has as little processing as possible is your best bet. Grilled chicken on a salad, vinegar and oil on the side. A bun-free burger with extra lettuce and pickles. Mustard is paleo-ok and has become a favorite of mine! Like I mentioned in my last post, a lot of people have food allergies and ask for substitutions, so don’t feel bad asking for no cheese, bread, dressing, whatever! 

Just do the best you can, with what you have available. Don’t beat yourself up if the kitchen cooks with the wrong kind of oil or there’s something “off limits” that was added to your meal. Feel nourished and move on! 

What are you eating to get calcium? Vegetables! We eat large quantities of broccoli and kale, two great sources of calcium. 

Can you talk about potatoes? We’ve swapped out white Irish potatoes for sweet potatoes which we normally eat roasted, but sometimes we get them as fries when we’re out to eat!

How much meat do you eat? We aim to have a palm sized portion of protein at every meal. Sometimes it’s a little more, sometimes we go vegetarian.  We’ve been buying our meat from the butcher instead of the grocery store and can taste the difference! We also ordered grass fed organic beef burgers online and had them shipped. They are, hands down, the best beef I’ve ever had.  We try to go mainly with turkey, chicken and fish and limit the beef to once or twice a week. 

What does a typical day’s menu look like? 

  • Breakfast: 4 scrambled eggs, half an avocado, 1/3 cup of berries

  • Lunch: Left over chicken and sweet potatoes made into a stir fry with sauteed onions and kale.

  • Dinner: Turkey Meatballs with homemade tomato sauce over spaghetti squash

  • (and if I’m still hungry) Dessert: An apple or a banana with almond butter, coconut flakes and raisins

Other notes:

I eat LARGE meals, three times a day. I try to portion out the size of my protein, but never restrict vegetables.

We don’t count calories. Ever.

I don’t weigh myself daily. Our bodies naturally fluctuate with the time of day and the month. I’ve checked in with my trainer twice since my first weigh-in this January. I’m more concerned with body composition than the number on the scale because I’m starting to get pretty strong! My body fat went down another 3.5% on my second assessment! 

I hope this answered your remaining questions! If you haven’t given the Whole 30 a try, I can’t recommend it enough! I’ve never felt healthier!