Why I did Whole30:
I started this journey because I’m facing transition and want to feel healthy, energized, and capable. March 5th marked the 4-year anniversary of my divorce and I’ve spent the past few years recovering, finding forward, and learning to manage my health after being diagnosed with Hashimotos. Hashimotos is an auto immune disease that attacks my thyroid and compromises my immune system, energy, concentration, and weight. As far as auto immune diseases go, it’s one of the more manageable ones, but it’s still a time thief and I have to pace myself.
What Whole30 is:
Whole30 is an elimination diet that helps identify food triggers that cause various reactions and conditions. It is more about getting healthy and less about weight loss, thought that’s certainly an added bonus. I lost 14 pounds in 30 days. I also tamed my sugar dragon and increased my productivity without melting down. It wasn’t easy, I had hard days, but I got through them and bounced back faster than I used to. The temptations weren’t as hard as the lack of energy. There were days that I wanted to crawl back into bed, but as long as I got the rest I needed, they passed. Whole30 isn’t going to cure Hashimotos (it’s probably genetic in my case and triggered by stress), but it definitely helps decrease the symptoms.
The crux of the program is to eliminate sugar, dairy, grains, and alcohol. That leaves protein, vegetables, and fruit.
There are a lot of print and online support materials for this program and with proper preparation, it’s very doable.
Keys to my Whole30 success:
- Do it with a friend! My dear friend Kate did this with me. We each did it for different reasons, but sharing our journey was absolutely the key to our success. We swapped recipes, vented, cried S.O.S on bad days, and celebrated good days. I don’t know if I could have done it without her.
- Prepare! I don’t cook. Not really anyway. I used to, but after my divorce I developed a serious aversion to cooking. “What’s for dinner?” is my least favorite question. I hated spending an hour preparing a meal only to have my kids turn their noses up at it. There wasn’t another adult in the house to eat or appreciate it, so why bother? We started eating out too often or hitting up the salad bar and meal markets at our local grocery store. The busier I got with work, the worse my aversion to food prep became. I didn’t want to deal with the mess that went along with it. Grabbing food to go was easier.
So, when I approached Whole 30, I knew it needed to be ridiculously easy if I had any chance of sticking with it. Pinterest was my best source for ideas. Pinterest has lists of compliant foods for major food outlets (Costco, Trader Joes, Target, Whole Foods, etc.). It also has a plethora of easy prep, simple meal ideas.
I planned super easy meals ahead of time and made sure I was stocked appropriately. I also planned ahead for quick grab food options for the days when I didn’t have time to meal prep. I’m a single mom, there are a lot of those days.
- Track and journal! I bought the Whole30 Day by Day The book helps you plan, track, and combat. It’s full of tips and targets and it’s a great resource to refer to when you want to try your second round of Whole30.
- Plan for the bad days! I found a great Whole30 calendar online that tracks how people typically feel on each day during their Whole30 journey. It helped to see what was coming, so I wasn’t sideswiped by negative or strange reactions. The online boards are full of suggestions for how to combat negative reactions. I learned that sweet potatoes are a great mood stabilizer and help tremendously with headaches.
My easy prep meals:
- Canned tuna or salmon with Primal Kitchen mayo and celery, olives, and spinach.
- Salad with variety of veggies and roast chicken.
- Sweet potato rice with chicken apple sausage and spinach (good for a moody or headachey day)
- Turkey burger on zoodles with a fried egg on top. (My grocery store sells pre-spiraled zucchini noodles and I use them a lot. I toss them with pre-cooked shrimp and a home-made pesto sauce (sans parmesan). I also scramble them in eggs with smoked salmon (check ingredients on smoked salmon, not all are compliant).
My Whole30 ‘Go To’ List:
*Compliant Lara bars
*Medjool dates (I have one per day)
*Mission Meat grass fed beef sticks and bars (order sampler pack on Amazon)
*Nutpods (if you like cream with your coffee or lattes, this helps a lot. Whole Foods probably has them – but Amazon does as well. I like French Vanilla. I’m to the point where I drink coffee black – but on a cold day when I want something hot and creamy – nutpods are great, especially with a dash of cinnamon).
*Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage
*Frozen Sweet Potato Rice
*Frozen Cauliflower Rice
*Birds Eye Steamfresh Broccoli, Cauliflower, & Carrots
*Primal Kitchen Avacado Mayo & Ranch
*Wild Planet Tuna and Salmon cans
*Dang Lightly Salted Coconut Chips (the other brands/flavors have sugar).
*Roast Chicken to throw in salads
*Lettuce and veggies for salad
*Eggs! (hard boil several)
*Sweet potatoes (helps with mood and headaches)
Because I did the autoimmune protocol, I avoided nightshades, but if that’s not an issue for you – then add salsa, peppers, and white potatoes.
As long as I have these items in stock, I’m good. And now, I’m spending the next month slowly re-introducing some of the healthier foods I eliminated to see how I react (like honey, quinoa, black beans, and goat cheese). I’ll do a Whole30 day in between each re-introduction day. Otherwise, I think this is my new normal.