Who else has done the Whole30? Anyone here? Or maybe everyone else you know? Seriously there have been gobs of people doing the Whole30 lately and to be completely honest I only knew of like 2 people that had completed it when we first committed to it. But as it goes, once you start telling people what you’re up to other stories come out of the wood works. And as such, I hesitate to even write a post about it because we all know we don’t need more guilt caused by another “eat healthy” post, right? Ha! That’s how I feel even though I’m the one writing this… but we’re gonna do it anyway. Why? Because it’s worthy of noting and strangely enough Brett and I have learned a few things along the way! Take a look at our journey in this 3 part series.
And so it does… It All Starts With Food! If you’ve never heard of this book, you’re in good company because neither had I before my neighbor encouraged me to read it (thanks @madefrank!). I zoomed through this book, since I convinced myself that she needed it back! But really, it was an easy and fascinating read which reminded me of the way God created our bodies. For example, we’ve been given three types of tastes to satisfy us… salty, sweet, and savory. The book doesn’t attribute this to God’s work, but we all know God had a perfect design in giving us these tastebuds to insure we the variety of nutrients our bodies require. But in our culture, everything has been hyped up. Sugar overload! Salt galore! Due to our busy society, we often seek convenient, mass-produced, preservative-packed foods. We have become slaves to over consumption of sugar, gluten, and preservatives found in all the processed foods around us. The more we eat this way, the more our bodies crave the not-so-healthy components of our food. And that’s where we found our family.
After two pregnancies back to back, I had given myself too much freedom in eating anything I wanted… seriously chocolate milk was on my morning menu everyday! Yikes! I knew I needed to curb my desires but pushing the RESET button. In pursuit of easy meals, I had turned to convenient foods for the girls (and who are we kidding, I ate them too) such as corndogs and mac and cheese (not all-together bad, but not the norm I want for our fam). After years of fatigue and not sleeping well, Brett was open to anything and truly he enjoys healthy food more than anyone else in our house so I knew he’d do well! And so we decided to do the Whole30 in an attempt to “clean up our diet” and see if we could evaluate how food was affecting each of us. Here’s how we started… (and a few tips)
Read the book. Seriously. Start there. We decided to stick to the Whole30 pretty strictly after reading the “why” behind the method. It helped me understand the ins and outs and also gave me knowledge to share with others when they asked. Knowing the why, helped me stick to the plan. I’d highly encourage you to read it.
Clean out the fridge/cabinets. Looking in the pantry was sad… the only things we could eat are on the bottom shelf (pic on left). Pretty much just spices, nuts, and coconut oil! The fridge wasn’t much better. At this point, we’d be eating ground turkey with garlic, applesauce and mustard and maybe a side of eggs and pickles! Ahhh… overwhelmed as I realized we’ve got a lot of planning and shopping to do!
Plan and pack the fridge. This was actually more fun than I anticipated. If you want to know my kryptonite, it’s all things related to meals… meal planing, shopping, food prep, cooking… it ALL overwhelms me. And as a stay-at-home mom of three, I knew this responsibility would naturally fall on me more than Brett (as it should)! But I tried to have fun with it. And in true nature I had to organize it in order to feel in control and have fun with it! This is where Cozi comes in… and a few shopping trips ALONE to Sprouts and Trader Joes (call that mom’s motivation)!!
I searched Pinterest with these criteria: kid-friendly, yummy as leftovers, simple ingredients, fairly easy to prep (duh! I’ve got 3 kids and 3 nights a week I make dinner before Brett get’s home)! And then I used Cozi to enter all my recipes so they were easy to get to each day. Nap times were great for getting this all planned out. Soon our fridge was filled with carrots, red peppers, spinach, and the countertops were overflowing with sweet potatoes, apples and even spaghetti squash. New items included canned coconut milk, coconut aminos, minced ginger, and fish sauce. And to keep things exciting, we stocked up on a variety of fruits and nuts as well!
Enjoy the Process. We love for our kids to know where food comes from and how it’s prepared. So instead of getting frustrated with how long prep time takes when eating this way, we’ve decided to embrace it and have the kids help. During our Whole30, our 4 year old knew we were on our “healthy eating plan” and she was eager to have a hand in the process. Thanks for the encouragement @realfoodwithkids. From “chopping” veggies (with a kids knife) to scooping/mixing the spices, I found ways they could “help.” One of the easiest (and most fun, time-consuming) tasks was for them to “wash” the potatoes (aka rinse for a few mins and then play in the water for 30 mins!) They LOVED it… using their imaginations as they created “veggie soup” with scraps of potatoes, celery, carrots, etc. and momma kept working on preparing the rest of the meal as they got carried away in safe, supervised play! Win, win for all!
Keep it Simple. For breakfast I made a casserole once a week. And when that was finished we simply had scrambled eggs with whatever veggies were available (bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, avocado, etc.) For lunch we simply had leftovers. So that meant for dinner, I was cooking a decent sized meal so there would be enough for the next day. I varied my recipes between sausage, beef, chicken, turkey, and seafood so we wouldn’t get bored. And I also planned easier vs harder meals according to what the schedule allowed for. Snacks for the girls were simply fruit and nuts. And on that note… I we tried to “clean up” the girls diet as well by having them eat what we cooked for breakfasts and dinners and choosing healthier options for lunch (instead of frozen corndogs). We did our best to reduce sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and the like, but allowed for exceptions such as yogurt, milk, cheese, deli turkey, and these breakfast sausages they LOVE (definitely not Whole30, but hey you can’t ‘win em all!)
Have fun with it. Our 30 days fell over Valentine’s day (you can read more about it here), so I wanted to surprise Brett with a treat! We ended up creating two delicious Whole30 deserts and broke the rules a bit (but life is short, right)?
Keep it Up (for now, anyway). Now that we’ve completed the Whole30, we’ve learned it’s not as daunting as it seems. Yes it takes more work, but once you commit to cooking this way for 30 days it seems more doable to continue. I’ve now got an app full of recipes at my fingertips (literally… on my phone). I’ve had practice cooking all these new recipes at least twice now and they will only get easier each time we make them. We’ve got a pretty good basic shopping list down (and mostly from Aldi, so budget friendly as well)! And we feel better when we eat clean, so our biggest take away is “why not keep it up.” We’ve decided to keep eating as Paleo as possible with some flexibility built in… I’m allowed to have creamer in my coffee, Brett gets to eat pizza and hamburgers and we allow for exceptions when we’re eating with others either in their homes or at restaurants. Ask us questions… it helps keep us accountable!
Part 2. Favorite recipes. New and Old.
Part 3. Lessons learned.