On February 1, 2016, I decided to take on the popular Whole30 diet plan. As a dietitian, I think it is vital to periodically try out various popular diet trends to have a much deeper understanding of how it works, what to eat, recipes to try, and the possible health outcomes. I was a bit nervous yet intrigued by the Whole30, which in a nutshell is a similar plan to the Paleo diet. It is clean eating with the avoidance of all dairy (except ghee), legumes (including all beans, peas, and lentils), grains (including gluten-free grains), and all sweeteners (even stevia, honey, and maple syrup). The program is intended to last 30 days, thereafter beginning the food reintroduction process. To find out more check out www.whole30.com.
Part 1 of this blog post outlines the first 2 weeks on this plan. I review my experience getting familiar with the plan, some of the obstacles I encountered, the meals/snacks I was able to come up with, and the health outcomes experienced!
Feb.1, Day 1
This is what I ate…for the most part! I have a pretty big appetite and I tend to graze throughout the day, so I also consumed some more pistachios and mango than you see pictured below.
- Top left: breakfast- seaweed paper wrap with smoked salmon, sliced cucumber and chopped avocado. I also had coffee with almond milk.
- Middle left: 1/4 cup raw almonds that I roasted in the oven and added sea salt for extra flavor, 2 tangerines
- Bottom left: 2 hard boiled eggs sprinkled with paprika, salt and pepper. I also had some roasted cauliflower with this snack for extra fiber.
- Top right: lunch- blanched string beans tossed in extra virgin olive oil, coconut aminos, and sesame seeds with boiled red potatoes and lemon-garlic organic chicken breast
- Bottom right: dinner- grass fed organic beef burgers on top of arugula salad with a side of the same boiled red potatoes pan fried in coconut oil, garlic, and rosemary.
Feb. 5, Day 5
It is Friday and I’m getting a bit anxious for the weekend. This whole week went by pretty smoothly. I was able to prepare enough food and felt pretty satisfied with my recipes. And, I only ate out once at Sweet Greens, and was even able to find a Whole30-approved salad. I hope the weekend is not my downfall! I usually go out to eat with friends and enjoy some nightlife, including alcohol, which is a major “No-No” on this plan. Though I do not intend to be a hermit and completely destroy my social life, I will do my best to focus on activities outside of booze and food. I plan to go for long walks, take yoga, go bowling, watch movies, cook with my friend, and maybe enjoy some live music or comedy.
Feb.8, Day 8
I made it through the weekend! The Superbowl was on Sunday and I sipped on a kombucha and noshed on raw veggies (cucumbers, celery, and carrots) with homemade guacamole as well as a fruit salad with cantaloupe, berries and grapes. Towards the end I still felt like I wanted a “treat” and so I ended up enjoying a coconut Lara bar! I was able to eat out at a local restaurant, Rowhouse Grille where I ordered a 7oz grass fed steak, grilled asparagus and sautéed Brussels sprouts with a side of chimichurri sauce (blended olive oil and herbs).
Feb.11, Day 11
I found a great snack from Epic Bar- bison meat bites! Totally whole30 approved ingredients and a good snack idea outside from my usual nuts and fruit.
Feb. 14, Day 14
It is Valentine’s Day…and for some reason I am craving chocolate! While milk chocolate is certainly a no-go on Whole30, I am able to enjoy some 100% cocoa powder. I blended this up with avocado, frozen banana, chia seeds, and cinnamon for an awesome and filling pudding recipe.
So to recap, below are some my tips, meal ideas, and eating out suggestions:
- Prep & Plan!- I have been successful up to this point because I never allowed myself to get “too hungry.” By prepping my food and planning ahead, I was able to feel satisfied and therefore STRONGER against temptation.
- Get Creative- By avoiding just eating salads with chicken everyday, I was able to keep the meals interesting and flavorful. I followed a few blogs for inspiration, but also just got weird in the kitchen. I was surprised at the concoctions I came up with that actually tasted great!
- Stay Accountable- During times of weakness, knowing I was accountable to my social media community really helped me to stay focused. Feeling well supported is a huge part of making any major change.
- Order Out Smart– Don’t be embarrassed to tell the server your dietary needs when you eat out. Ask what is in certain dishes and if the server does not know, the chef certainly will. Stick to raw, grilled, baked, sauteed or roasted vegetables (just ask that they are not cooked in butter). Ask for sauces on the side or avoid them all together. Avoid all fried foods. Stick to protein (meat, poultry or seafood) and veggie combinations.
- Roasted sweet potato mashed with cinnamon, almond butter, and ground flax seed
- Eggs: omelets, hard boiled eggs, veggie scramble (adding a bit of coconut milk to the eggs makes them nice and fluffy!)
- Seaweed paper wraps with lox, cucumber, avocado, egg (optional)
- Smoothies: spinach/frozen berries/frozen banana/avocado/coconut milk/chia or flaxseeds
- Pumpkin Pie Pudding
- Tuna salad on a salad (mixed 1 can of water-packed tuna with 1/4 ripe avocado and extra virgin olive oil instead of mayo, or try out this whole30 mayo)
- Roasted veggie soup with grilled chicken breast and a side of blanched green beans
- Leftovers from dinner!
- Spaghetti squash with roasted eggplant, diced chicken breast and marinara sauce
- Omnivore burgers on top of arugula with a side of roasted red potatoes
- Thai Red curry chicken
- Steak with grilled veggies
- Shrimp (frozen and thawed) with sauteed greens, onions, and mushrooms in pesto sauce
- Pumpkin pie pudding
- Juice-Jello (just added 100% pomegranate juice with pure gelatin- unsweetened/unflavored)
- Avocado/Banana chocolate pudding
- Lara bars (coconut cream, apple pie)
- Epic jerky (no sugar or preservatives)
- Daily Harvest premium smoothies
- Go Raw sprouted cookies
- Dried fruit (unsweetened, preservative free): mango, figs, raisins
- Fresh fruit: clementines, oranges, apples, bananas, pineapple, mango, grapes, cantaloupe, dates
- Nuts: cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios
- Raw veggies with guacamole
- Kale chips
Eating out ideas:
- Sweet Greens: red thai salad
- Cava Mezze: roasted seasonal veggies, salad
- Zia’s: salad with grilled chicken
- Rowhouse: steak with grilled veggies
- Mother’s Bar & Grille: crab soup (had to pick around the corn, peas, and beans…)
So far I have seen some improvements in my skin…just prior to starting this plan I was dealing with some acne on my face and eczema/rashes on my torso, arms and chest. I’m not sure if it is a coincidence, but both have almost completely cleared up! I’m also noticing more regular bowel movements, less bloating, and better focus throughout the day. That’s all for now, but stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I’ll recap the home stretch of the Whole30 challenge.