the sparkly life: How to Survive Whole 30 (I'm Halfway Through!)

Friday, February 23, 2018

How to Survive Whole 30 (I'm Halfway Through!)

alyssa hertzig
alyssa hertzig
whole 30 lunch ideas
Spinach, smashed potatoes, and a turkey patty with mustard. (Hey, does it look like an English muffin with tons of butter or am I just having hunger hallucinations? LOL)

whole 30 snack ideas
My favorite snack: apples and homemade cashew butter

whole 30 trader joe's
A few of the Whole 30 essentials I rely on. (Top two photos by Pau Loyo Fernandez.)
If you're a regular watcher of my Instagram stories, you likely know that I'm in the middle of doing Whole 30! I wasn't psycholologically ready to do it during January like the rest of the world (lol), so I started February 1st. That means, I'm in the home stretch now! I'm planning to do a full recap after I'm totally finished, but I wanted to do a little check in now to talk about how it's going, what's worked for me, etc. Here it is, broken down into a little Q&A format.

First, what's Whole 30?
Quick summary in case you've been living under a rock: Whole 30 is a 30-day clean-eating plan where you eliminate all dairy, grains, legumes, sugar (and that's all sweeteners including maple syrup, agave, artificial sweeteners, etc), alcohol, and soy, as well as any baked goods with "approved" ingredients (i.e. pancakes made with coconut flour and almond milk). I know, I know--it sounds totally crazy.

Why did you decide to do it?
Because I'm a horrendous eater. With the exception of a few months, a few years back, when I did the Paleo diet (remember that?), and of course, random stints throughout my life when I briefly decide to "be healthy," I've been a longtime crappy eater. I love carbs, and I rarely crave vegetables or meats. I'm also in a long-term torrid love affair with dairy. I would be perfectly happy spending every day eating pasta and cold cereal, drinking Starbucks lattes, and having some sour gummies for dessert. So, I wanted to challenge myself to give up all of the crap I naturally gravitate to, while at the same time forcing myself to consume more vegetables and protein. And I wanted to see if I felt--or looked--any different after eliminating the not-so-great stuff and loading up on the good-for-you stuff.

So, how hard has it been? 
Honestly? Not that hard--most of the time. If I have a stocked fridge and a plan of what I'm going to eat, it's really, truly not bad. Most of the moments that have been difficult have been 1) random times when I haven't gotten to the store and my greens have gone bad or we're out of eggs or something and I just have no clue what to cook. Then suddenly I'm starving and thinking how easy it would be to whip up a box of mac n' cheese or grab a few crackers. Whole 30 is brutal if you're not prepared, but not so bad if you are. 2) Dining out. It's a huge bummer to go to a restaurant and avert your eyes from the pasta section of the menu or from the dessert your tablemates are getting, and then order a salad without cheese and a sad piece of salmon. And don't get me started on parties! So far, I've had three small cheats, and two happened at restaurants, one at a party.

How do you feel? 
Pretty good! But not like "transformed" or anything like that. You hear a lot of people talk about how they have so much more energy on Whole 30 or how they feel like a new person. That's not my experience--at least so far. For the first three or four days on Whole 30, I was exhausted. It was horrible! I felt like I could fall asleep at any moment! That did go away though, and ever since, I've felt like I have my normal energy levels. I'm also way less bloated in my tummy area. That happens very quickly--within the first few days.

Are you hungry all the time?
No. Most of the time I'm fine, but I am definitely usually famished right before a meal (and in a way I never was with "regular" eating--I just never let myself get that hungry). I've had two days so far where I've been weirdly starving ALL DAY, basically no matter what I ate. On those days, I just ended up snacking a little more (on Whole-30-compliant stuff), and just tried to deal. Luckily that has only been two days out of over 20 so far! Most days I'm fine with three meals and small snacks after lunch and dinner.

What do you eat for breakfasts?
Eggs. It's almost always eggs. I usually make scrambled eggs and then combine those with tomatoes, spinach, or bacon. And then sometimes, I'll have a Daily Harvest* smoothie, as well, in order to get some greens in. Smoothies are Whole 30 compliant (as long as they aren't made with dairy, sugar, etc), but they are frowned upon. The Whole 30 gods prefer you to chew your food, which I get, but sometimes you're busy or you hate straight kale, and a smoothie works for you. I don't do them every day, but I do have them a few times a week. And I always do the green-veggie-heavy ones (nothing overly fruity) and then mix them with coconut water or almond milk, and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. On those mornings when I couldn't look at another egg, I would put dijon mustard on a slice or two of deli turkey and roll it up. (These are also one of my favorite snacks!) With Whole 30, you're supposed to get rid of the whole notion of "this is a breakfast food" or "this food is only for dinner," so this was one way I did that. 

*I'm obsessed with Daily Harvest, by the way, and will likely do a separate post about why they are so awesome. (So yummy! So healthy! Beyond easy!) But in the meantime, if you'd like to try them, you can get three free smoothies on your first order if you use this link. Definitely worth a try!

And what do you eat for lunches? 
Usually either leftovers from something I had cooked for dinner earlier in the week or a big salad. My favorite salad combo is arugula, proscuitto, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pistachios. Yum! I also love eggs for lunch and one of my favorite lunch creations is two eggs over easy, served over guacamole, cherry tomatoes, sausage, and hot sauce. But lately my most frequent go-to has been a turkey burger slathered with dijon mustard (no bun--duh). 

And what about dinners?
I try to cook a couple of times of week (but I definitely don't have the bandwidth to make something fully from scratch every single night--or even most nights). I've done various forms of chicken, steak, etc. I once made a fabulous spaghetti squash dish (recipe below), and if I want something quick and easy, I love spiralized zucchini noodles with Italian sausage, and jarred spaghetti sauce (just make sure it doesn't contain sugar--most do). 

Snacking is frowned upon (though not prohibited) with Whole 30, but screw that--I get hungry between meals! My go-to snacks are unsalted cashews, dried apricots, and (my ultimate favorite) sliced apples dipped in homemade cashew butter.

Any favorite recipes? 

Yes! I've been amazed how yummy a great Whole 30 recipe can be. These are few of my favorites so far, and all of these healthy recipes are truly delicious enough to make whether or not you're doing Whole 30. This chicken-sundried-tomato-and-spaghetti-squash casserole is surprisingly yummy, this Whole 30 chicken piccata is out of this world, this cashew butter is lifechanging (it tastes like frosting! But there's zero sugar!!), and this Mexican Shakshuka with Spiralized Sweet Potato is fabulous.

So that's where I am! I'll be back with a full report once I'm done with the entire program (FYI, I'm adding a day since I had a few cheats in there, so consider this a Whole 31!). I'll give tips and suggestions at that point, but if you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to ask them here. 

And of course, if you've done Whole 30, I'd love to hear any tips you have, and I'd loooooove any suggestions for favorite recipes or snack ideas. Tell me below!


Marysa said...

My friend was telling me about the Whole 30. Sounds like a great diet and also challenging. How great that you are halfway through!

marya said...

I had trouble making it sustainable. I went with another plan but the Whole 30 still fits into it.

balfeo said...

I'm so impressed- it sounds so hard to do!

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