It’s Day 7 of Whole30.
It’s also Sunday.
And around here — because Sundays are workdays for us — it’s leftover day too! So that’s what we’re eating for breakfast and lunch today.
Sunny-side up eggs, sliced avocado, and asparagus and tomato salad for breakfast.
The last of the hash (dressed with salsa verde) and asparagus for lunch.
A mid-afternoon green smoothie for a snack.
And for dinner?
A night out with my guy to celebrate the birthday of a very special friend and colleague of almost thirteen years.
The party was held on the rooftop of HG Supply Grill down on Lower Greenville in Dallas. And it didn’t rain! For those who live here, you know what a feat that was this spring. Our hosts couldn’t have ordered up more perfect weather for the occasion!
And guess what?
There was a paleo plate on the menu! So Kory and I shared grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and sweet potato hash for dinner! It was delicious.
We did have to turn down the amazing birthday cake that was served, but consistent with the other desserts I’ve faced since Whole30 began, I wasn’t even tempted. This challenge continues to feel good to my system, and I don’t want to get off track!
Finishing the first full week of Whole30 is certainly cause for celebration. But I think it’s cause for reflection too. So today, in celebratory fashion, I’m going to reflect. Here’s seven things I’m glad I did to prepare for the Whole30 Challenge:
1. I Started Reading It Starts With Food.
I’m a “why” girl. I need to know why I do just about anything that’s important to me. And rewriting my whole story on eating is one of those important things. So I bought the book written by the creators of the Whole30. And I learned four important and basic things (among a host of others too numerous to mention here):
Why certain foods are “bad”
Why other foods are “good”
How to shop on the Whole 30
And how to live life after the Whole30 is over
I learned things like the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished.
The truth on animal fats.
The how-tos of label reading.
And which vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts are best.
This book is chock full of useful information to help navigate the Whole30 with a mind towards something beyond weight loss, which I think is critical for success. If you’re not the science type, it’s easy to skim the “sciency” sections to get to the bottom line. And the book includes some humor too. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it. (I have about 1/4 left that I’m working through as I can.)
2. I Studied My Own Pantry
Once I had the “good” versus “bad” and label reading under my belt, I hit my own pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see how we were doing in the “good food” choices department. I was surprised to see that some of my favorite things are actually Whole30 compliant like Raos Marinara, Mateos Salsa, pickled jalapenos, and canned coconut milk (which I’ve been using in place of heavy cream for a while now).
I also identified those items that would be off-limits. And based on my new knowledge in the label reading department, was shocked to see some of the ingredients listed.
This helped me wrap my mind around the kinds of food we would be able to eat during the challenge and the kinds of food we would need to either write off altogether or re-think.
3. I Reviewed My Own Recipe Collection
I LOVE to cook.
And I have an amazing iPhone app, Paprika, that helps me manage all the hats I wear and put good food on the table for my family regularly.
I can’t live without it!
Paprika helps me organize my recipes, make meal plans, and create grocery lists. I also use Paprika’s built-in browser to save recipes from anywhere on the web. And it syncs across all my devices, so no matter where I am, my recipes, grocery lists, and meal plan are right there with me!
Paprika has made me a better person.
So I sat down for 30 minutes and studied my own recipes. I created a new category within the app for Whole30 compliant recipes and added all of my own recipes that were either Whole30 compliant on their own or that I thought I could make Whole30 complaint with some adjustments. As a result, I had a great list of Whole30 compliant recipes to start with, and they were all familiar to me (and my family). This made meal planning for the first week much less intimidating.
4. I Sourced Grass Fed & Organic Meats
Whole30 encourages us to prioritize eating grass-fed and grass-finished (or whatever is the natural diet of the animal being consumed), wild caught, and organic proteins. After all, we are what we eat, and so is the cow we’re eating. (It Starts With Food does an excellent job of explaining why this matters.)
I was already on the organic cage free chicken bandwagon (Costco freezer section), but I struggled to regularly find other meats that satisfy these criteria. Currently, I’m utilizing a combination of Costco (chicken breasts and frozen, wild caught fish), Trader Joes (chicken thighs) and the farmer’s market (bison, pork, steaks, and other beef cuts).
I stocked up on a nice variety of protein to help us get started and to insure we had some things “on hand” for times we find ourselves in a pinch. I included some ground beef and turkey, chicken breasts and thighs, salmon, ground pork, bacon, pork tenderloin, steak, and ground bison.
5. I Created A Meal Plan For Seven Days
Meal planning is nothing new to me. I do it once a week to create my grocery list. But typically, I only plan dinners and then fill in breakfasts and lunches with staples and leftovers.
But on Whole30, I decided to use Paprika to create a meal plan including three meals per day, for seven days, to take as much thinking out of the equation as possible. I knew life would “go on” whether we were doing Whole30 or not, and I knew some days would be tough to get through. So I wanted to set us up for success by planning as much of it ahead of time as I could. Instead of trying to follow a bunch of unfamiliar Whole30 recipes I found online, I started with my own recipes to set us up for the first week.
6. I Spent An Afternoon Studying The Grocery Store Shelves
After I finished the meal plan, I blocked out an entire afternoon, without kids, so that I could thoughtfully browse the shelves at Costco and Trader Joes while doing my weekly shopping. I took time to read and compare labels of the items on my list, and I also spent time exploring, looking for items that might be outside my comfort zone, but a good fit for the Whole30. I came home with so much knowledge and some ideas for the weeks to come. I also feel extremely confident about what came home in my bags.
7. I Began To Make Gradual Changes To My Diet
Because I viewed the Whole30 challenge as a lifestyle change rather than a 30-day experiment that will eventually come to an end, I decided there was no reason to wait until Day One of the Challenge to begin making some changes in my diet. As a result, for the two weeks leading up to the challenge, I began cutting back on some of the things I knew would have to be eliminated once the challenge began.
Things like cream in my coffee.
Bread and pasta.
I also began juicing at about the same time.
As a result, Week One of the Whole30 Challenge wasn’t the extreme shock to the system I’ve read about online and heard from friends and family members who have done it.
I’m still only on Day 7.
But even if I do hit a wall in the coming days, a gradual transition into this approach to eating was easier for me.
So that’s it!
7 Things I’m Glad I Did Before Whole30 Began.
And on Day 7, I think they’ve served us well!
For those of you who have done Whole30, do you have any tips for me as I stare the next 23 (+5) days down?
I’d love to hear from you! Happy (and healthy) eating everyone!