Tuesday, January 07, 2014

What Do I Eat on the Whole30?

One of the things I've baked recently that I cannot eat. Gah.

One of the questions I've gotten already about doing the Whole30 Challenge is, "What do you eat???" A very logical question. (And a more complicated one for someone who is doing the Whole30 with kids in the house!)

First of all, note the official Whole30 approved shopping lists--one for omnivores and one for vegetarians. These are sort of the "master lists" of groceries you can buy--and, therefore, things you can eat. :)

(Note: I use both. I haven't been a 100% lacto-ovo-vegetarian since my clinical residency year in 1999-2000, but before starting Whole30 my family and I probably ate about 90% lacto-ovo-vegetarian, with the rest poultry and fish. Therefore, I'm using more animal protein now--for Whole30--but it's still hard for me to cut out beans/legumes, so I do follow the Hartwigs' reluctant vegetarian exceptions for organic full-fat yogurt and even whey protein at times. But mainly I'm trying to eat more eggs, turkey, fish, and chicken.)

Second, just an FYI, the Whole30 book (It Starts With Food) has a section on meal plans and recipes. There are also plenty of "Paleo" cookbooks and blogs out there that offer numerous meal ideas and recipes for this type of eating. So, resources abound.

But to just give you a rough idea, here are some of the meals I've eaten in the past six days. (The idea is to consume three meals each day but no snacks; the goal is to figure out how much to eat at meals to not need to snack, which tends to encourage mindless, "junky" eating. That said, if you're starving because you're still figuring it out, you can have a snack assuming it's an appropriate food, and I have indeed had numerous snacks of fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.., so far! In fact, I haven't made it one day snack-free yet.)

* scrambled eggs with steamed spinach, half an avocado, and a wedge of baked butternut squash

* big salads with hard-boiled eggs or all-natural deli turkey or chicken, avocado, olives, & tons of raw veggies (dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette)

* baked tilapia with a citrus-clarified butter sauce (dairy is not allowed, but clarified butter is the one exception; it is butter melted slowly so the (good) butterfat can be separated from the (bad) milk proteins/solids--easy to do at home) along with a baked sweet potato and other veggies or salad

* protein shakes (for breakfast) made with coconut milk, tons of raw spinach, frozen banana, & whey protein powder (see my note above about whey protein; there is some controversy about whether it is "Whole30-approved," but the shopping guide and book specifically say vegetarians can use it if needed)

* fried eggs with half an avocado and veggies

* pan-seared chicken breast with an Italian garlic-tomato-parsley sauce, served on a bed of spinach or other greens, with steamed mixed veggies and some fresh fruit

* banana-nut porridge (so rich, filling, and good; note the recipe makes 4 servings, I halved it and used it on two days for breakfast)

* turkey burgers (no bun) and veggies with spicy avocado sauce

For the above meals, I add as many veggies as I'm hungry for, and/or a piece of fruit if needed/desired. I use olive oil, clarified butter, or coconut oil (I have a brand that does not smell or taste like coconut) for cooking or on top of things that need a little fat.

I've been snacking on fruit, raw cashews or pecans, and unsweetened coconut flakes (SO rich, crispy, and sweet). Eventually I hope to not have to snack at all. It's taking me some trial and error--and simple adjustment!--to figure out how much to eat at meals to fuel my lifestyle without snacking between meals.

My family has been eating things that I haven't: for example, I served them the Italian chicken on spaghetti while I had it on spinach, and they had buns with their turkey burgers although I didn't. When I made them huevos rancheros for dinner one night (eggs, beans, cheese, tortillas, etc.!), I had fried eggs with salsa and vegetables.

It's definitely a challenge, but it's not as hard as you might think. If you're used to and relatively knowledgeable about cooking already, there's nothing hard about these meals. If you can bake a piece of salmon and roast some veggies--something you're probably already doing if you cook dinner for your family each night--you can make these types of meals.

It's really not as complicated and daunting as it may seem initially. The book gives portion guidelines if you need that sort of thing, but it's not about weighing and measuring. It's just about filling your plate with the most natural, nourishing food possible, and staying full that way.

Keep the questions coming! It's sort of fun for me to answer questions, because I'm figuring it out as I go, too! In upcoming days I hope to address things like cravings, "the carb flu" (??), mood, energy, living without Diet Coke (!) and sugar (!!!), and doing things like baking cookies and muffins for your kids when you can't have them. Gah. I also hope to answer the burning question: Will my jeans ever feel not quite so suffocating again?

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