It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!
Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.
There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?
So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.
Option b) generally wins for me!
I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.
It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking #FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!
I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.
But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.
No. Don’t be cool.
If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.
#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries
In a nutshell: it simply wasn’t the right time, the right solution or the right fit for me.
the reason why
So I decided to complete the Whole30 because the lovely Kate, my nutritional therapist, advised I remove dairy and gluten from my diet to regulate my digestion, and the September Whole30 was about to start, and I thought it would be a good excuse for me to combine the two. So I did, and it took a great deal out of me at the beginning. My digestion took a hard hit. It is very fragile on my regular diet (mostly vegetarian, occasional animal products, lots of grains), and I didn’t give it enough time to adjust to the changes of a paleo-style diet (lots more meat, no grains).
You may or may not know that the paleo diet includes moderate amounts of meat, fish, nuts and dairy-free animal products, as well as an abundance of vegetables. No grains, no pulses, no peanuts and no soy. You are expected to eat a moderate amount of animal and plant fat to keep you satiated. The paleo community has become renowned for recreating pancakes, cakes and tortillas employing tricks using cashews, cauliflower and avocado. Now, the Whole30 encourages the paleo part, but not the recreating part. You can read more about it here.
Wow, this week has gone by so fast. And successful in terms of non-scale victories. Like snacking. I like snacking, but I’m finally learning not to snack so much.
I’ve not been keeping track of my food so well (or taking photos of it!), but I’ll do my best to recall what I’ve been eating, making, tasting and maybe even smelling.
Breakfast is always the same. I’m really intending to change it up next week, which’ll be the final week of my Whole30. 2 fried eggs (in coconut oil), a slice or two of bacon, and some not-so-optional avocado. Yay. Lunch is pretty interesting. I attempt to make pork sausages out of minced pork, sage and mustard but they turn out to be incredibly wet. So I decide to hash them with some cauliflower rice instead of making patties and serve it over a black kale salad, with some sauerkraut and avocado. My dressing of choice remains the same; tahini, apple cider vinegar and some seasoning.
I don’t snack today. That is a major non-scale victory for me, because I’m normally itching to eat something in between meals. I did have a mandatory black coffee at some point, like evry day. Dinner is a simple roast chicken, with turmeric and cumin. It turns out amazing this week, really juicy and crispy-skinned, and I serve it with some potatoes, mashed with a little clarified butter.
It’s Sunday, two weeks into my very first Whole30. I feel like I’ve been on this for months already. I’m getting the hang of it, whilst simultaneously feeling like I am not experimenting enough in the kitchen. I know I can do better!
In terms of health improvements, my digestion is 100% improved. Amazing. Not so amazing I may have to restrict my dairy or gluten intake in the future. We shall see. Oh and my sleep. My goodness I have not slept so deeply since childhood. I put my head on the pillow and I don’t wake up until the alarm wakes me. I am so lucky to have seen results two weeks in already. If you haven’t seen much improvement, please don’t give up. I know it’s not easy, but just keep going. It only gets better.
So anyway, week 2 has been a tasty week of meals!
Breakfast is two slices of streaky bacon (I get mine from M&S. It isn’t nitrate-free, but I’m still looking. It’s sugar-free, which matters to me the most right now.), 2 eggs and an entire small avocado. I’m struggling with digesting all this meat, and I order some HCL for stomach acid. I haven’t tested it yet, but it is very likely that I have low-ish stomach acid. Hopefully my body will adapt, otherwise I will have to revert to eating more fibre-rich starches when I am done. I’m pondering transitioning back into a much lower meat diet (90% plant-based) if my body rejects the paleo movement. But I am absolutely convinced I need grains. Like oats and amaranth and buckwheat. I read an article about digestion on PaleoLeap and read that it is normal for digestion to slow down at the beginning of a paleo shift, because fats are replacing grains and grains contain bulking fibre. I might need to eat more vegetables.
For lunch, I finally got to taste my sauerkraut, which has been in the making for 10 days. It’s so delicious, I have it with romaine lettuce, boiled potatoes, garam masala chicken breast in coconut oil and a mayonnaise (from Waitrose, all natural. I fail at making my own.) and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner, I make pork loin with a big kale salad, roasted potatoes and cooked cabbage. Again, very delicious. I’m getting a little comfortable with my cooking, I’ll have to keep my creativity in check.
One week down, 3 to go. We can do this. Even if our digestion is completely out of whack and we can’t stand the sight of ghee anymore. We’re fine.
I thought I would give you an insight into what I have been eating this week, at home and on the road. It’s not been easy every day, but I’m proud of pulling through!
Monday morning, post late-night pizza feels (has anyone else tried Domino’s newest pizza with fresh rocket and Prosciutto? It was so worth it.) I am craving something healthy!
For breakfast: two eggs fried in coconut oil, a quarter avocado with hot sauce (Red Hot) and some mushrooms, sautéed in coconut oil + bone broth. I normally have toast. I didn’t miss the toast.
For lunch: a crispy chicken breast on a bed of leaves with a tahini, basil, garlic, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner: homemade beef burger patties (spiced with cumin + paprika) + roasted potatoes + crispy black kale.
I did snack on a handful or two of nuts, I must admit I hadnt quite grasped the concept of not snacking unless you absolutely need it. I promise I’ll get better.
It has been 5 days since we all started, and I must admit the emotional rollercoaster is the real deal. I thought everyone was being dramatic, but I’ve experienced my fair share of ups and downs this week.
SWYPO, or Sex With Your Pants On, is the term used by Melissa Hartwig, creator of the Whole 30, to describe recipe recreations of our comfort foods using compliant ingredients. A commonly used example is banana + egg pancakes, which are not allowed, even though banana and eggs are compliant ingredients. Pancakes, waffles and anything that attempts to mimick the real deal is out, because it doesn’t serve you well. And I agree!
Apart from the initial temptation to make paleo bread and tortillas, leaving all the foods I can’t stop eating behind is not excessively hard. I’ve done it before and I know what to expect. It’s all about the mindset (and of course I know it’s hard. I’m just trying to make it easier. Tough love applies to yourself, too.)
SWYPO closely relates to ‘Foods With No Brakes’, the foods we start eating and can’t stop eating. Like potato chips or sweets. Or almond butter; Foods With No Brakes don’t have to be junk to make you crave more. I watched Melissa’s live Facebook Q+A on this topic today (day 3) and I realised I could fine tune my approach and improve it for the 27 days to come. I didn’t sit down to evaluate my Foods With No Brakes at the beginning, but it is worth doing now.
Carbs are a big thing for me. I love them dearly, and I’m a massive bread-lover. I have my addiction under control, but always wish I could have seconds of my rye sourdough after having a slice or two for breakfast. My attitude towards bread is not healthy, hence it is a Food With No Brakes. And so is pasta, healthy crackers and rice cakes. Even oats in the morning! I can just eat and eat and eat. Luckily, these are all out by nature (wheat! gluten!), so it won’t be as hard to resist. Two years ago, I moved from Europe to England, where bread is like sponge. That quickly put me off the bread, because I couldn’t find anything I liked. Added to this, I wanted to lose weight and cleaned up my diet. I missed the bread at the beginning, but got very good at avoiding it, and then I didn’t miss it anymore. I know I can manage my addicition, because I have in the past!