Let’s be honest. For many of us, eliminating grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, legumes, and nasty food additives from our eating plans is not easy. “What will we/can we eat?” was the most common question Andrew and I asked ourselves during that first 30 days. I LOVE eating! Everything food – planning, cooking, eating – is one of my simplest pleasures in life. During my first 30 days of Whole30, I did not love to eat. I didn’t even like thinking about food. Which meant that I thought about food CONSTANTLY! My digestive system wasn’t happy with me either (diarrhea and constipation are both common as your body removes toxins and inflammation subsides) and I had an almost constant low-grade headache. I was HANGRY! (hungry and angry – well crabby, really,… actually REALLY CRABBY! CRANGRY?).
Everything I read on all the forums said, “Just stick it out. It will get better!” I kind of hated those positive, perky people. But they were right. For me, it took 5 weeks, but my digestive system moderated itself and my headaches decreased, then finally went away all together. For Andrew, headaches were the issue; headaches both that got him to try Whole30 and were his main side effect. They subsided after 3 weeks. Note: this was OUR experience. Some people don’t have any negative symptoms at all.
The biggest mistake we made during those first 30 days was overusing specific foods because we COULD eat them, and it was almost overwhelming early on to identify what we could eat. One example of our overusing permitted foods was coconut. I have always loved coconut. After 30 days of coconut yogurt, coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk, shredded coconut, coconut aminos, coconut manna, etc., I was OVER coconut. I still am. One of my goals with this series of blog posts will be to help you avoid that particular pitfall by sharing with you a variety of foods that we’ve grown to love that are Whole30 compliant, easy to make, and tasty. I’ve come to believe that the key to surviving those first 30 days is variety.
Starting Whole30 required some very significant changes in our eating patterns. For Andrew, sandwiches were a lunch staple. Thai restaurants were our favorite, as were rice based meals we made at home. Soy sauce was a staple. Andrew enjoyed cereal and milk. My favorite treats were a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate. Pasta was my comfort food. I made the best homemade macaroni and cheese you can imagine. Even foods that were generally on the right track had noncompliant ingredients. We had to read the labels on everything. In short, we had to completely rethink our eating plan. To be honest, we just jumped in with both feet. We weren’t prepared. Preparation would have made this much easier for us. Preparation is helpful!
We feverishly scanned the internet for food lists, shopping lists, recipes. It felt overwhelming. Whole30 does really well with all this now. Check out their webpage. https://whole30.com/pdf-downloads/ for useful check sheets. They are also now partnering with a variety of food product providers whose foods have been identified as Whole30 compliant. You can find an updated list here: https://whole30.com/whole30-approved/.
If you’re interested in starting this journey, let me know. Support is key and I’ve been there! Here’s my story: https://dballardreisch2.com/2018/10/24/my-whole30-journey-reclaiming-my-health/. Whole30 has worked extremely well for Andrew and me. I feel healthier than I have in years and what I assumed were just symptoms of aging have disappeared. It might be just what you need! All you have to do is commit to 30 days of eating differently.
Finally, here is one of Andrew’s delicious recipes to get you started. All of Andrew’s dishes and easy to prepare and typically can be made in ½ hour or less.
Andrew’s Thai yellow curry and veggies with optional cauliflower rice
2 lbs ground pork
2 cans Savoy coconut cream
3 tbsp Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste (more or less to taste)
1 orange bell pepper (rough chopped – big pieces)
1 green bell pepper (rough chopped – big pieces)
½ large white onion (rough chopped – big pieces)
1 yellow squash (halved and sliced)
Note: We prefer coarsely chop veggies for this dish.
Cook pork in large skillet – Drain fat when cooked thoroughly
Add coconut cream and yellow curry paste and stir into pork
Stir and let simmer 2 minutes
Add vegetables and let simmer until vegetables are cooked to your liking. We like ours more al dente
5 green onions (diced)
1 cup cilantro (chopped)
Note: If you just can’t imagine Thai food without rice, try cauliflower rice.
1 head cauliflower
Cut cauliflower into chunks. We don’t recommend already chopped cauliflower as it seems to get mushy (too high a water content, we think). Pop the chunks into your Bullet or other blender. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency.
When curry is done, put raw cauliflower into the bottom of each bowl, put curry on top. Stir. Enjoy!