When I was young, and even when I was in my twenties, good food was burgers, fries, milkshakes, pizza, and pastas, and everything was covered in cheese or dipped in ranch and barbecue sauce, and many things were fried. But in my early thirties, I developed a lactose intolerance that came with such horrific side effects that it meant I had to eliminate cheese, ranch dressing, yogurt, ice cream, and all things dairy. I was in denial. I didn’t want to be lactose intolerant and I fought it and resisted admitting it for way too long and our family experienced some awful things as a result. But then I relented. I owned my problem and I was so sad. I had to give up dairy.
Food was never going to be the same again.
When I thought food was never going to be the same, I was mourning what I was giving up, including my favorite foods at my favorite restaurants, and I assumed that foods were going to taste worse. But in reality, I had the opposite experience. Food was never the same because I could now really taste it. The amazing natural flavors and spices weren’t drowned out by ranch dressing, condiments, and cheese, but enhanced. The foods I was eating actually tasted better and I did find new restaurant dishes that tasted even better than my old favorites.
Going dairy-free also made be a better cook. I had to learn more about different spices, their flavors, and which paired well together, I learned new ways to cook vegetables and foods, and the foods I was eating were no longer wreaking havoc on my body.
Good food should promote a healthy psychological response, promote a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation.
But something still wasn’t quite right. I went to the doctor numerous times to try to figure it out, and even though they said I was perfectly healthy, I knew there was a problem somewhere. When I found The Whole30, I wasn’t too thrilled with everything you have to give up, but I was compelled by it’s claims to help reset the digestive system and heal the gut. So we decided to give it a try. We’re 28 days in and have two days left, and it’s been worth every effort made so far. The results we’re seeing and what we’re experiencing, which I share below, have been so great that we’re going to make our Whole30 a Whole60.
Setting Yourself Up For Whole30 Success
The Whole30 doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. In fact, once you get started, you notice that it’s really not hard at all. There is no stepping on the scale, no measuring yourself, no counting calories, no counting points, no shakes, no measuring portions, no liquid diets, no eating foods you don’t like, and no fitting your food into little colored containers. Instead, you simply eat natural, healthy, and ideally organic foods when you’re hungry — three meals a day.
With that said, here are a few things that have helped us make our first Whole30 a success:
- Go public and share your journey. When I was getting started with The Whole30, I decided to make my journey a public one. I’ve been sharing our progress, things we’ve learned, tips that have helped us, and what we’ve been cooking and eating. I’ve also been sharing the Whole30 Recipes for most of our meals. This has been a big help with accountability!
- Get your pantry and refrigerator ready. Before beginning The Whole30, Brian and I made sure we ate everything the kids wouldn’t eat or didn’t like that we had in the pantry or refrigerator. We then gave the perishable non-compliant foods that were left to my sister. Other things, like non-compliant condiments were moved to the bottom door shelf of the fridge where we don’t even really see them.
- Invest in Whole30 compliant marinades, dressings, and sauces. At the start of The Whole30, I purchased every Whole30 compliant dressing, marinade, and sauce available on the Tessemae’s All Natural website. (Here’s a link to get 20% off your order.) I ordered one of everything but the mayo for about $85 and it has made a huge difference! With compliant caesar, ranch, balsamic, and lemon dressings, compliant BBQ sauce, ketchup, and buffalo sauce, and more, we haven’t yet found ourselves stuck in a flavor rut… and we haven’t felt deprived either!
- Plan meals in advance. Planning meals in advance meant that I always had the things I needed to make delicious and easy Whole30 Recipes on hand, and had no excuse not to cook. This is a big deal because we normally eat out a lot, and so far, we have only dined out five times this month: Twice at Chipotle, once at Cafe 1 while road tripping, once at In-N-Out, and once at Elephant Bar. Plus, knowing what we were going to eat, helped get meals on the table faster.
- Have lots of options ready and available. While no snacking is recommended during Whole30, you do need to eat when you’re hungry. If you get sick during Whole30 but don’t want to eat a big meal, you still need to eat something. For these instances it was critical for us to keep several quick Whole30 compliant options on hand, including raisins, baby carrots, almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, guacamole packs, apples, almond butter, celery sticks, hard boiled eggs, RxBars, Larabars, a fresh fruit salad, and some precooked meats, like Sweet Italian Barbecue Chicken or Dill Chicken Salad.
The Food: In The Homestretch, Seeing Big Results
This recap covers almost the entire final week of our Whole30 experience. The Whole30 flew by so quickly and the results (so far) are fantastic: we’re sleeping more soundly, we have tons more energy, the digestive issues I was dealing with are basically gone, and we both need to buy new (smaller) pants. Three cheers for #whole30problems and #nonscalevictories.
Let’s talk about The Whole30 rules for a minute. The one rule that IS giving me trouble is the “no scales” rule.
The Whole30 rules = No weighing yourself or taking body measurements for 30 days.
But here’s the problem: I feel different, my clothes are fitting differently, I can see visible changes in my body shape, and my pants are much looser… and I really want to step on the scale just to see. I’ve never really cared much about my weight or taken much stock in what a scale says, but for the first time, I am curious and it matters.
Whole30 Day 23
The night before, Brian and I went to see our friends’ band play at a Brewery in Woodland — yes, navigating a brewery while doing Whole30 sort of stunk. Anyway, Natalie brought a couple friends, they slept over, and this morning they were going to make pancakes, but instead I made them these awesome Cupcake Waffles out of the leftover cupcakes from Carter’s birthday party. And you know what? I didn’t even feel bad that I couldn’t eat them!
Once I got the Cupcake Waffle mess cleaned up, I made an Artichoke And Garlic Chicken Sausage Breakfast Scramble for Brian and I, and after breakfast, I got my Whole30 recap for days 17-22 published and finally took down my Lego Winter Village — I know, I know… total procrastination. At least I got it taken down before summer!
For lunch, I had a couple hard boiled eggs, some baby carrots, an apple, and some nuts. I then made a grocery list, and went grocery shopping.
With a packed refrigerator, I had tons to choose from for dinner and decided to make Loaded Turkey Burgers With Sweet Potato Buns and Wedge-Cut Seasoned Parsley Fries, which we had with fresh berries and grapes. OMG. Let’s just say that we’re all happy that there are leftovers so we can have this same dinner again tomorrow night!
Whole30 Day 24
Wooohooo! We’re in the homestretch, the final week of our first Whole30!
It was Monday, and I had a full schedule and a lunch meeting, which meant I needed to shower and be presentable — which doesn’t always happen when you work from home! I also needed to get a lot done before I left for lunch, so I had an RxBar for breakfast. Lazy and lame. I really should have made more of an effort to make a full breakfast.
I almost ate a leftover turkey burger, but wanted to save it for dinner.
My lunch meeting was with the awesome Margaret Andrews of Sticky Readers and the head of Sacramento Bloggers, and it was at Elephant Bar. How do you stay Whole30 at a restaurant like Elephant Bar? Advance preparation, asking questions, and an awesome server.
- I reviewed their menu online before I left and identified the top 3-4 options that were already close to being Whole30 compliant.
- I arrived early and asked our server a couple clarifying questions about ingredients that helped narrow my choice to 1-2 items.
- I asked one more question when ordering to clarify ingredients, and ordered the pistachio crusted salmon salad (no cheese, balsamic only).
For dinner we had the leftover Loaded Turkey Burgers With Sweet Potato Buns. Pure heaven!
Whole30 Day 25
The housekeepers came today and I failed to eat breakfast before they arrived, so an RxBar was my breakfast today. But that was okay, because I was already looking forward to lunch and dinner! For lunch we had Avocado Tuna Salad Sliders On Roasted Yam Slices, which is now my most favorite way to eat tuna salad!
For dinner, I made one of our favorite summertime meals ever — Cajun Fish Tacos With Spicy Broccoli Slaw and Avocado. I was thrilled to find out our Cajun seasoning was Whole30 compliant and for this dinner, I just swapped out tortillas for red cabbage leaves, making the whole meal Whole30 approved! Every time we make these tacos, we both wonder why we don’t make them more often!
Whole30 Day 26
I still REALLY want to step on a scale and see what actual numerical results The Whole30 has had, but I can’t. Not just yet. And that’s okay because I don’t really care what it says. More than anything I’m just curious to see what’s changed because my pants are loose — one pair is now too big and I can can pull them on and off without unbuttoning or unzipping them!
Other than our clothes being baggier, I did notice something else. Something HUGE. Carter opened a box of Sees Candy and began to eat a few pieces right in front of me, and I didn’t even care. I didn’t want any. I didn’t feel like I needed any. I didn’t feel like I was missing out in any way. I was happy he was enjoying the treats and that was it. Again, this is a big deal for me.
For breakfast today, I made another Kale And Balsamic Chicken Sausage Breakfast Scramble, and for lunch, we ate the leftover Avocado Tuna Salad in the leftover red cabbage leaves from last night’s dinner of Cajun Fish Tacos With Spicy Broccoli Slaw and Avocado.
Wednesdays are our crazy nights, with karate, dance, guitar lessons, and babysitting my nephews, so I was on my own for dinner tonight. I was going to be super lazy and just eat a couple apples and almond butter or grab an RxBar… but instead I actually made myself a full meal. I made Onion And Garlic Roasted Vegetables with some Artichoke and Garlic Chicken Sausages and fresh fruit.
The roasted veggies — brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and purple potatoes — smelled so good while roasting in the oven. The whole house smelled so heavenly that it even got Natalie’s attention and she decided to eat dinner with me. We both devoured the entire baking sheet of veggies and ended up being so full of fruit and veggies that we only ate about half of the sausage!
Whole30 Day 27
I’m working on getting out of my breakfast scramble rut. I don’t feel like I’m in a rut though. I LOVE breakfast scrambles and would be thrilled eating them everyday, but I do feel like I need to switch things up a bit, so I decided to create an egg bake with sausage and veggies.
But here’s the problem. Brian doesn’t eat any red meat or pork, which is why you may never find any red meat or pork recipes on this site. This includes any sausages that have pork casings, which basically excludes almost all sausages. I have found a few sausages that are Brian compliant, but only one of them are also Whole30 compliant — and it’s way more expensive. A breakfast bake, like the Tomato Basil Breakfast Bake With Italian Turkey Sausage I made on Easter, is made in a 13×9″ pan and makes way too much for one person. So, when making breakfast bakes, I need to make individual servings so I can make mine and Brian’s separately, and while I’m at it, I can make some for Natalie with cheese and bacon.
Today I used my scone pan to create Mini Italian Sausage And Tomato Egg Frittatas! Half used Adelle’s Artichoke Garlic Chicken Sausage and half used O Organics Kale And Balsamic Chicken Sausage. I then added spinach, orange peppers, green onions, eggs, tomatoes, and seasonings, and baked it. HOLY MOLY were these babies delicious! Yum!
Brian has already asked me to make these again.
We ate a huge breakfast and weren’t really hungry at lunch time, so we had a light mid-afternoon snack of mixed nuts, fresh fruit, and baby carrots.
The oven-roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and purple potatoes that I roasted the night before were so good, that for dinner we decided to make the same Onion And Garlic Roasted Vegetables again (just way more of them) and pair it with a Tomato Basil Ground Turkey Meatloaf, which was heavenly and tasted like rich Italian meatballs in a flavorful marinara sauce.
Unfortunately, the meatloaf took much longer to cook than expected, so we ate the vegetables first, basically wiping the baking sheets clean, and then ate the meatloaf about a half hour later.
Whole30 Day 28
I was still so bummed about the meatloaf taking so long to cook and throwing off our whole dinner, but at least that meant we filled up on veggies and ate less meatloaf than expected. There were a lot of leftovers, so for breakfast I made a Roasted Tomato Basil Meatloaf Scramble — and if you like tomatoes, you’ll love this breakfast! I used the rest of the can of chopped oven roasted tomatoes, more basil and garlic, onion, some peppers, and the leftover meatloaf… yummy in my tummmy.
For lunch I just ate a little bit of everything we had on hand. I had a hard boiled egg, mixed nuts, fresh berries, baby carrots, and apple slices. But was I really wanted was to go out to lunch. I want to have a chicken pita at the Greek place we like and I’d love some normal tacos in tortillas not lettuce wraps, but that’s not allowed in the rules…
In the afternoon, I got busy wrapping up clients projects, closing out my workweek, taking Natalie shopping for a semi-formal dress, and getting out an important email update to the Bourn Creative community. So busy that I forgot to actually eat dinner. I wasn’t very hungry and didn’t even notice that I skipped dinner until we left for date night. Crap!
A few times every month, we go see local bands play. This time, we were at the Auburn Event Center to see Coral Creek and Achilles Wheel, and while the venue sells alcohol, they sell no food except pizza. Both bands are fantastic and I wasn’t about to leave, so I gutted through it, downing a couple bottles of water throughout the night. Luckily, I was so busy dancing that I forgot how hungry I was and when we got home, I was so tired, I went straight to bed.
Being hungry wasn’t the hard part. No date night dinner and no drinking was the hard part.
First, let me say that we’re not big drinkers. Brian drank quite a bit during his previous career as a Fire Captain, enough that the 48-hour shift was a good detox. But when he switched careers to become a web developer full time, he dealt with gallbladder cancer, and we all decided to get healthy, he cut the drinking way back. Now we basically only ever drink if it’s date night or we’re out to dinner with friends, and even then it’s 1-2 beers for Brian or ciders for me, or maybe a couple glasses of wine.
Tonight we were at a concert with friends and we couldn’t even enjoy one beer or cider. The only way we supported the bar was by buying a few waters. It was a bummer at first — and it was weird not going to out dinner and relaxing and talking just the two of us away from the house and work before the show.
The only plus side is that this was one of the cheapest date nights ever. We skipped going out to dinner before the concert because of Whole30, we only bought waters, and got the tickets in an advance sale for less than $10 a piece.
Turning The Whole30 Into a Whole60
I can hardly believe that we only have two days left in our first Whole30.
I thought The Whole30 program was going to be a lot harder — that I would feel deprived. At first it sounded daunting. No dairy, no grains, no alcohol, no sugar — there is sugar in everything! All I could think was, “What am I going to eat?” I was apprehensive to start the program during a month with Easter, Carter’s birthday, and spring break. But now there’s only two days left and…
- With advance preparation, getting started with Whole30 was easier than I thought it would be.
- With planning and food prep, road tripping during Whole30 was no big deal.
- With clear, open communication among family members, staying Whole30 during a holiday was no big deal.
- With a variety of meal options, hosting a birthday party for my son during Whole30 without being tempted by party food was manageable.
- With a plethora of quick, easy, healthy snacks on hand, being sick while doing Whole30 was absolutely doable.
- And even with commitment, getting through date night concerts without a single cider, beer, or glass of wine was okay.
In the early days of Whole30, seeing my kids eat the foods I loved was the hardest part because those little jerks ate it right in front of me and rubbed it in. But now it’s no big deal. I don’t even really care. It’s now harder to go out for date night and see friends and not enjoy a cider or a glass of wine — and not because I feel like I need it, but because I just enjoy it and it’s fun.
We’re Going Whole60
The Whole30 Program has been such a great experience that we’ve decided to continue with the Whole30 and make it a Whole60.
Brian and I feel amazing. We both feel better than we have in years. We’re sleeping better, our digestive systems are free of any issues (which is HUGE), we have way more energy, and we’ve both lost weight.
We are on the fence about one thing though: We’re debating whether or not we’re doing another “strict Whole30” following all of the rules to the letter, or if we’re going to stay completely Whole30, but allow date nights to be cheat nights, as long as they’re not excessive. We’re just not sure yet… and we have two days (or until our first date night in May) to figure it out.
Curious About The Whole30?
If you’re wondering about The Whole30 Program or thinking of doing Whole30 yourself, I hope you’ll consider checking out my other Whole30 review posts documenting our daily experiences, including what we eat and cook, and what we struggle with:
- Getting Started With Whole30 In The Real World: Day 1
- Getting Used To The Whole30 Rules: Day 2-5
- Whole30 (Spring Break) Road Trip Food: Day 6-10
- Staying On Track With Whole30 On A Holiday: Day 11-16
- Whole30 While You’re Sick, Parties, And Date Night at A Brewery: Day 17-22
- Date Nights And Eating Out During Whole30: Day 23-28