Some of you may have noted that, in a previous post, I mentioned doing a loose version of Whole 30. I first heard about this eating plan when Dr. Matthews’s cousin, Lisa, talked about it on her blog. My initial reaction was, “No way.” I mean, it sounded great for folks who wanted to lose a lot of weight or were having serious digestive problems, but I never thought I could handle even getting remotely close to this level of restriction. For those of you who’re unfamiliar, Whole 30 involves cutting out the following for 30 days:
- Legumes (soy, peas)
- Sugar (any and all added sugar, including honey or other carlorie-free sweeteners)
- Grains (i.e., bread, pasta, rice, etc.)
The purpose, as I understand it, is to do this for 30 days, then slowly reintroduce these food groups to see which, if any, are causing negative reactions/digestive issues. My SIL told me she and my BIL had been doing it with a group from her work and that she’d felt “amazing” and the recipes they’d found were really good. She’d also lost a good amount of her baby weight within the first two weeks. To be 100% honest, I wanted to lose weight. Not a ton, but just the last of what I’d gained during pregnancy. Counting calories had been pretty much miserable and only somewhat effective. I was desperate.
Another factor leading me to believe I might be able to abide by these restrictions is a little gadget called a spiralizer. My MIL got me this one for my birthday, and I love it. (Side note: I also tried the Paderno, which is the most popular spiralizer on the market, and was less than impressed. The one I got is vertical vs horizontal, so gravity works with you and not against you. Then the spiralizer food empties into a tray at the bottom. With the Paderno, you have to use a really low dish or the shelf on the device will push it out of the way and your food goes everywhere.) I love me some zoodles and thought, if I can eat meat and eggs and nuts and fruit and veggies and zoodles, how hard could this be?
The answer: very.
#1, this diet is very time-consuming. Which wasn’t a huge issue for me, as a SAHM with one child who is old enough to occupy herself while I clean, chop, slice, spiralize and essentially spend half my day in the kitchen (poor Natalie!).
#2, I was so. hungry. I ate huge bowls full of fruit, all the eggs and bacon and avocado I could stomach. I only got significantly full once, after eating a huge steak and a giant pile of chunky guacamole salad.
#3, I was tired. My energy levels felt low and I was lethargic for at least a week and a half before my body adjusted, although it eventually did.
#4, I was bloated. All the time. I think all the fruits and veggies in my diet took a toll on my digestive tract. Which, for the record, was fine before I started this diet!
So, when I say I did a “loose” version of Whole 30, that means I was about 80-85% compliant with the diet. On occasion I would have a glass of wine (which is a significant decrease from my usual one glass a day) and there were a handful of “cheat” meals involved. Also, I only did it for 18 days, since we were going on vacation to a family reunion at the beach, where it was virtually impossible to eat this way and not drink alcohol. Trust me on this one. However, I was pretty proud of myself and surprised that I was able to maintain this style of eating for even that length of time. I did enjoy some delicious meals and eventually did feel pretty good, if not as “awesome” as the aforementioned SIL. Here is one of the recipes I really liked:
1 lb ground chicken breast
2 tbsp coconut oil (for sauteing use)
-Flavor layer 1 –
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
1 large red chili pepper, finely chopped & remove seeds (I use fresno red chili pepper)
-Flavor layer 2 –
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce (Whole30 compliant). (I actually wasn’t able to find “compliant” fish sauce, so this was the one ingredient I cheated on)
1 lime juice
2 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp coconut aminos (this is a soy sauce alternative I found at Whole Foods)
Pinch of sea salt
-Flavor layer 3 –
Handful of chopped cilantro & mint leaves (I subbed basil for mint)
1 scallion, chopped (I omitted this because we were about to go out of town and I knew I wouldn’t use the rest)
Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil over high heat. When hot, add ingredients under Flavor layer 1. Add a small pinch of salt and stir-fry for 2 -3 mins until golden brown but not burned.
Add ground chicken. Stir-fry until the meat is completely cooked through. Season with a small pinch of salt.
Add ingredients under Flavor layer 2. Give it a quick stir (about 5-10 sec.) then turn off the heat. Stir-in ingredients under Flavor layer 3.
Mix everything well and taste and see if more lime juice is needed. Serve w/ cold butter lettuce. (We just had it by itself topped with toasted sesame seeds, which I added after I took the photo but were an amazing addition! You could also serve this over cauliflower rice if you’re doing Whole 30 or regular rice if you’re not.)
If you’re ever interested in trying Whole 30 or just want to know what the heck I ate the whole time, I’m happy to share ideas for snacks and meals! Just shoot me a message. Word to the wise, however- when you start reintroducing regular food to your diet, DO NOT DO SO ALL AT ONCE! In other words, don’t eat like you’re on vacation like I did. You may be spending more time in the bathroom than on the beach 😳