Today it’s my day five of the Whole30 challenge (I should probably call it programme, but it is a challenge after all) and here’s how it’s been so far…
Sure enough, as the Whole30 timeline suggested, I felt on top of the world on Monday. I woke up and reheated the scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach and kale I had prepared the night before (it was meant to be a frittata, but I messed it up at the last moment), grabbed some blueberries and half an avocado, and enjoyed my breakfast with a cup of black coffee. I forced myself to only start drinking the coffee after I had eaten at least half of the breakfast.
I packed all my food, and headed off to the Ronald McDonald House, where I was going to meet my colleagues to cook for the families. I went early so I could have lunch there. When I arrived, I prepared my protein salad: plain boiled chicken, romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, some grapes, and ranch dressing. At the time, it filled me up nicely.
On to cooking with my colleagues, we made vegetable stew, beef cottage pie, peas, mashed potatoes… and chocolate chip cookies. The kitchen smelt heavenly.
Usually, our company gives us some snacks when we have a half day of volunteer work, but knowing the snack would mostly be chocolates and crisps, I told my manager not to bother bringing mine (extra points for having a strong will). At some point, I almost licked my fingers when making the cookie batter (and good thing I didn’t, not only because of Whole30, but also because it had raw egg!). My finger was almost in my mouth before I realised what I was doing, but I quickly stopped. Some of my colleagues were joking and asking me if I wanted to try this or that. Not cool, guys, not cool…
All that cooking and smells made me hungry. Luckily, we had a couple of extra eggs, which I decided to boil for later.
When everyone left, I stayed behind, as I was staying the night, and tidied. Some of my colleagues had forgotten their bags of crisps, and some of the chocolate, and even though I was a bit tempted, I left them all on the side for the families to enjoy, and grabbed my two boiled eggs (I have the will of a kung-fu master, I’m telling you).
Unfortunately, I had to do some fire procedures test, which meant by the time I had one of the eggs I was a bit hungry. Trying to figure out whether it was really hunger or a craving, I decided to wait, and sure enough, I felt better after a while. I could still eat something, but I wasn’t feeling like eating the beef meal I had brought with me. It was obvious, my brain was crying for some crisps.
At a proper time, I had my dinner. Minced beef, tomato sauce (with veggies), and butternut squash. It was good (even though I forgot to add the Italian seasoning to the meat), but the hole in my stomach wasn’t going to be filled. So far, I had made it through the first day, a bit hungry, but made it. I think the portions were good enough, and it was just my body craving bread (and crisps, and chocolate chip cookies!).
On day two, I went to work directly from the house, which meant I was at the office early. Breakfast was dinner leftovers, which felt very weird. Sure, I ate it all, but I wasn’t feeling it much.
For lunch, I decided to buy a simple salad to which I could add extra ingredients I had. I went to Tesco, and my, it took me about 15 minutes to find a salad that didn’t have any off-plan ingredients (or cucumber, for that matter). What’s with the sweetcorn? Seriously, it’s everywhere! Finally, I found a fennel and apple salad that seemed compliant (if you didn’t add the dressing), and I bought some prosciutto ham. Lunch was really good.
I had one of my migraines for the rest of the day, which I don’t think was helped at all by the new diet, so by the time I got home, I was suffering, but it was time to cook. I made chicken breasts with cabbage slaw, roasted potatoes and homemade mayo. It was really good! Totally digging this thing.
On Wednesday, it was leftover chicken for breakfast, which was much better than the minced beef. I’m still not used to eating “real food” for breakfast.
So far, I’ve been sort of improvising the meals, based on the 7-day meal plan provided. I realise I can’t follow it to the letter, at least not if I want to reach the end of the month with some money left!
Dinner on Wednesday was beef brisket. I really liked shredding the beef, but I kept picturing a pulled pork burger (Bodean’s, anyone?), which I guess defeats the purpose. Breakfast was leftovers again. I didn’t really enjoy this, because the meat was very dry. I will have to figure out a way to make it work.
Last night we had oven baked salmon for dinner, with vegetables and mashed avocado, all sprinkled with toasted cashew nuts. I really loved the mash and cashews, I’m definitely making those again.
Some things I’ve found out so far:
- I really don’t like minced meat. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, I only like it as burger. I’m not a fan of bolognese type of sauce, so I probably won’t be making it again.
- I love berries. I’m not such a fan of apples, definitely hate pears (so haven’t even tried them this time), not too keen on oranges and other citrus, and not really in love with any other kind of fruit (I do like bananas though), but blueberries are my favourite. I also like raspberries a lot, but yeah. Every time I eat blueberries, I want to add some yogurt to them, so I’m going to have to find an alternative… Maybe coconut cream? We’ll see.
- It’s the second time I introduce (so, first time I reintroduce?) celery into my diet, and I’m still on the fence about it. Somedays I like it, and other days it reminds me a bit too much of cucumber. More research into it is needed.
- Any nutrition plan that tells me to stuff my face with eggs is a winner! (Whole30 doesn’t actually tell you to stuff your face with anything, by the way). I love eggs in any shape and form. Boiling a batch of them to add to salads or just eat on the go feels great.
- Likewise, homemade mayonnaise. And ranch dressing for that matter! OK, also vinaigrette dressing. Any dressing, really. Love it.
- Eating healthy is easier when you do it with someone else (or completely on your own, not sharing dinner table), but it’s difficult when the person next to you is eating bread, drinking a beer, or a Coke… Or just watching TV eating Pringles or Haribo. Every time I need to tell myself I’m doing the right thing, and exaggerate in my mind how unhealthy everyone’s food habits are, it’s the only way I can resist temptation (ugh, look at those poor arteries…). I imagine this will work for another couple of days, before I simply need to leave the room when these situations arise. (No offence, I’m sure you eat healthy, it’s just a mind game I need to play to convince myself I’m doing the right thing and not punch people and steal their Pringles off their hand).
- Allowing bacon into this food programme is a trick. Once you get to the supermarket and start reading labels, you realise you pretty much can’t eat any of the brands available! Smoked bacon is alright, if you know your allowed additives by heart – when you’re looking at a label and read things like ascorbic acid and sodium nitrite, you definitely can’t remember whether those are OK or not (they are!).
- Being sick when trying a new food plan and trying to avoid snacking is the worst. There’s way too much time to kill when doing nothing. I really miss working out and I can’t wait to be back on Monday. Also, the more I work out, the less I think about food (and I get an extra post-workout meal, just for good effort!).
- I’m impatient. I know it’s physically impossible to see any results after only five days of following the programme, but I keep looking at myself in the mirror. I haven’t stepped on the scale, and I won’t, but I am keeping an eye on my tummy shape. So far, I’m happy to see I’m not getting huge after eating, so I guess bread will be off the table once I finish this plan, but we’ll see after reintroduction.
At this point in time, I’m not 100% sure I’m going to be able to finish the whole 30 days. It involves a lot of planning in advance, at which I’m not very good. It also involves having a big fridge packed with food. So far my tiny fridge has been overflowing with food, and I’m not sure how that’s working out for everyone (my brother hasn’t complained so far about not having space for his food and I haven’t seen any pizzas creeping in yet!). Also, doing the dishes after cooking is a bit of a pain. Said that, I get really excited when cooking and making an effort. I think I was food-bored in the past, from eating the same meals over and over again, and now I’m getting some variety, which helps.
A small advice if you’re planning to do this: get the physical book, not the Kindle version. Most of the recipes in the plan go by page numbers, and my Kindle book only has locations in it, so it’s driving me crazy. Some of the recipes have hyperlinks on the text, so you can click on it, but if you need to go back and forth it’s a bit confusing. Post-it notes and bookmarks on the actual book would work much better! Note to self: don’t buy recipe books for Kindle in the future…
How is your Whole30 going? Are you doing the July one (so you’re on day 10)? Do you follow any other diets or nutrition plans? Like paleo, veganism or stuff like that? What are you experiences? Is there any food that you miss from your previous diet?
I’m posting a lot of pics of the meals on my Instagram, so go have a look! Let’s follow each other and share ideas!