Tuesday, January 27, 2015

All About the Veggies - A Whole30 Update

Tonight's Salsa Chicken
You may have seen in my winter goals post that I'm currently doing Whole30. Today marks Day Sixteen. Past the halfway mark and I'm feeling great!

If you haven't heard of Whole30, it's basically a 30-day nutritional reset. You take out all processed foods, as well as sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains, with the plan to get rid of your cravings and get your digestive and immune systems back to a better place. It's also used by folks to figure out if they might have food allergies or sensitivities that are contributing to them feeling icky. It's not a diet, exactly. You don't count calories. Yes, most folks lose weight. But that isn't the purpose, and you aren't supposed to weigh yourself while participating. Some folks just do it for thirty days. Others adopt the principles as a lifestyle change.

Basically, for thirty days I am focused on eating fruits, veggies, eggs, meat, and some nuts and seeds.

For me, signing up for this was about a few things:
  • Noticing and hopefully changing some of my bad habits. I eat a ton of snacks, none of them good for me. And I'm not good about eating them in moderation. If there is a box of Cheeze-Its in our house, they never last very long. Lots of salty processed snacks and a whole lot of sugar - that needs to go.
  • Introducing more fruits and veggies into my diet. I buy them. But they typically go to the crisper drawer to die. I am much more likely to be eating convenience food, and making meal time decisions at meal time, rather than planning ahead and ensuring a healthy balance of nutrients. On Whole30, I am eating a huge portion of veggies at every meal, even breakfast. It's an adjustment, but a positive one. 
  • Eating real food. I tend to take advantage of a lot of convenience food. Mainly due to lack of planning and/or laziness. There isn't room for that here!
  • I'm also hoping for the benefits of: better sleep, clearer skin, and more energy. Especially during winter, I'm super lethargic. And while the weather and hours of darkness are a key part of that, I'd imagine some of what I'm eating is a contributing factor.
So how is it going so far? Well, Day One and Two were pretty hard. I think that was mainly because I wasn't super excited about what I was eating those days. I actually woke up with a migraine on Day One, and so my day was pretty thrown off eating wise. I still followed the plan, but I didn't eat anything until almost 2:30 in the afternoon because I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep it down (gross, I know). When I'm sick all I want is ginger ale and crackers, but I made it work and didn't cheat. But an unexpected Day One also meant that I didn't get to the grocery store, and so I was pretty limited for options for Day Two. I never had any headaches from taking out the soda and grains, like some folks have, but I was certainly a little crabby/hungry most of the day. I also spent a lot of time thinking about what I couldn't have on those days. I was craving anything and everything, even stuff I wouldn't usually want, like pudding. All I was thinking about was food.

But Days Three-Fifteen have been great! I've been excited about my meals and have found that I look forward to different things than I would have in the past. And little things like including fresh herbs on a salad or grabbing a handful of olives for a little something extra with my meal make a huge difference. I am also usually feeling full and satisfied. I've had several meals where I couldn't finish the whole lunch I packed. No hunger.    

Some of the things I've noticed:

I'm spending a lot more time cooking and doing dishes. That shouldn't have been a huge surprise, as I've cut out a lot of the convenience food. But I have to think beyond just my next meal to three meals a day throughout the week. This means that sometimes I'm not just cooking our dinner, but also chopping veggies for my lunch the next day, while simultaneously hard-boiling eggs so that I'll have them for breakfast for the rest of the week. Lots of dirty dishes at our house.

Our grocery bill is a little bit higher. I'm doing my best to find good meat and produce deals and to not overbuy, but with the much high quantities of meat and veggies being consumed, it's definitely a change. But...

We are eating out a lot less. This includes our "we're too lazy to cook tonight" trips for fast food and those mid-day trips down to get a snack or a coffee. So I would imagine our grocery bill will even out with the other food we usually buy.

Planning is huge. To make sure that we aren't wasting leftovers or throwing away rotten produce, I have to make a plan for the week, shop accordingly, defrost things on time, and stay on track. No last minute "what do I want to have decisions.

Finding meals that work for both of us is important. Chris isn't doing Whole30 with me, but it is important to me that we are eating mostly the same thing. Sometimes it means that eat spaghetti squash and sauce while Chris has spaghetti. Or my taco meat is on a salad, while his is in a shell. There are a lot of more adventurous recipes online look delicious, but may not work for the two of us. But you can totally do this with the basics, like grilled meat and veggies, without it getting too boring.

While there are foods that I miss, I don't crave them in the same way. Sure, I have a pang of jealousy when someone walks past with french fries, and going to the movies and not getting popcorn is hard, but I don't feel the urge to instantly go get every food that I think of. When I already have a plan for what I am eating, I am so much less likely to deviate with a piece of pizza or a burger. My hope is that those would become an every once in awhile treat, rather than a regular part of my week. And I do have some foods that feel like a treat....almond butter!

We have also found some great new recipes. Some of the things I've eaten this month:
  • Taco salad bowls
  • Crockpot beef stew
  • Turkey burger sliders with sweet potato buns
  • Eggs, eggs, and more eggs! Not sick of em yet. 
  • Mini-meatloafs
  • Baked citrus chicken
  • Pork chops with apples and onions
  • Thai red curry with chicken and veggies, plus cauliflower rice
  • Healing chicken soup
  • Crockpot salsa chicken
Here's to a bunch of other great meals during the second half!

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