Whole30: Redux

doing ANOTHER whole30

Yesterday, I started a Whole30. Again. As in, I’m doing a Whole60 (with a little 3-day break in the middle).

If you’re like most people and are very happy eating bread and flour and rice and cheese and yogurt and milk and candy and potatoes and chips and things out of cans, etcetera, this might seem crazy. One month ago, I may have agreed with you. Now, I am excited for another month of strictness–I’ve gotten so used to feeling great (see my last two posts) and I am eager to find out what else I can accomplish through my nutritional boot camp.

This second Whole30 is going to be even more hard core than the first. Before I explain how, though, I have a bit of an announcement: the founders of the Whole30 diet, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, have asked me for permission to direct other Whole30-ers to my new Whole30 Eats section as food inspiration. Remembering how much I relied/rely on other people’s experiences for food ideas, how could I say no?

In the interest of maintaining the integrity of their program, they made sure I got a copy of their Success Guide. You don’t have to have the book to do the Whole30, but it really is a very handy tool, and it showed me where I could make even better food choices. Also, since I am basically receiving an official Whole30 endorsement, I need to shape up and do things the right way.

That means some things will change:

  • No chewing gum. Gum is artificially sweetened, so it’s a no-go on the Whole30. I wondered about that during my first month, but since I didn’t have the Success Guide, I didn’t have all of the details. I may look into other breath-freshening alternatives, or else really try hard not to breathe on anyone. My apologies in advance. 😉
  • Taking fruit out of the spotlight. Fruit tastes great, can be very fulfilling, is a fantastic complement to most meals, but there is so much naturally-occurring sugar in it that it helps keep the “sugar dragon” alive longer. I want to starve that monster to death. So: I will eat less fruit, including trying to abolish the breakfast smoothie, unless I can make an enjoyable version that contains lots of veggies and little fruit.
  • Abolishing the Breakfast Smoothie. I know. My trusty breakfast smoothie. I will be sad to see it go, but I learned in conversations with Melissa Hartwig that liquid meals aren’t the best choice for those trying to lose weight, because the “I’m full” signal isn’t quite the same as when you’re chewing. I also learned that almond butter, which I was going through at a steady pace, isn’t on the Whole30 “go for it” protein list, but rather on the “eating-it-occasionally-is-cool” list. All this, combined with my decision to move fruit out of the spotlight, means that I will be looking for creative ways to get “real” protein (eggs, meat, etc.) into me at breakfast time, along with veggies.
  • No Fudge Babies. These little balls of Paleo goodness got me through some long evenings of reading and studying. However, they fall into the “no-no” category of “Paleo-ified” desserts, which the Hartwigs clearly forbid, lest that “sugar dragon” be allowed to remain alive. When I get an evening craving, I will eat a few almonds and some veggies.
  • Cutting back on the bacon and cold meat. As much as I loved the (additive-free) bacon and smoked turkey that I found at the farmer’s market last month, I realized that neither one is on the “great” list of proteins, and should be enjoyed occasionally, rather than regularly.
  • Fewer almonds. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard me talk about almonds before. They have been my super snack over the past year or two. While they’re not bad, they’re not on the “best” list, so I’m going to try to rely on them less. When in doubt, eat veggies!
  • New Balsamic Vinegar. I didn’t realize until I read the Success Guide yesterday that my balsamic vinegar (like most cheapies) has sulfites in it. Oops. Sulfites are a “no-no” on the Whole30, so it’s time for a new bottle.
  • Using clarified butter. This is the only “dairy” product allowed on the Whole30. Clarified butter has been melted and the milk solids skimmed away, making it a good fat rather than an evil one. It also helps to start with a good-quality, organic, grass-fed butter. I would venture to say it’s worth splurging on the good-quality stuff.
  • Eating more good fats. There is another diet out there where people eat coconut oil with every meal. On this diet, you don’t have to do that because you’re cooking with coconut oil and coconut milk and olive oil, and eating avocado, etc. I know it sounds backwards, but I’m convinced that good fats can make a lot of difference for a healthy diet. A diet without fats is difficult to maintain–you aren’t giving your body any extra calories, so without good fats, it won’t have much to run on. Besides, coconut and avocado are good for your skin and hair, etc. What did hydrogenated vegetable oil ever do for you?
  • Even more planning ahead. You really have to be on the ball with a diet like this. Especially if you have days like I do this term, where I leave my house by 8:30 am and don’t return until 9 or 10 pm. You have to get creative. You have to spend several hours cooking in order to have containers of good food to take with you when you’re out. You have to be disciplined in your determination to only eat foods you have made, unless you have access to a store or restaurant with Whole30-compliant meals. I don’t, so plan ahead I must. The tough part for me this month is going to be planning for breakfast. The smoothies were pretty easy, even though they took up more time than I had ever dedicated to breakfast on a morning where I had somewhere to be. Now, I have to prepare eggs and veggies… I’ll need even more discipline and creativity for that.

There you have it. My wee announcement, followed by several things that help you think I’m crazier than I was before.

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Breakfast Smoothie Extraordinaire

(Update July 4, 2013. I removed “a la Whole30” from the title of this post because I keep finding it on Pinterest, with comments from Whole30-ers cautioning against consuming smoothies during a Whole30. Is this still a good recipe? I think so, yes. Is it “Whole30”? Not quite. If you’re doing a Whole30, consider this as an occasional treat rather than as a key nutritional go-to.)

(Update March 27, 2012. In a recent conversation with Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the Whole30, I learned that smoothies are less than ideal for the Whole30 program for a few reasons: 1) the spotlight tends to be on the fruit rather than the veggies or protein; 2) almond butter is classified as a fat that should be consumed occasionally, not a protein that should be consumed daily; 3) flax seeds are on the “limit” list for fats; and 4) liquid foods are easier to overeat than solid foods. That being said, make the adjustments you need to for your Whole30 and enjoy!)

In the 21 days since I started my (first) Whole30, I’ve become increasingly competent in the art of the breakfast smoothie.

The smoothie that I blogged about week before last has evolved past the alpha stage into a more complex, flavorful, and healthy version. Each morning, I look forward to my smoothie with greater anticipation.

I start with coconut milk

I start with coconut milk

Then I add some almond butter

Then I add some almond butter

A cut-up banana is next

A cut-up banana is next

...followed by a handful of spinach

…followed by a handful of spinach

...some flax seed

…some ground flax seed

And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries

And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries

I know I have not reached the level of Smoothie Expert yet, but I am sufficiently satisfied with this stage to submit it to you for beta testing.

Please give it a go and let me know what you think my next step should be.

Sarah’s Whole30 Paleo Smoothie, Beta Version

  • 1/3 cup high-fat coconut milk (read the labels and choose one that uses only guar gum as a “stabilizer”, and has about a 30% fat content. Good fat, remember!)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 banana, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (or as much as you think you would enjoy) organic spinach or kale (you might want to blend the kale first before adding the other ingredients: I chewed each mouthful of this morning’s smoothie!)
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seeds (I use a version that is already pre-ground) (flax is a great source of Omega fatty acids)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • A couple splashes of orange juice (sweetener and consistency regulator: my coconut milk tends to be thick, and adding OJ makes it pourable)