Whole30 — 30 Days — 90 Meals
On July 5th I started the Whole30. I started on that day because I wanted to enjoy the huge spread of completely non-compliant foods at a friends Fourth of July party. Today is Day 30. I made it! I didn’t cheat. I didn’t slip. I actually eat thirty days, ninety meals of Whole30 food.
Whole30 is a very new type of diet. It kind of started in 2012 with a book published by Melissa Hartwig — the book details the science of food. The Whole30 is explained in great detail by Hartwig’s 2015 book, Whole30®: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.
In her book, Hartwig basically explains there are some dubious food groups that are scientifically proven to cause problems to our bodies. Those foods are:
- Grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc.)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, and so forth)
- Legumes (think beans, includes soy)
- Sugar (the kind that gets added to just about everything, not the kind you get in fruit)
- MSG, sulfites, carrageenan
Here’s a full list of the Whole30 rules, in case you’re curious.
By eliminating these foods and ingredients from your diet for thirty days, you will essentially have cleansed your body from nearly all harmful effects that are brought about by them.
Most of us are probably sensitive in at least a small way to one or more of these food groups. The goal of the diet is to really find out just how much. Once the thirty days is over, the plan suggest adding each one back in, individually and systematically to figure out if and by what degree they affect you.
I don’t think I’m sensitive to any of these food groups, but you can do this diet for a variety of other reasons:
- lose weight
- cook at home more
- save money
- get control over eating habits
- learn to love natural foods
At least these are the reasons I’m really doing the Whole30. The idea that I might find out that I have some sort of insensitivity to one of the groups is kind of like an extra treat at the end of the challenge. I’ll find out soon!
So Day One was pretty easy. I actually woke up, and went to Jines Restaurant in the city, had an omelette, black coffee, and some fruit for breakfast, then went and got a hair cut. The omelette was okay. The coffee was okay. The haircut was awesome.
We’re so lucky to live in an area that has Wegmans. So of course, there I went, and stocked up for the afternoon and evening.
This pattern of behavior has continued for the entire month, minus the Jines and World Hair. It’s breakfast, go do some work, stop at Wegmans, and come home to cook.
When you’re doing the Whole30, there is a lot of cooking.
For most of my lunches I made something the Whole30 folks call a protein salad. It consists of about a pound of some protein — I used chicken, salmon, and tuna for nearly every salad — plus veggies, mayo, and either lemon or lime juice.
Yes, I’ve said mayo twice now. You can’t buy Whole30 mayo in the store…not even at Wegmans! Because sugar. Yup, even the organic stuff has it. One thing to add to the list of reasons to do the Whole30: you get really good at reading the labels on food.
Luckily, there’s a way to make your own mayo at home, and it’s super simple. It’s an egg, oil, some mustard powder, a little salt, and lemon juice. You make it in the food processor and it comes out looking like this:
That night for dinner, I made “Spaghetti” and Meat Sauce. The spaghetti came in the form of spaghetti squash, which was easy to roast and convert into noodle form.
I made the tomato sauce from scratch and it included a bunch of finely diced veggies. The meat was ground beef, browned, and seasoned. It all came together nicely and wasn’t half bad. Day one complete!
Then came Day Two, and I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m still doing this.” Ninety percent of Whole30 breakfasts are simply leftover dinner from the night (or two) before. At first this was very odd. I had my spaghetti and meat sauce with a fried egg on top:
This was mildly disgusting. I spent this week trying to make eggs for breakfast. Whole30 really pushes eggs on you. You don’t have to eat them, but gosh darn it they’re going to include about twenty egg recipes so you have no excuse to not eat breakfast.
Eventually I figured out having exactly what I had for dinner the night before was fine, save for steak. I like mine medium rare and you can’t heat up a pre-grilled steak and keep that fresh-off-the-grill taste and temperature.
Lunch was more protein salad, and dinner consisted of seared chicken breast with red pepper mayo (mayo plus a red pepper sauce), roasted red potatoes, and an absolutely horrible slaw mixture that I’m reasonably certain I messed up in some way. That got thrown out immediately after dinner.
I only ate out three times during the Whole30. The first was at Jines on the first day, for breakfast — that was easy. The second was at CoreLife Eatery which specializes in salads and bone broth soups. I had to pass on the rice noodles in my chicken broth soup, but it was otherwise tasty.
The third time was supposed to be at Applebee’s and I had looked at their well-thought-out allergen menu to choose my meal ahead of time. When we arrived, they had no power, and so we chose Chili’s instead.
Whoever is in charge of the allergen menu at Chili’s has obviously never had an allergen or overtly hates people with allergens. It could be a combination of both. They split their entire menu up by single allergens and then show which foods don’t have that particular ingredient. Great if you only have one allergy. Horrible if you’re on the Whole30 and have like seven.
I eventually went with the smoked chicken wings. They were very good.
Save yourself the hassle, just don’t go out to eat during the Whole30. It’s too frustrating to find something that is compliant and you’ll either end up getting something that isn’t very appetizing or you’ll get something that is appetizing but has had all the good bits removed.
Red Robin would have you believe that a cheeseburger with no cheese served in a lettuce wrap is better than anything you could prepare for yourself at home. Nope.
Over these thirty days, I’ve found some meals that we (my wife and I) really love. I’ve found some that just I love. And there are some that I made once and haven’t been made again.
When you start the Whole30, I encourage you to try their seven-day starter plan and make as many of the meals as you can. After that, just dive in and make what looks good.
I’ve tried to come up with some routines:
- I roast a whole chicken every Sunday night
- I try for one slow cooker meal a week
- I try to have a nice strip steak once a week
- I always make enough for breakfast the next day (this is tough when the meal is like super delicious and everyone wants more)
I need to do better at:
- Planning meals out in advance (I’m at Wegmans every day)
- Having fish more often for dinner (I baked Salmon once in the thirty days)
- Probably other stuff, too
Day Thirty-One is here! At the start, I weighed in at 236 pounds. I now weigh 222! I’m continuing the Whole30 for as long as I can :)