I figured I’d do Whole30 again. Last year, when I did this, I didn’t get to feel the full benefit thanks to the nasty flu virus making the rounds. I learned something that year… don’t trust a flu vaccine to have your back, and even Whole30 Tiger Blood doesn’t prevent infestation by extremely virulent germs.
Some friends of ours just completed their first one, and a lot of people did a January Whole 30, so I started to feel the pull. Plus, if I timed it with Lent, I would have a good coincidence of explanation. People understand the temporary giving up of stuff when explained in terms of Lent. Then I don’t actually have to launch into the entire “see, it’s an experiment where you wipe the slate clean and then see how foods affect your body and energy levels and everything, but first you have to go 30 days without eating any… sugar.. dairy.. grains.. beans/legumes.. alcohol… did I get them all? But you CAN eat vegetables and meat and fruits!”
Telling people I’m on a diet only ever elicits “But you don’t need to lose weight!” I don’t, actually, and I won’t either. Whole30, especially in the first couple weeks, has me eating probably a lot more than I would normally eat, because when your body is used to a certain kind of food (see: junk) and it’s not getting it, you’ll keep having cravings, and keep stuffing your face with whatever you can get to try to replace the craving which it can never actually do (no amount of carrots will make you forget ice cream… at least not in that moment. It takes a longer time to build new habits). Not all diets are for that purpose, America. Weight is part of health, but it’s not the only part. Not all diets are about losing weight! (Not that Whole30 won’t hit you there, too, if you avoid the white potatoes.) On that note, can we just agree that it’s odd that white potatoes have a higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes which actually taste sweet? Science and nature are weird.
But for real though, this is a thing – in our language, “diet” has become synonymous with “weight loss strategy.” Diet is really just what you take into your body by eating and drinking. And as our dear Mr. D used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out!” If you eat crap, you feel like crap. If everything you eat comes out of a package or through a drive-thru window, and if all you drink is soda, you will naturally just be overweight, and probably depressed with ADHD. Even if “a lot” of what you eat is packaged, or has added sugar (start looking at the ingredient list — just that, not the “fats” or “sugars” or whatever, just the ingredients list… did they add sugar to that thing? Odds are they did. Avoiding added sugar is actually a task all on its own), you’re probably a little overweight. Welcome to America, land of convenient food prepared by no one you’ll ever see face to face. I told a colleague “Don’t trust the powder. You never know what’s in the powder,” speaking of the powdered dust that I mix into coffee to magically make “peppermint mocha.” Delicious. Gross. Our nation is overweight, but I don’t think weight is the problem; I think it’s the symptom. But I digress..
But if you eat the kind of things that humans are supposed to eat, it stands to reason that you would feel a lot better, right?
We are so conditioned by our packaged and processed and oversugared foods to crave and endure a state of distress akin to a low-grade headache forever lurking in the background. So blended is it against the backdrop of how we expect to feel that we don’t even realize it until we cut the crap for long enough to feel what it’s like not to have that cloud hanging over us. All mileages vary – even in the couple that is re-inspiring me, one of them had copious new amounts of energy; the other didn’t. Your body will respond in a different way than mine to stuff. Every body is different, even though we’re all the same.
So I decided that on the heels of the restaurant meal and concert of Febraury Fat Tuesday 28th I would begin.
Day 1 (March 1) failure is immediate –
I hastily eat a banana and head to the cafe where I will meet my speaking partner. I scan the menu, but nothing is Whole30 compliant, so I settle for just ordering coffee. I immediately and reflexively pour a bunch of half and half into it, and sit sipping it for half an hour before I realize what I’ve done. I consider going up and getting a bagel sandwich because, hell, I’m already off Whole30. But then I think, stoically, no, I’ll just be… begun at 11am and work it out on the other end.
Later that day, I’m making a Whole30 recipe that calls for coconut aminos. These are the Whole30 sub for things like soy sauce. We don’t have coconut aminos. I figure, I’m already off, so what the hell. I throw in the soy and the day is officially struck.
Day 1 (March 2) the redo –
I eat eggs for breakfast, and then pack lunch, but lunch is my soy-bearing chicken and some roasted veggies that are okay. I figure a trace of soy at the very beginning isn’t going to be a huge deal, because soy isn’t a major problem for me. I notice an oat bar I had packed in my backpack a few days before. I leave it there, because I am weak.
At lunch, there is a free chili bowl and salad setup from the teachers group that makes lunch for each other every other week. The chili has beans. And probably sugar. Also there is cheese and fritos. I capitulate and even eat a brownie. Terrible fail.
Day 1 (March 3) third time’s the charm? –
I pack for lunch a stew I suspect has Worcestershire sauce in it (but I made it long ago, then froze it, then thawed it, so I’m not sure..?) and the veggies again. This time I eat them. But then I also eat the oat bar. I try to shake it off.
That night I join Scott at a bar where I resolve to eat a salad, but there’s a chicken-and-pancakes item on the menu, and I can’t resist, and besides, I already messed up the day.
Day 1 (March 4) for real this time –
Okay, now it’s Saturday and I’m going to get serious. I look up a bunch of recipes. I make the parsley sauce for the roasted veggies. I make a shopping list. I got to the store and buy the things. I eat roasted veggies and eggs, and then in the evening when I’m at the grocery store, I cruise the hot meal bar and discover several items I can have, so I make a plate of spiced catfish, collard greens, kale salad, and “turkey hash.”
When I get home, there is ice cream. I heat up a bowl of roasted veggies and hit them with parsley sauce. It’s a passable substitute (haaaaaahahahaha). I already miss regular old bread, because I haven’t had that in a pretty good while now. Pancakes don’t count.
Day 2 (March 5) –
I have hash and eggs for breakfast and it is so good (even though I don’t have a lid for the skillet? and I don’t have ‘herbs’ so I just dumped a bunch of thyme, oregano, and basil in there?), I think I will continue to eat it after the protocol ends, just like the Bradycakes from last time.
Later I make magic mushroom salt with dried shiitakes instead of what’s called for because shiitakes are what I have (pro tip- follow the recipe unless you really know what you are doing. Second pro tip – if you try to dust some dried shiitaks, remove the stems first so they don’t jam up your foodprocessor). Then I make cracklin chicken along with a big mess.
In the evening, I chop up a little of the chicken (for lack of other meats on hand) and make these things I am thinking of as mini-okonoms-to-go, ostensibly for lunch tomorrow (or whenever), although out of the 10 I eat three right after I make some guacamole as topping. I am rapidly working my way through my checklist of recipes for the week and it’s only day 2. I have used and washed the cast iron skillet and the food processor at least twice, and the mixer once. Food prep has been a large part of my day.
Whatever. I’m full. Besides, the grocery store isn’t too far.
Day 3 (March 6) –
Breakfast is Bradycakes, and lunch is leftovers (mini-okonoms and guac, plus roasted veg with parsley sauce) and a handful of strawberries from Florida. Holding steady.
Midday coffee is spices with cardamom and cinnamon or whatever else I used to put in oatmeal when I could have oatmeal.
Dinner is the last of the cracklin chicken, and a redux of hash and eggs (see day 2).
Day 4 (March 7) –
Breakfast is Bradycakes, strawberry variant. Oh and coffee (black, of course), always coffee.
Lunch is the last of the mini-okonoms and guacamole, and strawberries, plus an after-addition of the Asian meatballs I started making in the afternoon. I at so much that by actual dinnertime I wasn’t really hungry, so I just ate some carrots (was kind of overloaded with meat).
Day 5 (March 8) the hangover –
I wake up feeling like total crap. I’m very nauseous, so much that I even throw up a couple times, and my head is all spinny and a little achy. This is how hangovers feel, I note, but that’s ridiculous because I haven’t been drinking at all. I wonder if it’s a stomach bug, or what. Luckily I don’t get asked to sub, because I’m not sure if I would have dragged myself in, or blown it off, but having a working-from-home-day means no one will be that much the wiser if you spend the whole morning lying in bed alternately sleeping and rewinding the podcast to which you are listening to the last part you remember hearing, so that dozing and listening takes 4 hours instead of 1.
By midday, I feel like a normal person again, and I reflect that it might in fact have been the hangover – there is a day somewhere in week 1 of Whole30 that has a persistent headache. Or last time, anyway, that’s what I had – just a really annoying headache, the feeling of your body in withdrawal from all the stuff you haven’t given it lately. Hangovers are pretty much always about sugar and dehydration, right? Well, this one is probably about sugar. I rashly wonder if this symptom isn’t a suggestion that this whole idea is stupid and wrong, and I should just go back to eating bread and cookies, yes yes, Emily, go back to the cookies..! but then I remember the same kind of thing happens to people trying to quit drugs. It’s not that the drugs are actually good for them. But they’ll still get sick when withdrawing. Sugar is kind of a drug, and I don’t mean to minimize the process of those going through drug or alcohol rehab. Obviously since I was fine again by 12:30, the sugar drug has less barbed hooks.
Sugar, though, occurs naturally. That is why we love it so — we are geared to find it and get it when we could, which in the days of significantly less processed food, was a lot less. It was a “once-in-a-while” thing because we actually couldn’t get that much of it. Now it relies on self-control because it’s almost literally in everything. Even bacon. I get that it’s part of the curing process. But that just means the bacon I buy right now is the expensive one. 😦
Whole30 isn’t about counting calories or weighing yourself (the former is unnecessary and the latter is actually against the rules), it’s about reading the ingredient lists of the stuff you eat. That IS one habit I carried through from the earlier one. I wonder what’s in this stuff… wow, interesting.
ANYway, I ate half a sweet potato and the rest of the strawberries somewhere between 9 and noon, and made a cup of green tea, then drank the tea somewhere around 11:30. But 12:30 I was super hungry, so I made avocado tuna, and didn’t wrap it, but just dumped it on a pile of lettuce and snarfed it up that way.
So anyway, that’s my hangover-day rambling. Now to try to be productive for just half a day..!
I snacked on some dates today, which is not the best of ideas… even less so than the dried coconut flakes I snacked up yesterday (did I mention those? They’re OK ingredient wise, but that kind of pasty-topping snacking is cutting it close to SWYPO [sex with your pants on – stuff that is technically Whole30 but def not in the spirit of Whole30, like paleo pancakes]).
Ate leftovers (meatballs) at dinnertime, then after tutoring at the grocery store…
Went to the grocery store hungry, mad wanted every single thing in the cheese section. Starting to miss bread with that achy longing. Want muffins bad. Especially the lemon poppyseed. I even got a cinnamon roll to go for Scott, but got some smoked chicken and green beans, Brussels sprouts, and collards from the food bar for myself. Scarfed up half of it at red lights and now I’m full (though there is some leftover!) Definitely wanted the okra, but it definitely had sugar in it. ;_;
Day 6 (March 9) –
For breakfast, I ate the leftovers from the dinner the night before (this will become a pattern, I predict). I packed a lunch for myself of odds and ends, meatballs, avocado, grape tomatoes, strawberries, a banana. Whatever. During the period before lunch, I ate the banana, then I ate thestrawberries, then the grape tomatoes. Then the avocado. Then at lunchtime, all I had were meatballs and the emergency-food Larabar I had stashed in there just in case.
I looked up the school lunch menu, and since this is a private school, the school lunch is really good, and since kids have allergies and whatnot, they list out all the ingredients of every dish they make. I saw that there was some steamed bok choy and some snap peas in seasame oil calling my name.
The lunch dude immediately began to plate chicken (every time he’s seen me before, I have said “a little of everything, please,”) but I had to tell him twice “no chicken,” and then point to the two things I did want (after reconfirming that the snap peas had no soy). He shook his head and said everyone just keeps saying “chicken, noodles, and rice,” and I laughed and said “I want exactly the other two items, the ones no one else wants,” so he served them up, and I grabbed some pineapple from the fruitcup wall too. This, with my meatballs, was quite a good lunch and I ate every bit.
Dinner. I’ve thawed the frozen salmon I happened to have bought the same day Scott bought tickets to a concert that is tonight that I have forgotten. I encrust it with nuts and herbs and coconut oil and roast it up. This recipe is effing delicious, if a bit fancy (salmon isn’t cheap, and neither are nuts come to think of it…), so it’s happening again. I also made sweet potato fries, but they have been super labor intensive, and while I like sweet potatoes, I’m not sure all this work is going to be worth it (they’re still working as I type this).
(Yeah they were good, but not 3 hours good. The concert, however, was three hours good.)
Day 7 (March 10) –
Another school day. Breakfast is some quickly scrambled and wolfed eggs, because everyone is tired from staying up for concert.
Snacks/lunch is some more fruits, same as yesterday mostly, followed up with a redux of the salmon instead of meatballs. (This salmon is so good I weep a little on the inside as I finish it)
I spend some time picking out recipes for next week – I’ll be on the road, and it pays to be prepared if you’re headed out – and making a grocery list.
Dinner is the very last of the salmon (;_;) and some asparagus wrapped up in bacon, because I need a vegetable and there’s not as much salmon left as I had hoped (someone else been poaching… <_<). Also I poach an egg to go on top of an asparagus bundle. Then I poach another and eat another bundle. Gooood. I used to hate asparagus, but I’ve grown up a bit. I used to suck at poaching eggs. Oh wait, still am. Next time I might just over-medium fry them.
I cook up the rest of the bacon because There Will Be Avocado BLT Egg Salad.
And thus ends the exciting week 1(and a half).
I’m spending a lot of time in the kitchen, but I’m not yet ready to kill everyone, so we’re good.