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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Hagey

How To Survive Whole30

Happy Day 31 to me (and Derek, but come on, this is about me…)! Let’s be honest, I was less than enthralled a month ago when in my crazy, decided that limited my food intake to nothing but eggs, meat, veggies and fruit sounded like a GREAT idea.

The thing is, I needed *something* to jump start me. I hadn’t lost a pound since my initial, freebie, baby came out weight after Beatrice. Nada. Zilch. Zero. In fact, it is entirely possible that I had actually gained some of Beatrice back. Who can say? My memory is hazy.

Shortly after she was born, I tried calorie restriction, which in past babies worked like a charm. I eat 1800 calories a day, nurse constantly, and lose all the weight.

Yeah, that didn’t work. I don’t know if it was me, being in my 30s, or Beatrice being my seventh, so my poor boobies were like, “WE CAN NOT WORK IN THESE CONDITIONS” or what, but my supply plummeted rapidly. Plus, Beatrice was the angriest baby in the history of babies, and so I dropped that plan within 48 hours and ate everything I could get my hands on.

That didn’t really work for weight loss. It did keep the baby fed. Priorities!

But, after Bea’s birthday, I knew it was time to get serious. While she is still nursing quite a bit, she also eats three square meals a day at the table.

I’d heard about Whole30 on the interwebs just like everyone else. I had always rolled my eyes and thought, “That is so stupid. Why would you ever do that?”

I’m not positive what caused my brain to go from, “DUMBEST” to “GOTTA DO THIS!” but it did. And so, I declared to Derek that we were doing this! And yes I meant WE. No way was I was going through this pain alone.

Bless my husband. He didn’t even question me. I love him. He just said, “Okay, let’s look up some recipes.” He printed off a list of approved foods, and we were in business.

His only falter was that He wanted to start on MONDAY, because being home on a Sunday would be too hard to start on. At work he is distracted, he only eats what lunch he’s brought, and it’s easy to just not eat because he’s working.

No way dude. I’m home and will be home every single day of this torture. I will spend at least 50% of my waking hours in the kitchen. I will have to say no to all the foods all the hours of all the days.

So. We started on a Sunday. Ha!

The first couple of days were rough. I had never in my life gone more than 24 hours without grains or sugar. It wasn’t so much that I was hungry or feeling deprived, it was just more, like, grumpy that I couldn’t eat what I was used to eating. It got much easier as the days wore on.

It turns out I liked it! I enjoyed being able to eat plenty of food from a very small pool of choice. I always was hungry on calorie restricted diets because I wanted to “eat smaller portions of whatever I wanted.” This works, yes, but it always left me wanting. I am not good at eating only one cookie, one roll, one slice of pizza. I am, as it transpired, very good at eating zero cookies, zeros rolls and zero slices of pizza.

Friday Night Pizza Night as it’s called at our house was the hardest. We love pizza. We have it weekly. And there is nothing close to pizza that isn’t pizza. Part of Whole30 is the idea that you don’t create substitutes for foods. So, for instance, in ketogenic diet, you can make crusts from cauliflower, or use an artificial or natural sugar substitute for desserts. This is not a thing in Whole30. So, we endured no pizza for the whole month. That was a bummer.

Sidenote: The kids did NOT do Whole30. Many days, I managed to make an entree that was Whole30 but we'd supplement them with rolls, or cheese, etc. There were though, some nights, that I made two fully different dinners. It is what it is.

One thing we really ended up enjoying though, was making our own condiments. Mayo, ketchup, ranch and BBQ sauce that are Whole30 compliant are nearly impossible to find in stores, even Whole Foods! So, we made our own. That was super fun. The mayo is so stinking good!

There is soy and/or sugar/corn syrup/HFCS in everything y’all. EVERYTHING, so we became adept label-readers. One sadness is that we couldn’t find a breakfast sausage anywhere that didn’t have sugar. Derek LOVES breakfast sausage, so he suffered more than I did there.

We did find approved nitrate-free bacon, so that helped.

We learned that coconut milk in the box is often mixed with soy products. Nope. But the canned stuff in the Asian Food section is fine.

We also learned

coconut aminos area thing, and you can get them at Whole Foods.

I decided eggs can be eaten for any meal of the day.

Preparation is key. I’d buy the meat for the whole week, and cook it all before hand. Having a big container of cooked chicken breast strips meant that I never got hangry. Not being hangry meant I wasn’t going to grab junk from the pantry.

Veggies-- if you don’t like veggies, you’re going to be hungry. Derek took leftovers from dinner to work almost every day (he did this before too...just now they were Whole30 dinners), so when he was home for lunches, he’d be like, “What should we have for lunch?” and every day I was like, “Salad. With chicken.” That’s all I ate, every day. Quick, easy, filling. No brain power. Salad. With chicken.

Avocados. They can replace a salad dressing, bulk up scrambled eggs, make taco meat taste so delicious… just.. Trust me. Avocados. With some salt and pepper and garlic. Yum.

Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder/Onion powder. This combo makes nearly anything edible. Try it! It’s yummy.

Nuts. (NO peanuts!) When I wanted a salted snack, I used to grab kid food like crackers or goldfish. I’m not a big chip eater, so that usually wasn’t my go to. It was crackers. So, instead, cashews, almonds and pistachios saved my life. Read the labels though because anything that isn’t either raw or roasted is going to have crap you don’t want. And some of the roasted ones are cooked in soybean oil. Nope, that won’t work.

Pumpkin seeds. I used these on salads. Roasted/salted and it just gives it a yummy salty punch. I could survive easily without croutons because of pumpkin seeds.

Frozen fruit. Derek and I were accustomed to a late night dessert, usually a skinny cow bar or something. It was just like our reward for surviving. So, giving that up was hard, just because of the habit! So, after the first few nights, we were really feeling deprived, I pulled out the frozen fruit. Pour some sparkling water on it, or just let it soften a few minutes, and boom, dessert. I was much happier after we discovered this. Just make sure the fruit is plain, nothing added, and you’re good.

Freeze dried fruit. This also felt sweet and dessert-y. Freeze dried is different than dehydrated or dried fruit, so again, read those labels!

Potatoes/Sweet potatoes. These felt so like cheating, but they are allowed, and will make a meal, a meal!

Canned tomatoes/sauce. Most jarred stuff has sugar in it, but getting the plain tomatoes or sauce means you can spice it without sweeteners, and get a nice italian feel. I did this often on pizza nights.

Chop. Just know. You’ll spend the next month chopping. It’s okay. You’ll be okay.

Pinterest. There are innumberable recipes! Go forth!

Once the first couple of days passed, I was good, I was fine. It wasn’t until about the third week, that I was struggling. We’d had a birthday, a ward party, and other things that had come up, and I’d stayed the course, perfectly. I just felt a little resentful toward the whole thing about halfway through. Like, 30 days was long. But, I was good! I soldiered on. By the third week, I was like, “I”m fine. Everything is fine.”

Poor Derek went to NYC halfway through! He was so good, and managed really well. It can be hard to maintain away from home, but Derek is proof it can be done!

The first week or so, I had serious brain-fog. Like I couldn’t remember words. It was dumb. But it passed.

I do not feel AMAZING or SO FULL OF ENERGY. I feel basically normal. I know some people really thrive on the Whole30 thing and start to feel like a whole new person. Maybe it’s because I have a baby who doesn’t sleep, but I feel pretty much exactly the same.

I think if you want to jumpstart weight loss, or feel crummy and don’t know why, Whole30 is a great place to start. It is not a lifestyle, at least not at its strictest. It just a start. And it’s totally doable.

You just learn to say no. You can say no to the cupcakes, to the ice cream, to the french fries. You can and you’ll be so proud that you did!

Here are a few of my favorites from the month:

Ketchup (this needs an over night in the fridge to calm the vinegar flavor down)

Good luck! You can do it!

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