Today marked two weeks since I started my Whole30, and it was notable for several reasons. Around the two-week mark is when most people doing a Whole30 start to feel the negative side effects subside, and when I woke up this morning I felt more refreshed than I have in a long time. Despite having difficulty falling asleep last night (thanks to a late afternoon coffee), the second my alarm went off at 6:45, I was alert and ready to start my day.
An even more fascinating phenomenon that occurred, and another that is common around this time for Whole30ers, is I had my first dream about off-limit foods! If I weren’t doing the Whole30 it would have been inconsequential. I dreamed I was eating Fritos and dunking them in assorted dips. It’s bizarre because I can’t even tell you the last time I ate Fritos (why choose Fritos over Cheetos?) and because my friend Taylor told me a few days ago that when she did her first Whole30 she dreamed about DORITOS, which she rarely eats! Anyhoo, I viewed this dream as a rite of passage, and I hope tonight brings something sickeningly sweet to my dream tummy.
My tummy IRL is happy because I made pie tonight… shepherd’s pie, that is. The recipe comes straight from the Whole30 book, but I’m going to repost it here. I can’t say I’ve eaten a lot of shepherd’s pie in my life, but I was drawn to this recipe because it’s a one-pot meal and because I haven’t yet used ground beef as my protein source on the Whole30.
Here’s what you need:
Ok, I decided I’m not going to post the recipe because it’s a lot to type, and my “L” and period keys are broken. That being said, if you want the recipe or want to fix my broken keys, just comment below or send me a message.
We need to talk about buns. Not that kind of bun, and not the bread kind either. The Whole30 cookbook has recipes for buns made of mushroom caps and slices of eggplant and sweet potato.
Tonight I decided to try a sweet potato bun to complement my turkey burger. After all, when I make turkey burgers, which is pretty often, I tend to make oven-baked sweet potato fries as a side. So this wasn’t going to be a far cry from my pre-Whole30 go-to dinner.
I think I might’ve cut the sweet potato slices too thick. The recipe says to shoot for 1/2-inch, and mine were closer to 3/4-inch. So when they didn’t get soft after three to five minutes per side in olive oil, I wasn’t that surprised. I transferred my not-bun to the toaster oven, set it to 425 degrees and then made the turkey burger, and by the time that was done, my bun was soft! And once topped with meat and veggies (and a dollop of homemade mayo), it made for a BEAUTIFUL burger.
And then this happened.
Yes, after just a couple bites, my masterpiece fell apart. What’s the point of a burger if you have to eat it with a fork?! Where my Whole30 people at? Does this always happen? Is it me or my buns???
You guys. The support I’ve gotten in my first four days on the Whole30 has been astounding. I am blown away by the kind words my family, friends and coworkers have offered me. I’m also surprised by how not difficult (notice I didn’t say “easy”) the past few days have been. I mean, the creators of the Whole30 said days two and three I’d probably have no energy and feel woozy. Sure, Tuesday morning I could barely squeak out two miles on the treadmill before taking a break (for comparison, I average around five miles on the treadmill when winter weather keeps me from running outside), and Tuesday afternoon a dull headache set in until bedtime, but not getting a good night’s sleep has had far worse effects. I read that the negative side effects Whole30ers experience in their first few days are directly proportional to how bad their diets were before the Whole30. So I guess I should feel encouraged.
Try to keep yourselves from rolling your eyes when I say this, but I feel as though I’ve gained more on the Whole30 so far than I’ve lost, and I’m not talking about weight. Not being able to just pour myself a bowl of cereal or bring a granola bar or a yogurt to work with me has forced me to get creative with my breakfasts. As you can see, I’ve eaten a lot of eggs and sweet potatoes, but no two meals have been exactly alike. Almost all my condiments have been homemade, and I’m using more fresh herbs that I’ve ever used before. The last nonscale victory I’d like to mention is that I didn’t kill anyone today! Ok, that one needs some explanation. The Whole30 timeline states that on days four and five, most participants have a burning desire to “kill all the things.” Not me though! I’m just a ray of sunshine!
I’m back! After a long absence for which I do sincerely apologize, I have returned with some exciting news. Within the next month, I plan to embark on a complete lifestyle change known as the Whole30.
In a nutshell, it’s an elimination diet that cuts out grains, dairy, legumes and added sugar for 30 days. If Melissa and Dallas (Hartwig, the founders of the program) are reading this though, they’ll scold me for calling it a diet. Because it’s so much more.
Heeding the advice of my friend Taylor, who is getting ready to do her second Whole30, yesterday I started reading two of the four books the creators have written about the program: It Starts With Food and The Whole30. I’m 60 pages into the first one and have never been more fascinated by science. Ever. The book backs up the Whole30 lifestyle with cold, hard facts; it explains how eliminating certain foods from your diet completely (no cheating!) can change your life, even if, like me, you’re pretty happy with your life already.
Some people choose to do the Whole30 to cure diseases or alleviate various ailments, all of which has been known to happen. There is literally a full page in The Whole30 that contains all the maladies the program has succeeded in healing. I am fortunate enough not to have any symptoms in need of attention, other than occasional migraines, but one of the selling points for me is the potential elimination of unhealthy cravings.
As the name of my blog suggests, I enjoy junk food just as much as the next person. And despite exercising every other day and counting calories most days, I can’t help but cave when someone brings donuts to the office or when my boyfriend suggests we order pizza on a Friday night. If the Whole30 does in fact allow me to conquer that penchant for what Melissa and Dallas call “food with no brakes,” I will be pleasantly amazed. At any rate, that’s one of the things I hope to take away from my 30 days.
On that note, my favorite part of It Starts With Food so far has been the explanation of why we crave certain foods even when we know they’re terrible for us. I’m going to go book report mode on you now with a quick summary that I hope you find as intriguing as I do.
Way back when cavemen roamed the earth (or maybe not cavemen but the life form that came before modern day humans), they knew to opt for sweet foods in nature rather than bitter foods, because a bitter taste indicated poison. Similarly, they knew to consume foods that tasted salty because of their ability to help conserve fluid and foods that were fatty because of their dense calorie content. So our ancestors were trained to eat things that were sweet, salty and fatty. Yum.
But fast-forward thousands of years and evil food scientists discover they can create foods that are SUPER sweet, salty and fatty, more so than anything that exists naturally. These are supernormal stimuli or Franken-foods, and it’s NOT OUR FAULT we want them so bad. As the Hartwigs write,
“These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended – not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our tastebuds. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.”
Next time I’m tempted by food with no brakes, I’m going to stare that vanilla kreme donut square in the eye and say, “You can’t trick me! I know your secret!” And now you do, too. 🙂