Tomorrow we are starting our first Whole30 challenge, so I have spent the last week getting things ready and stocking the fridge with appropriate foodstuffs. If you are not familiar with Whole30, it is essentially a month-long eating protocol that focuses all of your attention on whole, unprocessed foods. Foods that you eliminate for the 30 days include all grains, legumes, sugars and artificial sugars, all alcohol, dairy (other than clarified butter), and any food additives. White potatoes and vegetable oils are also off limits (olive oil and avocado oil are fine, as they are actually fruit oils). All animal proteins should be from pastured, non-factory-farmed sources. What does this leave on the plate? A whole lot of vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, nuts, and some pastured, organic meats.
The motivation to do this is pretty simple. A couple of years ago I cut out all grains, legumes, and refined sugars and started eating that way as a lifestyle, not as a “diet.” I lost weight, yes, but the more dramatic things for me were mostly less visible to others. I was able to give up my inhaler because my asthma essentially resolved. My allergies improved, dramatically. My skin cleared up (dealing with the onset of wrinkles while also dealing with adult acne is not fun). My sleep improved. For the first time in my adult life I wasn’t operating like someone with an eating disorder. I don’t toss around the word “miracle” as a rule, but that is how it all felt. Since I love a new cooking challenge, it has also been fun to come up with recipes that make this way of eating really enjoyable.
I kept that up with minimal effort for a long time, because it really is a great way to eat and I felt good physically for the first time in years. And then, sometime around last September, I started to get a little over-confident and a little lazy. There were too many Paleo-ified desserts happening. Too many dinners out that involved “just a little” gluten. Too much wine and dark chocolate. Way too much holiday revelry from November through January.
The end result is that I am now seeing and feeling the toxic accumulation of several months of eating too much crap: I have been forced to start using my inhaler again, I’m investing in cover stick again, and my allergies are back with a vengeance. I haven’t technically gained any weight but I am dealing with inflammation bloat and clothes that feel considerably less loose than they did a few months ago. All of this is really unpleasant, as an understatement. Thus, the simple motivation–I want to remind myself how it feels to be well. I want to restart that process.
Since bread hasn’t been part of our daily diets for a long time, the biggest challenge of this is going to be the absence of dairy. We love our dairy. I generally stick with cultured, full-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt, pastured butter and crema, and lots and lots and lots of cheese. So part of our “prep” for the upcoming challenge is that we have been eating all of the delicious cheese in the house. Delicious. Cheese.
Brie, and some extra sharp cheddar, and some gouda, and a wedge of St. André…
Sorry, I got a little distracted there. The cheese is all gone now, and we are weeping tears of whey, but we are determined to try this for 30 days and see how we feel. It is my fervent hope that when we finish and re-introduce dairy that it will all be fine and good and I will once again have a fridge full of cheese. We’ll see how that goes.
Beyond the cheese, it will tough to give up our dark chocolate and weekend glasses of wine, but we are both really excited to get started. In addition to clearing out the forbidden foodstuffs, I have also been stocking us up on lots of tasty “safe” foods. I made a batch of clarified butter, using this method. Clarified butter is easy to make and since the milk solids are removed it is free of lactose and it is also useful for higher-heat cooking.
I also put in an order to U.S. Wellness Meats, which is the only place I know to get pastured, nitrate-free, sugar-free bacon and sausage. I can get great local chicken, beef, and other types of pork that meet those criteria, but not bacon. I stocked up on some Toasted Onion SeaSnax for me and some Lara bars for Harrison (he is a lean, avid athlete who needs the carbs–I am not). Today I went to opening day at the Farmers’ Market and stocked us up with pastured eggs, carrots, greens, and mushrooms. That’s a bottle of locally-made Beet and Ginger Kombucha in the back.
I also went through my existing recipes to see what I already have that is Whole30 approved, and I set up a new tab for that under the Recipe Index. I also started a Whole30 Pinterest board to help with my own motivation–I might avoid browsing Pinterest for the upcoming month, because you all post lots of great looking food that is definitely not Whole30, but I will keep on pinning things that look great.
I’m going to be blogging our process several times a week (I want to promise daily, but as the semester draws to an end that will get less possible). My goal is to show you how a beginner does with this, and to chronicle what we are eating, what we might be missing, how we are feeling, and how we manage things like dining out (which is going to be a challenge). And, naturally, I will be adding some new Whole30 compliant recipes as I go. I hope you will enjoy following our little journey. Please wish us luck!
Thanks for reading,