Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Whole30: Tips & Tricks

First, a caveat, everyone is different. What worked for me might not work for you. Live and learn.

For me, one of the hardest things about Whole30 was the social aspect – eating meals with other people. As a minister, there were church potlucks and the doughnut holes during fellowship hour. I know that I did not do a 100% compliant 30 days. I had an all-day clergy meeting where they provided food for us, and that day it happened to be Caesar salad and lasagna. So I ate the Caesar salad without the croutons and with extra olives. I guess the Whole30 crew would have told me to bring my own food, but I really didn’t feel that was an option. Anyway, the little bit of dairy (and sugar, likely)in the Caesar salad didn’t kill me, and I felt that I made the best out of a bad situation.

Offer to cook
My church’s vestry (church council) meets once a month, and we usually have dinner before the meeting. Rarely is this a healthy meal. So for our May meeting, I offered to bring soup and salad. I prepped the soup (Smoky Mexican Tortilla-less Soup) in the slow-cooker that morning and let it cook at the church while I worked all day. I whipped up a big green salad and an easy balsamic vinaigrette. Everyone raved about the meal, completely unaware that they were “deprived” of grains, sugar, dairy, etc. The same holds true for when friends want to get together. Unless you have a lot of vegetarian friends, few people are going to turn down an invitation to grill steaks at your house. Potlucks are great for this because at least you know you can eat your own dish!

Prepare, prepare, prepare
A lot of people talk about having a “prep” day (usually Sunday) for making portable egg muffins for breakfasts on the go and chopping up veggies for salads. All of that is important, certainly, but I did a lot of preparation even before starting Whole30. Make a Pinterest board of Whole30-compliant recipes that you’re excited about making and eating. Brainstorm go-to meals for when you’re in a time-crunch or just feeling lazy. If you have these in your pocket, you’ll be less likely to order that pizza. Also, educate yourself. Read the Whole30 forums or It Starts with Food. Start stocking up on coconut oil. Start reading labels. Preparation is so, so key.

Find your inspiration
I now follow a lot of paleo food Instagram accounts. People post really good-looking pictures of their meals, so I can get ideas. Like I mentioned in the previous post, there’s nothing worse than seeing picture after picture of all of the things you can’t have. Much better to indulge in the foods you can eat and feel all the healthier for it.

Treat yo’ self
Part of Whole30 is about breaking some of the emotional ties with food. Stressful day? You deserve a cookie. Wednesday? How about a glass of wine for making it halfway through the week? Those coping mechanisms disappear for the most part while doing a Whole30. In some ways, I switched out healthier options and still rewarded myself with food. Friday? Have a kombucha! Finished a long run? Treat yourself to an iced coffee! Find a special tea you like. And non-food treats work too – a massage or pedicure if that’s your thing, buying a new book, etc. We ended up going to the ballet and two different musicals during our Whole30 since eating out for entertainment wasn’t really an option.

Joe & I decided, as part of our Whole30, that we would not worry about cost. Asparagus slightly out of season and a little more expensive? If we wanted it, we would get it. Organic/local meats and protein are pricier, so we prioritized quality proteins over organic fruits and veggies.

Sugar is in everything aka Read Your Labels
One of the first things I did to prepare for Whole30 was to get rid of most of the products in our refrigerator that contained added sugar. Mustard, Sriracha, yogurt, ketchup…it became pretty shocking. Then there was the day I was going to pick up some chicken broth because I didn’t feel like thawing the frozen stock I already had. Except that every broth on the supermarket shelf contained sugar or other suspect ingredients. Sugar in chicken broth. For real. We eventually gave up on trying to find bacon without added sugar and ate pancetta or prosciutto instead. Anything that came in a package had to be scrutinized with the utmost care. Once you start doing this, you will get angry. It’s okay.

Eat Your Fat
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Dollop that coconut oil on your sweet potato. Top your eggs with some avocado. Drizzle those veggies with olive oil. Fat is the key to satiety on Whole30. Fat is your friend. Lite coconut milk is anathema.

Go-to Foods
There will be days when you didn’t get to the grocery shopping, but you still need to eat. The freezer will be there for you. Frozen vegetables (read your labels), Applegate hot dogs, Trader Joe’s plain turkey burgers. You can make a meal out of these things. Following a tip from NomNomPaleo, I keep a bowl in the fridge with defrosting meats, so there is always something ready to be used.

Odds & Ends
You can eat pretty well at most of those make-your-own-burrito places. Just get a salad, protein, veggies, & guacamole and steer clear of the sour cream, beans, and rice.
If you’re grilling something for dinner, go ahead and throw on some extra meat for salads and other meals.
I don’t know if we could’ve made it through Whole30 without LaCroix sparkling water, dried figs, or macadamia nuts.
Eucharist is not Whole30-compliant, but it is Jesus. Jesus trumps Whole30.