Until I stumbled across the concept on a blog a few weeks ago, I was entirely unaware of the increasingly popular paleo inspired detox that is Whole 30. The basic concept is to cut out sugar, dairy, grains and legumes for 30 days as a reset for your body. During the detox you eat loads of meat, fish, veggies and fruit and nuts, as much as you need to feel full at a meal. No calorie counting! No starving yourself between meals*! After the month is up, you slowly reintroduce each of the forbidden food groups to see how your body responds. The theory is that you’ll be able to isolate which foods cause inflammation (via intestinal troubles, skin flare ups, headaches, muscle pain, etc) and then either remove them from your regular diet entirely or at least know what you’re in for if you choose to eat them.
*Unless you’re a nursing mother. Then, even after consuming a million eggs, all the almond butter, tuna, bananas, apples, avocado, chicken salad and whole30 questionable plantain chips, you’ll still be starving. But more on that later.
I don’t suffer many of these inflammatory issues (that I’m aware of, at least. maybe this project will reveal things I had been assigning to other causes!) but I know I am totally helplessly addicted to sugar and I really wanted to revamp my attitude towards food. I had been finding myself ready for my first sugar/chocolate hit by 10am, with no self-control to resist. There’s also some kind of Pavlovian thing going on where my inner child looks for her treat every time she successfully conquers naptime/laundry/grocery shopping/anything stressful. Time for a change. Thankfully, Drew agreed to jump on board so I could eliminate from our kitchen all manner of tempting foods and stock our shelves with coconut milk and tuna and our fridge with veggies.
I spent a few weeks stockpiling recipe ideas (thanks pinterest!) and then, armed with a detailed meal plan, we set off with the twins for an epic costco/trader joes field trip.
Here’s our meal plan from last week:
Monday: Roast Chicken with roasted root veggies (red and sweet potatoes, carrots, onion), steamed broccoli
Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Curry with steamed green beans and broccoli
Wednesday: Shrimp, Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Frittata (with whole eggs, not whites) with roasted veg, tomatoes and avocados
Thursday: Chicken and Zucchini Poppers with guacamole and steamed broccoli
Saturday: Ground Chicken Lettuce ‘Tacos’ with avocados, peppers and tomatoes
Breakfasts are eggs, roasted potatoes, avocado, sautéed veggies and fruit or leftovers.
Lunches are leftovers or giant salads topped with lots of veggies and some combo of hard boiled eggs, sweet potato chunks, tuna/chicken salad, fruit and nuts or seeds. I also made a giant batch of this deliciousness to add some crunch.
I feel like we’ve been eating extremely well. Our typical diet is generally light on the meat and heavy on beans and quinoa for protein, so this feels rather indulgent for us. Drew has commented several times (usually while sitting down to a giant breakfast of eggs and potatoes) that this is his kind of ‘diet’! The program discourages snacking between meals, as changing the neurological/psychological impact of our diet is one of the other main goals of the project.
In a short week I’m already learning how emotionally I eat, and don’t eat. I am so aware of the number of calories I’m eating, calories that used to be zapped up quickly with cookies and handfuls of chocolate chips, but I have always been careful to avoid going over my “daily total” because obviously extra calories = weight gain. The whole 30 approach to food is helping me to see how good, nutritious food can be more efficiently and effectively used by my body, and in turn, my body will learn to better regulate hunger signals (as my ‘cravings’ decrease) so that I am eating to satiate my hunger and nutrient needs.
Anyway, all that to say, I love that my body can re-learn those things, but in the meantime it feels crazy to eat and eat and eat all the day long…and then still be somehow under-eating for my supply. The part of my brain that is ok with bad nutrition (multiple cookies/muffins/chocolates/sweets each day) but good with sugar, that’s the part that’s shaming me about my 4 eggs, 2nd almond-butter smeared banana and dinner-plate sized mega-salad…before noon. Because it feels like too much.
As a breastfeeding mom, I’m encouraged to expand my meals to 5-6/day, with each meal including a substantial protein, veggies and some kind of complex carb. even so, by wednesday I could feel my milk supply dropping; so on top of crazy screaming (possibly sugar-detoxing? I have so much guilt about this.) babies, they were also super hungry all day and I couldn’t keep up. I know my calorie intake has to be above 2200 to keep up the supply, and when I tracked my daily intake I wasn’t even getting to 1800, even with all those extra meals!
After a little consult with my favorite dairy free/sugar free/grain free mama, I was feeling a bit better. Elsbeth reminded me I can’t eat too much while breastfeeding if I’m eating and drinking to hunger and thirst. She suggested I cut myself a little slack and consider adding in some carbs via things like oats, a natural milk booster. The rule-follower in me felt super guilty about deviating from the plan so soon, but then I ate my bowl of flavor-enhanced oatmeal (coconut milk, smashed banana and almond butter!) and remembered that even so, all oatmeal looks/tastes/feels like snot. Guilt-be-gone. Milk-be-back.
Anyway. I’m adding that whole explanation with that hope that if some other nursing mother is attempting a whole 30 and finds her supply fading, she shouldn’t feel guilting about modifying it a bit. All my google searches on the topic just landed me on the blogs and forums of crazy dedicated people who just powered through and ate another steak, potato and dozen eggs. Ugh. I’m newly dedicated to embracing the spirit of this project without the legalism.
Our respective cravings (drew’s for dairy and carbs, mine for sugar all. the. time.) seem to be mostly just annoyances at this point, which is not at all what I was expecting. I figured I’d be angry, irritable, and overcome with headaches for a good long while as everything left my system. Instead, we find ourselves wandering to the kitchen out of hunger, looking for our usual snacks (even the healthier ones- yogurt, toast with peanut butter, cheese and fruit) and then remember we can’t have them. Our meals are delicious but take a bit of time and effort to put together, challenging us to another mental shift from our usual quick eats and snack habits.
We’re both feeling a little extra tired, although it is hard to tell if thats the detox or the babies or all the extra hours in the kitchen. I thought I was fairly committed to meals from scratch before, but this takes it to a whole new level. Still, it is a habit I would like to cultivate, even if I re-embrace some of my cooking shortcuts in the future.
Well friends, now that I have recorded far more about our eating habits than anyone would ever care to read, I bid you good night and happy ice cream sunda(y)es! Add a few chocolate chips for me!