I’ve been thinking about doing a Whole30 for a while now, and decided that August would be the month for it. For one, I had the last 2 weeks of July on holiday in the UK, so July was definitely out! There are not many people around during August in Oman because of the weather, particularly in my office, so chances are that there will be less socialising (and therefore awkward eating options) than normal.
My main reason for doing the whole30 program was to re-focus on what I was eating. I pay attention to what I eat most of the time, and whilst training for my Ironman in 2012, I ate very little processed grains. However, since moving to Oman, I’ve noticed that they’ve been creeping back into my diet a little more regularly than I like. With a little evaluation of what I’ve been eating, I’ve realised I’m eating far too much sugar – mainly because there is added sugar in almost everything in Oman. It’s damn near impossible to buy fruit juice here without added sugar….. and they wonder why diabetes and obesity are such problems here. I also consume a lot of dairy, mostly in the form of skimmed milk, natural yoghurt and cheddar cheese. Eating out is fairly cheap and easy here, and as my other half Niall doesn’t much like cooking, it’s far too easy to be swayed by the suggestion to go out to eat when I come home tired, and without a plan for dinner. Mostly I’ll opt for a salad option if we do go out, but occasionally it’ll be pizza, or something that comes with bread or chips. I have the self restraint of a 2 year-old when it comes to not eating something that’s already on my plate.
There were also a few other reasons to concentrate on what I am eating; I get a reasonable number of tummy-aches with what I normally eat in Oman, not enough to ever do anything about it (or work out what specifically is causing it) but enough to be mildly annoying on occasion. I have also entered the Oman Desert Marathon at the beginning of November, and I wanted to give my body as much help with the physical training as I could, and that includes limiting toxins or potentially inflammatory foods from my diet.
I am not doing this to lose weight (if I do, that’s a bonus), I am doing it to be healthy and more conscious of what I put in my mouth at mealtimes. Although Niall is not doing the Whole30 with me (he doesn’t think he could live without his morning cereal – cocopops by choice, or cheddar cheese), since I do most of the food shopping and cooking, I have the majority say on what he eats in the evening.
Before I went back to the UK on holiday, I’d ordered a copy of the Hartwig’s “It Starts With Food” book, so that I could geek up on the info behind what I’d be doing for the next month. If you are interested in clean eating, and why you might have certain physical (or psychological!) responses to particular foods, I highly recommend reading it. It’s easy to read, and informative at just the right level, with a few suggested recipes thrown in for good measure.
Although there are many, many blogs that chronicle people’s Whole30 programs, I still thought I’d keep a record of what I ate, and how I dealt with any problems I came across whilst doing it (for my benefit as much as anyone else’s). Already (day 2) I’ve been finding some amazing looking recipes online that will definitely be going in the recipe book, even for after the Whole30!
- Breakfast – Two soft boiled eggs, with carrot and green pepper soldiers, and a closed handful of mixed cashews and walnuts.
- Lunch – Green salad (Romaine lettuce), cucumber, raw green pepper, raw mushrooms, pomegranate seeds, half a handful of sliced almonds, and sliced steak cooked with a little coconut oil. Apple for pudding.
- Dinner – Chicken, pepper and mushroom skewers with a balsamic, olive oil, herbs, pepper and sesame marinade, roasted sweet potato wedges with coconut oil, and broccoli.
- Snacks – Small slice of honeydew melon.
- Drinks – Lemon and lime water
- Breakfast – Scrambled egg with cooked green pepper (coconut oil), cucumber and pomegranate salad, half a sliced apple and half a handful of walnuts
- Lunch – Green salad (Romaine lettuce), green pepper, cucumber, half an apple, half an avocado, pomegranate seeds and sliced steak. Plenty of pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Dinner – Plain chicken skewers, with oven roasted veg, carrots, cucumber & mushroom salad and a closed handful of mixed cashews and walnuts. Small slice of honeydew melon for pudding.
- Snacks – post run snack of sweet potato wedges and 2 cooked broccoli florets
- Drinks – Apple, pomegranate and lime water, 1 cup of black coffee.
- Breakfast – 2 hard boiled eggs, half a grapefruit, a banana and a handful of mixed cashews and walnuts.
- Lunch – Green salad (Romaine lettuce), cucumber, mushroom, half an avocado, raw broccoli, pomegranate seeds and coconut-oil stir-fried chicken. Apple for dessert.
- Dinner – Courghetti Bolognese with steamed broccoli
- Drinks – Lemon and lime water, 1 cup of black coffee
- Breakfast – half a grapefruit, smoked mackerel, raw spinach and a handful of walnuts
- Lunch – Green salad, cucumber, green pepper, courgette, mushroom, coriander (cilantro), with coconut-oil stir-fried pepper chicken. Apple for dessert.
- Dinner – Portion of leftover Bolognese, raw carrot, courgette and green pepper sticks and a banana.
- Drinks – Lemon and lime water, Apple and iced water slushie.
- Breakfast – smoked mackerel, raw spinach and courgette and a handful of walnuts
- Lunch – Hot Bolognese, wilted spinach, hot mushrooms and green pepper, plus one hard-boiled egg. Slice of melon for dessert.
- Dinner – Thai red chicken curry with coriander (cilantro) and lime cauliflower rice. Frozen banana pudding for dessert.
- Drinks – Lemon and ginger tea and water.
- Breakfast – Coconut-oil stir-fried pepper chicken (cold), handful of sugarsnap peas, plus two handfuls of cashew/walnut/almond/dried apricot/date mix, post 16km run.
- Lunch – Smoked mackerel, cucumber, half an avocado, raw sugarsnap peas, carrots, mushrooms and red pepper.
- Dinner – Thai red curry omelette (2 eggs plus leftover curry sauce), wilted spinach, mushrooms and red pepper sautéed in ghee.
- Drinks – Fresh coconut water mid run, Water.
- Snacks – Fresh alphonso mango mid afternoon and a few dates (post climbing).
- Breakfast – 2 boiled eggs, raw sugarsnap peas and red pepper, frozen banana slices with 3 chopped dates and a small amount of flaked almonds and desiccated coconut.
- Lunch – Green salad (Romaine lettuce), carrot shavings, half an apple, pomegranate seeds, half an avocado, raw mushrooms and smoked mackerel.
- Dinner – Beef burgers, sweet potato wedges (and something green and leafy that I still need to go to the shops and buy after my run!) – update – wilted pak choi, with a handful of walnuts and pomegranate seeds!
- Drinks – Iced coffee with splash of coconut milk and cinnamon, water with added elete electrolytes
Amazingly inspiring websites for recipes;
So, how have I found this week? As I write this, I have just had lunch on day 3 of my first Whole30. So far, I’m not feeling any different to normal, but I am paying a lot more attention (obviously) to what I eat, and being far more organized about pre-planning meals and food shopping. Breakfast has been the biggest hurdle so far – I’m normally a cereal and milk kinda girl, so changing my first meal has taken a bit of getting used to. I need to start experimenting a bit with other protein sources for breakfast rather than eggs – some cold meats might be good I think. I’m hampered a little by the fact that I live in a Muslim country, so I can’t buy pork easily (or cheaply), so that wipes out any yummy hammy/sausagey/bacony goodness for breakfast. On the flip side to not being able to buy things like pork, or organic meat easily, buying things like coconut oil or ghee, plus a huge assortment on veggies, is spectacularly cheap and easy here :)
I ran as usual on day 2 and actually ran much faster than I had meant to, or thought I would. I also ran on day 3, my long intervals run, and again didn’t find it as different to normal than I thought I might. I was absolutely ravenous by the time I got home though, as it was about an hour before I ate dinner (half hour drive, plus cooking time, plus I forgot post-run snacks!). On day 4 I was out on fieldwork, so had an early breakfast (about 5.30am), and then was diving all morning before I had a chance to have lunch around 2pm. Pretty hungry. By the time we’d finished work for the day, got the boat back on the trailer, and were on our way home at 5.30, I was hungry again. So dinner went down the hatch at 6 (wolfed it down in the car on the 2.5 hour drive home), and feeling a little peckish (and sunburnt) later in the evening, I decided an apple slushie would soothe everything. Seemed to do the trick. I find drinking just water all day when I’m out in the sun a bit of a chore, and it’s nice to have something else to vary it with, and with an apple slushie with just one apple, water and ice, it wasn’t too sweet, or too heavy.
For my long run on day 6, I had two mouthfuls of cold chicken and 2 or 3 sugarsnap peas before the run (I’m not a fan of eating food at 4.45 in the morning), and then the remainder, plus a dried fruit and nut mix immediately after. Having a fresh coconut water mid-run helped immensely too. As soon as I got home from my run, we headed up into the mountains to do some climbing, and my snacky packed lunch actually kept me pretty full until dinner. I did end the day absolutely exhausted, although I think that was mostly the succession of early starts that I’ve had this week.
Although I’ve been doing pretty well on food planning, and meal prep the night before (or first thing in the morning), I’m still learning how much food my body needs, and occasionally getting it a bit wrong, particularly when trying to work in pre/post exercise nutrition. Generally speaking, after the first week, I’m snacking a lot less, am staying full until my next meal, and seem to have higher energy levels throughout the day. Downsides? Watching the boy eat cereal in the morning, or him eating baked beans on toast with cheese on top for dinner when I’d been out on boat work. I had a bit of a grumbly tummy on one or two of the days this week, but that could either be adjusting to the change in diet, or eating a chicken salad that’s been out of the fridge and in a warm bag on a boat all morning!
The main thing that has surprised me, is that when I have a week of normal eating, my dinner and (particularly) lunch aren’t too far off in terms of what they contain. Lunch is normally salad when I’m at work, but I am now making sure that every salad has a portion of protein. I’m also loving eating good fats like avocado, and am revelling in the discovery of cooking with coconut oil. Coconut-oil baked potato wedges……. yummy!
And yes, for those of you who noticed the frozen banana pudding on day 5, technically a SWYPO (sex with your pants on meal) aka will never taste as good as the original, and only leave you with the bad psychological state of craving the real stuff. HOWEVER….. I tend to eat this far more often than the dairy stuff anyway, and view it as something totally separate to ice cream, just as a healthy (and very tasty) pudding. So, as far as I’m concerned, for me this is not a SWYPO dish (as long as I don’t eat it too often, or when I’m craving sweet treats).
Bring on week 2!