Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Paleo Diary... #Whole30 Days 1 - 5

I started my Whole30 Challenge on January 1st. And I was very eager to get started on it.

A little background...  Through the holiday season I had been really slacking off my usual personal food plan. I have been a lifetime Weight Watcher, well under my official goal weight, for many many years. But when I started training to run the half marathon that I completed last May, I let a few pounds creep on, and then over this Fall and Winter, a few more.

I am not heavy by any stretch of the imagination, but I was feeling a bit soft and squishy and kinda bloated. I have been gluten-free since November 20th, 2012 I am and hoping that I can solve some internal health issues through an improvement a change in my diet.

The Whole30 Challenge is a form of elimination diet, wherein one gives up dairy products, legumes and products, all grains and grasses, corn, white potatoes, alcohol, and all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. That means no cheese, no milk, no peanut butter, no quinoa or rice, no popcorn or corn chips, no edamame or soy sauce, no red wine, no agave syrup and no Splenda. None!

What's left? Meat, fish, most vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. So that means chicken, beef, wild salmon, all the greens I could ever think of eating, sweet potatoes and squashes, coconut oil, olive oil, apples and oranges, almonds, cashew butter and coconut manna. See how good all of that sounds?

I have read 2 really wonderfully informative books - The Paleo Diet, by Dr. Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo Diet Movement - and also The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf. I loved reading about the science behind the food plan and finding out the why behind the elimination of the various types of food. Nope, I cannot claim to have understood it all, but I read every word anyway, and I may, at some point, go back and read them again.

I found the Whole30 program thanks to Ashley who shared the web site with me in a Tweet a few months ago. I have read through it several times, thinking that maybe one day I would like to try it. MAYBE being the key word here... I do love cheese and I like to have some red wine or a martini occasionally, so I knew it wouldn't really be for me.  But through reading, and also talking with my sister-in-law who has been off gluten for a few years now and suffers many food allergies including soy products, and cow's milk, I came to the realization that there may be some foods I would be better off not having. No doubt alcohol is one of them. And perhaps dairy is too... so more reading, and finally the decision to go ahead and do this Whole30 elimination challenge.

Wow, that was a lot of background.

Days 1 - 5 went like this:


I have been a breakfast eater for many years now and I have learned that if I eat mostly protein at breakfast, and avoid grains altogether, I am well-satisfied till lunch time. The more grainy/starchy carbs I eat eat breakfast, the sooner I need to eat a snack, or lunch. It has always been that way... so I decided that most of my breakfast would be eggs or a mixture of eggs and egg whites, cooked in some manner, and some fruit and vegetables, too.  So I have had eggs/egg whites scrambled with a variety of different veggies... onions, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and also some omelets made with similar ingredients. I have also had leftover roasted kabocha squash and onions with my eggs. Salsa or a few drops of hot sauce makes a good condiment to add some flavor.

I soft-boiled a couple of eggs and cracked them over some steamed spinach... a little watery but the taste was good. And one morning I made a banana omelet just for something different.  I often have half an orange with my breakfast.
My lunch is normally a huge green salad with some kind of protein and a dressing made with olive oil and white or dark balsamic vinegar. That hasn't changed. I have had canned tuna, and wild Pacific salmon on my salads.  
One day I cooked half a small spaghetti squash in the mike and topped it with a serving of my Beanless Paleo Beef Chili. Another day I made Laura's Sweet Potato Chicken Salad. (wowzer! this is soooo good.) 
Jan 4 Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad 001

I re-discovered my love for sauerkraut this week and I haven't had any in years.  Ate it over a cooked sweet potato and a bit of ham... yes, ham, which I know is not the best Whole30 choice, but there it is.  And it was delicious.
Dinner is where I like to get a bit more creative.  I have had homemade tomato and veggie sauce over a miked spaghetti squash. I have had baked chicken with roasted veggies... kabocha squash, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and green peppers. I have also had my Beanless Paleo Beef Chili spooned over a baked sweet potato.
January 1 Chili 001  
One night I made Coconut Chicken without the sugar, and found I liked the taste even better.
This has been a challenge. I am trying not to eat too many nuts so I have been munching on fresh apple slices dipped in almond butter as my go-to afternoon snack with a cup of spicy tea. And I have also eaten a few prunes. Yum. I did have some smoked salmon left over from New Year's Eve so I ate it up and thoroughly enjoyed its salty goodness.  
Part way through the week I recalled that I love Kale Chips... just had them without the parmesan cheese, and dipped in my Homemade Balsamic Ketchup. Pretty good.  
Jan 4 Kale Chips 003  
In the evening, I sometimes will make up a little bowl of 'cereal' with milled gluten-free flax, some hemp seeds, raisins and a bit of almond milk. It is just a few mouthfuls but satisfying.  I have also made some Banana Soft Serve by whizzing frozen banana in the food processor and then mixing a bit of cinnamon into it... almond butter makes a lovely topping.  
Not once this week did I experience that light-headed, shaky, hangry feeling I get when my blood sugar plummets and I need to eat. Not even ONCE! That is amazing to me. Normally I am jonesing for lunch by 11:30 a.m. or so. These days I am not thinking about eating till about 12:30 p.m. and then it is a distinct sensation in my tummy.... a real message that signals 'Hey, I am empty. Time to fill me up'.) This is such a nice change for me, and yes, The Captain too!   My initial reactioin is that this means my blood sugar must be fairly stable.  
On the evening of the 3rd day I was feeling a little headachy. I think this must have been from sugar withdrawal - I laid down on the couch with a blanket and watched a movie and just relaxed. It could have been aggravated by all the caffeine I drink too. Perhaps I will have to cut back on my coffee and drink more herbal tea as I proceed.  
I weighed myself on the 4th morning before I ate and I was down 6 pounds on the scale. Yes, I know it is water and I am thrilled that it is gone. I don't have that squishy, pudgy around the middle feeling now. Hurray! And yes, I do know that one is not supposed to get on the scale during this challenge.  
It has been a really busy week so I have to admit I haven’t done all that much… a couple of 5 km runs, some kettlebell work, a bit of walking and a short swim.   I don’t think my eating has affected my energy level in any way discernible to me. 
Other Thoughts  
I need to find some after-run protein options. I have some dried egg white so I think I may try making a protein drink with some almond milk and a banana or some frozen berries.
I love cooking with coconut oil.... it smells wonderful in the kitchen.

I am not missing anything too badly... peanut butter would be nice, and so would some chocolate, but not going crazy (just yet). 
Coconut Chicken (leave out the sugar)
Sweet Potato Chicken Salad by Sprint 2 The Table
Kale Chips (leave out the parmesan cheese)
Banana Omelet
Another Banana Omelet  
Links to Helpful Posts 
How to make clarified butter by Gabby's Gluten Free
Week 1 in Living Color by BadAss Fitness
10 Tips to make your Whole30 a success by Hollie Would if She Could

Now I know that lots of people have very strong views both for and against this food plan.  I value your opinions and would love to have you share them with me.

I am doing this elimination diet, searching for some answers to some health issues, through nutrition, and not because it is the latest greatest food fad... and I am not trying to influence anyone else into trying it.  I am merely sharing my own experience here. 


  1. So, just to clarify (because I think this sounds like a healthful eating plan!), you'll follow this for thirty days? And then add things back in slowly? Or is this a lifestyle change?

    1. I would say each person's experience with it will be different. For some it is the stepping stone to a Paleo lifestyle - for others an experiment. Not sure how it will play out for me, yet. It will depend on what I learn and how I feel.

    2. I think it sounds really cool! I have a friend doing this right now, and she is loving it. I've spent a lot of time researching it this morning, and think I might have to give it a try!

      Question: Are you going to give yourself any "cheat meals"? Be honest! :-)

    3. Hah! Cheat meals. I am planning NOT to cheat. I spent a lot of time shopping and I do enjoy cooking and food prep so it is my INTENTION to follow the restrictions of the elimination diet as written, in order to get the answers I am looking for. If I cheat, it defeats that purpose.

      But, if I do cave in to a craving and cheat, I will certainly be honest and diarize it. Thanks for your interest and support.

  2. Elle, have you read It Starts with Food? (I think I recall you writing about it, but can't trust my middle-age memory anymore...). It's the book that describes the science behind the Whole30 program. IMHO, a really fascinating read!

    Looking forward to reading your posts as you move through the month.

  3. I haven't read the book yet but did print some of the material that they offered from it, through the web site. I have had it on hold at the library ... but just found out that I have won a copy through a giveaway so was very excited about that. Can't WAIT to read it.

    Thanks for your support, Tamara.

  4. Congrats on starting Whole30! Sounds like you are doing great so far! I just started the 21 Day Sugar Detox which I think it somewhat similar except you can eat more fruit than we can. I will be curious to hear how the rest of the challenge goes for you! Good luck!

    1. I think the fruit is really helping me so far! Good luck with your Sugar Detox - will be looking forward to your posts about it.

  5. Wow! You amaze me. You took a huge first step and I love that you shared everything with us!!!! When I'm ready to take the plunge, I'll refer back to your meals! Thanks!

  6. Wow! Wow! Wow! so motivating and awesome that you've taken on this challenge! Let me know how it goes...always wanted to do this type of thing. Maybe after our green smoothie challenge, I'll get tips from you and we'll try this!

  7. Its interesting that you did not feel hungry this week with the new food plan. Hopefully that will continue. You are eating healthy and seem to be getting your nutrients in with this.

    1. I am also taking calcium supplements and a mulitvitamin. I am afraid of my leg cramps coming back and I am sure I don't get enough D from the sunshine here! Thanks, Katrin.

  8. Exciting, Elle! I just read It Starts with Food, which covers many of the same topics as the two other paleo books you mentioned. Very curious to hear your experience with it.
    As a mostly vegetarian, this book is so different from how I eat, but I also really appreciated it and agree with a lot of the points. Seems that whatever direction one goes with their diet, results will come when you cut the processed foods and sugar. Thanks for all the helpful links, too!

    1. Yes, Laura, I couldn't agree more about cutting out the processed foods and sugar, too. Certainly everyone would benefit from that. Appreciate your support!

  9. I know lots of people love Paleo. I am not a Paleo person because I am just not one for cutting out whole foods groups BUT SAYING THAT, I am for whatever works for the person & the doc reports says they are healthy & all that - more power to them. Also, I know many that are gluten sensitive so.. AND actually, I do eat a lot like Paleo but I don't cut out the grains & such but I do eat less of them. I eat sweet potatoes & really not a pasta or rice fan so... than most I am also lactose insensitive so I do yogurt & stuff like that.

    I hope you like this & you can always modify as you go along. Like I said, I am sorta like this but I still eat other things not on Paleo.

  10. Thanks, Jody. It's all about what works for the individual isn't it? I appreciate your support so much and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. When it comes to breakfast I'm exactly the opposite. If I skip the whole grains I'm starving in an hour and usually later in the day I feel less energetic. In the past I've given up alcohol and added sugar which usually gets rid of the bloat for me. Giving up coffee is also another good trick. I was off it for 4 years but lately I've slipped back into the habit of drinking a cup in the afternoon.

    Good luck. You are braver than I when it comes to giving up all this stuff. ;)

  12. I'm intrigued by the idea of coconut chicken!


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