Whole 30: In Review

As you may remember, this paleo cleanse was part of the comprehensive strategy to tether myself to some sanity immediately post-stillborn, while I was still on leave from work and life turned frighteningly sad and shapeless in a hurry. My eating habits had degenerated into nightly homemade ice cream saucers in lieu of any real dinner and fatty diner breakfasts replete with cheese, bacon, and fried potatoes. All the self-prescribed and clandestinely procured ‘medical marijuana’ (coping strategy #11…after your baby dies) proved to further exacerbate the downward spiral of my overall health and my general feelings of self-loathing while getting dressed each day – expanding muffin top, baby weight but no baby – so I instituted something drastic to wrench myself back on the path to relative normalcy. Here’s a look, in pictures, for folks who were wondering:

Life without dairy, grains, and processed sugar is not as earth-shattering as it seems. You relearn how to eat the things you love in adapted forms, like a Bubba burger without the bun…or the cheese…and mustard instead of ketchup…in a butter lettuce wrap. Does this look like suffering?

  …I think not, and even taco night is still on the table. Come to think of it, make sure you stock butter lettuce and avocado as household staples.

Asian food has always been an easy go-to on other cleanses, but Whole 30 also forbids soy. Allow me to introduce “coconut aminos.” (See them in the background? Who knew this even existed?)

sushiNo soy or rice or wasabi (bummer!) but date night is still possible if you bring condiments in your purse, order the naruto roll, and eat your oysters with tabasco.

Meals at home seemed to involve an extraordinary amount of ‘zucchini noodles,’ so much so that upgraded my spiralizer to avoid further gashing my index finger on this weird metal protrusion inside the one I was initially using.

But ‘zucchini noodles’ can translate into a great many things, like a medium for Mediterranean mahi mahi, with olives and lemon and thyme (oh my!)

…or a lunch salad, because you ran out of greens, and you’re trying to make something edible from the leftover chicken and avocado that’s boarding the bus to the retirement home.

zucchini-saladI highly recommend having frozen shrimp on-hand for when you forget to defrost something for dinner because your former life in which you could “just pick something up” is a distant memory. These can quickly transition from the freezer to your plate without all the drama, especially if the grocery store happened to stock broccolini (yum!) that week. A little toasted sesame oil and a few dashes of coconut aminos, and voila – a totally respectable stir-fry on the fly.

Or a quiche, as eggs and coconut milk will also become your best friends when you’re trying to cook something that makes sense without trekking to the store. I should also mention that prosciutto becomes the new bacon, since bacon is usually cured with sugar. Throw it on a little parchment paper in the toaster oven, and it crisps up just the same.   Dallas and Melissa won’t leave you stranded to starve and then binge in shame. There’s a halfway decent app that offers daily encouragement and a few recipes. I made these stuffed peppers with an adapted version of their “almond porridge” to substitute as filling where I would normally use rice, mixed with zucchini noodles that I salted to drain out the excess moisture.  They were tasty!

stuffed-peppersThat’s arugula salad with lemon and olive oil in the background. I loved that long before Whole 30. As far as carbohydrates go, potatoes are technically allowed, but orange is preferred over white, which you should limit significantly. Accordingly, I broke out my favorite mashed potato alternative: cauliflower and celeriac puree, featured here with lemon roasted salmon and green beans.

salmon-greenbeansCeleriac (or celery root) is ugly on the outside, but simmered in chicken broth with the cauliflower and mashed with roasted garlic, it will add this perfectly earthy quality to the puree, sparing you from missing the potatoes so much.

In sum, I lost a little weight, but nothing groundbreaking. However, it did a fine job of purging my system of the bloat, and I emerged flat-bellied and energized. As far as all the other claims about using this as a miracle panacea for a gamut of chronic conditions, I did not experience that. To really deal with my nagging IBS, I’ll probably have to quit drinking coffee again, and I’m just not ready, dammit! (In fact, that 4-day bout of suffering is scheduled for the end of the month, when I am done with work and diving headlong into transfer endeavors.)

30 thoughts on “Whole 30: In Review

  1. Mind. Blown. I’m so impressed! Both with your culinary skills/palate *and* the fact that you resolutely gave up food as comfort and made this huge effort during a difficult time–hormones alone would dictate that I eat chocolate, but then I would also be “eating my emotions”. You have amazed me. ❤ XOXO


  2. So nice to hear from you. You inspired me to buy the books as well. Today is day 10. But not really–as I drank a little wine this weekend. My fav is the coconut cream/homemade mayo “ranch” dressing with chicken meatballs (to which I added almond flour so the lil buggers would stay together)

    So proud of you for doing the whole thing. I hope you enjoy a brownie or a beer or whatever your thing is now that that’s over.

    I look forward to hearing more from you❤️



    • Plenty of beers & brownies were enjoyed. I finished in time for my birthday, and indulgence was the theme of the weekend! How are you feeling on it?


    • I think it was possible bc I wasn’t working! I ended up making double and freezing half for week nights when I went back to the grind. And the alcohol was a bitch!


  3. That’s awesome (and very hard work) to change the way you eat. I don’t know if I could do this since I have the whole vegetarian and kosher thing going down, too (and that has been my whole life, and not a habit I really want to break). But I do know that I have to change chunks of my diet. I’ve slid back into bad habits.


    • I saw guidelines for doing it with be vegetarian restrictions, and it seemed like an impossible headache. From the other side, I don’t think paleo is the only way to eat a ‘whole foods’ diet.


  4. This is very impressive, and all the food in your photos looks delicious. I am currently trying to increase my protein and decrease my carbs and something like paleo would be the obvious choice but I keep getting stumped at the prospect of eggs for breakfast day after day.

    (I also wanted to say I have been thinking of you and I thought it was exceptionally generous of you to comment on my year-in-review for E.’s fourth birthday, given I’m sure the absolute last thing you wanted to do at that point was look at a gazillion photos of someone else’s child. I really appreciated that you took the time to tell me you’d been there.)


    • Well, I got sick of the eggs too, and by the end I was having chocolate chia seed pudding for breakfast, sweetened with dried dates or overripe bananas. Plenty of good fats and antioxidants from the cocoa & cinnamon! The authors of the book permit chia but don’t love them; I had just gotten a little sick of the nitpicking and did it anyway. I’m also touched to hear that you were touched by my readership 🙂 for now, my kid-sensitivities have been surprisingly mild. I’m riding that out while I can because who knows when it could change?


  5. The food looks amazing. I know I’m not up for the WHOLE of it, but have begun making small changes which will turn into a routine thus making room for more changes.



    • I don’t know that I much believe in the concept of a “cleanse,” per se, but when habits have gone so far left, a restrictive commitment helps get me on track.


  6. I’ve been toying with the whole paleo thing…….had to really looked I to it because, well……hell, it sounds like self-torture, and I’m already doing that by continuously chasing motherhood down every path that presents itself, ifyaknowhatimean? But….your pictures of what you eat actually look very good! Quite inspirational ! I do believe I shall look further into,this. I’ve got a fresh DE cycle coming up, so maybe a nice cleanse will help it along. even if I lose nothing but bloat and don’t feel any worse, it sounds pretty good. 😉

    Oh! and good luck on your upcoming transfer! Xx


  7. Pingback: Tale of the Failing Perfectionist | The Empress and the Fool

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