Here is a question I get often: “So…how do you really eat when you are not doing a Whole 30?” Before I answer that question, I am going to say that different approaches work for different people. We are all unique, with different needs, health backgrounds, lifestyles, and activity levels. The way I eat may or may not necessarily work for you. That being said, I will share with you how I am currently eating, because sometimes it is helpful to know what others are having success with. Melissa Hartwig, one of the creators of the Whole 30 and authors of “It Starts With Food” wrote a great series on this topic because people ask her this question constantly. I encourage you to read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of this series because it is really, really good and may help you while you are still figuring out what is right for YOU.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I absolutely love the Whole 30 program. It has helped me overcome challenges with my eating habits and my relationship with food. I have experienced great results physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Over the past year and a half I have done the program several times. The very first time I did the program, I was actually very nervous about it because it was so different than what I was used to. I never thought that it would become a way of life for me. I just figured I’d suffer through the 30 days and be done with it, and go back to eating sandwiches for lunch everyday. I didn’t really think I would experience a dramatic change. Wow, I am so thankful I gave it a shot even though it felt uncomfortable at first. I truly feel the healthiest and strongest I have ever felt in my adult life! It is also important to note that I have arrived at the place I am now because of the work I have done over the past year. It didn’t happen overnight. Some people don’t need that long, and some people may need more time that that to get to a good place. I still learn something new each time I do a Whole 30. What I am saying is: YOU have to do the work to discover what is best for you and your body.
Based on what I have learned about my body through the Whole 30, I eat in a way that keeps me healthy and happy. I stay pretty close within Whole 30 rules most of the time. Not because I have to, but because I know that I feel great when I do. I don’t have any allergies or conditions that require me to. I feel a dramatic difference when I don’t for too many days in a row, that I start to crave the simplicity of the program. Here is what a typical day might look like when I am not doing the Whole 30.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes, banana, black coffee
Lunch: Large Greek salad with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red bell pepper, chicken, balsamic vinaigrette dressing if I am out, or I will have leftovers from dinner usually, if I am eating lunch at home.
Snack (only if needed): Handful cashews and an apple or cut up raw veggies
Dinner: Steak Fajitas with lots of grilled onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms, served on a bed of cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, generous servings of salsa and guacamole
Dessert: Ice cream cone from Sweet Firefly: Coffee Toffee and Sea Salt Caramel…my fave flavors! (I love ice cream and would be very sad if I ever started to have issues with dairy and had to completely give it up!)
On occasion, I will also have things such as pizza, New Mexican chile-smothered enchiladas, pancakes, and cocktails or wine ( I am not much of a drinker, though…I have a 2 drink limit because I don’t like to feel bad the next day). The foods that I do not miss, I don’t bother adding back into my diet. For me, pasta, rice, and bread fall into this category. I also have never been much of a baker, so I am not really big on making paleo baked goods/desserts unless my daughter pushes me to do it. She, on the other hand, loves to bake and cook, and is quite helpful in the kitchen! I am telling you this because I want you to know that I am a real person, not a “Whole 30 robot.” I am not “perfect” all of the time, nor do I expect myself to be! When I choose to have these things, I know that I may feel slightly bloated or sluggish afterwards, but I am okay with that. I decide whether or not it is going to be worth it to indulge, and if I do, I enjoy it and then move on and make healthier choices at the next meal. I learned this “off-roading” approach from doing the Whole 30. It works for me, and has helped me to let go of the guilt I associated with food for a long time. I can be honest with myself about how often I can indulge in less-healthy foods.
I will be the first to tell you that sometimes I get too far off track. Holidays and vacations happen! When I feel this way, I know that I can go back to the Whole 30 plan, even if I just do a Whole 7 or Whole 15 to get myself feeling great again. I hope this has been helpful for you! I’d love to hear any comments or questions you have on this topic.