Note: This diary entry about My Whole30 Experience is part of a series of articles about (what else) my first Whole30. You can read the first post in the diary here.
In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 of the article series.
If you’re interested in my Pins related to my Whole30 (recipes, lists, information and more) you can see my Whole30 Pin board.
Miss me? I have not abandoned the Whole30 series. I’ve been tardy on some posts due to health issues (which I’ll cover briefly in this post), but I’m back and ready to give you an update and a few posts over the next couple days. Thanks for following along on my Whole30 journey! This update covers a lot of ground and will be (comparatively) more condensed than the previous diary entry.
I’m writing this update quite a bit after the fact, and piecing it together from notes and lists I’ve saved. Unfortunately I’m missing a little bit of data. Why? Well, I had an interesting time of it once I started my short medical leave (thank you, third-degree burns). I thought I would keep up with this log faithfully, since I had nothing better to do than to sit around. As it turns out, I was kind of out of it from prescription medications and (related) sleep disturbances. I’m happy to report that I haven’t fallen off the wagon. I am unhappy to report that I suspect the medications I’ve been on have altered the effectiveness of my Whole30. Read on for details.
Day 11: Friday
As mentioned I’m missing a little bit of data, mainly some breakfast and lunch information from a couple days in this diary entry, including today. I am pretty sure I was wiped out from pain medication and slept in, then wasn’t hungry so didn’t eat. I snacked a bit on approved foods because it hurt to be on my foot cooking.
I did cook dinner, with help, and we had a dinner guest! My friend Katie came to hang out with me in my burn infirmary/home. She helped me to make fajitas with guacamole and I served it with the leftover Spicy Cauliflower “Rice” and Carmelized Apples and Cinnamon. I intended on following the kind suggestion of Rach from Meatified, left in a comment on my last diary entry, regarding salvaging the Spicy Cauliflower “Rice” by throwing it in a soup or broth. I ended up not doing so just for simplicity’s sake, due to my circumstances that day. Even though the fajitas didn’t come with cheese and greek yogurt (which I used to use in place of sour cream) Katie raved about everything, and if there’s one person’s culinary opinion I trust… it’s Katie’s!
Day 11: serving a Whole30 meal to a non-Whole30 dinner guest-Win!
Day 11 cravings: none
Day 12: Saturday
Unfortunately Saturday is somewhat a blur to me as well, thanks to Percocet. I do know that for dinner I made The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever. by Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make the Girl, along with green beans, the carmelized apples again and mashed sweet potatoes, which I created whimsically and–thankfully–successfully (recipe later in this post). My folks came over to hang out and help do our taxes, and I wanted to serve them something I thought they’d be impressed with, which is why I chose to make the chicken dish. It was the first recipe anyone recommended to me when I posted a Facebook plea for Paleo recipes to try during my Whole30.
This chicken recipe would be my first time brining anything, and in hindsight I might not try a new cooking technique again in a situation where I’d like to impress. The chicken was delicious, but I failed to assess two things when selecting this meal for this particular dinner party:
- Having never brined anything (or knowingly been served brined chicken in the past) I had no frame of reference for what this would taste like, therefore I gave up control of the result in this respect
- My folks do not like spicy foods or cilantro. Oops. (Mind you, the heat level on this recipe is below what I would normally whip up for just Mike and I… can’t have you all thinking I’m a wimp!)
Thankfully, they ate it and didn’t complain. I knew about 75% through making the chicken that I had probably selected poorly, there were too many hot spices and I should have been more careful not to choose something for my folks this spicy. But I was already almost all the way to completion on the recipe with no time to spare, so I carried on with the chicken.
I would normally have served mashed potatoes with this meal, but for obvious reasons this was not an option. I knew I could try to improvise with sweet potatoes, but I’d be dealing with a much different flavor profile. So I ended up making them like this:
Made with coconut milk and ghee for Whole30 compliance, these sweet potatoes aren't just for the Thanksgiving table!
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp. ghee (I like this brand )
- 3/4 cup canned coconut milk (full fat, no sulfites, I like this brand )
- 1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice blend (I used this one )
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Start to bring a pot of water to boil on the stove
- Peel sweet potatoes
- Cut up sweet potatoes into 1-1.5" pieces, add to pot
- When water is boiling, turn heat down just so pot doesn't boil over
- Let potatoes boil for 10 minutes, check for tenderness with a fork
- Once potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, remove pot from stove and strain water out, collecting potatoes in colander
- Once drained, add potatoes to large mixing bowl
- Add ghee, coconut milk, Chinese Five Spice, nutmeg, and a bit of salt and pepper to mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer (either a handheld or stand mixer is fine, or you can do this part manually with a potato masher like mine )
- Once the ingredients are mixed to your preferred consistency, test the mashed sweet potatoes and add more seasoning (or ghee, or coconut milk) if desired, to taste
Sweet potatoes can be tough, requiring a long time to cook through to doneness. Dicing the potatoes may seem like a bother, but the cooking time it will save you is exponential to the time it takes to actually dice them.
Be careful when working with canned coconut milk. Often times it will separate. If this happens to you, mix the contents of the can thoroughly before measuring out the milk for this recipe. You can use a blender or mix by hand to re-incorporate the milk contents.
(If you’re reading this post in a blog reader and can’t see this recipe, or if for some reason the recipe isn’t displaying for you, you can see it properly on the original Candid Nikki post)
To sum up:
Day 12: good day, worn out by the end of it
Day 12 cravings: none
Day 13: Sunday
I awoke Sunday morning with hives, looking like I was coming down with Chicken Pox. AND my monthly friend seemed to be coming to visit. Lurvely. I assumed the hives were some sort of allergy and took some Benadryl, which knocked me out most of the day. By evening the hives were getting worse. A trip to the clinic yielded the diagnosis of delayed antibiotic allergy. Awesome. A steroid was prescribed and I was on my way with a warning that the steroid may interfere with the healing of my burn wounds. Double awesome.
I am beyond clueless as to what I ate all day, I think I just slept. After the clinic it was late and I certainly wasn’t up to cooking, so we went to Five Guys. My husband read on a Whole30 forum that if we ordered carefully Five Guys would be Whole30 compliant. It wasn’t the most fantastic meal I’ve ever had, just a burger on lettuce with some cooked mushrooms. BUT!: It was compliant, I didn’t have to cook it and it filled my belly. There would be no jumping off the Whole30 wagon on account of some hives. No siree.
Day 13: hives. ’nuff said.
Day 13 cravings: to not have hives
Day 14: Monday
Once again, I present the new pattern of behavior called “I the infirmed don’t feel like cooking, so I eat leftovers or raw veggies for breakfast and lunch”. I did cook dinner, which was steak with garlic ghee rub and steamed veggies on the side. I also made a frittata for the next day’s breakfast, modified from this recipe. I made quite a few modifications to suit my kitchen tools and preferences. For example, I used compliant bacon instead of ground beef because the idea of ground beef mixed up with egg wasn’t appetizing to me. And I like fresh spinach, so I used that instead of frozen. I couldn’t find shiitake mushrooms and substituted portabellas. I don’t have a cast iron skillet, or any skillet large enough, so I did what I could on the stove and then baked everything in a 9×13 glazed stone baker. I cut it up in to six servings and put it away for the rest of the week.
A pretty uneventful day, the hives seemed to stagnate, not better or worse. My burn was better enough that I planned to go to work the next day, it would be a training day only and I would be sitting most of it.
Day 14: low key, able to prep a few days’ worth of breakfasts
Day 14 cravings: starting to crave sweets again
Day 15: Tuesday
Y’all… that breakfast frittata I whipped up… It was pretty awesome. Husband LOVED it. And it made the work week easier, for both of us. I grabbed my portion as I was getting ready to leave, heated it up and ate it on the drive to work. I packed a banana, too, in case I got hungry while on a break. For lunch I had a leftover bonanza of steak, “best chicken” and some raw veggies.
I had a good day at work, but was sensing a growing craving for chocolate. Anything chocolate. It wasn’t too bad, but it was there and it made sure I knew it was there. I’m not sure if it was hormonal or what. I also was feeling bloated, a feeling that grew more uncomfortable as the day wore on. Again, hormones? Something else? Unsure. The hives that cropped up Sunday were still lingering and so I kept them covered with long sleeves at work. Thankfully they didn’t show on my face, and unless you knew to look for them you wouldn’t notice they were on my hands.
For dinner I made burgers from grass fed beef and we ate them with guacamole and green beans. So much yum. I don’t care if I sound like a hippie, grass fed meat does taste better than “regular”. I don’t always splurge for it, and I really enjoy it when I do.
Day 15: back to work from medical leave a couple days early, breakfast frittata ftw!
Day 15 cravings: all the chocolate.
Day 16: Wednesday
This day happened to be a scheduled off-day for me, and I had a burn clinic follow-up visit to fill my time. I slept hard and noticed right away when I awoke that my belly continued to feel swollen way past the point of being uncomfortable. I started to suspect something other than my monthly friend was the culprit, although I can’t say I had any other suggestion as to what it was. Also, the hives weren’t fading much, which annoyed me. But at least I could cover them.
I had my yummy frittata for breakfast and then got dinner going in the crock pot: Balsamic Roast Beef. At my burn follow-up things were going well, it was suggested I probably won’t need a skin graft on my leg (woot!) but that I’ll just have a scar when things eventually heal fully.
Dinner turned out pretty well! I served it with broccoli and my Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes. After dinner, and ongoing since then (as in: for days afterward) I battled an amazingly powerful sugar demon. I think I still am battling that demon. It’s way worse than when I first started the Whole30.
Day 16: getting uncomfortable in my belly
Day 16 cravings: sugar, specifically peanut butter cups like CRAZY
Day 17: Thursday
Ugh. This is where it’s really starting to get ugly. I could not sleep at all Wednesday night, I tried counting, I tried everything. I was sweating buckets even though I had a fan on me and no covers. I know this was probably a side effect of the Prednisone steroid that was prescribed for my allergic reaction.
I had the last of the breakfast frittata to eat before work. Thursday was my first full working day back from medical leave, where I was on the floor working instead of sitting somewhere for training. I did surprisingly well in regards to my burns, considering that the last time I worked a shift I left in tears, in excruciating pain and was nearly admitted to the hospital.
I had leftover burgers and veggies for lunch and was mostly a zombie the rest of the day. I was thinking “aren’t I supposed to have tiger blood right now”? And I started spinning scenarios in my head, trying to figure out how I managed to fail my Whole30. I didn’t think the Whole30 failed me, I was certain I did something wrong on accident or by misunderstanding.
I made Mexican Steaks & Avocado Salsa for dinner. They were really good! I think the Smoked Paprika I got from Penzey’s is way more potent than I’m used to (it’s my first foray into Penzey’s spices), it dominated the flavor so I’d use less of it next time. And I don’t know about you, but when I look at the picture on her page (excellent food photographs, btw) the “Avocado Salsa” looks a whole lot like “guacamole” to me, so that’s what I used. No sense re-inventing the wheel when I had tons of home made guacamole on hand. Ohhhh it was good. We had green beans on the side, which I think is when I started to get sick of green beans
Day 17: so tired. so bloaty. But Grey’s and Scandal being back makes it a little better
Day 17 cravings: soooooooo many.
Day 18: Friday
Another night of sweaty not sleeping. Wahoo!
The bloating/swelling belly continues and the sweating instead of sleeping continues. Despite this I made it through work (had hard boiled eggs on my way in, and missed my frittata) and I tried resting afterward. I couldn’t sleep well, but I think I was out for about 2 hours. Then I got up and made cod, mashed sweet potatoes and green beans again.
I really do like the cod, I make it breaded with almond flour that I season with salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. I pan fry it in coconut oil. It’s delicious. I think I made it every Friday because in Wisconsin Friday Fish Fry is a cemented tradition, even when it’s not Lent (not that I’m Catholic, but you don’t need to be Catholic to be subjected to Fish Fry culture here).
Friday I concluded all the meds and medical issues are probably to blame for the weird symptoms I’ve been having instead of the tiger blood I was hoping for on my Whole30. But I am not going to quit, I want to finish this despite the setbacks.
Day 18: pretty sure my Whole30 isn’t working due to health issues, but pressing on
Day 18 cravings: I could kill someone for the chocolate under their fingernails. But I don’t.
Day 19: Saturday
Despite not sleeping well I sprung out of bed and made bacon and eggs for breakfast. Not the most healthy, due to the lack of veggies, but everything was technically compliant. The day was a wandering, somewhat productive one. A bit of winter clearance shopping for Mike, some sorely needed new front tires for my car (boo) and some random food shopping kept us busy til dinner time, when I made Green Fajita Chicken again. We really do love this recipe, it’ll stay in the repertoire even after we’re done with the Whole30.
Health-wise I wasn’t in too much pain from the burns (needed ibuprofen but not prescription pain meds) and the hives were STILL lingering. Apparently that antibiotic I was on stayed in my system for a week after I stopped taking it. And I’ve still got that awesomely uncomfortable lead weight in my swollen abdomen. What. The. Serious. Heck.
Thor: The Dark World made it all better, though. I love me some Loki.
Day 19: low key, low enthusiasm
Day 19 cravings: none really (unless Tom Hiddleston counts… and then, yes)
Day 20: Sunday
As is the case with most Sundays, breakfast was skipped. I intended to have it while sitting for training at work, which I wouldn’t normally do on a Sunday but decided to do so that I could finish out my training finally. But my training was spontaneously sidelined once I got to the store and I spent the whole shift on bar–which was terrifying but I got over that, eventually.
When my shift was over I was lunacy level hungry, I went home and had leftovers for lunch (the roast and sweet potatoes). I intended to make a meal plan and go shopping for the weekly trip, but I was in a really funky mood and managed to somehow be super tired, super restless and super irritated all together. I laid down for about four hours, wanting to sleep but unable to. I kind of felt like I needed a good cry, but it never came.
After this craptastic start to my day I bitterly got out of bed in the early evening to make a quick trip to the grocery store for something to make for dinner. I wanted to try and Whole30-fy my favorite meatloaf recipe. I really hate meatloaf, especially when it’s served with ketchup in or on it. But growing up, my Daddy (whom I still call Daddy even though I’m decidedly fully grown) would make it sometimes and I really liked it. It wasn’t the super-wet tomato monstrosity I was used to other people making, it was a tried and true recipe from a really old version of the legendary red Betty Crocker cookbook. (Side note: this Daddy’s girl got a vintage version of that cookbook for her wedding shower-just for the meatloaf recipe-from her beloved Daddy, who knows her very well ♡ ). I think I wanted the meatloaf as a comfort after a crappy day.
I looked at Pinterest for some Paleo meatloaf recipes to see how other people Paleofy it, and it was just as I thought. Most people substituted almond flour for breadcrumbs and either almond milk or coconut milk for regular milk.
My meatloaf turned out very ‘meh’. I directly swapped the coconut milk for regular milk 1:1, which was a huge mistake. I probably should have done about a quarter of the amount. I had the most wet consistency in my mixture, and I was out of almond flour so I couldn’t really fix it except to add the only thing I did have on hand: more meat. So I ended up with two ‘meh’ meatloaves. They weren’t terrible, they just weren’t what I was expecting. I’ll try again and I think I can work out the bugs and come up with a pretty close result to what I’m used to from my pre-Whole30 days. I served it with one of our new favorite recipes, Spicy Roasted Cauliflower, which I modified to only use half the spice mixture (I make the whole amount and reserve the other half for the next time I make the cauliflower, which in this case took about 24 hours, LOL).
We ate our food while watching the Oscars, which I know is not the point of the Whole30, you’re supposed to sit at the table and savor the meal… but…. hey, it’s the Oscars, dude. (P.S. I am just as in love with Lupita as the rest of the world seems to be, so happy she won!)
As a side note example of the emotional roller coaster my Whole30 has been, here’s something that happened at the grocery store. Mike and I were getting ready to leave, after we both realized we were being way too tempted by everything at the store (we were pretty hungry). Mike jokingly says, “Let’s just go to Taco Bell,” and he grinned.
“Okay,” I replied with a straight face. I wasn’t joking.
“Hey, I know you’re really discouraged but we’re finishing this thing,” he said, to prop me up a bit. I was just so frustrated, it seemed like I was re-living the very beginning of my Whole30. I felt worse than when I started it, the lead weight feeling in my abdomen was worse than before Whole30 and I-kid-you-not the sugar cravings were driving me insane and I now knew it wasn’t my monthly visitor (because my monthly visitor never really settled in for a visit, it just popped in to say hello for five minutes). This was way worse than when I started the Whole30, and I didn’t feel like I was really experiencing the benefits I was hoping for (“tiger blood” most of all). Basically, my Whole30 felt like a big fat flop.
Mike reminded me that I was doing everything right and I couldn’t get so sore about it because it wasn’t like I was a failure, it was most likely all the medications I had to put into my body because of the burn situation and complications. I know he’s right, but I struggle daily with the question “What’s the point?”. Because I don’t really know why I shouldn’t just scrap this Whole30 and start over once I’m off all the meds and they’ve completely worked themselves out of my system. I’m glad Mike is pushing me to the finish line, I think it’s important to have someone to support you. I just wish it wasn’t necessary.
Day 20: crap day. want to quit.
Day 20 cravings: anything and everything sugar/chocolate. Especially the Strawberry Shortcake cookies at Pick n Save. *drool*
Day 21: Monday
I struggled to wake up again, after a night of crappy sleep. I think I had a banana for breakfast, at work on a break. I intended to make a fantastic weekly meal plan and go to the store for the big trip. But then I realized we had a fridge full of leftovers and I didn’t want to waste that food. So I made a mental list of what I could do with what I had, and what I might need to buy to supplement the gaps. I made plans to buy what I needed to fill the gaps when I would be out shopping with a friend the next day.
I had a good day at work, I got recognition from my boss and also was “certified” as a barista. Even though this isn’t my life’s ambition (to be a barista) it does feel good to receive recognition for a job well done. But once I left I quickly deflated. This is a good example of how my depression has been lingering and sneaking in, in little ways.
I went home, watched a few episodes of Call the Midwife, and I painted my nails (which I usually do when I have more than one day off at a time, which I did). Both things did help put me in a little better mood. Enough so that I started working on this update, which I actually did for several hours while the TV was on in the background.
Dinner was leftover meatloaf and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower (see, it took about 24 hours to use up the spice blend ) And it was delicious. Mike tried making some Whole30 compliant ketchup, to help out the meatloaf. But it didn’t really work out
Day 21: *shrug* I dunno… it was a day
Day 21 cravings: sugar and chocolate like a BEAST
Day 22: Tuesday
I had really high hopes for my sleep to be restful and long. It was the best night of sleep I had in several days, but it was only about five hours, and I woke up in pain several times (the burns). I got up around 5:30, made breakfast and sent Mike off to work, then tried to go back to bed. I didn’t fall back asleep but I sure tried… for a few hours.
I was excited to spend the day with my friend and former roommate, Hilary. I was calling it our ‘girl day’. But as the day approached I realized there wasn’t a whole lot we could do together that would match my idea of a ‘girl day’. My burns meant no pedicures, my job meant no manicures, my Whole30 meant no sugar or popcorn, which makes movies a bit less fun for me… so we went shopping. We first went to Costco (my first time) and I was able to purchase some Whole30 compliant bacon (their Kirkland Low Sodium brand) for another breakfast frittata. There were quite a few product samplings out, which weren’t too hard for me to avoid. I didn’t feel I was missing out, and Hilary enjoyed everything without feeling guilty that I couldn’t (which I appreciated).
After Costco we hit up Brennan’s Market in Brookfield. I’ve driven by this place so many times and mentally noted how interested I was in going back some day. Well today was that day. Hilary and I both were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. There were tons of product samplings, many of which were fruit that I could try! I bought some produce and raisins (I think I have a raisin addiction) and fell in love with so many of the products that I vowed to visit the store again and often in the future, especially once we’re past our Whole30.
After that we made our way to Trader Joe’s so I could pick up some almond flour and various things. I was inspired while there, and got a couple packages of pre-cut veggies for stir-frys, and some meat to go with. I finally found some macadamia nuts that were compliant and not $18! They are sooooo gooooooood! They are my new favorite thing, even moreso than raisins (which I bought more of, for some reason, at Trader Joe’s).
I had a crazy crisis while at Trader Joe’s. I HAD to have the caramel milk chocolates at the register. I was hoping Hilary would look away long enough to miss my trying to buy one candy bar to binge on later, in secret. But she never did look away. So I didn’t buy it.
I was really scared by how intently I thought I had to have that chocolate. It was one of those moments I was reminded of one of the purposes of the Whole30, to evaluate our relationship with food. Clearly I need something that I think chocolate will fix. I am not proud about this aspect of myself. And it was really, really close to happening.
“you can eat it, no one will ever know you messed up, and you’re going to re-do this whole thing again anyway… this Whole30 was ruined, you might as well try and enjoy something along the way, you deserve it…” -My inner monologue
I am glad I didn’t follow through with buying and eating that candy bar, or any other “fix”. I am disturbed by how hard I had to fight through it, though.
I’m excited for the Whole30 to be over so I can do it again without the interference of prescription drugs ruining all my hard work. And I’m committed to safe handling of hot coconut oil, to avoid (Lord willing) ever burning myself again!
For dinner I was stoked! I was going to freestyle my way through an Asian Beef Stir Fry. I used a great Asian Vegetable Stir Fry Mix and some steak, both from Trader Joe’s. I am so happy this meal experiment turned out so well, because it was the easiest thing I’ve made yet on our Whole30. The bonus is that it’s super customizable! You can mix it up with different protein sources, different vegetable mixes, different sauces, etc. Mine was simple, I seasoned the dish with coconut aminos, salt and pepper. I cooked it in a bit of coconut oil. It turned out really awesome and I can’t wait to make it again.
Day 22: a really cool day with a triumph over temptation
Day 22 cravings: everything chocolate or caramel
Thanks for sticking with me for this series, I’ll be back soon with my guacamole recipe!