What I Learned During the Reintroduction Phase of My Whole30

After my first Whole30 in October 2016, I attempted to do the Slow Roll introduction and I didn’t really learn that much about what does and does not agree with my body. This time, I planned to follow the Fast Track reintroduction and make a point to evaluate how each food group made me feel before deciding if I would add that food back to my diet and how often I would do so. I did really well on day one, but then life happened and I fell off the reintroduction wagon…

Day 1 – Legumes

  • What I ate: For breakfast, I had a banana with peanut butter and raisins. I had cauliflower fried rice with ground beef and veggies (made with soy sauce) and some strawberries and a homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cup (made with a recipe I found on Pinch of Yum). I had a blueberry Larabar as a snack around 3:30, and then had baked salmon marinated in a soy sauce based marinade and steamed broccoli.

Days 2 and 3 were supposed to be back to Whole30 eating while I evaluated how legumes worked in my diet, and I did well with that during breakfast and lunch, but when I got home Jeff wanted to go out for sushi, and it sounded wonderful, so that’s what we did even though that was off the plan. I still feel really good about the choices I made when we went and I didn’t overeat, which is a major improvement for me.

The same thing happened on Saturday (what should have been day 3 of my reintro and another Whole30 day). I did pretty good with eating Whole30 for most of the day, then my mom called and invited me to go to the Mexican Kitchen, which is my favorite Mexican place in Columbus, MS, and I drove over there to meet her for dinner. I learned last time I did the Whole30 that corn in any form is not the best for me (it makes me so bloated), but I decided it was worth it to be a little bloated for some Mexican Kitchen tacos.

One thing I have already noticed is that something I reintroduced has made my skin break out. Because I did not follow the reintro plan correctly, I have no way to pinpoint what food group caused my skin to react that way. This is why you should follow the rules, I guess.

While I have not followed the reintroduction plan correctly, I am still trying to make good choices and be mindful about what and how much I am eating. I think February is going to be all about finding a good balance and figuring out what works best for me. I’m planning to eat mostly Whole30 meals during the week and then give myself a little more freedom on the weekends. I’ll see how that goes and report back at the end of the month.


My Whole30 Reintroduction Meal Plan

The end of this month’s Whole30 is drawing near, and that means it’s time to begin planning for the reintroduction phase! With my first Whole30, I tried what is called the “Slow Roll” introduction, where you keep eating a mostly Whole30 diet and add foods back as they seem “worth it” to you. For example, you continue with clean eating, but when you go over to your mom’s house and she has your favorite chocolate cake, you indulge, then you go back to eating mostly Whole30. I didn’t do very well with that type of reintroduction, so this time I am going to do the “Fast Track” reintroduction. In this reintroduction, you reintroduce a different food group that was eliminated during the Whole30 for one day, then go back to Whole30 eating for two days while you evaluate how the new food group affects you and decide if you want to add that food group back to your diet and how often you want to do so.

Reintroduction is kind of scary. You don’t want to wreck all the progress you made during your Whole30, after all. But it is a vitally important part of the Whole30 program because it is what helps you learn most about your body, your relationship with food, and achieve your Food Freedom (I am currently reading Melissa Hartwig’s book, Food Freedom Forever, and will have a review up soon!).

Here’s my Whole30 Reintroduction Meal Plan, which I will begin on February 1st:

  • Day 1 – Reintroduce legumes (peanut butter, beans, soy sauce, edamame, peas)
    • Breakfast: 1 small banana topped with peanut butter and chopped nuts, 1 chicken and apple sausage link, coffee or water
    • Lunch: Chalupas with mixed greens, carrots, bell pepper, cucumbers, and onion
    • Dinner: Grilled salmon (with marinade made with soy sauce) and roasted broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, carrots, and edamame with soy sauce
  • Days 2 and 3 – Back to eating Whole30 while evaluating the effects of legumes on my body.
  • Day 4 – Reintroduce gluten-free grains (oats, quinoa, corn, popcorn, rice)
    • Breakfast: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats topped with a sliced banana, chopped pecans, and cinnamon
    • Lunch: Turkey lettuce wrap with popcorn on the side
    • Dinner: Fried rice with chicken and veggies (including corn), made with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce (because I want to see how only the rice and corn affect me – not the soy sauce)
  • Days 5 and 6 – Back to eating Whole30 while evaluating the effects of gluten-free grains on my body.
  • Day 7 – Reintroduce dairy (milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, frozen yogurt, coffee creamer)
    • Breakfast: Greek yogurt mixed with almond butter as a dip for sliced apples, 2 slices bacon
    • Lunch: Loaded baked potato with butter, chopped grilled chicken, green onions, and buttermilk ranch dressing
    • Dinner: Chicken and broccoli casserole (made with sour cream and cauliflower rice)
  • Days 8 and 9 – Back to eating Whole30 while evaluating the effects of dairy on my body.
  • Day 10 – Reintroduce grains containing gluten (bread, bagels, pasta, pretzels, crackers, muffins)
    • Breakfast: Blueberry muffin with 1 ground sausage patty and fruit salad
    • Lunch: Turkey and avocado sandwich on whole wheat bread with carrots, cucumber slices, and bell pepper slices on the side
    • Dinner: Spaghetti with pesto sauce and grilled chicken
  • Days 11 and 12 – Back to eating Whole30 while evaluating the effects of gluten grains on my body.
  • Day 13 – Begin my personalized Food Freedom plan.

Other things you might want to reintroduce include: Alcohol (day 12 or 13), different added sugars (honey, cane sugar, maple syrup, etc), food group combinations (like gluten grains and dairy together).

This is just a sample meal plan based on what I am planning to do for my Whole30 Reintroduction. You can find out more about the reintroduction process in the Whole30 book or on the Whole30 website.

You can find this great Whole30 reintroduction calendar on @melissasfoodfreedom Instagram page (get the calendar here).

My Whole 30

Losing weight and getting healthy is a pretty common resolution for the new year, and there are millions of different programs and diet plans to help people reach those goals. I’ve tried lots of them. I’ve done Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, the 21 Day Sugar Detox, Atkins, the South Beach Diet, and all kinds of other fad diets. My weight is something that I have constantly struggled with since I was a little kid. I got to my biggest and unhealthiest point when I was 25. I finally decided that I had to do something, and I cut down my portions and stopped drinking Cokes and lost a lot of weight. It just so happened that I caught mono in the same year, and lost a good 25 pounds from that, which left me at the smallest weight and size I have ever been in my adult life.

I have spent so much time running away from that girl on the left and trying to get back to the size of the one on the right. I was making some good progress before I got pregnant with Jack. I did my first round of Whole 30 in October of 2016. By the end of the month, I was looking and feeling so much better. I had lost weight, but that was just one of the benefits of the program. My skin was clear, I was sleeping better, I was in a better overall mood most of the time. Basically, the Whole 30 showed me just how great I could feel if I fueled my body the right way.

I snapped that selfie at the end of my first Whole 30. I was feeling awesome and was only about 10 pounds from my ultimate goal weight. Then, two weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant (Did you know that sometimes the Whole 30 can actually help with fertility problems? That’s not a reason that I was trying it, but I found that fact pretty interesting.) I think that doing a Whole 30 right before I found out I was pregnant helped me maintain a healthy pregnancy. I didn’t continue to eat like I do on the Whole 30 plan while I was pregnant (because, hello, cravings!), but I did make better choices than I think I would have if I hadn’t done the program prior to my pregnancy.

My pregnancy was great. Other than morning sickness (which should really just be called sickness, because it happens ALL THE TIME and not just in the mornings), it was a perfect pregnancy. I gained about 30 pounds, which was exactly what my doctor wanted me to gain, and I felt pretty good. My doctor still encouraged me to eat healthy and avoid any drinks with sugar, but I did indulge in a Chick-fil-A sandwich and sweet tea at least once a week.

After Jack was born, Jeff and I attempted a Whole 30 in September of last year, which turned into a Whole 14 (if we even made it that far…I can’t remember). We were sleep deprived, trying to figure out how to keep this tiny human we’d made alive, and very ill-prepared for a the challenge of eating clean for 30 days.

This January reset is coming at a good time for us. Jeff’s not doing the Whole 30 with me this month, but he’s very supportive and usually just eats whatever I’m eating for dinner and he’s very good to not bring anything home to tempt me. Now that Jack is (almost always) sleeping through the night and we have gotten the hang of this parenting thing (as much as one can ever get the hang of it, anyway), I’m in a much better frame of mind to complete this challenge. While I do still have some pregnancy weight to lose, the Whole 30 is NOT about losing weight. Losing weight is a happy side-effect of the Whole 30, but that is not its true purpose. The real purpose of the Whole 30 is to reset your system and kill your cravings for sugar and junk so that you are in charge of your choices instead of letting your cravings rule your food decision making (which sounds a lot like how that girl in the first picture used to live her life). It’s about learning what foods make you feel good and what foods you need to avoid to be your best you.

That’s why I’m doing the January Whole 30 reset. That’s why I chose this program over all the weight loss fads out there. That’s why I am Whole 30.

On paper, the Whole 30 is really simple. Eat lean proteins, vegetables, some fruit and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods and added sugar in any form. It sounds easy, but putting those rules into practice is hard. By day two of this round, I was already dealing with some serious cravings for sugar and feeling pretty grumpy, but I stuck with it. This program is hard, but it is worth it, and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact when I’m tempted.

The most important thing to do to ensure success on the Whole 30 is to create a plan. I always make sure to plan regular meals and to plan for emergencies (like if I don’t feel good and want to skip cooking one night or get stuck at work late). I have made sure to cook extra food to have leftovers and I’ve always got some kind of emergency snack with me just in case.

I shared my meal plan on the blog before I started my program (you can find that here). Here are some of the meals I’ve had so far this month:

Hamburger Hash with spinach, avocado, and fruit

Chopped salad with kale and brussel sprouts, grilled chicken, bacon, and berries

Grilled pork chops with apple and walnut hash and green beans

Leftover pork chop with a chopped salad and berries

Mason jar chopped salad for an easy lunch at work

Spicy pulled pork with kale and broccoli salad and veggies

Pulled pork stuffed baked potato (I also had steamed broccoli with this, but forgot to get a picture)

January Whole 30 Meal Plan

This will be my third time doing a Whole 30. The first time was in October of 2016, and I stuck to the plan perfectly for the entire 30 days. I felt so good by the time I finished and was experiencing tons of non-scale victories. Right after I finished that Whole 30, I found out that I was pregnant with Jack, and when I asked my doctor about doing a Whole 30 while pregnant, there were some modifications he wanted me to make (like adding dairy and at least a little whole wheat to my mostly Whole 30 diet). I took his advice, but continued eating lots of Whole 30 meals until pregnancy cravings set in and I started going to Chick-fil-A and keeping a stash of fun-sized candy bars in my purse.

My second round of the Whole 30 was in September of this year, a little over a month after Jack was born. I was still breastfeeding, but I read the section in the book about breastfeeding mothers and felt like the Whole 30 was going to be the best thing for me to get back on track after going a little wild during my pregnancy. The second time I tried the Whole 30, it was SO HARD. I was a new mom, sleep deprived, and completely unorganized about planning meals. Jeff was going to do it with me, and we made it to day 15 before we inhaled a few chocolate chip cookies from McDonald’s and felt horrible about ourselves. While I might not have finished a true Whole 30 that time, I did learn that being successful in doing the Whole 30 is all about mindset and being prepared.

The first time, I was all in. I was 100% ready for a change in my lifestyle and my health. I was completely dedicated to completing the program. I planned well, including emergency snacks and meals for those times when cooking was just not happening (like when you’re running 15 minutes late for work in the morning and the best you can do is a technically compliant Larabar and a banana). The second time, I wasn’t sold out to it. I was more concerned with surviving those first months of motherhood and I was really setting myself up to fail because I was trying to wing it. Do not EVER try to wing a Whole 30. It doesn’t work that way. You have to plan – your meals, your workouts, your back-up or emergency plans – you can’t just expect to wing it and be successful.

This program is not about losing weight. It’s not a diet. It’s not about counting calories or points or anything like that. It’s about detoxing your body from the sugar and processed foods that it’s used to and listening to your body as it responds to real, nutrient dense foods. It’s about learning what makes you feel your best, what works for you, and learning how to have a healthy relationship with your body and your food. It is hard. It takes patience. It takes effort. It takes time. But in the end, it is so worth it.

For my January Whole 30, I am keeping things as simple as possible. I’m still new to this mom thing and I’m back at work full-time now. I’m busy and tired and I need to know what I’m cooking and eating ahead of time to make things as easy as possible.

I decided to make a list of some easy Whole 30 approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and then I’m going to rotate those meals throughout the month depending on what produce and meat I find on sale (by the way, I went shopping at Aldi for the first time tonight at the suggestion of my husband and I was pleasantly surprised by the selection there – I’ll be doing another blog post about my Whole 30 shopping list and where to find great deals later in the month).

Here’s the list I’m working with this month:

Breakfasts – Breakfast is one of the hardest things for me to do on the Whole 30 for a couple of reasons. First, I am so NOT a morning person and I have to be at work early, so it’s hard for me to make the time to fix a healthy breakfast in the morning. Second, I don’t like eggs. Those two things together mean that breakfast can be hard for me, but these recipes are my go-to meals for getting out the door fast and having a healthy meal to start my day.

  • Sweet Potato Hash – Shred some sweet potatoes on a grater and saute in avocado or coconut oil until tender. Toss in some chopped bacon, red onion, and walnuts. You can cook this ahead of time and reheat it in the microwave the next morning to make it even faster!
  • Spinach Breakfast Salad – 1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves topped with 1/2 a diced apple, ground turkey sausage, almonds, and raisins.
  • Sausage Breakfast Hash – Brown some ground sausage in avocado oil and add some cubed sweet potatoes. Simmer on medium heat until the sweet potatoes are tender. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon and add some pecan halves right before serving. This can also be made ahead of time and heated up the next morning.
  • Whole 30 Fruit Salad – Mix together sliced strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and 1/2 a banana and a few raw almonds. Toss together in a splash of lemon juice and fresh mint. Enjoy with a few slices of sugar-free bacon on the side.
  • The Emergency Breakfast – A compliant Larabar with a banana or apple.

Lunches – For me, lunch has to be something that I can make the night before and that will be easy to pack and that I can eat while I’m working (because some days, I don’t get a real lunch break and have to shovel my food in while I’m working). I keep it simple with chopped salads and what I call “Whole 30 Lunchables” that I can make ahead and keep in the fridge all week so it’s easy to just grab one and go.

  • Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad – 1/2 cup of spinach, 1/4 cup broccoli slaw, chopped cucumber, walnuts, and 1/2 a sliced grilled chicken breast with a pickle spear on the side.
  • Harvest Pear Chopped Salad – 1/2 cup mixed greens, half a pear (chopped), pecans, bacon crumbles, raisins, and 1/2 grilled chicken breast. Top with dressing made with 1/2 lemon juice, 1/2 olive oil, and a little salt, pepper, and cilantro.
  • Taco Salad – 1/2 cup mixed greens, sliced red onion, chopped bell pepper, chopped cucumber, sliced banana pepper, and a few jalapeno slices, topped with 1/4 taco meat prepared with this taco seasoning (I put the meat in a separate container and heat it up before tossing it on top of my salad)
  • Turkey or Chicken “Lunchable” – Sliced turkey or chicken (whatever’s leftover from dinner), baby carrots, cucumber slices, red or green grapes, and a few raw almonds
  • Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup – I like to make a big pot of this (the Whole 30 version) at the beginning of the month and portion it out in mason jars to use as lunch or a quick dinner later. It keeps in the fridge for about a week and in the freezer for a few months.
  • And, my favorite lunch, LEFTOVERS!!! – Use your leftovers! When you cook dinner, scoop whatever’s left into a container and call it lunch or breakfast for tomorrow. Don’t waste any food, and don’t let the rules about what is lunch and what is dinner mess you up. As long as it’s compliant, it doesn’t matter what time of day you’re eating it.

Dinners – This is the meal that’s tough because it is the meal that I share with my husband, which means that I not only have to make my taste buds and belly happy, but I have to consider his as well. He is not doing the Whole 30 with me, but he usually eats the same dinner that I eat and may add a non-compliant condiment or bread to “complete” his meal. If you feel like you can’t do a Whole 30 because your spouse or roommate or co-worker doesn’t want to join and you think you can’t do it alone, I want to remind you not to sell yourself short. You can do it if you set your mind to it. There are ways to cook Whole 30 meals for yourself and adapt them for family members who don’t want to participate. My husband fully supports my decision to follow this program, and if he doesn’t like the food that I am cooking, he knows that he can eat something else. I keep some non-compliant items in the house (like frozen rolls, milk, and cheese) for him, but he is considerate enough not to bring home cookies or doughnuts or anything like that to tempt me. If you talk to your spouse, friend, or roommate, most of the time, he or she will agree to support you even if they don’t want to join you in this elimination challenge.

  • Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Potatoes – I found this recipe on Instagram and it is one of my Whole 30 favorites! My husband loves it, too. We’ll probably have this a few times during the month. I absolutely love that I can make it in the crock-pot so dinner is waiting for me when I get home at the end of the day.
  • Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes and Green Beans – This meal is so incredibly simple, but it is so good. It’s a regular at our house even when I’m not doing a Whole 30.
  • “Fried” Cauliflower Rice with Chicken and Veggies – Fried rice is one of my absolute favorite meals. This copycat is so good that you’ll think it’s the real thing! Just boil a chicken breast, shred it, and set aside. Chop up your veggies (I like to use broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, onion, green beans, zucchini, and yellow squash) into bite sized pieces. In a large skillet, heat some avocado oil and toss in the veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes, seasoning with and little salt and pepper. Add in a few tablespoons of coconut aminos. Toss in the shredded chicken and stir. Place pan in the oven at 350 degrees to continue cooking while you prepare the “rice.” In a medium skillet, heat some ghee on medium-high heat until it melts. Pour in a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. Saute in the ghee for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown a little bit. Pour in a couple glugs (maybe a tablespoon or two) or coconut aminos and stir well. Make a nest in the middle of the “rice.” Scramble an egg in a bowl and pour into the “rice.” Scramble the egg into the “rice” until it is done. Make sure to mix it in well. Remove the chicken and veggies from the oven. Layer the chicken and veggies over the “rice” in a bowl and top with chopped cashews.
  • Baked Chicken with Zucchini Noodles and Basil Walnut Pesto – Y’all, the first time I made this I promise my husband thought I was an actual chef. I think he would have drank this pesto sauce directly from the food processor. If you want an easy meal that’s going to impress, try this one. It won’t let you down.
  • Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots – This one is a staple even when I’m not on Whole 30. It is so good and easy and it makes your house smell amazing. Plus, it usually offers lots of leftovers for breakfast and/or lunch the next day. Just read your labels and make sure that your beef broth is compliant. If you want extra flavor, you can add some coconut aminos, too.
  • Hamburger Hash – I could eat this for every meal, and usually I do have it for breakfast or lunch as leftovers after I make it. It is definitely a favorite of mine and Jeff’s.

There’s my plan – I’ll rotate those meals often to keep things simple during the week. On the weekends, I have extra time and usually dig out my Whole 30 Cookbook or search Pinterest or Instagram for some recipe inspiration and will try something new. I’ll post those recipes as I try them throughout the month.

I hope this helps you as you are planning your January Whole 30! I am excited to get this year started off on the right foot by taming my sugar cravings and taking control of my health. Make sure to check the blog often for updates about how my January Whole 30 is going.

Five on Friday: Easy Weeknight Meals

It is finally Friday! We made it through the week! If you are looking for some quick and easy recipes that everyone will love, check out these meals that we have had recently. Links to the recipes are located below each image.

One: Baked Chicken with Zucchini Noodles tossed in Spinach and Walnut Pesto (Whole30 Approved)

Two: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dressing (Whole30 Approved)

Three: Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry with Cauliflower Rice (Whole30 Approved)

img_0678-1Four: Shredded Beef Stuffed Baked Potatoes

img_0496Five: Breakfast for Dinner – Spinach and Turkey Sausage Egg Bake with Spinach and Apple Salad (Whole30 Approved)

Like these meal ideas? Be sure to check out my meal planning series on the blog this weekend for more inspiration! 

Whole 30

Starting tomorrow, Jeff and I are going to be following the Whole 30 clean eating program for the next 30 days. I heard about this program from some other bloggers on Instagram, and lots of them have had great success using this program to improve their health. When I checked out the Whole 30 website, the program actually sounded doable, so Jeff and I decided to give it a shot.

I’m going to be sharing our experiences as we follow the program, and I’ll share recipes that are Whole 30 approved. We’re hoping this program will kind of “reset” us, help establish some healthy habits, and curb our cravings for carbs and sweets.

I read tons of things on the Whole 30 website this weekend and used their free printable shopping list to go to the grocery store this afternoon.

I had a budget of $100, and I only went over that by about $10, so I was pretty pleased (my biggest concern for this challenge was the expense of buying all clean foods). Here’s what I got for our first week of the challenge (I already had staples like chicken breasts and broccoli in my freezer):

  • Apples (golden delicious, Granny Smith, gala, and red delicious)
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Onions (white and red)
  • Green onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Avocado
  • Russet potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red potatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Eggs
  • Ground chuck
  • Lean stew beef

I’m totally horrible at diets, so I am currently cleaning out my kitchen of any foods that are not allowed (sugars, breads, processed food, soda). Am I the only one who eats those foods like crazy the day before something like this? I think I’ve had three handfuls of chocolate chips while I’ve been going through the fridge.

I’m doing meal planning tonight. I started by making a batch of Whole 30 approved taco seasoning from Emily Eats Real Food’s blog (click the link for the recipe).

I cooked a large batch of meat for tacos tonight and to use for taco salads for a few meals this week. This taco seasoning is SO good!

I also spent some time prepping my fruits and veggies for the week so I can cut down on meal prep time when it’s time to cook.

So far, the thing that has me the most baffled is what to eat for breakfast. This is easy for Jeff, because he loves eggs. I don’t. I normally eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast or grab a granola bar on my way out the door. Since all of those foods are no-nos, I’m really not sure what to eat. I’m going to try a fruit salad and some walnuts tomorrow and see if that’s filling enough. If not, I’ll have to figure out how to get some protein in there.

For lunch tomorrow, I made a salad with lettuce, spinach, avocado, red onion, bell pepper, and pineapple. I’m going to heat up some taco meat and toss that on top.

I’m planning to grill some chicken and make roasted veggies for dinner tomorrow night, and I’ll probably make a lot of extra so I can have leftovers for lunch throughout the week.