motherhood,  Parenting

7 Quick Steaks

Whole Family Whole30, Week One: in the books.

Lessons learned:

1. Protein is your your friend. It’s your best friend, actually. It’s your dearest bff, the one who will support you steadfastly while you’re wildly cycling between highs and lows, and who will be there for every single meal whether or not you want it to. Especially when you don’t want it to, actually. Almonds, avocados, cashews, meat, meat, fish, meat, eggs, more meat…when this thing is finished, I’m going vegetarian for a week to recover from the sheer horror of having to handle raw flesh every single day. But, my children are eating things I’d never dreamed they might. And doing so without complaint (almost) for the very simple fact that there’s nothing else in the house to offer then in concession to their complaints. So, they’ve very quickly adjusted to eating what they’ve been served. (Note: I am still giving them dairy, because they’re little growing dudes, and I don’t practice the cow-milk-is-evil religion.

Last night’s basil coconut curry. I’d tell you it’s just as good without rice, but I’d be a liar.

2. Sugar cravings induce weirder dreams than drugs do. I’m making some assumptions, on this one, admittedly, but last night’s marathon REM episode featured a detailed trick-or-treat scavenger hunt of mini Snickers bars hidden by my little brother Patrick all over the front yard of my parent’s-house-but-not-their-house-just-in-this-dream-house. Some of the Snickers were intact and in wrappers, some were crushed up into ice cream topping, but my mission was the same: find and eat. The next course for the evening was a vivid and detailed dream about fluffy, perfectly-porous pancakes saturated with pure maple syrup and eaten on the balcony of the condo from our Hawaiian honeymoon. People, I’ve got a problem.

3. Alcohol. Don’t miss it that much. What? So surprising, this one, especially given the respective ages of my children. And we’re dabbling (or should I say dribbling?) in potty training right now. But I’m fine without it. And sleeping so much more soundly than after a glass of wine.

4. Breakfast. Somebody just kill me now. No carbs and no cream in my coffee = a study in eggs and misery. Every morning when Dave asks how I’d like my eggs cooked, it feels like he’s offering me the option to take both kids to church alone for a 3 hour Holy Week liturgy in Latin at dinnertime, or  travel solo with them on an over-booked United Airlines flight with a 5 hour layover in Atlanta. Um, neither. So I usually end up with over medium.

5. Clothing: feeling looser. In fact, I totally cheated big time and stepped on the scale yesterday after Dave commented on how loosely my expensive Walmart pajama pants were fitting, and I’m down 5 lbs. Um, that’s crazy. Because I ate my weight in cashews on Wednesday, and because it’s been 5 days. (Note: you are not supposed to weigh yourself or take measurements during the Whole30, because it’s a cleaaaaaanse, not a diiiiiiet, got it?) Which leads me to my next point…

6. Cheating. Confession: this week I’ve snuck: 1 vanilla yogurt, 1 gluten-free snack cake (stolen from my 2 year-old during his naptime, no less) and 1 bowl of gluten free cornflakes. Technically, this disqualifies me from the Whole30 experience, according to their self-appointed guidelines. But, but, I know myself well enough to know that if I admit defeat now, I’ll spiral into a McDonad’s-fueled tailspin of french fries and Coke, and it won’t be pretty.

So imagine my surprise when I was able to very calmly identify the infraction to myself and then…move on. It was like having a healthy, grown-up relationship with food. My internal dialogue went something like this: ‘Oh, I just ate that yogurt because it seemed like it would be really satisfying. I wasn’t supposed to, according to the guidelines of this program, but that’s okay, because now I’ll go back to eating the way I’ve committed to.’ When usually it would be all: ‘Yogurt was ILLEGAL, and now I am DOOMED and it doesn’t matter what I eat because I ruined it now I’m going to finish a whole box of cereal BY MY SELF BECAUSE I’M SCREWED.’

7. Stable blood sugar levels = non-crazy mommy. I’ve found myself much more receptive to my children’s needs and possessing a much higher tolerance for their varies and sundry missteps and misbehaviors  throughout the day. Since I can no longer eat (or drink) my feelings at naptime, I have resorted to actually feeling them, evaluating them for evidence of truth, and then reacting accordingly. For example, I might have said, on Wednesday,’Oh Joey, you just coated the bathroom in urine because you insisted on picking up your own potty to dump it out? Okay, here’s a bottle of cleaning spray and some baby wipes. Get to work.’ Instead of early enforcing an early nap time and then inhaling a bag of taco chips to lift my pee-soaked spirits.

So there it is, folks, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can’t believe we have 24 more days of this insanity…but, but…I’m curious and hopeful to see what lies ahead.



  • Melody

    Wow – good for you!! I am trying to be really healthy right now, too, and I’ve noticed it has a great effect on me, too. But it’s hard :/. We can do it!

  • makingthetrek

    It is a big change, isn’t it? I ate clean for 3 weeks before I fell off the wagon, not totally—but had a couple events that triggered me and now I’ve yet to get FULLY back on. However, definitely feel better, clothes looser—so carry on!!! Planning is definitely key and where I fell off track. I can’t take my coffee black so I’m using Almond milk or coconut milk. Can you use those?

  • Colleen

    You’re doing so good. Are you hungry? I’m on WW and always hungry but I think it’s because I exercise a lot and don’t eat my exercise points.

  • Martha

    That’s awesome! It’s amazing how much food affects our mood, isn’t it? I’ve heard about kiddos that are having behavioral issues – look at what they’re eating and how they’re sleeping first! Same thing for adults I guess…

  • Ellen Johnson

    “It was like having a healthy grown up relationship with food”
    Hahaha, this is something I’ve never experienced, ever. I’m glad to know it can happen! Thanks for the inspiration, Jenny!

  • Katie

    Great job! I did a detox a few months back and LOVED it! I have actually eliminated lots of meats because of it. That and dairy and wheat.

    That curry looks amazing!!

  • Hannah

    I would spend hours on Pinterest looking at desserts, torturing myself with visions of cinnamon cakes and death by chocolate whatnots. It’s a lot easier if you don’t indulge or cheat – the cravings decrease (Thank God!!!).

  • Cynthia

    Good for you, Jenny! I love reading about how this “adventure in food” is going for you. I’ve dabbled back and forth with Paleo (I would classify myself as paleo-light) but have never really heard of theWhole30 (is that what it’s called?) I don’t know the guidelines for these 30 days, but can I let you in on what I’ve learned so far, in regards to breakfast? 1) I have been eating leftover (last night’s supper) for breakfast to curve the monotony . In reality, it’s starting to be my favorite thing. Yesterday, I had a chicken breast, atop a half of an avocado…it was wonderful. Also, if you can bake or wish to buy more alternate flours…this website is wonderful for gluten-free breakfast baking: ( 2) I roasted some nuts the other day, with some spices…can give you that recipe too if you want. That tossed with some raisins makes a great, quick breakfast. 3) Can you do heavy cream in your coffee? I know that following a more Primal approach says it’s “ok” b/c it’s different than milk in its composition. Who knows. I certainly have no idea what I’m talking about…all I know is that it’s yummy. You can do it!

  • Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    You are not blogging about this enough. I want at least two posts a day, with every single detail about what you’re eating and exactly what exercises you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Pictures too.

    (Why, yes, I was weighed at the doctor’s office yesterday and am now about to begin my own painful campaign to get fit, pretty similar to Whole30.)

  • Amelia

    Go you!! Sounds like you are doing an awesome job. I totally hear you on the usual “well, I screwed up so I might as well live on french fries thinking”. So awesome you were able to move past it!

  • Kris

    Good job! I’m with you in the cheater camp. I’m 3 weeks into mine and definitely have had my weak moments. But I just jump right back on the wagon. I think I’ve learned that it’s okay to cheat/treat every once in awhile, that it won’t derail me completely and that it’s not an impedement to eating healthy the majority of the time. In terms of breakfast – I’m with you. I have a hard time JUST eating eggs, with no toast, no dairy, etc. Bleh. And I love eggs. The other reader that suggested leftover dinner had a great idea. Totally doing that. And since you can’t have dairy, can you have coconut or almond milk? I use coconut milk in my coffee and it’s DELISH!

  • Heidi

    “Stable blood sugar levels = non-crazy mommy.” So True! I’m not doing Whole30 or anything close, but I’ve found that I have to be really careful about my sugar intake at breakfast or I end up on a blood-sugar-induced mood (& energy) roller-coaster for practically the rest of the day. I eat eggs for breakfast, and I can have a slice of buttered toast or two with them, and I can have as much fruit, chocolate, etc., as I want after lunch – but even half a banana right after I eat my eggs & toast for breakfast and wheeee… No idea why this is, but it’s really nice to have figured it out! (Even if I still end up re-figuring it out from time to time…ahem.)

  • sarahunfiltered

    In regard to your egg-monotomy- I know it takes a little more planning, but cutting up lots of veggies and sauteeing them before adding some scrambled eggs can be awesome. Or even some sausage (I think if you buy plain turkey or pork sausage and add your own seasonings it would fit the plan). And/or what about making your own salsa to put on top? Something easy like chopped up tomatoes and onions, in lime juice with some salt and cumin. Maybe a little jalepeno, if you have access to one in Roma. You could make up a big batch at the beginning of the week, then use it throughout.

    Just a thought! Thanks for sharing your journey. (That sounded corny, I know.)

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