About Me,  toddlers

Whole30 Update

Maybe failure is the wrong word. Let’s call it ‘scaling of expectations,’ shall we?

But it’s day 11 of this experiment, and my body is calling it quits on this no grain or dairy business. I can’t physically keep up with the children, I’m grumpy(er) than usual all day long, and there are no sweet potatoes in Italy. None. I’ve been to every fruit stand this side of the Tiber, and I have yet to find one. In short, this isn’t a realistic concept for me to adhere to strictly for an entire month. At least, not at this point in our family’s life, and while living in this particular part of the world.

I have discovered the number one reason why Italians eat so many carbs: there isn’t really much of anything else. By that I mean traditional Italian food still dominates the Italian culinary scene. There are no (real) Mexican restaurants. There are no ‘French/Italian fusion bistros.’ There are no Vietnamese places, and the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants have (mostly) been infiltrated by Italian staples, so their menus end up including varieties of bruschetta and pasta dishes. You want American? They’ve got McDonald’s. But…come on.

It is, in short, all Italian, all the time.

And Italian cooking does not jive well with a paleo plan of eating. The things I’ve been trying to procure for some of the recipes for this adventure simply don’t exist here. Or, if they do, they are only available at select and remote (to me) locations within the city. So no almond milk. No shredded coconut. No sweet potatoes. No bacon (trust me, prosciutto is not the same thing.) Only seasonally-available, mostly local fruits and vegetables. (Again, not a bad thing, but…no exotic selections to break up the monotony. Like cilantro. Or raspberries.)

And the number one reason I’m calling it quits? I just don’t feel good. And I don’t have the energy to keep up with these kiddos while I’m carb-starved. Or to work out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we started eating this way, (and Dave is sticking it out for the month, because he is awesome) because it has radically expanded the kids’ palates, and to a certain extent, our own.

But…but…at the end of the day, it’s basically a diet. And diets are, by their very nature, unrealistic to maintain because of their restrictive nature. In short, I’ve decided it’s a wonderful framework to build a healthy weekly menu around. And it has some great insights into the not-so-healthy ways some of us interact with food and alcohol. But at the end of the day, I don’t actually believe that beans are toxic to the human body, or that nobody past the age of 2 should consume dairy products. Should grains occupy a higher rung on the food pyramid and meats and veggies a lower spot? Surely. But to cut out entire food groups for non-medical reasons is neither realistic nor feasible long  term. And in mommy world, a month feels very, very long term.


-Learning to appreciate espresso normale again. Straight up, creamy espresso, no sugar or milk added. Perfect in it’s simplicity.

-Building meals around meats and vegetables instead of starches. Finding new ways to coax zucchini into behaving like pasta. Discovering how very little I actually care for pasta, besides the fact that it’s cheap and everywhere. Ravioli is my one concession.

-Feeding the kids a smorgasborg of fruits, veggies, protein chunks, nuts, and seeds and calling it ‘lunch.’ Thanks to Joey’s gluten intolerance, we’ve never been a pb&j family, but now we’re an even weirder pile-of-seemingly-unrelated-foodstuffs-on-the-high-chair family.

– 5 lbs down. Okay, that’s indisputably awesome. But, it could have had something to do with the vino and birra abstinence, too.

Am I a failure for calling it quits 11 days in? I don’t know. We’re still making better food choices, and I’m not eating taco chips for lunch anymore, so I’m calling it a win. Or maybe a tie.

Anyway, transparency and all that…you’re welcome.

p.s. Day 3 of operation Potty Training, and he is currently napping (or pretending to) in Thomas undies atop a ‘special big boy just in case pee towel.’ Today we had our first successful trip out of the house sans diaper, so I’m feeling crazy brave. Thanks Mary and everyone else for the words of warning/wisdom/encouragement!


  • Ellen Johnson

    I’ve been thinking of you this week, because I started cutting carbs out of 2 meals a day (usually breakfast and lunch) and allowing it for the third meal. By afternoon, I’m jonesing for some bread products! I start getting a headache and feeling really weird and I know it’s withdrawal symptoms. But! At least I know I can have some carbs at dinner time! I tried going carb free when I was a senior in highschool and I made it two weeks before I practically collapsed. Like you said, it’s just not realistic. It’s much better to practice self-mastery and cut down on the things that you know are not doing you any favors. It’s still not easy but at least you can have that pasta dinner or beer at the end of the day!

  • Lauren T.

    Sounds like you did great! These fad food trends come and go but moderation is always key! You’re already amazing for doing gluten free for the kiddos in a foreign country. Looks like success to me!

  • Amelia

    I can’t do low-carb either. I’ve tried it several times and it just doesn’t work. There’s actually a lot of research out there about the dangers of low-carb and how it can lead to things like depression, lack of energy, etc.

    Really, I think just eating more meat, veggies and fruits and less grains/dairy/legumes (while not eliminating them) is the way to go.

  • Colleen

    Weight Watchers, baby! You can still eat anything, just in moderation and small portions. It’s pretty much how we should normally live. I love that you tried it and recognized how hard it was. I know I couldn’t do it for 30 days!!

    • Bonnie

      Ditto what Colleen said. No way I could do Paleo for a week, let alone 11, and definitely not 30. Honestly, most of it doesn’t even sound good. Cauliflower pizza crust? That sounds nice… for you.

  • Stephanie

    I certainly wouldn’t call it a failure! I think it’s great you’ve learned new ways to approach food but are still listening to your body and doing what YOU need to do to be healthy. 🙂 There are a few different general body types and some types simply need carbs to function normally – so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I have enjoyed reading everything you’ve learned/experienced with this!

  • Katie

    Yep, I would not call it a failure either. You are learning what works for you and what doesn’t. I do not think I could go grain free in the land of pasta and nice bread!

  • Holly

    every time i try to go low-carb, i blow our grocery bill out of the water, which makes everyone cranky. i think i am cooking some of your hand-me-down rice tonight… love you girl!

  • Mary

    As a mom, you’ve got to feel good and feel like you’ve got energy to keep up with your kids. I’d say learning to take espresso without any sugar in it is a HUGE feat in and of itself! (I can’t do it… you’re a stronger woman than me, Jenny). I think on the other end of things, as far as diets go, ‘all things in moderation’ has been the best winner for me over the years. I’ve tried fad-ish diets, especially after babies, when I have poor body image, etc – WHILE nursing… and it was never enough, I was starving. If I can do any meal right, the high-protein breakfast wins back my previous shape and everything else in moderation. Right now I’m pretty sure I could live off of greek yogurt, kashi, cheese, toast with homemade jam and slushies from Sonic. But I even get bored with that stuff, too, sometimes. Motherhood makes your body want to eat and do weird things. Beauty of motherhood, I guess. Tis the season we are in! I’m sure my body will be so beat up after having kids, I’ll look back and think the stress of trying to ‘look the perfect shape’ was never worth it. Need to just focus on being healthy for now! 🙂

  • Kallah Oakes

    I love this. I am so OVER people clinging to these fad diets and just accepting the assertions (many based on anecdotal rather than scientific “evidence”) that entire food groups are “bad” for your body, moderation or no. Seriously – where does that come from?

    Our bodies age and decay over time period, right? So might as well just do what feels good and employs some discipline and not worry about being all badass and labeling yourself! I wrote a post on this awhile ago that I think offended alot of people… POSSIBLY because I called it unbiblical and anti-Eucharistic? Maybe? haha

    you said it much better when you just said, “it doesn’t feel good to me”!

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