Category: Food

My Whole30 review: the good, the bad and the ugly

Whole 30 title

720 hours. 43,200 minutes. 2,592,000 seconds. A lot can happen in 30 days. If you’re on Whole30, mainly A LOT OF COOKING.

It’s 30 days since my boyfriend James and I started the challenge. I know a few of my friends have read with interest our voyage into this unfamiliar and slightly strange territory, so I thought I’d share an update on our progress.

To re-cap, Whole30 is a restrictive version of the Paleo way of eating. Whole30 is about eating real, unprocessed foods and high quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as olives, nuts and seeds. That means no grains, no dairy, no sugar (yes, that includes booze and more natural sugars like maple syrup and honey) no legumes (that’s peanuts, chick peas / beans / lentils etc to you and me) and no preservatives like MSG or sulphites (surprisingly ubiquitous in so many foods).

You’re not allowed to re-create ‘healthy’ versions of treats that fit within the guidelines, such as pancakes or cookies. They are ‘treat’ foods and contribute to an unhealthy attitude towards food as a reward.

It’s about re-setting your body, boosting energy, pinpointing foods that don’t agree with you and re-connecting with food.

It’s a strict regime; the slightest slip and you’ve failed

one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30 day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1….Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident.

PHEW. Ok. So, how did we get on?

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Crunchy nut cottage pie – a delicious Whole30 paleo recipe

I’m on day four of the Whole30 Challenge and I’m feeling cautiously fabulous. By now, according to the challenge timeline, I should want to ‘kill all the things’. But – aside from totally normal fleeting moments of disdain or fury (people who stop at the top of tube escalators, people who say 100 words when they could see 15, that sort of thing), I’ve felt pretty fucking great.

J and I have both noticed we’ve not had our usual peaks and troughs of energy – no 3 o’clock slumps where I’d normally hunt down a biscuit or two with a cup of tea to keep me going. I’ve had a pretty full-on week and have really felt I had the energy to power through it.

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No half measures; starting the Whole30 challenge

whole 30 start

Those who know me well will know that I’ve not always been ‘into’ food and cooking. My food journey as a kid was mainly from freezer to plate in the company of that jolly old sailor, Captain Birds Eye.

SCENE FROM TELEVISION ADVERT FOR 'BIRDSEYE' SHOWS CAPTAIN BIRDSEYE

Like a lot of kids I knew, walks home from school were punctuated with trips to the local shop to pick up some sweets – as many as you could buy with 50 pence. I didn’t eat a pepper until I was about 18 and my university cooking repertoire consisted of pasta, chilli and curry (from a jar) on loop. And kebabs, obviously. And cider. And….you get the point.

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Fitspiration overload

I’ve just finished a 30 -minute YouTube workout in my bedroom. My face is its usual shade of post-workout mahagony and I’m feeling grateful that my window isn’t overlooked. Hauling myself into a downward dog in knickers, trainers and half-rolled up Karrimor t-shirt isn’t my best look.

I’m also on day 5 of Paul McKenna’s hypnotic weight-loss app plan, teamed with his book ‘I can make you thin’. Having to disguise his beaky-faced book cover and hope the size 16 Arial isn’t as easily readable on the tube as I think it is bad enough. But I’m also working through feeling guilty if I chew my food less than 20 times (muesli is MUSH, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!) or because I accidentally didn’t leave any of the delicious pasta I made for dinner on my plate like a reformed character.

This is the latest in what I jokingly call my ‘weight-loss fads’ to friends and colleagues. Though Paul disagrees – he (and many of his formerly fat and disturbingly convincing Amazon reviewers) says it’s a total change in your attitude to food. We’ll see how I’m getting on after 21 days of falling asleep to Paul’s hypnotic trance – spoken in tones not dissimilar to The Fast Show’s Swiss Tony. I half expect him to kick off with ‘losing weight is a bit like making love to a beautiful woman’. But alas, I remain disappointed.

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Back to baking: sweet potato chocolate cake

It’s been quite some time since I last posted here, and indeed, quite some time since I last baked. The past few months have been a bit of a blur; my relationship of almost six years came to an end, I moved house, and seem to have spent most of my spare time since organising my new flat and toasting to the next chapter of my life with my wonderful friends.

At times of stress or trauma, it seems natural to retreat to self-preservation mode, living day-to-day and focusing on the basics of feeding yourself, general life-admin (mainly consisting of desperate attempts to get through the bottomless pit of laundry without the aid of a tumble dryer and phonecalls to utility companies), and work.

But living like this does little to inspire creativity, happiness, or wellbeing. I’ve found myself craving a return to the more well-rounded me, and a big part of that is tied up with baking and writing; the great satisfaction of creating something from scratch. Whether a piece of prose, or a slice of cake – to create, share, and enjoy, I’ve realised, is fundamental to my happiness.

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Earl Grey and Rose Water Bundt Cake

Just a few weeks ago, newspaper headlines declared we were in drought, and decried the start of a hose pipe ban. ‘But how will I clean my block paved drive way witouth my fully-loaded penis-esque Karscher pressure washer?!’ demanded middle-aged men with middle-aged spread.

Fear not, hose-wealders. As if by magic – or by the power of that lesser known phenomenon, Sod’s Law – at the very mention of a hose pipe ban, the mighty sky retaliated by rounding up a gang of the greyest, densest, meanest clouds around, and heartily encouraging them to piss down upon us all for the best part of ten days.

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Triple-Layer Trilogy part 3: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Well, well, well. It’s been almost three weeks since I posted the second part of this triology; probably the time it has taken me to finish the Steig Larsson trilogy in the two hours a day I merrily spend with my Kindle on my commute.

Time seems to move at a different speed in London to Bristol or Newcastle; time seems much more precious, and I seem to have become worse at making the most of it. I hope that will change (at least a little) when I get the iPad I pre-ordered last week.

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