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Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 13-16 + Thoughts on a Perfect Whole30

whole30days13through16

Hello from the “other side” of Whole30. I am currently on Day 17 and officially have less in front of me than behind me! Feels good.

Before I get started with my recap of days 13-16, I wanted to address the topic of “a perfect Whole30.”

On day 3 of Whole30, I inadvertently went off-plan by adding corn to my crockpot salsa chicken. I somehow missed the memo that corn in all forms is prohibited on the program and thought that fresh corn was okay. A reader pointed out to me that it was no allowed when I posted my day 1-4 recap on day 5. I spent all day wondering whether or not this warranted a restart. I googled “accidentally ate corn on Whole30” and the answer to accidentally eating anything from the Whole30 gurus was generally to restart. Honestly, I was pretty crushed to think that after five strong days that I needed to start over again.

Later that night, I was reading the labels of some of the Yogi Teas (Bedtime and Kava Stress Relief) that I drink and noticed they had stevia leaf in them…off-program. Two nights later, I was taking my skin/nails/hair supplement and noticed it hadΒ carrageenan in it…off-program. I went to my favorite bakery and had an almond milk latte. I read the ingredients first and was delighted to find it was unsweetened almond milk with no off-limits ingredients but then some reading on the Whole30 forums basically bashed any store bought almond milk because it’s so processed and watered down. (I can honestly appreciate this now that I’ve been making my own but it definitely took the wind out of my latte sails.)

I have a tendency to be a little hard on myself and I came to the realization that trying to achieve a perfect Whole30 was a) nearly impossible and b) not the best thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think saying “screw Whole30, I’m having a cheeseburger” warrants a restart but small, accidental slip ups are going to be okay in my book. I’m doing my best and that’s all I have to give!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Here’s the recap of days 13-16.

DAY 13

Whole30 Travel Breakfast of Hard Boiled Eggs and a banana with almond butter, chia seeds, cinnamon and raisins.

We left West Virginia on the morning of Day 13. We stayed at the Hampton in and the options on the breakfast bar were pretty abysmal. I asked about the ingredients in the scrambled eggs and discovered that they not only came frozen and pre-cooked but included around 15 different ingredients including dairy and soy. The remainder of the breakfast options featured things like waffles, french toast, cereal, sweetened yogurt, bagels, toast and muffins. I found some hard-boiled eggs and used what I had packed to round it out with a banana, almond butter, chia seeds, cinnamon and raisins.

Whole30 compliant salad with arugula, apple, beets, chicken, avocado and pumpkin seeds.

Lunch at the Cafe at Y2 when we got back to Charlotte was a salad with arugula, apples, avocado, beets, pumpkin seeds and chicken. Dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Duck breast at Rooster's Woodfired Grill

I treated my parents to dinner at Rooster’s. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty Whole30 friendly restaurant. They source almost everything locally and seasonally and the food is simply but well prepared. The duck breast is one of my favorite things on the menu. I asked our server if it came with any kind of sauce. She told me it was a “duck jus” and I just went with it. Do I think there may have been some wine or butter in this jus? Yes. Did I stress about it? No.

Duck breast with sides at Rooster's Wood Fired Grill in Charlotte

On the side we had braised spaghetti squash and roasted brussels sprouts.

Roosters Coconut Cake

I have to admit that watching my mom and dad enjoy dessert was the hardest moment I’ve had yet on Whole30. Dessert is like my mom and I’s THING! I was so sad not to share this amazing coconut cake with her. I glared at them (kidding) from behind my cup of coffee.

I was super grateful for a wonderful meal out with my family!

DAY 14

Whole 30 compliant chia pudding

Ch-ch-ch-chia! (Recipe for chia pudding here.)

Whole30 compliant salad with arugula blend, avocado, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, celery, tomatoes and canned pink salmon. Dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Obsessed with this salad combo. Maybe the best one yet of Whole30. Arugula blend, avocado, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, celery, tomatoes and canned pink salmon. Dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Whole30 compliant crockpot lemon, artichoke and mushroom chicken.

Dinner via the crockpot. I did two chicken breasts with half a can of coconut milk (full fat), chicken stock, lemons, mushrooms, artichokes and some herbs. It was pretty good but not share-worthy yet.

Whole30 compliant lemon, artichoke and mushroom chicken with roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts.

Served with roasted brussels and herb-roasted potatoes.

DAY 15

Whole30 compliant chia pudding.

Another day, another bowl of chia pudding.

Whole30 compliant butternut squash, sweet potato and apple soup from Y2 cafe in Charlotte

Butternut, apple and sweet potato soup from the Cafe at Y2.

Whole30 compliant salad with arugula, purple cabbage, avocado, beets, pumpkin seeds, apples and hard-boiled egg from the cafe at Y2 Yoga in Charlotte.

And a salad from the cafe that had arugula, purple cabbage, avocado, beets, pumpkin seeds, apples and hard-boiled egg. Balsamic and olive oil for dressing.

Whole30 green curry stir fry.

Random dinner creation of sauteed chicken, white asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, napa cabbage, spinach and water chestnuts with coconut milk, chicken broth, green curry paste and coconut aminos. We normally would have had something like this over rice but kind of ate it like a soup/stew instead. We ended up eating the entire skillet of curry that I made!

Whole30 dessert idea.

Saturday night “dessert” for us to share was sliced bananas with raisins, almond butter, cacao nibs, coconut and cocoa powder.

DAY 16

Whole30 compliant chia pudding.

Chia and coffee. I used coconut milk instead of almond milk in the chia pudding (from the can) and topped it with Trader Joe’s salted almond butter (so good), blueberries and frozen raspberries.

Whole30 compliant meal of scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach and tomatoes, avocado and smoked salmon.

Lunch was two scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach and tomatoes, avocado and smoked salmon.

Whole30 compliant dinner of seared tuna steak with a lemon pepper butter sauce, roasted herb potatoes and broccoli

Dinner was a seared tuna steak with a lemon pepper butter sauce, roasted herb potatoes and broccoli.

I’ll skip the “how I’m feeling” this time around since I wrote an essay at the beginning of this post. I will give you a good update next time for days 17-20! Home stretch! πŸ™‚

What are your feelings on a “perfect” Whole30?

Fellow Whole30ers…check-in! How are you feeling?

More Whole30:

I’m Doing My First Whoel30
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 1-4
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 5-8
Recent Eats: My First Whole30 Days 9-12

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Mollie January 18, 2016, 4:46 pm

    Honestly, I think when “perfection” causes more stress and unhappiness than being “not perfect” you have to question whether its worth it. While I have never done a whole 30, I did used to follow a strict paleo diet because I thought thats what I was “supposed” to do and that it would enhance my life because of everything I read about…when I realized that the stress of adhering to it perfectly was causing more health issues for me than helping me to be healthier, I realized it wasn’t my thing and not right for MY body. I think you have to do what is best for you and listen to what your body needs and wants-the body is very smart when we are in tune with it and actually listen to what it is telling us! It took me such a long time to figure that out and something I still work on. Its hard with information overload out there-I find myself questioning whether I should do things like whole 30s or eat a certain way just because others are, but always have to check myself and ask is this what I need? How will it make me feel? etc. etc. Not sure I am really answering your question-but I say you’ve done an incredible job sticking through this whole 30 and a few slip ups is bound to happen along the way. Its all about the end goal anyway-healing your skin, so in the grand scheme of things some almond milk, corn, etc isn’t going to make or break it. πŸ™‚

    • 2
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:53 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Mollie! Yoga has been a WONDERFUL vehicle for me in learning to embrace imperfection and find beauty in it. I don’t think that this is ever a style of eating that I could adhere to long-term but it’s been a great reset and test. I have found it fairly easy to eat well and feel good on the program. I don’t really feel like there’s anything “missing” from my diet right now but I also look forward to getting back to my normal intuitive eating style.

  • 3
    Holly January 18, 2016, 4:46 pm

    I love the concept of whole30 and have thought several times about trying it, but I know it is not a life I can maintain so I don’t even go there :). I give you so much credit for trying it! I agree with you, no such thing as a perfect whole30. Junk happens in life and you have to roll with it! Your meals look amazing! The crockpot picture looks so yummy. I’m always looking for new combinations to throw in the crockpot.

    • 4
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:51 pm

      Hey Holly – I think part of the appeal of Whole30 is that it’s a 30 day program and not a “forever diet.” I can get on board with eliminating foods that have been shown to cause inflammation for a short amount of time in order to “test” their impact on your body. I have found it fairly easy to eat well and creatively on the the program!

  • 5
    Hilary January 18, 2016, 5:02 pm

    I tried a Whole 30 before and totally failed but I am really considering trying this out again starting next month!

    • 6
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:49 pm

      Oh no! What happened on your Whole30? Did you not feel well? Or just lose steam?

  • 7
    Chrissie January 18, 2016, 5:05 pm

    The gigantic salad with canned salmon on top looks amazing – I need to try something like that! I think that a “perfect” Whole30 would be miserable! I agree – eating a cheeseburger is probably grounds for restarting, but if you’re doing your best then some corn in one meal will not hurt you. At least that’s what I told myself when we went out for sushi and I had some bacon-wrapped scallops even though I’m guessing the bacon wasn’t compliant and I am definitely one that buys (unsweetened, carageenan-free) almond milk from the store. Life still needs to be lived! Great job making it to the other side!!

    • 8
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:48 pm

      I was missing out always defaulting to canned tuna. The salmon was AMAZING! Definitely recreate! And you have NO judgement from me on the bacon wrapped scallops (ever…so good!).

  • 9
    heather @ fit mama real food January 18, 2016, 5:42 pm

    Perfection is a dangerous thing with any diet – just the stress alone is not worth it! Your whole 30 is looking mighty tasty!

    • 10
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:48 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more! I am learning with each passing year of my life to let go of the idea of perfection in ALL areas more and more!

  • 11
    Liz January 18, 2016, 6:27 pm

    Agreed! A perfect Whole30 is not necessary for everyone, and can, in fact, be quite dangerous for some. I know coming off my Whole30 triggered my eating disorder. I loved my results and the way I felt on the Whole30, but I’m still reeling from the ramifications of coming off.

    • 12
      Jen DeCurtins January 18, 2016, 6:47 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that, take care of yourself Liz.

  • 13
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life January 18, 2016, 8:26 pm

    I knew from the beginning that my Whole30 wouldn’t be picture-perfect because I love almond butter and snacking too much (although it’s been more in moderation than normal). I think doing anything like this too intensely would be bad in the long run. That salmon salad looks beautiful!

    • 14
      Jen DeCurtins January 22, 2016, 9:50 am

      I agree! I think snacking is perfectly fine when you go a long time in between meals and are working out.

  • 15
    Keri January 18, 2016, 8:30 pm

    Last week I noticed there was soy lecithin in my cooking spray and rice flour in my Biotin…oh well! I have taken great strides towards throwing perfection out the window, I am still my own worst critic but grow more accepting of myself each and every day. Thank you for being you and inspiring me on and off the mat! πŸ™‚

    • 16
      Jen DeCurtins January 22, 2016, 9:52 am

      I love that. Thank you so much! Thank you for showing up and sharing your light and your energy!

  • 17
    Annie B January 18, 2016, 8:51 pm

    I agree that perfection on the Whole30 is so, so challenging, and sometimes not worth the struggle! I’m in the middle of my Whole30 as well, and I had a similar situation come up at a dinner party when I was in my first week of the program. The hostess knew I was on the Whole30, though I’d told her not to adjust what she was cooking. She sweetly prepared a Whole30 apple crisp (just apples, almond flour, coconut, and spices). These kinds of desserts are shunned by a lot of Whole30ers, since it mimics another less-healthy food, but I ate it and enjoyed it anyway. Passing on something that a friend had thoughtfully prepared for me wasn’t worth it, and all the ingredients were compliant, so I’m happy with the choice I made. πŸ™‚

    • 18
      Jen DeCurtins January 22, 2016, 2:02 pm

      What an amazing friend! That sounds delicious!

  • 19
    Shannon January 18, 2016, 10:14 pm

    I’m with you there on the “should I restart” when I realized too late during my first week that I ate tuna with soy in it (when I went to open up another can I checked the label again). I was just using what I had and honestly thought it was ok! This has definitely made me even more aware of labels. I totally agree that it doesn’t warrant a restart because it’s not like I’m about to go eat all the soy I can…how unrealistic. I’ve snacked a bit too much per program rules, but less than normal for me so I consider that an achievement! On that same note, I think I need 4 meals about 3-4 hours apart to avoid snacking, that definitely worked today.

    • 20
      Jen DeCurtins January 22, 2016, 2:08 pm

      I agree! It’s almost impossible for me not to snack when I go so long between meals.

  • 21
    Lauren January 19, 2016, 2:09 am

    I am totally with you on a non perfect whole 30 – stressing over it probably affects our health way more then a few slip ups! For me (will post about it this weekend), I was stuck hungry after work with a date ball in my bag that was made with pea protein, but I ate it anyway. And then I was stuck again in the city without any snacks so bought a few of the same date balls with the pea protein in to eat as there was no other option. Lesson – be more prepared and second lesson – its not that much of a big deal. I certainly wouldn’t not eat just for the sake of the “rules”! Other than those two slip ups I have been bang on plan and all ok πŸ™‚

    • 22
      Jen DeCurtins January 22, 2016, 2:11 pm

      It’s so much harder when you don’t plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time! I’m lucky to work either at home or very close to home, so I have whole30 approved food close by.

  • 23
    Devon January 19, 2016, 7:49 am

    Bravo to people who can do a “Perfect Whole30” because I most certainly can’t. I’ve done the program twice, and I do throw some of the rules out the window for time/sanity sake. I didn’t realize the corn issue either, so I made that mistake too. I also let myself have a little bit of wine because some days call for it (hello, sanity!). And some times, I’m busy and have to grab lunch/dinner out, so I wing it and do the best I can and not beat myself up about it. Controlling every ingredient of every single thing you ingest is just too obsessive and unrealistic for me.

    So go on with your almond milk lattes and vitamins. Those aren’t the true dietary problems and issues that Whole30 is trying to fix.

  • 24
    erin January 19, 2016, 7:59 am

    I have done whole 30 once before where I followed with 100% compliance. When i have done it other times I was less strict- didn’t worry that there was a trace amt of sugar in my chipolte Tabasco and ate out where you can pretty much bet there was canola oil in some things i ate. I think whether or not you start over really depends on what you are hoping to get out of doing a strict elimination diet.

    I do think that if you are really trying to see if a particular thing is bothering you/causing your skin issue and you slip up and have that thing then yes, you should start over. The biggest culprit usually being gluten because it can take 3+ weeks for it to fully clear your system and really see if removing it has an impact.

    My biggest take away from the Whole 30 was that man i am thankful that I don’t have major food sensitives. It definitely gave me a lot of compassion for people who really can’t have any gluten because not only is it really hard to avoid, but also socially isolating to not be able to eat out at certain places and so forth.

  • 25
    A.S. January 19, 2016, 8:35 am

    As a nutrition professor in NYC, I wish more healthy eaters would loosen the reigns. Completely understand why you’re embarking on the program, but too often, young women, in particular, use “healthy eating” as a mechanism of control in their lives. Then, off program, they feel stressed/anxious/less than perfect.

    And it’s all related to food. How awful.

    Orthorexia is real. I see subsets of it daily in my work and it’s just as dangerous as serious obesity.

  • 26
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy January 19, 2016, 8:43 am

    I appreciate your honesty in this post, Jen. I definitely don’t detract anything by those simple slip ups, because I think otherwise you have been 100% committed and you have sacrificed so much else. It’s hard to overhaul your normal diet to every single detail. The reason I could never do any food restrictions or changes in my eating is because I just enjoy flexibility and honoring whatever I’m craving. It sounds like overall, the Whole 30 has been a great learning experience for you. Thanks for sharing!

  • 27
    ilovefetacheese January 19, 2016, 10:00 am

    Hey Jen! I rarely comment but read your blog regularly.

    You reminded me of when I did whole 30 last year with my crossfit gym. Let me preface my story by saying I had started the paleo diet 2 years prior but was pretty lax about it (did the whole 80/20 eating).

    The whole 30 challenge really messed with me mentally. Suddenly, so much was off limits and “unhealthy”. I made it through the challenge but both my husband and I realized how unsustainable it was (and I guess supposed to be) but also that we didn’t like the paleo “rules” and reading paleo blogs was just making the rule enforcement worse.

    We both quit the paleo diet and the PRESSURE the day after whole 30 was done lol! I actually got a macro coach and it changed my life. Instead of going to restuarants and focusing on low carb, high protein, I was able to eat whatever I wanted again within reasonable portions. I realized how many rules I was putting on myself.

    I think I’m off on a tangent but the point of this is just to say that its important not to get worked up about the rules if they’re messing with your head like they did to me. I became too obsessive. My husband and I look back on those times and can’t believe we bought into the pressure from the coaches at my gym πŸ™‚

    Reading this post just reminded me of how much I hated whole 30 lol!!! I do think the principles are a good refresh for someone with a bad diet, but if you eat pretty healthy most of the time, I’m not sure it’s necessary.

    Best of luck, love your posts!! <3

  • 28
    Sarah Z January 19, 2016, 10:06 am

    I think your approach to Whole30 is spot on! None of us are perfect, and unless you eat every single meal at home for 30 days it is impossible to have a “perfect” Whole30. We are all human. I am on Day 9 and my eating has been 95% compliant but have had slip ups, like eating a piece of an arepa this weekend, homemade solely from water and hand ground fresh corn (I also thought fresh corn was fine and I think the reasons it isn’t are silly) and after going 8 days without Coffeemate (subbing coconut milk from the can) I broke down today and had a drop of vanilla coconut creamer made by SoDelicious that contains a small amount of cane sugar. My one cup of coffee per morning is a sacred ritual for me and I’m sorry but I can’t ruin yet another cup of my Nespresso with tasteless (to me) coconut milk! Did you know that most salsas and chicken/beef broths contain some form of sugar? Even the ones sold at WFs that are 3x the cost of what you find in a mainstream supermarket. Rather than dwelling on the slip ups think about how much fresh produce and meats you have eaten over these past few weeks and how much less sugar you have consumed. Sugar for me is the biggest culprit in my diet, the rest of Whole30 has been similar to my regular eating. On all the blogs you see Whole30ers talking up plantain chips, whereas those are really not fully endorsed on the plan. They are processed, just the same as any other chip. But for some reason they have been accepted into the Whole 30 community. Plantains, fresh and home cooked, are really what the creators of Whole 30 intended to be on plan. Same with dried fruit – sooo much sugar and again not something that should be incorporated in Whole30 everyday. Is a plantain chip or raisin or tiny bit of hidden sugar or butter going to completely sabotage your efforts? Or course not, and isn’t what’s more important the lasting changes you implement AFTER the 30 days are over? Keep up the dedication and thanks for the motivation!

  • 29
    Jordan January 19, 2016, 6:08 pm

    I’m totally with you on this!! I started Whole30 two days ago and have already experienced how difficult it can be – especially when you have to eat out. I have decided not to sweat the small stuff and just try my best to stick to the basic guidelines.

    Did you like the coconut milk in the chia pudding as much as your homemade almond milk?

  • 30
    kate January 20, 2016, 12:59 pm

    i stopped buying most brands of almond milk (same reasons as your note above states the forums were pointing out) and only buy Califa brand. It’s SO much creamier, and wayyyyy less watered down, etc. Also free from carageenan. I know you make your own now, but if you’re in a pinch…most of our HT and WF in SP carries it!

  • 31
    Betsy January 21, 2016, 9:46 am

    I 100% agree with this post. My boyfriend and I are on our second round of whole 30 in as many years. When we did it last year, I was SUPER strict about it and while I had really great results (boosted energy, better sleep, lost about 8 lbs) but it was really time consuming and honestly I was just waiting for it to end. This time around, while we are still following the guidelines, I am not going crazy over every little thing we put in our mouths. I bought bacon from WF last week and I know that there is a minuscule amount of sugar in it, but I could not bring myself to spend the money on the paleo stuff. I’m sure some Whole30 purists would scoff at this, but as long as YOU feel better and are happy with your results, nothing else really matter πŸ™‚

  • 32
    Rachel January 31, 2016, 9:17 pm

    LOVED reading this today!!! I just spent so much time trying to find out if Hilarys eat well dressing is ok on the Whole 30, it is corn free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, gluten free, canola free and xanthan free! IT was the best I could find, I will go to the health food store tomorrow to look for some items I could not find without out additives at the grocery store when me and my husband start this tomorrow. I SO agree with you, we need to do our best and not freak out about every detail, I bought as much organic meat and chicken as I could, but not all of our fruits were organic. I will use pork from the pig we buy from a local Amish farmer! I will do my best, and hopefully feel great at the end of this! Thanks for posting, I needed to hear that I don’t need to be perfect! Anyone know of dressings (that I don’t have to make) that are good???? I understand they only advertise one company, but there has to be more:)

  • 33
    Karen February 12, 2016, 4:04 pm

    Thank you for this post!! I tried my first Whole 30 last month. I quit on Day 17. I made it through the sugar crashes, headaches, and general blahs and actually started feeling better, but the constant worry about going “off plan” put me in the WORST mood. I hated eating. I hated food. I woke up in the morning in tears b/c I had to adhere to the rules for yet another day. (Those 17 days felt like 500). I couldn’t help but think that my attitude about food was just as bad for my health as overindulging in treats. I spent 3 days reading “I Quit Whole 30” stories before deciding to stop. I am reevaluating my schedule, budget, and meal plans to see what I can do in the future that would be healthy and still allow me to maintain my sanity. I’m starting to feel bad physically again, but I’m in a much better mood.

  • 34
    JKS February 14, 2016, 9:04 am

    Doing a Whole30 is very doable. I am on my 3rd (day19) and all of them have been completely compliant. There are “rules” and if you REALLY want perfection, you need to adhere to the rules. Having said that, It is your journey….your whole30….but commitment, sacrifice, planning and dedication is the key to perfection. Doing a Whole30 is not for the weak at heart.

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