So today I wanted to share my experience with Whole30 as a vegan this far since I’m now officially well over HALF WAY DONE! Yes, you read that right, I’ve got a whole 22 days under my belt and it feels great!
A little background!
First, I know that Whole30 is typically a high protein, low carb thing and you probably wouldn’t expect a vegan to give it a go, but before I went vegan I had been wanting to try Whole30 for a long time but never had the courage to tackle something that seemed so huge to me. After struggling a lot last month with binge eating, especially on sugary treats, I decided it was time for me to do something “hard” and really challenge myself, as well as get myself back on track with my nutrition. So, I finally decided that now would be a good time for me to start Whole30, and at this point I’m so glad I did!
What do I hope to gain from doing Whole30?
One of the major things I hope to get out of doing Whole30 is to gain a better relationship with food and to understand and train myself that food is fuel and not something to use to help me feel better after and during a stressful day. After 22 days of doing Whole30 I have been doing so much better with controlling the urge to want to snack 24/7 and I have to say it is making me feel so much better about myself!
Another thing I hope to get from Whole30 is to figure out what is causing my intense stomach pains that I get quite often. I’m hoping that by eliminating so many things from my diet, that when I slowly reintroduce them back into my diet I can figure out what these triggers are. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that one!
What do I eat and how do I get my protein?
I’m currently reading the book The China Study and in it Dr. T Colin Campbell talks about how we actually only need 10% protein in our diets to be healthy. So you don’t actually need as much protein as you think you do or as much as society tells you that you need. Anyways, on Whole30.com there are shopping lists and there is actually one for vegetarians/vegans, which is what I’ve been using to figure out what to buy and where I can get my protein from. In the vegetarian/vegan shopping list, you are actually allowed to have edamame, tempeh, lentils, some beans, and organic extra firm tofu. These items are off limits on the meat eaters shopping list. So to get my protein needs I have been eating a lot of edamame, tofu, some beans, and nuts and seeds. Of course I also get protein from other plant based sources as well, like vegetables, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens.
Here are some of the foods that I’ve been eating:
– Tofu scrambled with spinach and a side of sweet potato or/and steamed broccoli
– Steamed broccoli and roasted sweet potato
– If I’m rushing I’ll have a berry and spinach smoothie (frozen mixed berries, 1/2 banana, huge handful of spinach, flitered water).
– Sweet potato hash and tofu and spinach scramble
– Oatless oatmeal
– Cauliflower rice with edamame and cashew pieces, steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots, snow peas), and Coconut Secret Organic Raw Aminos .
– Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with roasted sweet potato.
– Spaghetti squash with homemade tomato and tofu sauce.
– Butternut squash soup
– Burrito bowl with scrambled tofu, black beans, homemade pico de gallo, avocado, hot sauce, lime, and cauliflower cilantro lime “rice”
– Spaghetti squash with homemade tomato and tofu sauce*
– Butternut squash soup with steamed green beans
– sautéed snow peas with zucchini and carrot “noodles”, edamame, cashew pieces, apple, and coconut aminos.
– Plantain nachos**
– Sweet potato fries and roasted veggies
– Taco salad with plantain chips, chopped romaine, homemade pico de gallo, avocado, lime, cilantro, scrambled tofu, black beans, and hot sauce
– Golden delicious apple with almond butter
– Banana Smoothie (use almond butter instead of peanut butter)
– A small handful of Trader Joe’s 50% Less Salt Dry Roasted Almonds
– An orange or mandarin
– Banana with cinnamon
– Monkey salad (sliced banana and strawberries with cinnamon, almond butter, sliced almonds, and hemp seed hearts)
* For the tomato and tofu sauce I roast about 6-8 roma tomatoes with 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4-1/2 yellow onion, basil, oregano, garlic and herb seasoning, salt and pepper, and about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. I roast those at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes. While everything is roasting I crumble about 1/2 block of organic extra firm tofu in a frying pan with 1/2-1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and about 1/2-1 cup of mushrooms and fry that until they tofu is a light golden brown and the mushrooms have fully sautéed. Once the roasting is done, allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then blend it all together (a blender works well). Add the blended tomato mixture to the tofu and mushrooms and allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes. I also like to add 1-2 cans of diced tomatoes to the sauce while it’s simmering as well.
** I made homemade plantain chips and topped them with black beans, guac, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion, chopped jalapeños and red onion, and Whole30 compliant hot sauce. So delicious!
How do I feel and am I noticing any positive changes?
The first week of Whole30 was actually really easy. My mom, sister, and aunt came into town on Wednesday (I had started Whole30 that Monday) for a LDS event called Women’s Conference. If you have never heard of Women’s Conference as I’m sure you haven’t, it’s a huge event for (15 thousand) LDS women that come together to listen to speakers and take classes over a period of two days. My mom and sister purchased me a ticket because they wanted me and Indie to spend the day there with them, so that meant I had to be extra prepared to face all of the treats that were around every corner. And I’m talking like huge brownies, candy, ice cream, fast food, doughnuts, and almost no options anywhere of just plain old fruit and veggies. Anyways, I planned for those days and surprisingly wasn’t too tempted by all of the treats. I made it through that and the rest of the time my family was in town without too much trouble and barely any noticeable Whole30 detox symptoms. So I thought I just lucked out of the dreaded side effects of doing Whole30, but man was I wrong.
Which brings me to week 2. Week 2 was no walk in the park. The fatigue hit me hard. The moodiness hit me hard. And oddly enough, nausea also hit me hard. One of the days that week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday, I could barely do anything all day other than lay around because I was that tired. I haven’t been that exhausted since I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I wasn’t quite as tired as that the days after (until about Saturday), but I was still extremely exhausted. On top of being extra tired, I was extra moody. Like, happy one moment and then pissed the next kind of moody, which lasted a few days. The last thing I struggled with was absolutely loving one of my go to meals one day and then barely being able to stomach it the next day. I had several times were I couldn’t even finish my food because I was feeling pretty nauseous. So weird.
Anyways, week 3 thankfully was MUCH better. My energy levels were normal or maybe even slightly higher than normal and I was generally in a good mood all week. I had lots of strength and energy for my workouts and overall I just felt great all week! I was definitely feeling the amazing “Tiger Blood” of having my energy back, feeling awesome, and ultimately feeling like I could do the Whole30 forever! Even though the week was great and I felt amazing, I got to the weekend where my good intentions go to die and I couldn’t stop eating. This usually happens to me when I’m stressed, bored, or both. That pretty much lasted until last night (thanks to a cranky baby causing me to stress eat my heart out all day), but thankfully today has been better and I am back on track with limited snacking (I’m not perfect, alright!) and three big planned meals. I’m not sure why this is and maybe it is from constantly snacking and over eating all weekend, but yesterday I woke up feeling like I felt on week 2: tired and moody. I am also feeling the same way today and it really is just the worst and definitely not how I expected my final week of Whole30 to start off. I’m hoping that with my proper nutrition today and some good sleep tonight, by tomorrow I’ll be feeling Tiger Blood again and will be ready to finish out this last week of Whole30 on a super strong, happy, and energized note!
What are some of the positive changes I’ve noticed so far?
Almost immediately after staring Whole30 my confidence levels increased significantly. I don’t know why that is, other than there is just something about doing something challenging that makes you feel like a total girl boss. I’ve also noticed less bloating during the day, which is a huge YAY for me because that is something I’ve really been struggling a lot with over the past few months.
As I just talked about, I also experienced one good week of Tiger Blood, which was amazing and I’m hoping for that return of energy soon!
Has quitting sugar been a challenge so far?
Quitting sugar has actually not been that difficult for me. When I commit to something, I usually don’t find anything outside of the guidelines (sugar, bread, rice, etc) that hard for me to resist, which is actually a huge blessing because I can’t imagine being tempted by the things in my household all the time (my husband is completely addicted to sugar). It has been 22 days now that I haven’t had ANY sugar besides from fruit and all I can say is bring on the next 8 days! I’m excited for when I finish Whole30 because I’m planning on using this self control and momentum to continue to LIMIT sugar in my life as much as possible for as long as possible because it is no secret that eating less sugar makes you feel WAY better. Physically and mentally, folks.
To sum things up, my 22 days of Whole30 this far have had their ups and have had their downs, but I’m feeling great for sticking with the program and making this work for me even though I’m vegan. I’ve had a few ladies ask me how I’m able to do it while being vegan and my answer to them would be just you do it. Research, plan, and prepare and it will work for you just like it has been working for me and you will feel so great that you did something that people doubt is possible! And as cheesy and it sounds, if I can do it, YOU CAN TOO!
Anyways, I will for sure do another update at the end of my Whole30 journey and let you all know how the final week went for me! And as always, thanks for reading!