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Healthy Eating, Healthy Living

I Traded Vegetarian Food for Whole30: Here’s What Happened

March 3, 2020

I don’t know if I was just bored of my vegetarian lifestyle or nursing an intense craving for chicken, but a few weeks back I floated an idea to Sam, one of our registered dietitians. What if I traded vegetarianism for Whole30 and wrote about how it went?

Her eyes lit up. So together we made a plan. I would start on January 31 and end February 29 — a full 30 days. I swapped tofu for beef, rice noodles for zoodles, and sugar for dates. Here’s how it went.

Whole30 Week One

Let me just go ahead and preface — this week was by far the one where the most mistakes were made. I accidentally ate brussels sprouts that were sprinkled in parmesan. I tried to go to restaurants that were beef-laden, only to find that chefs cooked in canola or vegetable oil (it’s surprisingly common). I would watch my friends eat popcorn, my eyes wider than my stomach. I had my husband hold up cheese to my nose so I could smell it. 

It was intense. But I had a plan of action. I stocked up on all of Snap’s Whole30-approved meals, loaded up on kombucha and grabbed dried fruit snacks. I also bought an Instant Pot, loaded up on Yellowbird’s Organic (and Whole30-approved!) sauce, printed off some Whole30 recipes, and got to work. My first recipe was a minestrone soup made with chicken, Fond Bone Broth, tons of veggies like chopped carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, thyme, salt, pepper, and two whole chicken breasts. The works. An Instant Pot of this soup lasted me nearly the entire week. It was absolutely delicious. And with a little bit of Yellowbird Habanero Sauce, it had the perfect kick to it.

For breakfast, I was loading up on fruit and felt intensely hungry by 10 am. Sam told me I needed to add more fats, like avocados and almond butter, and more protein, like eggs. So I did, and I was full until lunchtime!

Whole30 Week Two

I’ve already started to get grossed out by meat, and it’s making my stomach feel more inflamed than ever. But it had been seven years since I ate meat regularly, so I anticipated this happening. I did what I could to make it appear less meaty — I shredded it up, hid it among veggies, put it in lettuce cups covered in coconut aminos. But my mind still knew. 

I pressed on. It’s definitely extremely difficult to switch my entire mindset from one lifestyle to another, but I’m starting to get the hang of it and it’s not so bad this week! 

I know I sound like an ad when I say this, but I mean it: the only thing saving me is knowing I can just grab a meal from Snap when I’m too busy or tired or just don’t feel like cooking. I truly don’t know what I would have done without it.

Additionally, I had a huge sugar addiction going into Whole30, so I was also anticipating some withdrawals. But as of this week, I’ve experienced none of the symptoms. No fatigue, no major cravings…I was more alert and awake during the day, and my energy was more consistent, which helped me to get stuff done. Consider me pleasantly surprised!

Whole30 Week Three

As they say, there’s never a good time for bad news. But this bad news had me driving from Austin to Dallas to be with family for the weekend. This meant that I had to bring a bag of my own usual foods — almond butter, Yellowbird Serrano Sauce, bananas, dried mango, avocados.

Lucky for me, my brother is a thoughtful chef and cooked a batch of modified eggplant “parmesan” special for me. Breaded in almond flour and an egg, fried in olive oil and topped with sugar-free spaghetti sauce (homemade — my family has the best recipe!). He threw it in the oven on broil for five minutes and it was ready. Still steaming, he sprinkled some basil on top and I immediately dove in. I felt like I could taste every flavor. So much so that I asked him “what is this delicious seasoning you put on top?!” thinking it was some special concoction. “It’s basil — haven’t you had that a thousand times now?” It tasted completely different, layered, textured…I could go on. It was one of the most innovative meals I had the entire time.

But bad news is still bad news, and while we all sat around the kitchen table later that evening sharing stories, they drank sips of wine and I joined them, putting some kombucha into a wine glass to feel like I was participating. It helped, but I was still missing the taste of a good red.

Whole30 Week Four

It has become second nature. For breakfast, I eat one banana and two scoops of almond butter every day. If I have time to Instant Pot on the weekends, then I will, but mostly throughout this experiment, I’ve been relying on Snap to get me through. I could make combinations out of our whole30 Approved dishes, but my absolute favorite was the pork green chile.

My friends would ask if I was doing this with the goal to see how I fared when relying on Snap for Whole30 — but no. I craved Snap the entire time. It helped me with portion control and managed my cravings in totally unique, Whole30 Approved ways. It made Whole30 cooking easy — which was no feat considering it had been years since I last cooked chicken.

At the end of the day, Whole30 was a delicious, surprising dietary reset. I found a new favorite breakfast that isn’t just oatmeal or sugary cereal (it turns out I love almond butter, who knew?!), and found out that sometimes your body just craves meat, and that’s okay. My favorite part of this experiment though was going one full month without the scale. I missed it, I wanted to know if I was gaining or losing. But gaining or losing isn’t the point of Whole30 — resetting your habits around food and your health is. So I had to learn to trust my body, listen to it tell me when it was full, when it was hungry and practice being more mindful with myself. It was a huge learning experience. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely — except next time I might find more meatless recipes to get me through the rough patches.

Ready to try Whole30 and reset your lifestyle? Check out our Whole30 Approved menu today and get started!

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