Eating healthy while on vacation is absolutely a challenge. For me it’s so hard to pass up the opportunity to try new things. Back in April on a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, I made a point to cook a healthy (Whole 30-compliant) meal. Inspired by Florida flavors, I made coconut shrimp with an avocado-lime slaw. I love this dish because it has a great balance of protein, healthy fat and nutrient-dense vegetables. To cut down on cooking time I bought a pre-made slaw mix and just made the dressing. Simplicity is key when cooking in someone else’s kitchen.
A little two years ago I started hearing a lot of buzz about a diet called Whole 30. Well, diet is the wrong word. Whole 30 is less of a diet and more of a reset button on eating habits. This reset button comes with non-scale victories like clearer skin, better sleep, more energy, etc. After researching the diet I decided to give it a try. After all, it’s only 30 days. My boyfriend and I were looking for some antidote to months of feeling pudgy and sluggish. I won’t go over all the specific rules of the diet, because all the information is available on the Whole 30 website.
At first I tried to do it without eating meat – only limited fish – but quickly caved and started to add some meat to the diet. This was tough for me because I have avoided meat for the past several years of my life. The key thing for me was that the diet embraces responsibly sourced protein which I feel less guilty about eating. The main reason I stopped eating meat was because I do not believe in factory farming because of it’s negative effects on the environment, the animals, and the people working in that industry.
On my second go around I feel much more prepared and I know how to combat the obstacles that make this diet difficult. I recommend doing Whole 30 with a buddy. It is nice to be accountable to and share meal ideas with someone. Another thing that helped me was keeping a journal of my experience. I used the App Day One 2 to track my meals, moods, sleep, and how my body was responding the the changes in my diet. I tried to take a picture of every meal, snack, cup of coffee, etc. that I ate. This was great because if I didn’t know what to make myself I could just flip through my pictures until I saw something that looked good. And the essential thing, I found, to successfully completing this diet is planning and cooking in advance. Cooking Whole 30 compliant meals can be tough. There is a lot of chopping, marinading, roasting, shopping, prepping involved in cooking all fresh foods. Last but not least: guacamole. on. everything.
The best unintended result of Whole 30 was that it helped me develop my cooking skills. Cooking has probably become my favorite hobby over the past two years and this really pushed me outside of my cooking comfort zone. I saw it as a challenge and found the constraints helped me be even more creative.
A typical day.
I usually start my day with an egg, a salad of mixed greens dressed with salt, pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil, and a smoothie (they say not really to have smoothies but I think mine is okay!) of spinach, coconut milk and a few pineapple and orange chunks (I think the smoothie is acceptable because it is mostly spinach and the coconut milk is my breakfast fat). Once I got sick of eggs I started making coconut-almond crusted chicken nuggets to have with salad for breakfast. Sometimes I also ate diced roasted potatoes or other vegetables on the side like peppers and onions or something. I also always have at least one espresso or cup of coffee to start my day. I’m absolutely not ready to ditch caffeine.
Eating lunch and dinner at a regular time can sometimes be difficult because I typically work from 1-10. Usually I pack lunch and dinner eating lunch at 3 and dinner around 6 or 6:30. This is usually some combination of salads, protein, soups, fruit, and vegetables which I prep ahead and take. Usually I eat the soup at 3 and eat the salad, protein and fruit during the evening break. I definitely mix it up and bring a ton of food to work so I’m not tempted by break room snacks or baked goods at coffee shops. Here are some of the meals I packed:
Shrimp fajitas over a salad dressed with a wedge of lime, guacamole on the side and some fruit
Spinach and chicken dressed with a squeeze of lime, broccoli, guacamole, sliced strawberries and kiwi, sparkling water
a small salad, sliced strawberries, chicken soup, sparkling water
Dinners at home I tried to make fancy and fun whenever I had the time. This was great and the meals were some of the best dinners we ever made. My favorite was probably salmon with a side salad – simple but delicious. We also made a great dish with cod, steak and potatoes, and hamburgers without the bun. Whatever we had time to cook. Here are some memorable dinners:
Salmon, half of a baked potato, salad
salad, cod with a lemon-herb sauce, baked potato with leeks
chicken breast, guacamole, salad, cooked carrots
steak, salad, sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, onion, and guacamole
While it could be challenging at times, I ate some of the best food of my life during Whole 30. I’m so excited for my second time around this month. I’ll continue to post updates, tips, recipes, etc. during this month. If you want even more content on my Whole 30 follow me on instagram (@ingeboooo) I post each meal to my Instagram story.