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time to start eating like a grownup and healing from old bad behaviors


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As a food writer, cook, and 5 years recovered atypical anorexic/bulimic, food is, naturally, a huge part of my life. Learning to love and enjoy food saved my life-- literally-- but, after a long look at my habits, I realized it's time to clean up shop.


While, sure, I'm seasonal and organic and as local as I can get and I walk about 5 miles for my commute, I am a Diet Coke Head and had grain and/or white potatoes at every meal. Specifically bread. Oh, sweet goodness, bread. I would punch a puppy for a piece of garlic bread right now. Or cornbread with honey butter. Or a nice warm baguette with aged balsamic and a nice California olive oil...


You see my point.


While, on paper, I'm perfectly healthy: I have all the symptoms of PCOS and hypothyroid-- thin, fine hair on my head, a robust lady-mustache, rosacea, chronic fatigue, weird periods, a garbage immune system, anxiety, and a BMI of 39*-- with perfectly normal bloodwork. Combined with my family history of autoimmune and endocrine diseases (MS, Diabetes, Lupus), I know I won't stay "healthy on paper" if I keep up this SAD way of living for long.


To me, the Whole30 represents an opportunity to heal from 24 years of dieting, anorexic/bulimic behaviors (5 years free! turning 30 in Jan.), and the hormonal damage they caused (that have obviously contributed to the symptoms above). Years of work with nutritionists have done amazing things to my mental state and eating habits (Ellyn Satter forever!!), but it's time to up my game. I'm not focused on weight loss-- all bodies are good bodies and, even when I was in the throes of anorexia eating less than 400 calories and running 8 miles a day for months I never had a BMI below 26, so I'm not expecting to ever be able to lose lbs-- but I am excited to see myself get down to a body composition where I feel more athletic, more flexible, and less, well, old. Those full-body photos (from the side. EEEK) were a real eye opener.


What makes it so attractive is that I still get to eat well. Food is important. To me, and in general. It's something to be savored and shared. The respect the guidelines give to what fuels us is what brought me here. 4 days in (late to the forum game!) and I've had nothing but gorgeous meals. Perfect fritattas, my favorite brussels sprouts and green beans, wild Alaskan salmon (for dinner tonight!), moroccan lamb stew, the first salad that I've loved probably ever, and my fair shake of amazing local bacon.


Sleep is going to be a challenge for me. My fiance works until 9pm M-Sat so, if I want to see him for a reasonable amount of time, I gotta stay up until at least 11. I'm working on moving my dinner earlier in the day (but it's gonna be SUCH A BUMMER to not eat together anymore)


-Day 1-

Predictably easy!

Wake: 8:30am

Breakfast 9am : 2 eggs on a bed of greens and peppers, 2 slices of bacon, small portion of pineapple black tea

Lunch 1pm : A small portion of Moroccan Lamb Stew that was so good, I froze the rest for an easy meal on a bad day with a green salad

Dinner 8pm: Split a ribeye with my fiance, green beans, broccoli, and half a sweet potato, with liberal olive oil for cooking

Bed: 10pm


I had some trouble the first night-- crazy for chocolate or french fries. The meal didn't feel "finished" without something crunchy, chip-ish, maillard reaction-y. Roasted sweet potato just wasn't enough. But I just drank some water and went to bed.


-Day 2-

Second puberty??

Wake: reluctantly at 7:00am

Breakfast 7:10am : 2 muffin tin frittatas, 2 slices of bacon

Snack around 10am: banana-- noticed that this made me want to die significantly less.

Lunch: Huge salad with chicken, bacon, broccoli, avocado, peppers, almonds, spinach

Snack around 3pm: Apple-- thought it might have the same keep-me-from-murdering-everything effect and it did!

Dinner 9pm: Chicken with mushrooms in a half-hearted home made stock "gravy" (1tbsp of tapioca starch, just to give it a little "cling"... probably won't do this again), broccoli, greenbeans, lots of ghee and garlic

Bed: 12am


Oh man. I was stinky, popped up 4 zits (I have normally very clear skin other than rosacea redness on my cheeks) including 2 gnarly "undergrounders," had funky breath, and cried reading a work e-mail. 


-Day 3-

Oh this gets.. worse!?

Wake: barely 6:30am

Breakfast 7am: Banana, cashews, coconut chips 2 slices of bacon

Snack: the souls of my coworkers

Lunch 12pm: Round 2 of yesterday's salad plus an apple

Snack around 5pm: 1/2 the portion of sweet potato fries I had prepared for dinner and 1/2 an avocado with garlic powder, salt, and cider vinegar

Dinner 9:30pm: Paleo Crockpot chili stuffed with veggies and green beans

Bed: 10:30pm


o_O hooooly hangover batman. Oh I felt like garbage all day and was angry at EVERYTHING I almost quit. Twice. But then I reminded myself that, if I did that, then I wouldn't be doing myself any favors and that I would have just killed a pound of bacon in 2 days for no personal benefit. On my walk home from work, I started sweating like crazy and thought  I was gonna konk out. While it was an unseasonably warm day, I think it was more a result of low blood sugar and funky electrolytes. I had a salty, fatty, carb-y snack and felt a lot better, though still GRUMPY, and knocked out a bunch of veggie prep for the week  Apparently I'm fighting the sugar dragon, too, despite not having a big sweet tooth. Who knew.


-Day 4-

This could be worse... zzzzzz

Wake: 8am! slept through all my alarms

Breakfast: on-the-go Banana and cashews were all I could grab, didn't have any emergency protein on hand 

Lunch 12 pm: left over Paleo Crockpot Chili with more green beans. I'm done with green beans for a bit

Dinner-- hasn't happen but Wild Atlantic Salmon with lemony, garlic brussels sprouts and mashed cauliflower are all prepped and ready to hit the pan! shooting for an earlier dinner and another early bed


So far today has been great, albeit sleepy. I haven't quite woken up but I'm less mournful of off-plan foods. I'm planning some of those grabby-hands feelings about chocolate again tonight (and now that I type that, there they are), but I was able to write a blog post (I have a non-paleo food blog) about pear cider today without feeling deprived/crazy/etc. Right now, this seems doable again.


Looking forward to updating tomorrow and getting to know all of you better!


*while an imperfect measure. still. Eeeesh!

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Hi - loved reading your own realisations and honesty. Sounds like you're in a good place to start helping your body get healthy, and for you to have a better relationship with food.

Just a few thoughts:

Have you got a copy of the meal template? A few of your meals seem to be missing elements...every meal should have protein, fats and 2-3 cups of vegetables.


You also snack - a lot! This suggests that your meals aren't big enough. I would try increasing your portion sizes at meals and see if this stops the need to eat between meals. If you're still starving, you should have a mini meal of protein, fat and vegies instead of fruit or nuts (or vegies and fat).

Your breakfasts in particular look on the small side - a serve of eggs is as many as you can hold, most people find that's 3-4! If you have frittata or egg muffins, eat enough to get the equivalent of that many eggs unless you've added another protein. Bacon is considered a fat on your whole 30 - check that it's compliant too! No sugar or other nasties. Many people find that a more substantial breakfast will set them up to feel more satisfied throughout the day, moreso than having a small breakfast and trying to make up fruit with a bigger lunch.

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Okay, you are hilarious. I have PCOS as well and that was a big reason I did a Whole30 and have been mostly Paleo since. Good luck on the journey - sounds like you've had a great start and I look forward to watching your journey!

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Y'all are too kind and already super helpful.

Though I feel like my meals (except breakfast today. Life happens.) are pretty on point w the template. Oh we'll. learning curve and something to really focus on the next few days.

Totally on point with the suggestion for bigger breakfasts though. I have been hungry a lot but have not wanted to eat more food. If that makes any sense. I'm not used to sooo much fat and protein (I'm a mostly veggies- and grains- kind of gal with meats every few days. This still feels weird). Just can't choke it all down even though it's good. I just plopped a few of my days into some calorie counter thing to get an idea of macro/micro nutrient breakdowns and I am right on the nose of "conventional" guidelines except for being slightly over in fat, a little under in protein (...HOW?!) and under in total calories. Only can manage about 1900/day when I know my basal (and SAD intake w intuitive eating) is around 2300. That plus my activity I've got almost a 1k deficit. Program wisdom aside, that must be part of why I feel a little goofy and need the snacks.

It just feels WEIRD to eat so much and, I gotta be honest, 1) I don't know what else on plan I could put in my face and 2) I'm a little afraid it will cause fat gain (even though I know these types of foods don't)

Any way. Rambling. Had an early dinner (sorta odd without my bf) and am going to head to bed after a little yoga.

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If you can't eat enough at three meals, perhaps plan 4 meals a day - that is perfectly ok, especially considering you seem to have long days. Many people take a while to get in to te swing of 3 meals - you may find that overtime your appetite increases, or your capacity to eat more food will increase allowing you to cut down to three meals.

Make all 4 meals protein, fat and Vegies. If you want an easy, delicious way to add fat try homemade mayo.... It is the best thing ever and goes on anything from salad to roast vegies, frittata, chili etc :) perhaps try adding some more carb dense vegies too - sweet potato is great, but there's also carrot, butternut, parsnip, pumpkin, turnip etc.

(And stop counting!)

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Amber- you're like, the best. Thanks for great advice. Mayo it is!

Amy- Thanks for the solidarity. it just feels.. WEIRD. super weird. relearning (again) how to feed myself is so strange. 

Roz-- that's a great idea. I ended up just eating early anyway and having a cup of tea while T ate. I got to spend some time with him at the table, but didn't go to bed all undigested. I think that'll be the plan from now on. 


Day 5 is off to a great start.

I've got a huge headache and I'm still a total sleep monster but I'm really loving my cup of black coffee this morning and I feel pretty good. Neigh perky, even.

Last night I had some trouble falling asleep (didn't happen until almost 12:30am despite being EXHAUSTED) and was feeling sorry for myself. But I, in the wallowing, had a thought that's powering me through: "Good grief. You're just eating vegetables. Shut the heck up." Puts it in perspective. I'm giving a little too much power/thought/energy to all of this. I'm not a special birthday princess snowflake, I'm not accomplishing a great feat: I'm just... eating vegetables (and meat and fat!). Being a dang grownup. Paying basic price of admission for having a healthy body. Remembering that makes it seem much, much less daunting-- because, like, really? How daunting is not having a piece of chocolate after dinner. Sheesh.


A huge part of today's perkiness are some early results that I'm seeing. My normally snug jeans? Put them on this morning without unbuttoning them. My engagement ring, formerly a little snug, is now a little bit too big. Had to stop at CVS on my way in to work to get a ring gripper to keep the thing on. Wheat bloat: I am a believer.

Even more dramatically-- my rosacea. I'm normally an irritated, red, painful mess after my shower. Today? Nothing. I hardly even look flushed. Just a little healthy rose in my cheeks. I look like I have a new face. Day 2's second puberty has cleared up. My eyes are bright and clear (and I can now see how PUFFY they had been). My skin is glowing. The little burgeoning crows feet? Poof. Gone. I haven't looked like this in 15 years, before my EDs. 


I know it's premature and this is all probably in my head (or is it?), but it's encouraging. It makes this feel more like a permanent change and less like something I'm going to do for 30 days and feel absolved by my temporary good habits to Scrooge McDuck into a pile of chocolate chip cookies.


Today's biggest challenge: we're out of groceries and pay day's not until tomorrow. After than breakfast, I didn't have anything that i could take for lunch and zero veggies for dinner. How we ate through $200 of meat and produce in 6 days is beyond me. But I guess it makes sense. I used to eat lunch out every. single. day. Seriously. Without exception. I used to order take out at least twice a week for dinner. Sure. it was conventionally healthier choices (um okay maybe not every time...) but still. I need to recalibrate how much food is enough in a grocery trip, or start going multiple times.

Fortunately: there's a great market across the street from my office. Lots of different vendors, all local/organic produce. But it's not quite enough (and too pricy!) to do all of my shopping. I can grab some veg for dinner (have some grass fed lamburgers prepped already).


Mixed bag: my office has just started catering lunch daily. Good stuff too, not cafeteria garbage. Local food trucks, great restaurants. I feel like a big weenie complaining, but it's a little disappointing to not be able to participate (on most days, like Monday when we're getting my favorite soy-filled Asian restaurant)

It looks like today there's grilled chicken and green salad listed as being gluten, soy, and dairy safe. No sauces, and I've got a bottle of compliant homemade vinaigrette in my desk. SO I should be good to go. 


Thanks again to all of y'all for the support. I'll recap tomorrow.

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Early results are awesome!


The grocery budget was a little shocking to me too. I had to tell myself that I don't have to make three new recipes every weekend (all requiring coconut aminos or a big pork roast or whatever, naturally). Keeping it to one new thing and something simple and relatively inexpensive, like burgers or chicken breasts/thighs, for the rest of my weekly cookup has helped me in terms of time and money.


And I love this: "Good grief. You're just eating vegetables. Shut the heck up." Ha! So true!

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I'm telling y'all. Day five is MAGIC.

Quick rundown

Breakfast 7:30am:

Left over cauliflower mash and Brussels from last night and the last of the (compliant!) blueberry pork sausage I made last month. There was enough fat in the mash and sausage, I feel like its true to template without anything extra.

No snack- cauliflower mash feels a little SWYPO but dang is it satisfying finally didn't feel munchy.

Lunch12:00pm: grilled chicken breast, huge spinach salad and cashews (suboptimal but it worked!) took me FOREVER to eat. Had to choke it down. My tummy was hungry but my mouth was so... Not Into It.

Dinner: Goya adobo is compliant! (Per another post. Has an anti caking agent but it's not an -ites, and no msg) it's amazing on roasted cauliflower. Which I had in spades , along with a big wilted kale pepper shallot salad cooked in the fat from my lamburgers and a bunch of ghee. Couple of strawberries and some pineapple, because it was there, at the start of my meal. Also felt like a cheat, but tasted like HEAVEN.

I didn't have time to pop to the market but my friends turned me on to a delivery service that goes to whole foods. Amazing. Even better, my check got deposited a day early. It's like the universe is screaming "yep this is what you need to do, rachel." I snagged enough to get me through tomorrow night, when I can hit the store myself. I also took a little time at work to menu plan for a bit. Spreadsheets make everything better. Have some good breakfast ideas (more mashed cauliflower!! Shakshuka!!).

I feel outstanding. Less achy. I'm nicer. I'm optimistic. I know bad days might come (they always will) but for now, I'm very content and have the tools to deal. Just need to get the whole... Sleeping thing under control. That's been messed up ever since I tended bar, so I bet it will come in time with a little focus.

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Love your posts...and love the disappearance of snacks because if satisfying meals :)

And shakshuka eggs are thes best...I spoon the mix and eggs out onto fresh spinach, or roast big chunks of cauliflower to dip in to the sauce. You could also have it with cauli mash, or cauli rice :)

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Thanks Amber!

You're such an encouragement and great resource!


Day 6 is still great but so sleepy. I had a lot of trouble falling asleep last night, and had a hard time getting out of bed. Ended up falling asleep waiting for the shower to heat up and was too late to eat breakfast!! Have some nuts stashed in my desk and some salad  and chicken left over from yesterday's catered lunch that I can pick on. None of it's a full serving, sadly. Better that than absolutely nothing but, honestly, my appetite is pretty diminished. I'm just not hungry-- still full from last night's amazing dinner. Didn't grab my packed lunch, either, but work around the corner from a Chipotle-- which has removed the soy allergen check box from it's nutrition site!-- so I will soldier on, supplementing with extra veg more nutrient dense than romaine, from the market across the street. I can't remember the last time I'd gone 5 days without grabbing some kind of take out or visiting a restaurant.


Now that I know what to expect from a work week (and have been caught with my proverbial pants down a couple of times) I think I'll be able to better prepare for next week. I need to start stocking some protein (jerkey?) at work, HB some eggs, and get some more containers to have quick 2 cup veg portions. I also need to pick up some avocado oil and get my mayo game in full swing.


Other than being sleepy (and unprepared), I feel amazing. All of Day 5's early results stand. My skin's amazing. Amazing. Better than yesterday. I feel energetic and well nourished. I'm not bloated or puffy. Even more notably than yesterday: my mood has improved so much. I'm perky. I'm cheery. I don't feel self conscious. Maybe it's because I'm actively doing something good for myself, but all the old "tapes" of negativity that used to play are gone. I don't care if this is all in my head or not "real" because it's too dang early in the program to see actual change, but this is amazing. 


In even better news: I came "out" to my fiance about the program last night. I had been hesitant to reveal the full concept, motivations, and rules/regs to him because, with my past ED, I know that any time I talk in a way that sounds like a diet, he gets spooked. Instead, I simply told him "I want to start eating better, not eating out for a while" and he went along with it. Ate what I prepared, did his own things between meals. Last night, while I heated up his dinner, I told him the full plan. And he's so on board. He's ditching the jujubees, sticking to our three meals, and committed to joining me every night on my 2 mile before bed walk with our dog. He's not calling it a Whole30, but he is up for the general lifestyle change and that's just fine with me! I can already see a difference in his face (so much less puffy) and in his energy levels. He's got a significantly more normative body type than I do (handsome farm boy) and he's not got nearly as many autoimmune concerns, but I can't wait to see what happens for him! Maybe he won't be such a gas bag-- haha!

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Could you get tins of fish in oil to have stashed at work for "just in case"? Or take a few HB eggs ? Might be a bit more appetising than jerky ...you'd also have a bit of fat there too, and would just need to add vegies.

Good luck with the mayo! Any reason you're going for avo oil over light tasting olive oil?

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Those are great ideas, amber! Thanks!

One of my best friends is an olive oil producer in CA- once she gave me a treatise on why light oil is garbage. I don't remember the finer points but, the end message stuck with me.

Day six was great other than being sleepy. Ran some errands after work and had a little spring in my step. No struggles or hardships. This isn't without complexities but it is patently Not Hard. Not glamorous or without certain isolating moments, but not at all Hard.

Breakfast: scrapped together leftover chicken and greens with cashews

Lunch: chipotle carnitas (no longer a soy issue!) with lettuce, extra veg from the office, and guac

Dinner: local Italian sausage (no sugar!), sautéed power greens, mushrooms, some tomato sauce and ghee mashed cauliflower. My coworker brought me some homemade cashew milk that I used in the cauli... Won't be doing that again.

No snacks! And I got my hands on some coconut aminos!!!!! YUM! Walking around Whole Foods tonight was a little sad. I def made eyes at the cheese counter for a little too long but wisely avoided the bakery all together. Whole Foods is a lot cheaper when you aren't buying boxes of processed crap. Organic crap, but still crap. I was craving chocolate big time and grabbed some (compliant) cacao tea. I am hoping it will prove to my body it doesn't need the chocolate (because it's obvs gonna be gross) and I can remember that nagging is just my sugar dragon pitching a fit.

I am finding myself very tired of meat. More salmon (a dear friend is a fisherman in Alaska so I have a freezer full of perfect wild sockeye salmon) on the docket for this week but even that feels a little... Hard to chew. I'd love to do just a cauliflower fried rice with lots of veg and a teeny bit of fried egg. But. I will be a good and stick to the template.

Energy, now that I'm on my couch, not wearing pants, watching tv, is Low. Decidedly. And the more I type the less perky I get. I'm a little Meh. Tomorrow is an easy nothing day. Hanging around the house, cleaning, napping, going on a nice long walk, and getting some cooking done for the week ahead. Pot roast, chicken salad, MAYO!, and veggie prep are in the works. Maybe a trip to my favorite Korean spa is in order for a steam and a scrub.

I'm really excited to see if my sleep evens out. Sundays and Mondays, I don't have to deal with Ts very different schedule.

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Day 7.

One week in. I wish I was still all "everything is Coconut Aminos and nothing hurt" but I'm just bored and annoyed. I've tried keeping myself busy in the kitchen, prepping smartly, and turned out some really great staples (avo mayo , slow cooker garlic confit, slow cooker poached chicken breasts) but I just feel cranky.


It's not the same exhausted, frustrated, tantrum-y, wacky blood sugar rage from day 3. More like a fog or malaise. And nothing sounds good when meal time rolls around. It went from being hungry for more but feeling weird about it, to wishing I could eat more but having no appetite.


I slept a little better last night and lazed around until about 9am. After dropping T off at his book store and running a quick errand, I ended up not starting to cook breakfast until 10:30-- and didn't eat it until 11. I'm squeezing in another meal today to make sure I'm with the program and not skipping, but I just don't want to. I've got a batch of NomNomPaleo's cauliflower fried rice (Thanks Roz!!) prepped up. But I cannot imagine chewing another thing. Except for maybe a couple Oreos. Sigh. Not even, like, a lot of Oreos. I'm not a binge-er. But just three, with really, really cold 1% milk from my co-op.


Maybe it was the early results, my type-A too-high expectations, or me just being a GRUMP today, but I feel like my progress is slowing way down (or stopping). I know, intellectually, that somewhere between day 7 and 10 you hit this weird grump ball plateau, but it feels like this gross stagnant feeling is forever.


Suffice to say: I've lost the optimism of earlier this week.


Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash with lots of kale and peppers and shallots, left over roasted cauliflower, a half portion of sage pork sausage, an admittedly perfected sunny egg, a little dollop of mayo and about half a bottle of cholula.

Planned Lunch: cauliflower fried rice with eggs and a little bacon

Planned Dinner: Salmon and brussels sprouts with roasted delicata squash and ghee.

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Sounds like you're right on schedule.


Also - bear in mind that your physical hunger cues are changing.  You won't have desperate growly tummy hunger feelings anymore.  You may start to notice that when you feel grumpy and out of sorts and mentally foggy, that these are your new hunger cues.


So - in other words, don't wait for your tummy to rumble anymore.  Once you start feeling that malaise, you're feeling a new kind of hunger cue.  I am totally just guessing here, but I expect that this is why this feeling hits on days 7-10.  Your body has adjusted enough to good food that your hunger cues are shifting.  But it can take a while before you start to read your new hunger cues correctly, and in the meantime, you may just find you want to, as they say, "kill all the things."


Moral of the story: eat up!  (Also, I'm not a cook or a foodie or anything, so my meals would probably bore or even appall you :lol: , but just make sure you've got some protein, some fat, and some veggies, including starchy veggies, and chow down.  Don't try to get fancy when you're in this phase.  You can get fancy again when you're ready.) :wub:

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Hang in there!  I can laugh now about the day I was angry at my breakfast because it felt like such.a.chore.  Oh, and dinner sized salads are too much of a commitment--they do take forever to eat! That is when I backed off the eggs and early morning prep for a few days and ate leftovers instead.  I tend to cook simple dinners-hunk of beef roast or pork in the crockpot or broiled fish/chicken, add a microwaved or baked sweet potato/butternut squash, steamed/stir fried vegetables and a fat portion (I usually go with avocado).   I don't believe I have prepared one recipe other than homemade mayo and took the suggestion of adding coconut milk to slaw...not that there is anything wrong with that, but for this to work for me, it has to be SIMPLE. I believe your enthusiasm will return!



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You guys are, seriously, the best.



The good news? Cauliflower fried rice is freaking awesome. Then a 4 mile walk with the dog and squats/weights at home set my head straight. It was rough going at first-- I hadn't done anything other than my walk to and from the office since day 1, and I felt supernaturally creaky in my joints, my legs felt like lead. But, about 2mi, I felt great. I'm not back to the magic of the last few days, but I feel like a human again.


I'm not sure if the type of "working out" I do qualifies me for post W.O meals. It's a work out to me, but it's not terribly intense. Just walking and , 3-4 days a week I do 20 minutes of hand weights (max 5lbs), crunches, squats, push ups, and whatever other gym class-style calisthenics I fancy. I'm thinking it doesn't but, at least, it got me hungry for dinner.


I'm definitely K.I.S.S. this week in terms of cooking. I do love tinkering in the kitchen, though, and, despite having the grumps and not wanting to eat anything, had a little fun messing about and getting myself ready to have easy food all week. The garlic confit is going to make my life seriously easy. Instead of peeling and chopping stuff to get that little extra flavor at every meal, I just have to grab a tender little nugget garlicky goodness. I'm also pretty into the poaching stock from my chicken and excited to make a veggie soup later this week-- also might see how it works to mash up a little cauliflower.



Day 7 actual log

Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash with lots of kale and peppers and shallots, left over roasted cauliflower, a half portion of sage pork sausage, an admittedly perfected sunny egg, a little dollop of mayo and about half a bottle of cholula.

Lunch: Nom Nom Paleo Cauliflower fried rice with chicken 

Dinner: Repeat of lunch with some peppermint tea and half an avocado

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Also - bear in mind that your physical hunger cues are changing. You won't have desperate growly tummy hunger feelings anymore. You may start to notice that when you feel grumpy and out of sorts and mentally foggy, that these are your new hunger cues.

Well said! I've been noticing this lately. Never seen it explained until now.

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