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Starting again with food (18 February)


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After a week or so of floundering “should I really do this again”? I’ve decided to start a whole 30 for Lent, starting Wednesday and joining the Lent group (hello!). It’s actually going to be 46 days until Easter but I’m going to complete the 30 days and use the next 16 for reintros (which I didn’t complete quite as carefully as I should have last time round).


I’m 32, live in London, work in an office with a long commute, live with my boyfriend and cat. My starting position is that I’m definitely podgier than I’d like to be, my face is suffering from blackheads and breakouts and I’m tired, grumpy and irritable, especially at work. (Kill All The Things seems to be my standard mood!) I have little energy or motivation for exercise but have got myself out for a couple of runs recently and just ordered a new pair of trainers to help motivate.


I did my first whole 30 in July/August last year and mostly found it easy and enjoyable (although just cut it short by eating crisps on day 30). Since then I’ve had a difficult time riding my own bike and what should have remained rare indulgences have become regular habits.


Sugar cravings have been out of control since Christmas. I moved in with my boyfriend in November and since then, late evening snacking/binging has been less or a problem (I don’t problem eat if there’s anyone else around) but the time between leaving work and having dinner has become a time of picking up a sweet treat or two on the way home and then mindlessly snacking from cupboards before or while preparing dinner. So that has to change.


Other good habits haven’t completely gone out of the window. I still eat a lot of vegetables and try to make sure there’s a portion of protein at every meal. I don’t eat at my desk or in front of the TV. I haven’t started eating bread or pasta as a staple. I don’t normally drink alcohol at all during the week and not always at the weekend, either.


As well as following the standard rules, I’ve given up drinking coffee for a while and will try to stick to no more than two cups of caffeinated tea per day (both before noon) to see if that helps with sleep. My sleep is generally fine but during my last whole 30 there were some problems with it.


So roll on Wednesday – I’m ready! I’ve got on the scale for the last time and my official starting weight is 63kg. Seem to have misplaced my measuring tape in the move but will have a look this evening. I didn’t measure inches lost last time so would be keen to do it this time round. Above all I know if I stick with the programme I will feel better and that's what I want.

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Hello Hutlifr, nice to see a familiar face! Hello ChiggerCane and good luck to us on mood improvement!


Today I'm happy to be on the programme. Feels good to have started again.


Day 1


Meal 1: 3 boiled eggs, cooked spinach with ghee, half an avocado, a sweet potato wedge, a black tea.

Meal 2: Smoked mackerel, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, olives, a couple of carrot and celery sticks.

Mini meal (not calling it a snack): Carrot and celery sticks

Meal 3 (very late): Chicken in broth with coconut milk, lime, coriander, a couple of sweet potato wedges.


No exercise except walking around but ate my lunch out in the sun. It's not warm but it's nice to see some sunlight.


Evening meal was VERY late. Didn't leave the pub until quarter to ten and wasn't home until quarter past. Should have eaten the sardines beforehand too but didn't want them at the time. Was very grumpy, cold and hungry, and having sat in a pub for hours sipping fizzy water while others drank beer didn't help. It's fine not drinking but not always fun, or maybe I just wasn't in a good mood anyway. Good to see our friend who we only see a couple of times a year though. 

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Day 2

Had another dream last night where I was eating non-compliant things, this time chocolate. This happened constantly first time round, so not surprised. No daytime cravings but they all come out at night!


Feel fine today, thought I might have caught a cold from getting chilled on the way home last night but the hot broth before bed probably helped.


M1: 3 boiled eggs, spinach with ghee, ¼ avocado, a large sweet potato wedge. A cup of chicken broth with coconut milk.  A black tea.

M2:  be salad of smoked mackerel, roast cauliflower, roast broccoli, sweet potato, olives, carrot sticks.

M3:  be Ethiopian spiced ground beef and cabbage, carrots and potatoes with niter kibbeh.

Couldn't quite stop myself from picking at the leftovers a little bit as I was putting them away.


The man who sits next to me at work bought me a chocolate chip cookie. I declined, possibly not even as politely as I should have, because I was so surprised by it; he doesn't normally offer me food. I'd like to think I would have declined it even if not on whole 30. Shop cookies aren't worth it. I haven't explained about the whole 30 at work, I did say to some people I've given up sweets for Lent. I'll start by saying "no thanks" and will get further into it only if questioned.


No workout.


No caffeinated tea after midday was fine yesterday. New favourite evening drink is earl grey rooibos. So nice! Not bitter like black tea, either.


Got my new running shoes! Will try them on Saturday.

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Day 3


More dreams of eating off plan food. Some kind of a chocolate mousse type thing wrapped in a pancake kind of thing. Not even real food now! Also dreamt that people were handing out free ice creams at a train station and I didn't have one.


A bit gassy this morning. Cabbage sometimes does that to me.


M1: 3-egg omelette, spinach with ghee, quarter of an avocado, two sweet potato wedges.

M2: salad of smoked mackerel, roasted cauli and broccoli, sweet potato pieces, olives.

M3: leftover ethiopian beef and vegetables from last night.


My boyfriend's childhood best friend is coming to visit this evening. He's a nice guy but makes me nervous by being very cool and a genuine artist and not someone like me who gave up on art after university and instead got a boring office job, so I'm quite awkward about hanging out with him. Also BF and friend will be drinking and I won't. That's fine. I'll feel better tomorrow than they will and I'll go for a run in my new shoes.

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Day 4


Pre-W/O: a chicken thigh

Workout was an easy 40min run/walk and probably didnt necessarily require food beforehand but I was a bit hungry.


M1: 3 boiled eggs, sweet potato wedges.

M2: Ethiopian beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, spinach, a small blood orange.

M3: pan-fried lamb's liver with spices, onions, leeks and swede.


Have had a real craving for coffee today for the first time since I stopped drinking it (about three weeks ago).


Didn't sleep very well at night - cat kept making noise and waking me up. Had a late afternoon nap to compensate.


The timeline has been easy on me so far... no hangover on days 2-3 and no desire to kill anything today.

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Yes, it was fine - BF and his friend had a few beers, I was happily drinking my roiibos tea, no problem whatsoever. It was easier at home than in the pub the other night I think, since tea is what I most often drink at home anyway. Had a nice evening.

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Day 5

M1: Bolognaise sauce, an apple, almonds

Post-w/o: A small sweet potato, a poached egg

M2: 3 fried eggs with swede and leeks

Snack: apple slices with sunbutter

M3: conchita pibil with a cabbage, carrot and pineapple slaw, lime dressing, pumpkin seeds, half an avocado, pink onions.


Went to the little park nearby to try to do hill sprints but it's just too muddy - can't run on the grass, feet keep slipping. I don't really want to do sprints on the paved paths because it's too hard for my feet in barefoot shoes. So I did a couple of sprints on the path, came home, did a bodyweight workout.


Might look into joining the gym. I walk past one on my way to and from to the train station every day so it's very conveniently located. I really like exercising outdoors but have done barely any running this winter as it always seems to be too cold, dark, rainy or muddy. Would be good to have the option of an indoors exercise class or a nice morning swim.


We now have a new powerful wet and dry spice grinder so I'm going to try to make sunbutter and then sunshine sauce. It grinds coffee too, which makes me want to make coffee. Funny that I didn't really miss coffee at all for weeks, but the cravings are coming through now - maybe because I've reduced the amount of caffeine from tea?


Made sunbutter and the snack was really just because I wanted to try it with something, not because I was particularly hungry. I like it but I don't think it's an out of control food for me, at least not unsweetened (I imagine with some honey in it it would be dangerous!).

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Day 6


Had dreams of eating compliant food for a change, so I suppose that’s progress! Hot smoked salmon, some kind of meat stew and prawn ceviche. Very tasty it was, too.


Good sleep and woke up well rested.


M1: 3 boiled eggs with spinach and swede with ghee, a black tea.

M2: Bolognese sauce, olives, cucumber sticks

M3: conchita pibil (which seems to actually be almost exactly the same as slow cooker carnitas), cabbage, carrot and pineapple salad, pink onions, a sweet potato, half an avocado.


Need to go shopping for more vegetables, the cupboard is nearly bare. All I have left is potatoes, sweet potatoes and celery. Was hoping to do a big supermarket shop yesterday but the weather was so cold and miserable all afternoon I couldn't make myself go to the shops. 


Big supermarket delivery now ordered for Wednesday night. Feel better already now that provisions are on their way, although I still need to pick up a few things on my way home today. This week I'm going to cook leek meatballs from the Ottolenghi book, chocolate slow cooker chilli, a poached chicken to eat with veg and sunshine sauce, chipotle paste to have with onions, peppers and eggs in the mornings next week (to take a break from the spinach) and fivespice-flavoured turkey meatballs to go with a red cabbage salad.


Going to a Hungarian goulash party on Saturday. The goulash will probably have flour or wine in it so I'd best bring something of my own - thinking of making something like Hungarian flavoured meatballs and a cucumber salad. 

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Day 7

Woke up earlier than usual and got up to make lunch.

M1: 3 boiled eggs, cooked spinach, roasted plum tomatoes, half an avocado. A black tea.

M2: sardines, potatoes, red pepper and lettuce with romesco sauce (pureed roasted peppers, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, olive oil, vinegar). (Delicious!)

M3: bolognese sauce, olives, mushrooms, shredded lettuce. A blood orange.


Might be going out for dinner on Friday here. I'm going to email to ask if the ceviche has any added sugar or alcohol. If it does, might have to cancel, as that's the most promising part of the menu. Eating in restaurants is the worst part of a whole 30 and I avoided it completely last time. To be honest, I have a hard time believing anything in a restaurant is compliant, considering how difficult it is to buy things in a supermarket where you can see the list of ingredients!


End of the day, feeling tired and a bit unmotivated as per post below but will stay with the programme. First week is done.

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Having a bit of a motivational wobble over the possible restaurant dinner on Friday and the goulash party on Saturday.


I was prepared to deal with the party by bringing my own food, but the restaurant is one I’ve wanted to go to for a while and don’t really want my menu choice to be dictated solely by what I’m not eating at the moment. It’s a pretty paleo-friendly menu and I think there are a couple of dishes which would be OK, but can’t be sure. I’ve emailed them to ask. Now I’m even thinking I should just go to the party and eat the goulash which may even be compliant anyway, but again I can’t be sure unless I interrogate the person cooking (whom I don’t know).


I’m wondering whether to either downgrade from a whole 30 to a “best-effort paleo” Lent; or start again from day 1 on Sunday if I’ve eaten anything non-compliant.


Staying off grains, snacks, sweet stuff and alcohol whatever I do, but just wondering if it’s worth stressing about things like possible tiny amounts of added sugar or alcohol in sauces or marinades, or that the person cooking the goulash may have used a stock cube or thickened with a bit of flour.


Am I deluding myself in thinking these kinds of small things aren’t the problem for me – that the problem is the actual sweet stuff and snacking? And that therefore there isn’t much to be gained from being strict if it stresses me out? That’s not the way I want to eat long term.


Anyway, staying with the programme for now and will try to think this through.

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I wouldn't go to the restaurant. This isn't long term, it's 30 days. The restaurant food is highly unlikely to be compliant and even if you find something that is I bet it won't be what you *want*. I'd skip it and book a table for when you finish your whole 30. And truly look forward to and enjoy it.

And I'd eat before going or take my own food to the goulash party. I'm on a strict exclusion diet, sorry and thanks, no it's only 30 days, I'll have a sparkling water thanks. In fact, I brought my own.

There's always a reason to break your plan if you look for one. I don't do starting over.

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Thanks for the tough talk Hannlib! I think I will do that and get through the weekend on plan. It's frustrating because I could see it would be possible to be 95% compliant on both those occasions with very little effort, whereas 100% compliant will involve effort. Just need to tell myself it's worth the effort.


I really want to get into such good habits that I never have to do a whole 30 again. The principles are what I want to continue to live with; the strict rules, not so. So that's a reason to complete the programme properly, do the reintros properly and then work to sustain the good habits.


Day 8

M1: 2 boiled eggs, half a portion of bolognese sauce, cooked spinach, half an avocado. A black tea.

M2: sardines, potatoes, red pepper and lettuce with romesco sauce (red pepper, tomato, almonds, olive oil, vinegar). Will monitor whether this causes indigestion again in the afternoon (if so, suspect the raw red pepper, if not, it may be that I didn't wash the lettuce properly yesterday). NOTE: no indigestion but I took the time to chew my food properly and went for a walk after eating.

M3: pink salmon in chraimeh sauce (garlic spice paste, tomato puree, lemon juice), roast cauliflower with sultanas, a small sweet potato, a blood orange.


Big food shop arriving this evening.


Woke up earlier than usual again and couldn't get back to sleep after 6. If the weather had been better I might have gone for a run but the look of the cold rain put me off. Looking forward to spring mornings when it's nice to get up early and exercise outdoors.


Bit tired, a bit bloated in the evening. Ready to have another early night. Making some chipotle paste to have with eggs for breakfast, to make a change from the spinach.

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Thanks for the tough talk Hannlib! I think I will do that and get through the weekend on plan. It's frustrating because I could see it would be possible to be 95% compliant on both those occasions with very little effort, whereas 100% compliant will involve effort. Just need to tell myself it's worth the effort.


I really want to get into such good habits that I never have to do a whole 30 again. The principles are what I want to continue to live with; the strict rules, not so. So that's a reason to complete the programme properly, do the reintros properly and then work to sustain the good habits.


Exactly! The way I see it is that friends, restaurants, parties, chocolate (!) will all still be there at the end of your programme. And you can indulge, or not, as you choose, and enjoy it to the full either way :-)

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Day 9

Good sleep but could have slept even longer. 


M1: 2 fried eggs, half a portion of bolognese sauce, a sauteed onion and green pepper with chipotle paste, half an avocado, a pineapple ring. A black tea.

M2: leftover salmon, chraimeh sauce, cauliflower, sultanas, a small sweet potato. Trying to make lunches bigger to properly get through to dinner. It's a long gap, at least 6 hours usually, and I'm fine when I leave work but quite hungry by the time I get home and then have to cook dinner (unless there's food ready in the fridge). 

M3: roast chicken, roast broccoli, carrots, potatoes with sunshine sauce. Half a blood orange.


Made sunshine sauce and chipotle paste yesterday. Found the sunshine sauce intensely garlicky - probably should have cooked the garlic clove first. I hope it has a chance to mellow a bit in the fridge. Made it without the coconut aminos.


Am I imagining it or is my dress a little bit looser around the stomach today?

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Day 10

I think I was stressed about today and tomorrow in advance but hopefully they will actually go all right. Not going out to the restaurant tonight, just going to my friend’s gig and then going home to have dinner, hope not too late, but have a huge lunch with me today to keep hunger at bay until later.


M1: 3 fried eggs, sautéed mushrooms and broccoli stalk, ¼ an avocado, a pineapple ring, an apple.

M2: chicken, broccoli, carrots, potatoes with sunshine sauce. UGH! Too much food; too many starches. I wanted to make sure I'd stay full until dinner and I pretty much did though.

M3: chicken, chipotle paste, avocado, tomato salsa, a sweet potato.


I’m still not sure about the sunshine sauce. The addition of the coconut milk reminds me more of a thai curry sauce than a peanut dipping sauce, and the combination of raw garlic and coconut is just strange. Although I made it without the coconut aminos which would probably help it more savoury. Might try to make it without the coconut milk next time, and maybe with the aminos if I get them (still on the fence as they are so expensive).

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Day 11

Bad sleep. Went to bed at 11, fell asleep no problem but then woke up at 3.30 and got back to sleep only for brief spells between then and morning. Very tired now. Will need a nap later and may cancel on going to the party as well.


Not sure what meals will be yet, too groggy, can't think.


M1: 3 scrambled eggs, a carrot. A black tea.

M2: Lemony leek meatballs, tomato, cucumber and parsley salad.

M3: Slow cooker chilli, half a sweet potato, quarter of an avocado.


Had a nap between 3.30 and 5pm which helped, went to the party, drank sparkling water all evening. Had a good time. Most things are just as fun when not drinking, dancing definitely is. Talking to drunk people, a bit less so. Walked back home so didn't get to bed until around 1.30 and woke up at 7 so sleep a bit insufficient again.


Got some epsom bath salts but didn't have a chance to try them yet.

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Day 12


Pre-w/o: 2-egg omelette

1 hr run/walk

Post-w/o: turkey and leek meatballs, cucumber, tomato and parsley salad, boiled potatoes

M2: Chicken in coconut sauce, cabbage, carrots, green beans

Afternoon: treated myself to a decaf black coffee. I didn't drink coffee for whole of February. It tasted nice but not amazing. I think I'm probably going to try to change coffee into occasional treat when out somewhere that does really nice coffee, but maybe not as a daily thing at home again.

M3: Beef chilli, spring greens with ghee, boiled potatoes, quarter of an avocado.


Will have an epsom salt bath tonight before bed.


Ready for the boundless energy, any day now...


Was very happy to find spring greens in Lidl yesterday. They used to arrive in my veg box delivery regularly but now that I'm relying on supermarket for veg I rarely see them.


I've got to the point now where my taste buds have adjusted and everything tastes sweet. The chilli definitely, but also the greens! I was heating up the chilli and thinking I'd somehow messed up and put sugar in it, but it's just the tomatoes and onions!

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Day 13

Had an epsom salt bath before bed. Better sleep, though the cat kept making noise and waking us up. Bad cat. He's fine most of the time but some nights just won't shut up and you can't tell what he wants, except attention. We're trying not to react so as not to teach him that it works, but he does just keep going. Maybe some earplugs would help...


M1: 3-egg omelette, greens with ghee, a few pieces of potato, a small apple. A black tea.

M2: beef chilli with greens, sweet potato, olives

M3: beef chilli with greens, sweet potato, olives


Beef ribs had spent too long in fridge, smelled bad and had to be thrown away. What a shame. Need to be more organised and either cook or freeze meat as soon as bought. It was within its use by date though so I'm wondering if the fridge is cold enough. Sauerkraut had gone mouldy, too.

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Day 14

Good sleep! 9 hours. More of the same, please. It's going to be a hard day at work so at least I'm well rested in preparation.


M1: 3 fried eggs with sauteed red pepper and onion, chipotle paste, a black tea.

M2: beef chilli with greens, olives

M3: Salmon, prawns and spinach in curry sauce (curry sauce: onions, garlic, ginger, spices, tomatoes, coconut oil, coconut) with a sweet potato. Yum! I love fish curries but my BF does not so I took the chance to cook this as he wasn't in for dinner. Won't take leftovers for work though, too smelly for the office.


I've been looking into supplementing nutrients but can't quite bring myself to take all the ones recommended by the Perfect Health Diet ... there are quite a few and the cost will add up. I think the main ones might be vitamin D-3 (at least until the weather is sunnier), kelp for iodine, want to try vitamin B-5 to see if it helps with my skin.

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