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mdjess86

How often do you cook?

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Hey everyone, I'm currently in the planning stage for my first whole 30 and I'm trying to make sure I am very prepared so I can be successful! I have a difficult job for this, I'm a surgery resident, which means I work 70-90 hours a week and only have 4 days off a month. I do have post call days, which is when I have been at the hospital for about 28 hours and after this time I get to go home for about 18-20 hours until I have to go back in. I'm hoping to do some cooking on those days (I have 7 a month) but I'm often awake for the full 28 and sometimes I need extra sleep on that day, including all the studying and normal people stuff I have to do. Basically I've been reading that most of the sauces seem to only stay good for 2-4 days, and I was hoping to just cook one day a week. I'm a little nervous I will have to cook quite a bit more than that and that will inevitably mean less sleep. I'm also a little nervous about eating enough, we don't exactly have lunch breaks or much time for eating, we all get pretty used to wolfing down food very quickly whenever we have a chance, which is sometimes none at all. I have a feeling I will be eating a lot more at work than I do currently and am wondering how I'll try to handle that without snacking/cramming food in between cases. Does anyone else have a similar schedule, and if so how did you deal with the cooking prep as well as finding the time to eat in a healthy way while at work? Thanks for the help!! Just want to be completely prepared with few surprises!

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There are a bunch of us on these forums who work in hospitals doing Whole 30s. I'm a Trauma ICU nurse and sometimes have lots of time for breaks, and sometimes have zero time for breaks. I also have an NP job in a different hospital where seeing my patients also has a very unpredictable schedule. I get along by eating when I can (often not to w30 scheduling of 4ish hours between meals because I can't seem to choke down my breakfast at 5am before I leave to drive to work, and by the time I've gotten report and have seen my patients (and hopefully documented a little something) it's inevitably been more than two hours since I've arrived at work, so way more than the eat within an hour of waking. And often I have to wait much longer between meals, or take a quick bite and then nothing else for five or six hours until things settle down. It helps to have things on hand that are easy, don't need to be refrigerated for a 24-hour period, and won't require a complicated heating-up or multiple-pieces-of-silverware (when do we ever have access to both a fork *and* a spoon at the same time?).

I do batch cooking 1-2x / week, but some things I only do once every 8-10 days for ease of preparation.

This is what I prepare in advance and/or stock up with to have enough to bring with me every day as needed: boiled eggs still in their shells (keeps for about a week or more), baked potatoes of every variety, carrot sticks, freezer packs of string beans, broccoli, and compliant veggie medleys that only need to be nuked for 5 minutes to be fully cooked, cans of black olives and jars of green olives, jars of hearts of palm, jars of artichoke hearts, pickles, Aidell's chicken and apple sausages (only takes a few minutes to brown on the stove top as they are already fully cooked in the package), avocados (stay fresh for AGES if you leave them in the fridge and only set them on the counter the day before you want them), homemade mayo (lasts about a week if you don't eat it all first, only takes about 30 seconds to make if using an immersion blender), frozen steamed shrimp for ready-to-eat shrimp cocktail, compliant cans of tuna and sardines.

This is what I batch cook to have ready for a week or so of eating, and that I can mix and match with the above items to make a variety of different meals: crockpot chili or chicken and veggie stew, almond crusted fish filets, squash of many varieties to roast, roasted tomatoes and cauliflower, taco meat.

I also have realized that I just have to have a couple of RX bars in my backpack... sometimes it really is impossible to be able to get something to eat that requires sitting down or washing hands, and eating some kind of protein bar will at least tide you over if you can't get to a real meal or mini-meal and are absolutely starving.

Your schedule is harder than my schedule, as I only work 4 days per week (or 5 if I pick up overtime), but I rarely work more than 4 in a row, so having time available here and there is more or less a given. But I think with some planning and preparation, you can do it.

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Thank you so much for your reply!! It's so nice to know other people have survived even with a difficult schedule, lol. I love the hard boiled egg idea, I think that's gonna be something I make a lot of. We don't have a good central location in the hospital I'm gonna be at next month (our call room is in a building across the street) but I think I can use the OR lounge and try that. I have an immersion blender, I was worried the mayo would be hard to make, but if it doesn't take very long then that's great! I have a feeling veggies with various dips to avoid food boredom is going to be incredibly key for me.  And I guess trying is all I can do! Thank you for all of your ideas and recommendations. I'm definitely gonna do it, and I'm going to do my due diligence to make sure I'm prepared!

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If you have a stick blender, the mayo is much easier than it sounds. The trick is to add the oil slowly. If you have a deep, narrow container it will mean less clean up than a shallow, wider one.

There are lots of sauce and dip recipes in the book that will jolly up boring food. You might batch cook some plain chicken breasts then add different sauces and veggies. Store bought guacamole (check the ingredients list) can be a good way to get the fat into your meals. Pre-chopped veggies are an extravagance but probably well worth it to you. On the plus side, the 'tiger blood' energy level will help you through your residency.

Good luck (from a former PICU nurse, who knows what resident hours look like).

Jill

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4 hours ago, mdjess86 said:

Thank you so much for your reply!! It's so nice to know other people have survived even with a difficult schedule, lol. I love the hard boiled egg idea, I think that's gonna be something I make a lot of. We don't have a good central location in the hospital I'm gonna be at next month (our call room is in a building across the street) but I think I can use the OR lounge and try that. I have an immersion blender, I was worried the mayo would be hard to make, but if it doesn't take very long then that's great! I have a feeling veggies with various dips to avoid food boredom is going to be incredibly key for me.  And I guess trying is all I can do! Thank you for all of your ideas and recommendations. I'm definitely gonna do it, and I'm going to do my due diligence to make sure I'm prepared!

You're gonna do great! Are you going to be unit-based or service-based? Like, will you be in one specific area for the month, and then switch to another area, or will it be that you have to see patients all over the building plus spend time in the OR? in TICU we have residents that have trauma rotations for a month or two at a time, so they tend to bring a backpack and leave it either in the nurse's lounge or somewhere central in the unit. If that was the case for you, you could just forego the on-call room and bring your meals with you directly to the unit. Or, if your patients are everywhere, that might not work... also, try to find out what vendor supplies the cafeteria services in your hospital and ask to speak to the dining manager to ask them about how things are processed and made to see what you can and cannot have. Mine is Sodexho, and there's a w30 compliant salad bar where you tell the kitchen worker what you want, including olives (healthy fat!), nuts (only about every other day at most) and boiled eggs (totally amazing as the tuna/grilled/breaded chicken isn't compliant due to processing details) and olive oil and vinegar on the side near the dressings. You could also check if the grill carries 100% beef or turkey burgers, and then ask them to throw one or two onto the grill for you to cut up into a salad. Ideas!

3 hours ago, Silver Penguin said:

If you have a stick blender, the mayo is much easier than it sounds. The trick is to add the oil slowly. If you have a deep, narrow container it will mean less clean up than a shallow, wider one.

There are lots of sauce and dip recipes in the book that will jolly up boring food. You might batch cook some plain chicken breasts then add different sauces and veggies. Store bought guacamole (check the ingredients list) can be a good way to get the fat into your meals. Pre-chopped veggies are an extravagance but probably well worth it to you. On the plus side, the 'tiger blood' energy level will help you through your residency.

Good luck (from a former PICU nurse, who knows what resident hours look like).

Jill

Good idea about the dips and sauces. The only one I really use is my homemade mayo - I just doctor it up (no pun intended) to change up the flavor. So sometimes I just add garlic powder to my serving to make an amazing aioli to dip shrimp cocktail into, other times I put chopped fresh parsley or cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes to make a spicy dip for boring potatoes and veggies. And I second the recommendation about the tall narrow jar to make your mayo in if you have an immersion blender. I'd recommend to buy the blender first then find a jar that the blender fits into. Mine came with the perfect sized tall thin measuring cup to make mayo in, but I found that the artichoke heart jars from SAMs club are also the perfect size, so I just make a double batch of mayo now right in that jar and then I don't have to wash the measuring cup and spatula needed to transfer it over. The recipe I use is REALLY simple and doesn't require any slow poring or warming up to room temperature of ingredients:

1. Place 1 cup of light tasting oil in the container (I've lately been using light tasting olive oil and avocado oil in a 70/30 blend (also an unintentional medical reference - I'm so clever!).

2. Add the yolk of one large or extra large egg. Reserve the white for an omelet or some other recipe.

3. Add the juice of half of a lemon (or all of it if it's a tiny lemon). Stick the lemon rind into your water for a delicious infused beverage!.

4. Add 1 TBSP tap water.

5. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Stick the immersion blender all the way in. Turn it to the lowest setting. You will be able to see the mayo emulsifying immediately. Tip the blender a little and slowly bring it to the top as all of the mayo below it emulsifies. It takes me about 30 seconds to do one batch like this. Washing the damn thing takes longer than making the actual mayo.

Enjoy!

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Wow thanks guys! That's a great idea for making it in the same container to store it in, I have a Sams membership so I'm definitely tucking that away! The hospital I'm going to be at next month is really spread out and our patients are all over the place which can make it hard to have one good spot the sort of regroup. Our SICU rotation is as second years, but having said that the unit or the OR are still good spots to keep food for the day and are about as easy to get to as the cafeteria at any given time. It's a trauma/acute care surgery rotation, so I'm hoping since it's winter it'll be a littler slower, I think right now their cencus is 28, which is pretty low for that service. I remember when I was an intern on that service I lost 14 pounds the first couple months on that service simply because I didn't feel I had time to eat, and I was already thin! Not good. Since then I've learned sometimes taking care of myself has to come first and that there will always be more work to do, so trying to get "caught up" before eating just leads to not eating, which isn't worth it. There's almost always something that can wait to give me 10 minutes to eat when I need to. Of course sometimes you are just stuck in the OR or trauma bay for hours when you weren't expecting it and it can't be helped, but that's not going to be everyday. And post call days while exhausting can be a blessing for getting some normal people stuff done and having some time to catch up on sleep! I'm definitely hoping w30 helps with energy, of course my sleep habits are pretty bad, it's hard when you have these random nights where you don't get to sleep and your sleep gets broken up so much. And even on a good day it's pretty hard to sleep as much as I probably should, so extra energy would be AMAZING. That 3:30-4:30 alarm clock always comes way too fast, lol!!

 

Thanks for all your help and suggestions, I'm definitely going to use it. We all have either Christmas or New Years week off, and I have New years, so I'm going to use my vacation to get my house w30 ready, whip up some sauces and ready made foods so I can hit the ground running from day 1! I've got 2 other residents who wants to do it with me, and while I realistically know they may not keep up with it (they haven't read the books and are mostly doing it for weight loss, which I think will lead to low willpower in the end for them, it's admittedly a lot of cooking and I can't tell you how often all of us just eat a bag of cheezits for dinner when we are exhausted on call and need something fast!) I'm so excited and ready to get started. 

 

One other thing that I'm really hoping this helps with is I'm pretty prone to passing out in the OR, it's happened once this year from dehydration (granted I was really sick at the time, but we are told we are either admitted to a hospital or working!) and last year it happened quite a few times over a month or two, and I really think dehydration and hypoglycemia had a lot to do with it, unfortunately my body just can't push through things and I have to make sure I'm drinking enough, especially on call. I'm hoping this really evens out my blood sugar and makes worrying about that a thing of the past. 

 

Anyway, I'm so excited! Can't wait to get started and feel great (even if I feel worse first, lol). Thanks again for all your thoughts and recommendations, I really appreciate it!

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Also, I'm pretty sure sodhexo does my hospital as well, they just remodeled the cafeteria, and I'm pretty sure they don't have much that's compliant, but they do have a pretty decent salad bar full of compliant stuff. My plan was to bring my own sauces/dressings every day and just get a big salad and bring leftover protein from dinner the night before to put in the salad. I know the grill they use is full of non compliant oil cause I watch them put it on there for certain things all the time, so I'd rather just not deal with it and bring my own protein. I'm pretty used to eating the same thing for lunch every day as it is, so new sauces should be more than enough to make lunch yummy each day. 

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mdjess - I don't know if you ever ended up doing this or not... but doing W30 as a resident (I need a little bowing-down emoticon!).   I'm a RN and can NOT imagine doing this on a resident's schedule.  I can't even imagine living a resident's schedule for that matter!  What they do to you guys should be illegal :) 

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LOL thanks, i appreciate it, it is definitely hard sometimes. But I think you eventually just get used to it? Or at least it becomes normal, it never becomes nice to not be able to see the sun for a whole week, lol. I'm starting January 1st, and I have a few days of vacation beforehand and on the 2nd, so I should be super prepared to make it at least a little easier. I'm the most worried about how much time it takes to cook! There are definitely going to be days where I just eat like 4 chicken breasts and all the raw veggies I can find because some days you are just too tired!! But seriously, it seems to only be worse for some once they are attendings! Some of my attendings have a super chill lifestyle, but some work 70-100 hours a week! You just cannot pay me enough to work quite that much. 60-80 seems like plenty to me. Every once in a while I'll work 90 and it is freaking exhausting!! And I'm (relatively) young, lol, I don't know how they do it. 

I can tell you I would be LOST without some pretty awesome scrubs and nurses to get me through it ;) 

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13 hours ago, mdjess86 said:

60-80 seems like plenty to me

I'll take my 3 8's :) If you lived near me I'd totally cook for you!  My little way of giving back to one resident for all the others out there suffering :)

I'm sure if you made it through med school you've thought of this... but here are the things I'd do with the few days off:

- boil at least 2 dozen eggs

- make a batch of mayo, a batch of dump ranch, a batch of some Asian-y sauce (like Sunshine sauce - but use almond butter instead of sunflower seed butter ;) ), a bottle of oil and vinegar dressing and if I had disposable income maybe buy a few of the compliant Tessamae's dressings if you live near a Whole Foods or something - this way you can take advantage of that salad bar at work

- roast a bunch of chicken thighs or drumsticks (don't go with breasts - eat dark meat and skin - it will keep you full longer (more full = less food prep) or even a whole chicken 

- grill/broil a bunch of burgers (again - use fattier meat - 85% lean at the most)

- make a big pot of chili/meat sauce/beef stew - etc - something that freezes well

- make 2 big breakfast casseroles

- bake a bunch of small/medium size sweet and regular potatoes (or boil them if you like mashed)

Here is my super easy (tasty) breakfast casserole recipe.  I live on this:

16 oz bag frozen peppers and onions, 16 oz bag frozen broccoli florets, 3/4 lb compliant breakfast sausage (out of casing if possible - don't use low fat chicken sausage if you can help it), 8-10 eggs depending on the size of your eggs.  

Use the biggest pan you have - I think mine is a 12" - preferably one with a metal handle b/c its going in the oven.  Dry "steam" peppers and onions - just until water evaporates but they don't really start to smell oniony and then remove from pan, do the same thing with the broccoli and remove it too.  Then fry the sausage.  Once you've got browned sausage and grease in the pan toss all the veggies back in to coat them and brown them up a bit.  Remove from heat.  Add in whisked eggs.  Bake at 350 for 30ish minutes until browned.  This is 4 servings for me (but I always add extra fat via mayo or coconut cream and sometimes a side of veggies or potato or something).  

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Good luck!

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Oh my gosh, that is amazing advice! Some of it I had thought of, but I love the chili idea! And I was planning on making frittatas to bascially live on for meal 1, because they are so easily transportable. Luckily we always eat during checkout (it's how we make sure everyone gets one meal a day, lol) and that casserole looks delicious! I'm really excited to get started, I'm on call q2 through christmas, but then I have a week off to get whole 30 ready!!

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Tons of good advice above. Being a fellow healthcare worker I have to comment and say I'm rooting for you!

Last year after our first whole30 I left on a month long trip to Australia, leaving my husband home to fend for himself. He didn't want to revert back to his old ways and I wanted to support him in that, so I prepped most of his food for him before I left. He is perfectly capable of cooking, but works 60-80hr work weeks sometimes 18-20 hr days....ugh. 

I did lots of big batches of chili and spaghetti sauce, a few stews and soups and a couple casseroles. 

But what he ended up liking the most is that I froze individual bags of protein (ground meat, pulled pork, chicken legs or thighs, chicken breast), starch, and veggies. That way he was able to mix and match. He would grab a Baggie of protein, a Baggie of starchy vege (roasted squash, sweet potato etc) and a Baggie of frozen veggies. They would thaw by lunch and he was able to dump it into a plate and microwave it. Just top with a sauce and you have a meal. Not pretty, but did the trick. 

It took me about 3 days to prep him about 25 days of meals. All he had to do was boil eggs for the week and he cooked his own meals on weekends if he was off - usually only Sunday.

Definitly keep bags of frozen veggies in your freezer for emergencies and a stash of frozen meals that you can grab for if you miss your food prep day or it gets delayed. 

Sounds like you are on top of this!!! 

I have never had a schedule like yours but I'm a nurse and used to often work 16 hr shifts and worked lots of overtime and would pull the odd double. I wouldn't eat, or I'd snack on all random stuff lying around. I wouldnot sleep well because I would wake myself up as I was starving...I haven't worked in almost 2 years now (long story, but mostly because of immigration issues) and I am still recovering from that lifestyle and healing my body. I can't stress enough that doing the best you can for your nutrition (while trying not to make it just another added stressor) will be so good for you in the long run! 

Even if you don't continue whole30, if you can continue to prioritize adequate meals, you will be so much better off. Wish I had taken better care of myself back then....if and when I return to shift work I hope to do things a lot differently! 

Good luck! 

 

 

 

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I'm so excited to get started! And again I appreciate all the help/input. I'm really interested to see how my hunger signals evolve, I have such a strange eating schedule as it is, so hectic just like you said J9er, and I'm interested to see if I actually start to feel more hungry but at appropriate times or less hungry between meals. I'm super pumped and I just bought all the dry staples I need and some epic meat bars from Thrive, and I plan on buying all my other stuff Saturday at our earthfare or fresh market. I already found some compliant bacon, which is pretty exciting. Anyway, thanks for everyones advice!! In case anyone else reads this, I was wondering, do you find you eat more food on whole 30? I have eaten very clean/whole foods before, and I found I had to eat a lot more food because there's no empty calories, and I was just wondering if this was true on whole 30 or if you find you don't need as much food to be full? Thanks guys!!

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What do you mean by "more" food?  More volume or more calories?  I think I eat fewer calories but more volume.  But I've always had a "good appetite" :)  I also found that eating a big Meal 1 on time helped me eat less later in the day (my munchy time) - I would eat dinner and be full and satiated rather than eat dinner and want a second dinner (or in reality, a giant dessert).  Fat is also satiating so if you find you aren't making it between meals as long as you'd like - increase fat.  

Wishing you good luck with this - I'm really interested to see if you can manage it with a resident's schedule... (I don't mean to be a negative Nancy - I just know how hard residency is!).  

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2 hours ago, mdjess86 said:

In case anyone else reads this, I was wondering, do you find you eat more food on whole 30? I have eaten very clean/whole foods before, and I found I had to eat a lot more food because there's no empty calories, and I was just wondering if this was true on whole 30 or if you find you don't need as much food to be full? Thanks guys!!

I find I eat more volume but fewer calories, too, but not drastically fewer calories, which is why I feel like I've gained weight on this w30 rather than losing. No longer am I eating a half pound of pasta for one meal, or ounces upon ounces of cheese, sweetened cream in my coffee, cakes, cookies and donuts at work whenever they're there, etc. Instead I'm eating several avocados per week which are calorie dense but also much more nutritionally dense, olives and homemade mayo (a little too much mayo in my own opinion but that can be adjusted as I finally feel like I'm parting with my carb cravings). I'm eating more healthy protein, less bread. More veggies and less chips. More fruit (added into meals) and less late night ice cream.

Just some observations. I'm plugging for you!

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15 hours ago, littleg said:

What do you mean by "more" food?  More volume or more calories?  I think I eat fewer calories but more volume.  But I've always had a "good appetite" :)  I also found that eating a big Meal 1 on time helped me eat less later in the day (my munchy time) - I would eat dinner and be full and satiated rather than eat dinner and want a second dinner (or in reality, a giant dessert).  Fat is also satiating so if you find you aren't making it between meals as long as you'd like - increase fat.  

Wishing you good luck with this - I'm really interested to see if you can manage it with a resident's schedule... (I don't mean to be a negative Nancy - I just know how hard residency is!).  

Thanks!! I totally get it, resident schedules are nuts. One of my fellow residents is going to do it with me, so that should help! It also helps that I'm a 3rd year, my schedule still isn't great, but I can get there a little later and if I have something I have to do, like a doctors appt or something I actually get to go to those now! 

I just meant volume, obviously I'm not going to count calories, but the last time I ate pretty clean I did, and I found it hard to maintain enough calories! Having said that I didn't have the awesome whole 30 sauces, which is how I plan on adding a lot of fat to meals. Avocado is a great idea too. I mostly just want to fix my broken relationship with food. While I'd like to lose a few pounds on whole 30, I'm really at a healthy weight, so I'm ok not losing. Would like to decrease my fat percentage tho!!

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