My first time? Or second? 3 years in the making

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So I didn't think I would post here because I'm not into sharing things online, but then I thought I might need a place to talk about this a little because in my world nobody is really interested in this Whole30 business.

I'm Tamar, 31, mom of two adorable boys from Israel and I have been waiting for three years to be able to make this journey.

I first came across the whole30 about 3 years ago and I don't remember where. Maybe there was an article about it on the kitchn or something. Anyway, I decided I wanted to give it a chance and I did. I bought the book and I even posted a bit in here.

I lasted 5 days.

I should say, 5 whole days because I made the decision to quit on day 5 but I didn't eat anything off-plan until the following morning. So five days.

I was incredibly overwhelmed by all the cooking. Not that I don't cook for my family every day, but the planning and prep wore me out. In retrospect I realized I was trying too hard with all the recipes from the book instead of using my own recipes which I know and love, many of which are compliant or can be easily adapted.

Anyway, I decided the time wasn't right so I quit. And ever since then the whole30 was like this old boyfriend I wanted to give another chance but was waiting for the right moment. I was TTC and I didn't want to do my first whole30 while pregnant or even potentially pregnant. Long story short, two years later I was pregnant and promised myself that after I had the baby and after the holidays I would give it another shot.

So here I am.

The timing seems good. Here in Israel we have a big batch of holidays in the fall and then Chanukah in the winter, so this seems like the perfect time of year. My little guy is 6 months old so I'm not dealing with a newborn and we're already on solids. I'm not particularly worried about my milk supply dropping but we'll see how that goes.

I am doing this alone. I nag my husband about enough things without dragging him along with me on a diet he's not interested in, but I think he will benefit from eating what I eat (when he wants), and besides, this is really the kind of food he likes. He (unlike me) is a simple food non-foodie kind of guy. As for my kids, the little one doesn't eat much, and the 4.5 year old is super picky. He rarely eats meat or vegetables and I had no thought of taking him along for the ride. This is about me and that is not a battle I want to fight right now.

But, unlike my first attempt, now I successfully explained the program to my husband and earned his support. This is huge because up until now every time I mentioned that I wanted to try again he responded with "oh please don't!", that's how bad it went the first time around.

I have lots more to share about my expectations and challenges, but day 1 is drawing to a close and I am almost ready for bed. So far so good! :)

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Congratulations on making your way back in good timing and welcome!!

I think it's great that you have such clarity about why your first Whole30 was a Whole5. My best (unsolicited) advice on the food prep front is trust the magic of the template and don't worry so much about fancy recipes. You know how you like to cook and manage your kitchen and food prep for a family and you know you can adapt that. Once you get in the groove it won't be that big a deal if you can get your mind right about it. And then as you get more and more comfortable with all of it, you may find you actually want to try out some new ingredients and recipes when you have the time and the will.

But it sounds to me like your will and strong desire to give this a proper go will very much carry you through. Glad you're back. Can't wait to see how it goes for you!

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Ok so I'm 5 days in (breaking my previous record!) and while it wasn't easy, it was not as bad as everyone makes it sound. I think it was like this on my first try as well.

I am having lots of sweet cravings. I know I need to ignore them, but I am also not sure if I need to avoid any sweet fruit or juices to get over them. Still learning here. My husband bought me a bottle of apple juice because he thought that was the only treat I could have (this may sound a little 5 year old of me but I love apple juice! I only buy it as an occasional treat for myself) and I had to say thanks but no thanks :(

I am also having major food boredom. Is that normal at this point in the program? I know I am supposed to get sick of eggs but so far I am loving them (I had a couple of shakshuka-inspired breakfasts that were amazing!) It's the meat (and tuna and chicken) that I'm sick of at this point. I'm not a big meat eater so it's hard. 

Oh, and coffee. I found unsweetened almond milk but I am really not enjoying it. Coconut milk is a little better, but I still find myself not wanting coffee as much as I normally do. I keep thinking about what it says in the book that if you don't like coffee without milk and sugar that means that either your coffee is bad or you don't really like coffee but only the things you put in it to make it better. I drink instant coffee, but it is the best instant I've found. (Jacobs is the brand. Don't know if they have that in the US.) Or maybe I don't like coffee as much as I thought. I definitely need the caffeine though (we are not sleeping through the night yet!) not to mention that I just miss my yummy cup of coffee. What are the best ways people have found to drink W30 compliant coffee?

As I expected, Shabbat was the hardest day. Shabbat is generally everyone's favorite day, lots of family time and lots of good food which is integral to the meaning of the day. Not having dessert was very hard, and the food did not excite me. I made a Cholent (Shabbat stew) by just cutting out the beans and barley from my regular recipe and I don't think that was a good idea- the meat was too intense. I think next Shabbat I will need to make more of an effort to make special food instead of just compliant versions of the same old.

Now we have lots of leftovers from Shabbat to feed us for the next couple of days. Usually I love that because I don't have to make dinner. Now all I can think of is all that meat. But it's still nice to have a break from cooking. I'm looking forward to my chicken soup for dinner tonight. And then I will need to figure out how to repurpose that Cholent. Frying an egg on top or putting it in a salad? Not sure. 

Other things that happened: I failed twice to make mayo and have yet to succeed. I looked in my local health food store but I couldn't find a compliant one. I may decide to try to fix the failed batches, or not.

Also, I roasted a whole chicken to make bone broth and then I was eating it all week. Have I mentioned I'm a little sick of meat?

Hoping better days are up ahead.... In the meantime I'm thinking of more creative ways to have eggs for breakfast. And ground meat, because that's another way to get creative and I haven't had too much of that yet.

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Three cheers for an already-longer Whole30 than ever! BRAVO!!! And you made it through Shabbat! WOOOOOT!! And passed on apple juice as a treat even though the sugar dragon was rearing its ugly head hard. Give yourself major credit, lady. These are all big things!

For me, Michele Tam's mayo recipe using the immersion blender was a game changer. Make sure the egg yolk is room temp, too. I hope that helps. Having homemade mayo makes W30 infinitely better.

And I'm not sure what to tell you about the coffee situation. You could try bulletproof coffee if you like. I think there's something called nut pods that people use and are technically compliant. But I'm pretty old school about it. I think the Whole 30 is an opportunity to break the habits that are automatic, to create a little distance between you and your milky sweet coffee and see what you learn. Miraculously, I've become a black coffee convert. And I go off coffee altogether every now and then to give my body a break. It can be rough at the start, but I always feel so good when I'm not dependent on caffeine.

As for sweets cravings, for me the only way is to suffer through this period of cravings knowing it will pass most quickly by avoiding sweets--and for me, avoiding even sweet tastes as much as possible. More protein, more bitter greens, can help. Not sipping a slightly sweet tea after meals (when you really want dessert) actually helps. I say this with love from the other side of white knuckling through those cravings and now being in a place in which I pretty much have zero sugar cravings. It's worth it.

And sounds like you're a wonderfully creative cook and will find ways to transform those leftovers. If meat is a bit of a struggle at the moment, can you focus more on making your fats and veggies interesting and tantalizing? Then have your meat in portions on the smaller end of the template (one palm size portion) kind of sprinkled into the delectable other stuff you've prepared?

I hope this helps. 

Keep going! You'll be so happy you did. . . . 

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Funny story: dealing with major food boredom and being sick of leftovers, I combined my leftover chicken soup and Cholent for the most Jewish soup ever. I threw some spiced nuts I made for salad on top and it was great.

Still struggling with cravings. Not giving in yet. And that apple juice is still in the fridge.


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Update: Day 14

Shabbat #2 was much better than the first. I made an effort to make special yummy compliant food and it was so worth it. One highlight was a recipe for meat-stuffed eggplants that I happened upon in one of my non-Whole30 cookbooks (read: one of my cookbooks that isn't The Whole30) and it is always so exciting to discover a recipe that is just naturally compliant with no modifications required! I also relaxed a little regarding sweet tastes (staying well within the rules of course) for Shabbat only- I had been following @LadyM's advice on that but it was good to have a break on my special day.

Today's challenge: I volunteered to make dinner for a friend who just welcomed a new baby, and my go-to dinner in that case is my favorite (vegetable-barley-lentil) soup and homemade pizza. I love my pizza! I thought about making something compliant but decided to go with my usual, and that way my husband and son can enjoy the soup and pizza as well, while I have Shabbat leftovers for dinner (which are much more appealing than last week's). I don't really mind and I'm happy not to have to think any more about dinner, since there aren't enough leftovers for everyone. Still, I hope I don't regret coming so close to pizza. I don't think I'll give in and have any, but this will be a major craving if I'm not careful. [Update since I didn't finish writing this before dinner: Yeah I would love a slice of pizza but I'll be OK. I don't think the leftover pizza in the fridge will bother me any more than the nutella in the pantry. Oh, and the 4yo decided he wasn't in the mood for pizza tonight. Of course :rolleyes:]

Next up: This coming Shabbat we are planning on going to my parents. I'm looking forward to the extra family time and I trust my mom to pull off making W30 food for me. (She can probably do it better than I can, even though she doesn't believe in it.) I'll probably bring myself some stuff anyway, I have to think about what will work best with my mood and what my mom is making. The whole family will be there so I may get interrogated a bit but I can handle it. 

In other news, I have a cold. I usually have a cold all winter every winter, and since it just got really cold here, here we are. It felt a little weird to not be eating/drinking all of my usual cold weather comfort foods but it's OK. The craving wasn't as bad as I'd expected.

Ahh. It smells like one of my neighbor is frying something yummy. Dough of some sort. Not craving that either, just the smell is annoying.

Overall I would say I'm feeling just fine. Not incredible yet. The only thing that happened so far is that I'm drinking less coffee, probably in part because I have more energy and in part because I can't find a good milk substitute. So basically, I'm fine.

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Hi Tamar!

I like to put half almond milk, half coconut milk into my coffee. Drinking black coffee gives me a stomach ache. Sometimes I put a little vanilla extract in, spices, even pumpkin puree. I like "golden milk" and it's good in coffee. I just make the golden milk without the sweetener. You can also make a really strong tea with things you like, such as mint, and then put that into your coffee.
I really like the NutPods that LadyM mentioned, but I am not sure what it's like to get that outside of the USA, especially since you're already halfway through now. Also, as she mentioned, bulletproof coffee is also good.

One of the lunches we liked to have here, and maybe it would be a good breakfast, was fried eggs over turkey, with slices of avocado and tomato on top. Sometimes I put mayonnaise on top too.
I also like to chop up some onions and vegetables (usually peppers), and then potatoes or sweet potatoes, and fry them. Then I scramble an egg and add it to the pan, and cook it as well, so that it's all one big mixture.
Also, these egg cups are also really yummy:

I saw you were struggling with making your own mayonnaise. Do you have an immersion blender? That's how I make mine, and it turns out every single time. Here's my recipe:

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Wow, thanks so much for the advice! I will check it all out!

I never heard of golden milk but it sounds great! I may actually give it a try. Do you have a good recipe?

20 hours ago, Rachel N said:

I did make a batch of egg muffins to have on hand and they turned out rather unappealing. They are still stashed in my freezer for when I need some extra protein.

21 hours ago, Rachel N said:

I saw you were struggling with making your own mayonnaise. Do you have an immersion blender? That's how I make mine, and it turns out every single time. Here's my recipe:

I did manage to fix some of the bad batch with an immersion blender but I haven't made more because I haven't needed it. I will definitely try again with the immersion blender even though I don't really understand why that's better than a regular blender.

Thanks Rachel!

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Just coming in to say Hello and your stew looks amazing.


For mayo I use Mel Joulwan's recipe ( and it has never called. I just make sure everything is at room temperature and don't even do the slow drizzle. However nowadays, compliant mayo can be purchased. I use Primal Kitchen brand but it may not be available on store shelves in Israel.  Also available online but shipping would probably be prohibitive.

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Thanks! It was just an attempt to get rid of some leftovers but it turned out quite photogenic ;)

I finally succeeded in making good mayo today! I did end up using Mel Joulwan's recipe as well and it's kind of mind blowing when it works. I used EVOO even though they say not to and when I tasted it I understood why. I just didn't feel like buying another bottle of oil until I was sure it would work (I don't know what the case is in the US but here you really can't find olive oil that's not extra virgin. Afterwards I went and bought a bottle of light-tasting EVOO so I hope that will work better.)

I would have loved to try the Primal Kitchen version but I don't think you can get it here. I searched through a couple of health food stores and they all have organic mayo but all with sugar. Generally you actually can order things like that online from the US and shipping isn't crazy but then came COVID and messed everything up. Now it's crazy :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, here we are on day 26.

I'm feeling completely normal. Not sick or under the weather in any way, but not mind-blowing amazing tiger blood either.

Since I see lots of experienced folks over here, let me go back and tell you a little more about myself and my experience to see if anyone can offer any advice.

My normal diet is relatively healthy. I am a huge dairy eater, plus lots of grains and some legumes. I like all things sweet as much as the next person and tend to "need" a little something after a meal or with my coffee, but not in an overboard way. I've literally never been on a diet (I am thin, so weight loss was never on my mind) and I am a pretty decent cook- usually healthy, occasionally something more indulgent.

I am a perfectionist and am sure I followed the whole30 correctly, except for the following:

- Every Shabbat, I eat about 25 grams of gluten-free, sugar-free bread (the flours are a combo of oats, millet, tapioca and a few others), once on Friday night and once on Saturday. This is the minimum requirement in accordance with Jewish law.

- On the first Shabbat I accidentally ate a bite of regular bread, confusing it with my gluten-free bread.

- Last week, at my parents, my mom was very careful with everything she made, but she didn't think to check the ingredients on the lemon juice, which turned out to contain sulfites. I ate a little bit of tahini spread with said lemon juice.

- When I went for my flu shot, the nurse checked up on my physical information and told me to get on the scale. I wasn't going to argue with her ;)

That's it. AFAIK I've done it all correctly. I didn't have much of the tough symptoms at the beginning (maybe I was a little tired, but I'm always tired). And the cravings never really went away either- I still really want something sweet or dairy to balance out all the meat I've been eating. Of course, I haven't indulged them, but they didn't go away just because I ignored them.

I wasn't looking to lose weight (my BMI is on the lower side of healthy), just maybe some of my post-pregnancy belly. I don't feel that happened, but I did notice that some of my skirts are looser.

I was hoping for some improvements in the digestive area, because I specifically felt that legumes were an issue for me in that area, but I feel just the same. I was also hoping to feel better emotionally and have more energy, but not seeing much a difference. Maybe I need a little less coffee in the afternoon.

So all in all, I don't feel that my whole30 was a success. I guess it just wasn't for me. I have no regrets, though, because I needed to get it out of my system and I did learn a lot about different ways to prepare food and eat.

This is why I plan on seeing it through, as well as the fast reintroduction to see what I can learn.

Does anyone have any insights or advice on how to proceed?

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A few thoughts as Day 30 is drawing to a close...

It seems that the Whole30 wasn't for me. It was a good try. I will go over the NSV checklist tomorrow morning to see what I can find and then do the reintroduction properly. But I'm feeling way less amazing than I would have thought. I wonder if I would do better if I had my stress a little more under control, and I also wonder if I may have a small FODMAP issue after all. But right now I really don't have the energy to try again. Maybe in a few years.

Once my reintro is finished, I may go vegetarian for a few weeks. I've really had way too much meat. Also, I will need to be very careful with cravings because my sugar dragon is still alive and well.

It's interesting though, because in addition to these cravings I also want to bake A LOT. Healthy stuff too (just not W30 in any way). I wonder why that is.

That's it. Again, if anyone has any insights I'd love to hear! Right now I'm just really looking forward to getting back to normal life.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Tamar!

I am towards the end of my second Whole 30. My first Whole 30 five years ago, I was extremely strict with not eating in between meals or a caving into my sugar dragon. I was upset with my sugar dragon results, therefore extended my 30 days to 45 days. On my 46 day, my sugar dragon awoke with a vengeance and I ate three delicious red velvet cupcakes from a local bakery. 

I took a more relaxed approach this time. I know some moderators may say that I am doing a “strict paleo diet” rather than a Whole 30 - but there were some days that I was craving sugar and I gave in. My first two weeks, I would occasionally eat a spoonful of coconut cream or a few dates after dinner.  

This has truly transformed my Whole 30 for me. My sugar dragon is now lightly sleeping (which never happened to me with my first round) and makes this feel much more sustainable. My energy levels fluctuate day to day, but my biggest NSV is zero brain fog, no need for caffeine and not needing snacks every 3 hours! 

I wouldn’t recommend this approach for first Whole 30, since you don’t know how you respond to the regular program. Just a little insight and hope for you, if you do choose to partake in a Whole 30 again in the future! Also - these are very stressful times! I can only imagine how that has added to the first go around of your program. 

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