Vacation 2019 Food Freedom

Earlier this year, I completed my ninth (?) round of Whole30 – a Whole62. It helped me get back to feeling great after a holiday season filled with some sugar, alcohol, and miscellaneous treats. Coming off of the round, I transitioned into a Slow Roll reintroduction, really being mindful in my decisions to eat things that could potentially – to quote Melissa – “mess me up.”

I added back a little sugar (in sauces or commercially-made mayonnaise) and one day, tried a handful of chocolate chips melted on a banana. The chocolate was just so-so and didn’t really feel worth it in the end as my stomach felt a little off and my head felt cloudy the next morning. I also had some Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, which have compliant ingredients but are not Whole30 due to the SWYPO factor, and I could really take them or leave them.

My reintroduction purposely did NOT include alcohol. I’ve decided that for now (whatever that means), alcohol is not something I need. I much prefer coffee and I look forward to my quiet early mornings when I work and write with a cup of coffee by my side. Alcohol sometimes would get in the way of those early mornings, and right now, isn’t worth it for me.

Fast forward a few weeks: It was time for my annual vacation to Charleston. For the past four years, my daughter and I have gone to this incredible city to visit my parents, who spend the month of March in downtown Charleston.

I was ready to flex my Food Freedom muscles and here’s how I handled my vacation…

Note: My parents rent a house and I have access to a full kitchen. I also have incredibly supportive parents, which is not lost on me.

  • Before my trip, I ordered some of my favorite Whole30 staples from Thrive Market and had them shipped to my parents’ rental house. I made sure I had The New Primal Mustard BBQ sauce, Primal Kitchen ketchup, Fourth & Heart ghee, Thrive Market almond flour, Primal Palate Meat & Potatoes seasoning, and more. This was a game changer and meant I had some basics on hand when I arrived.

  • In my suitcase, I packed a few other favorites including Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend, nutpods, raw cashews, travel packs of collagen peptides, Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter, and Chomps. I also gave my mom a shopping list of a few things to buy, including GT’s kombucha, LaCroix, Whole30 compliant bacon (She picked up Applegate Turkey Bacon), sweet potatoes, eggs, avocado, mixed greens, and ground beef.

  • In the airport on the way to Charleston, our flight was a little delayed so my daughter and I got lunch. I got a burger salad from local chain Wahlburgers and asked them to hold the cheese. I did enjoy the homemade pickles and special sauce, both of which I am sure included sugar. I didn’t stress and enjoyed.

  • The first night in Charleston, I made four beef patties for myself and had one for dinner on a big pile of greens with roasted veggies, avocado, Primal Kitchen ketchup, and The New Primal Mustard BBQ. We also made some roasted vegetables and two batches of my favorite crispy veggies (based on this recipe from Low Carb Yum, using nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese.) I ate the rest of the burgers during our stay, rotating with eggs and bacon for breakfasts/lunches. I added veggies to each meal and fresh fruit/nut butter when I needed it.

  • We had one dinner out (my daughter is in an anti-restaurant stage) and I ordered grilled salmon, grilled asparagus and French Fries! They were delish and oh so worth it! I brought my own ketchup and Mustard BBQ sauce and it was nice to have a night off from cooking!

  • One day, I ate one lunch at The New Primal’s HQ during my visit there – blog post on that coming soon! The meal was amazing and made by Whole30 Approved Chef Valerie Skinner of Thyme & Joy. Everything was Whole30 compliant except for the plantain chips – which I enjoy in my Food Freedom without any consequence. Speaking of chips, I also had some Terra sweet potato chips from the plane – just potatoes and oil. These work in my Food Freedom – I can eat, enjoy and move on!

  • The last night we ordered dinner in and I got an ahi tuna salad – hold the wonton chips. The salad had oranges, greens, and cashews. I used a little bit of the dressing and the wasabi sauce that came with it – and called it a day.

  • During the week, we celebrated my mom’s birthday with cake and ice cream. Having store bought cake and ice cream didn’t seem particularly worth it to me because I know sugar makes me feel sick, cranky, and tired – so I passed and sipped some kombucha while my parents and daughter enjoyed.

  • My parents have a nightly glass of red wine. In the past, I would have wine with them some days but this year, it was easy to say no. I had my LaCroix and I was a happy camper!

  • I am an avid exerciser and I know I need my movement to feel focused, strong, and happy. I made sure to move each day and have some time for myself. Three of the mornings I went for a run (and threw in some push-ups and burpees for good measure) and our final morning there, I did a TMAC Fitness yoga workout on my laptop.

  • Lastly, the biggest gift to myself on this trip was SLEEP. I slept more than I have in a long time – and boy, did it feel good! I went to bed early – there were no school lunches to pack or things to do after my daughter went to bed. It was nice to take a little break from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and I made sure to make sleep a priority.

As I wrote last year in a similar post, this was not a gourmet vacation focused on the incredible food scene of Charleston. It was a chance to rest and recharge for a few days – and despite a few 5-year-old tantrums, it served its purpose. Did it take a little extra work? Of course. But most things that are worth it, do!

In this season of my life, this is my vacation Food Freedom. Will it change and shift in the future? Of course. If this had been a girls’ weekend or a trip for work, things might have been different. For now, I used the tools I’ve learned from my multiple rounds of Whole30 and my past experience with Food Freedom to create a plan that worked for me.

And what did I do at the airport while waiting for our flight home? Meal plan, of course! Onward to a new week at home, filled with a renewed spirit and another notch in my Food Freedom belt.

How do you handle vacations on Whole30 or in your Food Freedom? Do you have strategies to help you enjoy while still feeling your best?

Whole30 Day 30…now what?

Congrats! You’ve finished your Whole30! You’ve checked off a whole bunch of Non-Scale Victories, you feel amazing, and hey, maybe you’ve even lost a few pounds along the way. Your skin is glowing, your thinking is clear, and you’re sleeping like a baby.

Day 30 comes with a ton of emotions: You’re happy, joyful, proud, and feeling so accomplished, as you should! But is also brings fear and a sense of uneasiness – what’s going to happen now? Will I fall face first into a meal of nachos and ice cream? How do I keep up this good feeling forever? Will I fail?

As we’ve mentioned many times (and as you have read in your Whole30 book and on the Whole30 website), Day 31 is not meant to be a free-for-all in terms of eating. Doing that really defeats the purpose of the 30-day reset you’ve just completed. You will have NO idea which foods affect you and how. You will have NO data to create your Food Freedom, and chances are you are both going to feel terrible and slip back into old bad habits quickly.

Let’s NOT do, that, OK?

On Day 31, you will instead begin Whole30 reintroduction, which according to the Whole30 website is “your one opportunity to slowly, carefully, systematically reintroduce some of the off-plan foods you’ve been missing into the ‘clean’ environment you’ve created with the Whole30. Now is your chance to really evaluate how these foods make you feel in the context of a better relationship with food, improved metabolism, healthier digestive tract, and more balanced immune system.”

There are two ways to go about reintroduction – the fast track method or the slow roll method. Regardless of the one you choose, it’s important to remember that you are still going to be eating mostly Whole30 foods – you will just be adding back items you have removed during your round. This is not a free for all or an excuse to chow down on junk! A little tough love here, but I need to say it again!

During the fast track reintroduction, you “reintroduce ‘less healthy’ foods back into your diet one group at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet as Whole30-clean as possible. Think about it like a scientific trial, where your Whole30 is the control and the one food group you are trying to evaluate is the experimental group.” There’s a sample schedule fast track reintroduction schedule found here on the Whole30 website!

With this method, your 10-14 day reintroduction (depending on if you add in alcohol/separate out sugar), may be tough. As it says in the Whole30 book, “reintroducing so many off-plan foods in such a short period of time (especially when your system has been so happy without them) means your energy, sleep, mood, cravings, skin, digestion, and medical symptoms may all blow up at once.”

With fast track, you reintroduce each food group separately (Whole30 recommends you start with gluten-free alcohol or legumes first, then non-gluten grains, dairy, and gluten-containing grains, leaving AT LEAST two days of Whole 30 eating in between reintroducing each food group.

With each food group, you take careful notes about how you feel. How is your digestion? Skin? Sleep? Thinking? Energy? Using data you collect from your reintroduction, you will begin to create your own Food Freedom – where “only you can decide what’s worth it for you.” More on Food Freedom below…

With the slow roll method, you don’t follow a set schedule or timeline of reintroduction. As it says in the Whole30 book, with slow roll, “you continue eating mostly Whole30 until something so special comes along that you decide you’re ready to indulge, and evaluate the effects.”

This does NOT mean going nuts with cake and ice cream or testing out wine by the bottle. You are only reintroducing foods you find irresistible, and you are only testing out “a small amount of off-plan food at once.” You may feel OK and that’s good news – but not permission to pig out. You need to take it slow and evaluate one thing at a time, on your own schedule.

Whole30 also offers another way to think about slow roll reintroduction: by allowing small amounts of sugar back into your diet in the forms of ketchup on a burger, salad dressing at a restaurant, or bacon cured in sugar. You are still eating by the standard Whole30 meal template but you are just relaxing it a bit on the added sugar rule. This gives you some additional flexibility to eat in restaurants, or at a friend’s house. But a word of caution here: If adding back certain sugars gets your Sugar Dragon roaring again, then perhaps it’s best to leave them out of your diet for the time being (or forever!)

I love this part of the book when it describes slow roll reintroduction as a marathon, or a lifelong process. This could not be more true!!! “Now that you have a baseline for looking and feeling your best (the Whole30), every time you eat a potentially less-healthy food, you should both savor it immensely and pay close attention to how it impacts you.”

The Whole30 book has an awesome Reintroduction FAQ section beginning on page 132. I highly recommend reading it – and reading it again.

At the end of the day, the reintroduction process is intended to help you create your own personal Food Freedom – a way of living in which you are in control over food (and not the other way around), deciding what is worth it, in what amount, and when. If you discover during reintroduction, for example, that dairy gives you terrible headaches – you can move forward in your life armed with that knowledge. If you decide one day to enjoy special ice cream, well, then you know what it likely to come.

In Food Freedom, you can be at peace with food, knowing that it’s not GOOD or BAD but some foods is more healthy/less disruptive to your body than others. There’s no dieting, no counting, or stressing – just living. And the best thing is that when things get shaky – and your decisions around food start to get a little wobbly – there is always Whole30 (or a shorter reset) to return to. This is a process, a journey, and it will likely take several rounds of Whole30 to get there. So, don’t give up!

If you don’t have a copy of Food Freedom Forever, I suggest you pick one up – either at your local library or on Amazon! It’s a great read and you will find yourself coming back to it time and again.

The Whole30 blog also has a round-up of some Food Freedom resources to help you along your way.

Since October 2015, I have done eight rounds of Whole30 – most have been 30 days but two have been longer (60 and 75 days) which I think were the keys to my success. This journey has been incredible – I am a former Weight Watchers leader and binge eater so feeling secure in my Food Freedom and feeding myself foods that help me feel my best has been life changing.

But I am human and once in a while, my Sugar Dragon starts to roar or I find myself enjoying wine a few too many nights in a row. So, what do I do? I DO NOT go back to the “might as well” mentality that I had back in my dieting days, aka “I might as well eat the whole cake because I had a slice.” Nope – I go right back to Whole30 (or a shorter reset, where I might eat Whole30 for 7 or 9 or 12 days, depending on what I need) and get myself refocused on healthy eating and feeling my best. As time has gone on, I live my Food Freedom for longer and longer stretches, and it becomes easier and easier.

This can be you, too. I promise. If you do the work, the reward will be worth it.

Are you doing Fast Track or Slow Roll reintroduction? Let us know what your plan is after the September Whole30!

Food Freedom: Breaking Up With Oreos

I have done numerous rounds of Whole 30, numerous mini resets, and it took until recently to actively practice and understand the mindfulness of Food Freedom. Recently, I went on vacation to Savannah with my family. It’s a tradition we have done every Easter and typically means a lot of indulgence; cocktails starting by 5, delicious food, lots of sweets, and a fancy Easter brunch. Cue out of control eating…

This year was different. I was in the process of reading Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig. The pre-Whole 30 me would have chosen a different book and gone all out at every moment I could. This time, I chose differently.

I actively chose to practice Food Freedom this time. A couple times I fell hard. The most memorable learning experience was when I fell face first into some mini Oreo snack packs. As I was eating them, my FF voice was saying, “Why are you doing this? You just at a delicious compliant lunch and these are so small you can’t even taste the frosting.” At 3 mini bags I stopped. I felt disgusting and incredibly disappointed with myself. I actually talked myself through the situation and analyzed what happened.

My take away was: I can’t have Oreos. They are a food without breaks for me and they just aren’t worth it. I was feeling really anxious and didn’t realize it. I ate the Oreos to make myself feel better and rationalized it because the packages were small. I decided I needed to sit and feel gross for a moment, so I could remember how it felt, and then when the opportunity came, I went on a run. After my run and some “kid free me time”, my anxiety was calmed, I felt better, and I reminded myself that this was a learning experience.

I definitely spent a lot of time that week practicing Food Freedom. After the Oreo incident, I felt more in control. I often made better food choices and indulged when it was truly worth it. This is not to say that I didn’t make poor choices, thinking something was worth it when it wasn’t or doing something by sheer habit, but my mindfulness was front and center. I certainly understand that this is a lifelong exercise of practice, analysis and reset if needed, but I also see the light that these choices will become more routine and not as challenging down the road.

During vacation, I ate compliant breakfasts and lunches. My dinners were generally not compliant, but I made them as compliant as possible. I minimized snacking, had some desserts, some but very moderate alcohol and some dairy. My body started aching again, I was sluggish, tired and I had this underlying nagging headache on and off along with bloating and congestion. When I came home, I did a mini-reset. By Day 3, my energy was back up, the body aches were much better although not yet subsided and the headaches are gone.

Often times I hear about a fear to experience Food Freedom and to dip your toe back in the non-compliant pool. Food Freedom is all about contemplating whether or not its worth it to dip your toe in the water, waiting for a bit to see if it is truly worth it, being mindful about what dipping your toe might trigger and then making a choice. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a learning thing. We are conditioned to be slaves to a diet and not actually to be free in our food choices. If your choice doesn’t go as planned, circle back around, reset and make a different choice next time. It’s going through this process time and again that truly will set us free.