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?

Move It Monday: Let's Get Moving

You’ve rocked your Whole30 and are eating veggies and healthy foods left and right. What about exercise? No time? I have a list as long as my arm about why I couldn’t do any exercise. Realistically, with two young children, a full-time job, and a husband with crazy work hours, I’m not going to get out of the door and set foot into a gym. It’s not happening. Me + Gym = NO!

I’ve wanted to get moving and do something but kept putting it off. It’s so easy when you’re super busy. I mean, the amount of time we spend cooking and cleaning the kitchen alone is a feat itself on Whole30! That’s gotta burn a calorie or two, right? Time was my first excuse.

My second excuse is that I’ve always been self-conscious exercising. It’s not particularly motivating when you need a ‘system’ to hold the girls in and they’re packed in like a uniboob, your back isn’t feeling great, and you can’t find a shirt that doesn’t hang like a potato sack. Oh, the list goes on. During my last annual physical, I asked my doctor about a breast reduction and she said I’d definitely qualify and that my insurance would cover it. WHAT? Really?

I went in and got the consult with the surgeon and the date was set. The surgery went well and the recovery was easy. Fast forward six and a half weeks later and I’m a C cup. A very happy C cup! Do you know how much they took out? 2 lbs. on one side and 2.5lbs. on the other. Yeah, that’s how much extra weight I was carrying in my chest area–no wonder exercising wasn’t fun. I feel like a new person. That tired lower back pain is gone–I didn’t even realize how much this was affecting my back. I want to move!

So, my second excuse is gone. My first excuse, time, is what I needed to figure out. After thinking a lot about it, I realized that I could carve out 30 minutes a day somewhere in my day. Obviously, that means I’m not leaving the house to exercise right now. I found some videos and have been working out at home. Some days my six year old daughter is my workout buddy. She’s quite keen on exercising with me–so, climbing on my back while I was doing a move today wasn’t in the video, but hey, we were laughing and the time flew by. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and get it done.

Grab a DVD from Target. Got Amazon Prime? You can get free fitness videos there. Search online–there are plenty of online fitness plans. If you don’t want to do videos, just get moving. Park a little further away from the store (possibly when getting a workout DVD at Target!), take a walk on your lunch break, or take the stairs. Making little changes add up over time. You’ve put so much time in fueling your body with good food–you are ready to move!

What are you doing to get moving?

Five Ways Being Selfish Makes Me a Better Person

Being described as “selfish” is usually considered a negative character flaw… and sometimes it is. There are certain times and relationships where it is appropriate and even necessary to put others’ needs before our own. In close, loving relationships such as with a spouse or our children it is better to be selfless most of the time. However, even then, we must draw the line and do what’s best for ourselves.

It seems especially hard for women to put ourselves first. We’ll wear ourselves out trying to be everything to everyone. We feel guilty about saying, “no” even when we should.

I’ve decided that starting now, I’m going to be unapologetically SELFISH. Here are five ways that being selfish is good for us and the people that matter in our lives.

1. I am more productive when I have fewer things on my “to do list.”
I’m all about creating a list of tasks that need to be done. But when that list is a mile long, I feel overwhelmed and anxious. So, I’ll prioritize what’s important, delegate the rest, and say, “no” to everything else.

2. When it comes to social activities, I’ll only commit to things I really want to do whenever possible.
There’s no worse feeling than agreeing to attend an event and regretting it on the day of when you don’t want to go. Save yourself and the host the trouble and politely decline the invitation from the beginning.

3. I will put my marriage/family first.
Yes, that is being selfish because my family is important to me. I don’t have children, but that doesn’t mean I have lots of free time. I love my husband and spending time with him. So, when it’s family time, everything else can wait.

4. Work-life balance is necessary.
I will work a regularly scheduled work day that includes breaks, time off, and vacation. I am not available 24/7/365 even if you see me on social media.

5. Taking care of myself is my number one priority. Body, mind, and soul.
It’s impossible to put my best foot forward in any area of my life if I’m not taking care of myself. What that means to me is getting proper rest, being physically active, eating nutrition meals, taking supplements, and getting regular check-ups. I’ll also keep my mind sharp and feed my soul by doing things that I enjoy and things that help me grow.

When we’re our best selves, everyone benefits. It’s OK to say, “no” without explaining yourself. Be selfish and feel good about it.

Here are a few of my favorite things to do for myself:

  • Sleeping in or taking a nap

  • Listening to music

  • At-home spa treatments

  • Reading

  • Quality time with my husband

  • Going to the park

  • Writing hand-written letters and postcards

  • Browsing in stores

  • Treating myself at a coffee shop

  • Quiet time alone

What things do you enjoy doing for yourself?

Jennifer Amoako is a proud military wife and a Whole30 Certified Coach specializing in holistic wellness. Her mission is to change the perception of what “healthy” looks like. Jennifer currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband.

You can follow her on Instagram @ajenniferyourthoughts and online at