I am writing this on day17 of my first Whole30. Overall, this whole30 process has gone reasonably smoothly, but perhaps this is because it is not radically different from how I usually eat. I have been following a pretty paleo diet (pretty as in mostly, not as in attractive) for a while now, and I have been eating low carb for a long time (apart from when I was in South America where carb is king. Seriously, you get a separate plate for your carbs, usually rice, potato and fried plantain). Anyway, food wise I haven’t found this particularly hard. I have, of course, had cravings and you can see this in my previous blogs. It has however, made me examine the emotional reasons for these cravings as well as the physical. Why do I want a glass of wine at the end of the day? Do I need it? What purpose does it serve? And can I get by without it? The answer is obviously, yes I can. Do I want to? That is a question I am finding more difficult to answer. I like wine. I enjoy drinking wine with friends. I even enjoy a glass by myself with a good book. Is this something I want to change permanently? No. But how do I decide when the difference between enjoying something and that’s ok (food freedom) and when it is an emotional trigger response. Do I want to think about it all that much?
I can’t see that I have lost any weight while doing Whole30. I know I am not supposed to be thinking about the number on the scale, but I am. I am thinking more about the number on the tape measure- have I lost any inches? If not, I am going to be very disappointed, but I think I will have to face that disappointment in 13 days as my clothes seem to fit exactly as they did two weeks ago.. Are non-scale victories enough for me? At the moment I don’t think they are because I am overweight and my body fat is far too high, so I am trying to reduce both through a healthy diet and exercise. If following the Whole30 principles doesn’t help me to do that, then I need to do something else and the only thing that has really worked for me is calorie counting. I am going to wait until the end, however, I know that my body usually takes 3-4 weeks to show any real change when I make changes in my diet and exercise. I should also take into account the cough I have had, which has reduced my cardio to almost zero for several weeks. I know people say you don’t need cardio to lose weight/inches, but I find it really, really helps.
So what are my non-scale victories?
- I have more energy. My work outs have become more intense and I am working out more often, as well as lifting heavier. I feel like I am properly full of nutrients that are helping me to perform.
- I have had some difficult moments and I have reflected upon them, and got through them. These have been personal and food related. Some have been more difficult than others. Smelling the fresh baked bread in the supermarket made my mouth water, but I was able to resist tearing off a big chunk and stuffing my face. Victory is mine!
- I am able to be more alert and in the moment.
- I am sleeping better. It has become normal to feel tired at around ten pm and I am falling asleep much more quickly and waking much more naturally at around 5.30-6.00am. This might be something to do with my physical tiredness, but my natural patterns are no longer interrupted by sugar highs/lows or affected by alcohol.
- I have proved to myself that I can do this. I don’t need to wine-d down at the end of the day, I can resist temptation, even when a student buys me a massive box of Lindt chocolate truffles, I put them away in a drawer. Now I am thinking about them. Damn!
Now one of the things that has helped is making food I really enjoy, and Crackling Coconut Chicken is one of them. This is based on Cracklin’ Chicken by Michelle Tam @nomnompaleo which is great by itself, but I was looking for something a bit more saucy and I had coconut milk to use up.
Ingredients (for 4 meals)
- 4 large chicken thighs (skin on, bone on)
- Ghee (about ½ tbsp. more if you like)
- ¾ can of coconut milk
- ¼ pint compliant chicken stock
- 4 cloves of garlic
- And inch and a half of ginger
- Tumeric (about 1tsp.)
- Cayenne pepper to your taste (I used about ¼ tsp.)
- Green veg (I used sugar snap peas, green pepper, red chard, baby spinach)
This starts as nomnompaleo’s crackling chicken, but you don’t need to remove the bones. Instead use scissors to snip along the line of the bone so that you can flatten out each thigh. Turn over and salt the skin. Melt the ghee in a heavy bottomed frying pan and place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side down and let them crackle. This should take about 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk, stock and spices into a food processor and blitz together. Taste. Add more of anything you feel like. Once the crackling chicken is all crackled, remove from the pan and remove the skin from the top. I give it away to be eaten, but if you like it have a quick chicken snack. Let the pan cool a little and return the chicken to the pan, uncooked side down. It might frizzle a little but that’s ok. Add the coconut milk mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Leave the chicken to cook through (about 20-25 minutes). While this is happening, prepare the green veg you are going to add. Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is reduced a little, add the green veg and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender enough for your taste (like mine quite crunchy).
Et voila! Tasty and Whole30 compliant. Oo la la!
Ps it keeps pretty well in the fridge and tastes great heated up the next day..or even the day after, so great if you like to meal prep.