soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness


What I learned from Whole30

At varying points in my Whole30 journey I felt great, terrible, bloated, like it was the easiest and greatest, and like it was the worst and would never end.  It was a bit of a roller coaster at times, but overall, I’m quite glad I tried it out and think I have a few things I can carry along with me for the long term.

What is Whole30 you ask? In a nutshell, for 30 days you remove all sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains from your diet to hit a reset button in your body and let it heal from years of poor eating.*  There’s a whole science behind it if you care to learn more (it’s quite interesting and even though my Whole30 is over, I still want to finish reading the book).

Sausage veggie goodness

One of my favorite meals of the month

Let me start off by admitting that I didn’t even make it the full 30 days and my Whole30 was far from perfectly compliant.  Eating meals can be so community driven. For example, when I was eating in groups, celebrating with others (weddings! milestones! Yay!), it was hardest to stay compliant. I also slipped on the rules when travel complicated my ability to control my meals.

Doing Whole30 forced me away from my addiction to sugar and away from my reliance on grains to round out a meal.  Prior to Whole30 I felt I ate a fairly balanced diet already and stayed away from most highly processed foods.  However, I would be the first to admit my reliance on sugar.  Not simply as a quick energy source, but also for emotional reasons – rewards, a crutch during stressful times, etc.

breadless sandwich

Trying a breadless sandwich idea from Amazon_Ashley

Whole30 helped me begin to recognize my emotional reliance on food a bit more and try to address it slowly. Thirty days is not long enough for me to completely break out of those habits, but it did highlight for me how closely my eating can be tied to emotions. Instead of not eating at all, I would substitute for something Whole30 approved to munch on.  That’s not exactly the point – but feeding my body something good is a step in the right direction, rather than eating sugar or salty processed foods.

Whole30 also gotten rid of that 3 o’clock haze that I often experience at work.  In feeding my body well with fruits, vegetables, and proteins, I was able to rid myself of that most dreaded part of the afternoon where my mind goes a bit fuzzy after lunch and I hit a slump.  Ding, ding, ding – it’s tied to lunchtime carbs and how I process them.  Cleaner lunches helped me stay more focused at work, and I also wasn’t dipping in energy from a sugar crash – extra bonus points.

My body feels well nourished, my mind is sharp, I know I’m fueling myself well so why quit? Why not make Whole30 a permanent part of my life?

brining pork chops

Brining pork chops is a revelation!

Food is about more than nourishing my body.  Of course that’s the bulk of it, but as I alluded to earlier, the toughest moments of Whole30 were when I was with my community and I couldn’t fully participate because of my chosen diet.  Especially when eating as a guest in someone’s home, I did not always have the option to be compliant. I also had a work trip during my Whole30 that completely derailed my efforts to stay compliant.  Trying to figure out compliance while traveling deserves it’s own full post, to be honest.  I did try my best for the first few days of the trip but there was an emotionally exhausting piece of trying to balance a new work situation, travel in a new locale, and the funky way of eating. Hence the derailment after a while.

All that said and done, I do hope to incorporate what I’ve learned from Whole30 into my every day life going forward.  I hope to keep grains to a minimum still (after going a bit grain and sugar crazy this first weekend off Whole30) and also keep off the addiction to sugar.  Sugar cycles are crazy quick to take hold in my body and I have a major sweet tooth.  So, my goals are to figure out the balance of celebrating and enjoying food, but not letting the hormonal affects of food dictate what I’m putting into my body.  I also have been entirely convinced that long term, to fuel my body well, I may need to take drastic measures (drastic as in Whole30) when I find myself in a season of poor food decisions.  It’s the reset I needed after summer sweets and treats.

I know some of you other Catholic bloggers did Whole30 – what are your reflections now that it’s over? Link in the comments and I’ll be sure to click over too!

*I also modified to continue drinking Shakeology throughout my Whole30 experience, after having followed another Beachbody coach’s experience of going off Shakeology and doing Whole30.


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Flourless, sugarless chocolate chip cookies

Spent after hosting a 4th of July cookout last night, I didn’t much feel like being in the kitchen today and wanted to enjoy some of the leftovers relaxing in the sun. So I did. It was wonderful, but my meal felt unfinished after my sandwich stacked with veggies and leftover carrot salad from Smitten Kitchen.  I’m reticent to admit that meals generally feel unfinished without a smidge of sweet at the end.

Carrot Salad with Tahini and chickpeas

Have you made this salad yet? You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

I know I can’t eat dessert every day, let alone every meal, but being a holiday weekend and seeking the comfort of a handheld sweet, I turned to a recipe I’d pinned on Pinterest and adapted it to my ingredients and intuition.  It’s a recipe that meets at the intersection of comfort (a cookie!) and healthier eating (no sugar! no flour!).

If you are the kind to like classic chocolate chip cookies, you will be disappointed. But if you are the kind who likes a less sweet but still tasty cookie too – these are a good substitute on a day where you don’t want to ruin otherwise good eating.  On a whim today I whipped them together in about 7 minutes and used the 7-10 minutes baking time to clean up my lunch and cookie dishes before I returned to the porch to continue resting and recovering. Thankyouverymuch.

Flourless, sugarless choc chip cookie

Flourless, sugarless, chocolate chip cookies

2 ripe bananas

1 heaping Tbs of PB2

1 c quick oats, pulsed in food processor until fine

1/4 c old fashioned oats

scant 1/2 c chocolate chips*


Pulse bananas and PB2 in food processor. Mix in a bowl with the quick oats (finely processed) and old fashioned oats. Add chocolate chips. They will be a bit runny, but if it seems more like batter than dough, add more oats.  Drop in balls onto a greased cookiesheet. Sprinkle the top of each with a few flakes of salt.  Bake at 350 for 7-10 mins.

*I used dark chocolate chunks because that’s what I had.  I would recommend using semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips so the chocolate’s sweetness doesn’t overpower the cookie.


7QT: Seven Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture

First off, if you are not familiar with CSAs, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In short summary, a member of a CSA pays a fee at the beginning of a growing season and each week picks up their share of the farm’s harvest.

This will be my fourth summer as part of a CSA and I can’t wait for my share pickup to begin next week! I know several friends who have considered making the leap to participate in a CSA, but weren’t sure if they wanted to jump.  So I wanted to link up with Kathryn and share my 7 quick takes on why I enjoy being a member of community supported agriculture. Without further ado…

7 benefits of a CSA

— 1 —

It’s a good value.  I tend to easily go over my grocery budget when farmer’s market season rolls around and a CSA helps keep my spending on produce in check. After all, it’s only me and the ocassional extra mouth that I’m cooking for at this point, so there is only so much that I can eat in a week.  THAT however, doesn’t tend to stop me from stocking up on the abundance of beautiful ingredients staring at me as I walk through the farmer’s market.

By having a CSA share I have paid upfront for my produce and that means at the height of summer when I’ve got zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn coming out my ears, I wouldn’t have to spend anything at the farmer’s market if I didn’t want to.

But usually I still want to. I mean all the Blue Oven Bakery bread, Canal Junction cheese, Backyard Orchards fruit….come on.  My willpower is weak. Continue reading