I will be featuring whole30 recipes (like the classic Guyanese breakfast pictured above) in some upcoming posts and wanted to share a little about whole30 and me today. About 4 years ago I was struggling with the worst heart burn / acid reflux (burn stomach if you are Guyanese) of my life. Everyone including my doctor thought that maybe I had an ulcer. Therefore I started working with a Gastro Intestinal (GI) specialist who put me on a regimen that required taking an over the counter acid reducer every day.
One day at work I realized that I had forgotten to take the acid reducer. In a panic, I was racing to the nearest pharmacy/drug store to buy some antacid. When I explained to a colleague why I was suddenly dashing for the door, she changed my life forever. This colleague lived a paleo lifestyle and quickly shared with me her experience with food, gut health and acid reflux. She then told me that I should try an elimination diet to figure out what foods were causing my acid reflux. At the time I didn't even think that the food I was eating was what was making me sick. After talking to my colleague at length about paleo I decided to do some on line research and came across The Whole30.
My Very First Whole30
Armed with just a list of NOs (no sugar, no alcohol, no diary, no grains, no legumes) I decided to start the whole30. It was rough and I don't even think I followed any meal templates or guides. I just avoided all the things they said to avoid and that was that. Somehow by the grace of the universe and all the Gods, I survived the 30 days. My heartburn and acid reflux also went away. GONE! How did that happen? I don't know and I didn't care, I was free.
I went back to eating whatever I wanted immediately after the 30 days without any reintroduction period. After a normal day of eating, that night I started having severe stomach cramps, the worst heartburn and acid reflux that felt like a tiny person was forcing his way out of my throat. That description is a bit graphic but it is how I felt. I stayed up all night regretting all the food choices I made that day.
The next day I did some more research about elimination diets. I also picked up it Starts with Food and The Whole30. After reading these books I started my second round of whole30 and this time it went a lot smoother. My results were also better. I lost weight, I felt great, my heart burn and acid reflux was gone, I was off the acid reducer and most importantly through a proper reintroduction I identified the foods that were making me sick. I followed up with my the GI specialist and we concluded that I have a non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Before Whole30 I didn't understand why I felt really bloated after meals that included bread or roti or certain grains. Now I know why.
Why am I sharing all of this?
Although I've been gluten free and mostly paleo for 4 years, I have a Guyanese food blog (this blog) and I was so nervous to share whole30, paleo or non traditional recipes. I've shared a few gluten free recipes lately to test the waters. Honestly, I was so nervous that everyone would "turn up their faces" and just unfollow my blog. I'm not saying that I don't cook traditional Guyanese food or the recipes I share. You all know I do but I modify my recipes to suit my diet. I modify my plate to exclude things that make me sick. My husband and children don't have the same diet restrictions that I have. My husband has done whole30 a couple times with me and he is perfectly fine when he reintroduces everything that I can't eat. So he continues to eat roti and bakes and corn soup and any form of rice at every meal, if he chooses. I cannot.
I'm no saint and I've eaten things that make me sick and are gluten, sugar and diary loaded over the past few years because of many reasons including but not limited to social outings, traditions, culture, nostalgia (like when my mom makes roti and I just can't resist the flakiness or when I made my grandmother's bread recipe to share with you all and ate a whole slice on camera!). So why share now? Not sharing this part of me prevents me from being my true authentic self and I am nothing if I can't be me. Plus I want to show you how flexible Guyanese/Caribbean food is even if you follow restrictive diets, like the Whole30.
So What is Whole30 and why should you care?
The Whole30 is a 30 day elimination diet (for lack of a better word). More information on the diet and resources for whole30 can be found here. For me it was a reset, a mind opener and it changed the way I ate. Four years after my first whole30 I am still learning about the foods we eat but I am more aware and in tune with what works for my body and what doesn't. I've done 6 whole30s and every time I feel refreshed and renewed.
I am doing another whole30 in March. After having knee surgery in January, my knee is constantly inflamed as a result of the poor food choices I made while I was recovering. A reset is what will set me on the path to healing. I want you to follow along with me and see that some of our Guyanese and Caribbean foods are naturally whole30 compliant. And by this I mean, they don't violate any of the whole30 rules (that is as long as you don't load up your plate with rice or roti). Our food is not only delicious but it is also well balanced and nutritious. So we've actually been eating whole30 our entire lives without knowing it. Well, that is when we don't add sugar and other non-compliant ingredients to our dishes.
I'm doing the March Whole30!
I'm doing a whole30 in March and I will be sharing all of my Guyanese meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—for the month of March on my Instagram (don't worry, I'll post new recipes here but won't clog your inbox with every single thing I'm eating. I promise). You might be surprised by some of the things that I will be eating over the next month or so (below is a preview of my first week).
Week 1 Menu:
- BREAKFAST: I love making large batch dishes for breakfast so I don't need think about what I'm eating first thing in the morning.
- Plantain and Chicken Hash
- Scrambled Eggs and Veggies (recipe will be shared in an upcoming instagram post)
- LUNCH: Keeping lunch simple helps me balance all of the cooking that is sometimes required for Whole30
- DINNER: You don't need to cook every day like me. Just choose two or three things to make. Double the amounts if you're feeding your family and you'll have enough food for the week. I like to roast two whole chickens and make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week. This helps to I have prepped dinners in case something comes up and I can't cook.
- Sunday: Instant Pot Dry Food and oven roasted salmon filets (recipe for the salmon coming in an upcoming post)
- Monday: Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with a side salad
- Tuesday: Spicy Sautéed Shrimp over baked sweet potatoes (recipe coming in an upcoming post)
- Wednesday: Instant Pot Beef Curry over Cauliflower Rice
- Thursday: Chicken Soup (subbing chicken feet for a whole chicken in this recipe)
- Friday night: Left overs from Thursday
- Saturday: Dinner out (click here to see the whole30 dining guide)
The first week of whole30 can be so overwhelming. Non-compliant food items and ingredients are readily available and accessible everywhere. You might be thinking how am I going to make it to day 30. One day at a time is how you're going to do it. Planning out your meals and prepping is how you are going to make it. Keeping it simple is how you will make it. Enjoying flavors and dishes that you are familiar with is also how you are going to make it. You got this!
Week 1 Shopping List:
In addition to using the official whole30 shopping list, to stock your pantry and kitchen with staples I also create a shopping list based on my planned menu. You can find the printable week one menu and shopping list by clicking on the image below:
I am really excited about this March Whole30 round. Quite a few of my friends and instagram followers expressed an interest in either doing the round with me or just following along. I hope you can join me too.