Whole30: how to eat out

I did it. I managed 30 full days of eating completely compliant Whole30 foods. And went on holiday. And continued to have a social life. Hurrah!

I’m not going to pretend that eating out whilst doing Whole30 is easy. In reality, there are very few options and sometimes you feel like a bit of an idiot (like when you’re scraping mayo off a tomato slice or sending back mushrooms that have been cooked in butter despite you saying you couldn’t eat dairy). But it is possible, and enjoyable. I had a couple of really quite good dinners out during the last month. Shocking, I know.

So here are my top tips for eating out, Whole30-style…

Tip one: remember that the courgette fries at Byron come battered!
Tip one: remember that the courgette fries at Byron come battered!

Plan where you are going

If you just decide to go out for dinner, without a clue where you’re going, you’re going to be wandering around for a while. Check out restaurant menus first and check whether there’s something you’ll be able to eat (even if it’s with a few substitutions). Yes, it completely takes any spontaneity of the situation, but unfortunately, it is totally necessary.

Get used to asking for subs

I have never been good at being assertive in restaurants, but if nothing else, Whole30 makes you be. I only ate one meal out in the whole 30 days that didn’t require any amendments, so practice saying ‘no cheese’, ‘no dressing’ and ‘no bread’ like you mean it. Which brings me onto drinks…

Get used to saying ‘NOT CORDIAL’

The drinks part of Whole30 is absolutely the easiest. I mean, you can have tea AND coffee and neither are particularly improved with the presence of milk anyway. And, one of my favourite soft drinks normally is soda and fresh lime, which made it even easier. But the amount of people that think that ‘fresh lime’ means lime cordial… or lemon… or no lime… or just a completely different drink altogether is unbelievable. It’s also one of the drinks with the vastest ranging pricing I found, having been charged anything from absolutely nothing to over £2.

Learn to love steak

I’m pretty sure most people who eat meat already know that steak is bloody brilliant. I did not. But after eating it – albeit very tentatively – on my first dinner out, I now do. And that, along with a naked burger, is pretty much all you’ll be able to eat on most restaurant menus. But I had some very, very good burgers, so it really wasn’t a problem.

Go with people who are supportive

It really won’t be an enjoyable dining experience if you are having to justify and explain yourself throughout your meal. I am lucky that I dined with some very supportive and accommodating friends during my Whole30. And on several occasions I was with Charlie, who did the whole thing with me, which was absolutely invaluable. If you can drag a friend along with you on the journey – do!

Come back on Friday for my guide of where to eat (and not eat!) in London on Whole30.

Whole30: day 31!

It’s now day 31 of my first Whole30. Which means I did it! I survived for 30 whole days eating nothing but real food – just meat, fish, fruit, vegs, nuts and natural oils. I survived for 30 whole days without bread, cheese, chocolate, cake, biscuits and pasta. I survived for 30 whole days not drinking juice, squash, wine, beer or gin.

How do I feel?

To be honest, right now I feel AWESOME.

I haven’t once felt hungry. I haven’t once eaten something I didn’t want to. I haven’t once eaten something I thought was horrible – the closest I came was two mouthfuls of a Chia Pod for breakfast on an early train to Cardiff last week. That quickly went in the bin and I ate my delicious lunch of chicken, roast veg and avocado instead.

I feel awake, lean and full of energy. Admittedly, it took a long time to happen – it probably wasn’t until my final week. But after feeling (genuinely) the tiredest I have ever, ever felt during week one especially and even into week two, I finally feel really good, just in general. Running feels good, cycling feels good, eating feels good.

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Several awesome things have come out of this experience…

I have fallen in love with cooking (again)
I’ve always liked being in the kitchen, but only when I’ve been ‘in the right mood’. But for the last month I have cooked (almost) every single breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch and honestly I have loved it. I’ve enjoyed thinking of meal combinations, trying new things and the thorough meal planning for each week. It really has played to my super organised side. I’ve really enjoyed Sunday evening cook ups, spending several hours in the kitchen prepping and planning for the week ahead.

I have eaten new things
At least 95% of the meals I have cooked have been something that I would not have cooked before. I’ve discovered new foods, new ways of cooking things and new flavour combinations. I’ve used coconut oil to cook with and a julienne peeler to make courgetthi for the first time. I’ve discovered almond butter, cooking chorizo, raisins, kiwifruit and turkey. I thought nuts were a boring snack before, and now I love them. I was adamant I didn’t like beef, but in thirty days I’ve had more mince, burgers and steak than I had in the last five years. STEAK IS AMAZING!

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I have eaten more healthily
I will admit that (especially towards the end) I didn’t stick completely to the ‘spirit’ of Whole30 in that I snacked quite a lot and had a very high fruit intake. HOWEVER, I didn’t eat a single non-compliant food (apart from an accidental bite of corn on the cob on holiday… it’s easy to forget sweetcorn is off limits!) the whole way through. So, you know what, if I’ve snacked in between meals and it’s been on cashew nut and raisins, or apple and almond butter, or strawberries and grapes, instead of half a packet of Maryland cookies, then that is a massive win. I ate virtually no protein before, now I’m getting a good sized portion with every meal. I struggled to hit five a day before, now I’m easily doubling it. Every single day.

What have I learnt?

One of the main things I wanted to get out of this was to stop snacking so much, especially at work.

That hasn’t happened.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am just not a only three meals a day kind of person. It’s not that I’m not eating enough for my meals – I have followed the meal planning guide throughout and I never felt hungry. I would say that three eggs, a whole avocado, some salmon or chorizo plus tomatoes and/or cucumber and/or mushrooms is a pretty hefty breakfast, but I still liked eating fruit and nuts throughout the day. But as I said, if it’s fruit and nuts, it’s not exactly the end of the world by any means.

But I also haven’t missed a lot of things I thought I would. The drinks part is easy. I didn’t miss alcohol at all, in fact I feel great for not having drunk for a few weeks. It’s made me realise most social situations do not require alcohol in the slightest – it’s just the norm to drink at every flipping opportunity in this country. I haven’t missed cheese (really surprising) or pasta that much (I ate it a lot!) either.

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What will I do now?

Firstly, I will probably drink a glass of Prosecco and have a slice of cake. Cake (specifically sponge cake) has been my biggest craving throughout.

But then, I’ll probably carry on.

For the most part anyway. I’m looking forward to eating out and not feeling like the biggest pain in the ass for all involved, but I’m going to keep my house as Whole30 compliant as possible. I’ll keep making lunches the same way I have been because they’re awesome. Dinners have been my absolute favourite – it’s been a bit of a revelation that with a bit of prep and by having some basics always ‘in stock’, I can have a meal that’s not pasta and sauce, that’s well rounded and delicious in less than 15 minutes. Breakfast I’m undecided on – getting up to make eggs every morning was the biggest shift required in my overall routine, so I think time will tell.

Overall, I’m glad I did it. I’m in a much happier place with the way I am eating now than I was thirty days ago, and that was the aim. I’m in control again, I’ve picking up some new tools, I’m eating some great foods. Definite success in my book.

 

The photosets of everything I ate during my Whole30 are over on my Tumblr:

Days one to ten

Days eleven to twenty

Days twenty one to thirty

I’ve also developed quite a penchant for posting photos of food over on my Instagram.

Look out for some more Whole30 inspired posts coming soon!