Lola Tries a Paleo Challenge… While Pregnant.

I finally feel like I can blog about this paleo challenge!  I’m excited to be 2.5 weeks deep into this program.  I attempted my very first paleo 30 day challenge 3 years ago, and let me just say… it did NOT go well.  Little did I know that I was pregnant, and soon the morning/all day long sickness had taken over my life.  I was so nauseous and unprepared that I don’t think I even made it past Day 7.  So, I was certainly a little skeptical when my gym announced that they would be kicking off a Paleo Challenge in mid-January.  I would still be in my first trimester… I was just getting over the stomach flu, etc.  It just didn’t seem like awesome timing.  But this was the first opportunity I’ve ever had to do a challenge with a group of people to support me.  They split us into teams, and I was partnered up with 3 other women.  One is a nursing mom with 3 kids, one is a mom of 3 small kids, and one is also pregnant with a toddler.  So honestly, I felt like there was strength in numbers, “If they can do it, I should be able to do it, too!”

Before I begin talking about this, I want to make 2 things perfectly clear.

Thing #1:  A lot of people take on nutrition challenges with the intention to lose weight, slim down, get stronger, etc.  My goal for this challenge was pure and simple.  I wanted to give my growing baby the best nutrition possible.  Period.

Thing #2:  Please know that I am a real person.  I like junk food just as much as the rest of you.  When I was pregnant with Poppyseed, I read a lot of blogs that were written by paleo moms.  Some of them made me feel really, really bad about myself for eating the occasional unhealthy meal or snack.  I don’t want this blog to have that judgemental tone.  I’m going to try to choose my words carefully here.  But just know this… at the same time, I am very passionate about eating healthy!  I think that when a woman is planning to get pregnant, is pregnant, or is nursing her baby is the most important time in her life to make her nutrition a priority.  I think it’s really a shame that some of us are led to believe that our bodies are these magical things that can turn a really unhealthy food into the perfect fuel for a mother and fetus.  Our bodies are ridiculously amazing, especially during pregnancy, but I believe that God designed us in a such a way that still requires much care.

I think I’m rambling on and on about this because last night I saw a celebrity post a picture of a pretty standard junk food on her Instagram feed.  It said, “Hey, I’m pregnant, I have an excuse!”  It’s one thing to indulge in a snack or treat because you really want to, and because it’s something that you really enjoy.  But it’s another entirely to think that because you’re pregnant, you deserve to eat less healthy.

Okay rant over.  Back to my experience with this challenge…

So here are the rules of the Nutrition Challenge, as outlined by my gym owner and the Whole9 website.  I highly encourage you guys to go see their website if you are interested in this program or have questions about it!

Eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. Yes, we said corn… for the purposes of this program, corn is a grain! This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes off your plate.

In addition, no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.”  This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no coconut-flour pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements duringyour Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)

The Fine Print

A few concessions, based on our experience, and those of our clients. These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30. Including these foods as part of your varied healthy eating plan should not negatively impact the results of your Whole30 program.

  • Clarified Butter or Ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.
  • Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products will use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re okay with a small amount of fruit juice as an addedingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice! Refer to your Shopping Guide for clarification.
  • Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
  • Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.
  • Processed foods. Minimally processed foods like canned coconut milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, chicken broth or canned olives are all acceptable on the Whole30 – but remember, avoid anything with carageenanMSG or sulfites. We’ve singled these three additives/preservatives out because they all have potentially nasty side effects – and you can easily find processed foods without them.

Yes: Eat real food.

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

– See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two#sthash.Pkprcwty.dpuf

The Whole30 Program Rules

Yes: Eat real food.

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

No: Avoid for 30 days.

More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
  • Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits (chips and fries) and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • No Paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts, or junk foods. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no banana-egg pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.

One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)

– See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two#sthash.Pkprcwty.dpuf

Yes: Eat real food.

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

– See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two#sthash.Pkprcwty.dpuf

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list. – See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two#sthash.Pkprcwty.dpufSo, I’m going to go ahead and make a few confessions here and now.  I have completed the program as outlined twice.  This time is not quite one of them.  I chose to break two rules, but I made that decision before starting the program and was honest with the coordinator about it.  First of all, I know it said not to Paleo-fy treats such as muffins, but I knew I’d need some variation and treats to make it through.  The craving for carbs and bread-like textures was just SO intense at 10-11 weeks pregnant.  I honestly didn’t see how a muffin made of almond meal, eggs, and bananas was going to be bad.

Now, I’m going to be upfront here and make two confessions.  In 2013 I completed this program twice, exactly as outlined.  But this time, I decided before Day 1 that I was going to make two exceptions for myself in the name of being pregnant.  First of all, I decided that even though you aren’t supposed to make paleo treats such as muffins, I was going to anyway.  I eat scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies with fruit for breakfast 5-6 days a week, but one day a week I make muffins out of almond meal, eggs, and banana.  (No sweetener of any kind is used.)  I made that exception for myself because at the beginning of our program I was 10-11 weeks pregnant and the cravings for carbs and bread-like textures was so incredibly strong that I knew I wouldn’t make it through the 30 days without something to satisfy it!

Secondly, I chose to consume small amounts of dairy.  We are fortunate enough to have a milk subscription to a local dairy farm that sells raw milk.  Their cows are 100% grassfed, even at milking time.  Additionally, each cow in their herd is tested for leukemia, bovine viral diarrhea, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and Johnes when they are purchased and maintained throughout their lifespan.  In short, this is the healthiest, safest, and most nutrient dense milk that I will ever have the opportunity to drink in my entire life.  If all I could get was milk from a grocery store (regardless of whether it was organic or not) I would not have consumed any dairy during this program.  But since Oatmeal and I felt like there was literally no downside, I decided to drink a small glass each morning.  Fortunately I have completed the program twice and know that I tolerate dairy very well, even after a month of avoiding it, so I feel good about this!

So….. I’m almost finished with Week 3… how is it going!?

Y’all!  It has been TOUGH!  I’m not even going to lie over here!  It’s been really, really hard about half of the days.  The first week was both fun yet challenging.  I was excited to begin and excited to have my “team” of girls at the gym, but lordy did I miss my morning bagel run!  Eggs in the morning at 10 weeks pregnant – YUCK!  That was rough.  The smell of meat made me very sick at that point, and really the only food that I wanted to eat was salty/cold/crunchy.  So I made it through with lots of things like salads, homemade sweet potato fries made in our oven with LOTS of salt, and guacamole.

There have been a few key things that have helped me to stay on track.

1. First and foremost, being on a “team” of other girls has made me extremely accountable.  Our names are written on a huge dry erase board at the gym, and we get one point for every day that we complete the challenge.  I am certainly not going to be the reason my team loses!

2. Planning ahead, and keeping it simple.  It is not easy to predict what you will want to eat in four hours when you’re pregnant, but writing down a weekly meal plan and buying all of the ingredients beforehand made it much easier to get this thing done on the days where I was just plain tired.  And it doesn’t hurt that I live across the street from a grocery store for last minute things.  Also, on most nights I made more, much more, than what we needed for dinner so that we would have leftovers.  That helped a lot.

3.  Support of my family.  Oatmeal is really great about helping with the dishes, eating what is served without complaints, and helping cook food on the weekends.  He and Poppyseed eat exactly what I eat during mealtime.  If the menu is salmon and salad, then we all three eat salmon and salad.  The end.  There is no special snacking or alternate foods.  If it weren’t a lifestyle that could accommodate my entire family, it would be much more difficult!

So here is what I’ve been eating for the past 2.5 weeks!

Crock pot organic chicken, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and sweet potato fries.

Crock pot organic chicken, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and sweet potato fries.

Pork chops, brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries. (Can you tell I'm really into sweet potato fries?  With a LOT of salt!)

Pork chops from Yonder Way Farm, Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries.

Often we just keep it simple and make a stir fry.

Often we just keep it simple and make a stir fry.

I did eventually come around to eggs in the morning.  It became my favorite thing to eat two scrambled eggs with ground breakfast sausage, spinach, and avocado.  We buy our breakfast sausage (and all pork products) from Yonder Way Farm and it is to die for!

photo-421

Did you know that cholesterol (found in eggs) is extremely vital to a developing fetus? So is choline (again, found in eggs) which helps support brain function.

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I’ll spare you any more pictures of eggs after this. Just assume this is what I ate almost every day.

Usually for lunch I have something simple such as leftover meat with a salad and fruit.  Lately I’ve been really into sliced turkey wraps filled with spinach, red bell pepper, avocado, and apple slices.

These are great!  I pack them for Oatmeal to take to work sometimes, too.

These are great! I pack them for Oatmeal to take to work sometimes, too.

Sometimes I’m just too tired to make myself something for lunch.  Luckily there is exactly ONE menu item at Chipotle that is approved for this program.  Pork carnitas, lettuce, salsa and guacamole!  The dressing that you see on the side is made of vegetable/soybean oil, so that wasn’t approved.  Luckily the guacamole/salsa was a great dressing by itself.

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Even though my family member are all much more fans of meat than seafood, I try to make fish at least once or twice a week.  I feel like it’s important to get the extra calcium and fish oils, plus, I want to expose Poppyseed to those different flavors so that she doesn’t grow up to be the type of person who says, “Does that fish taste fishy?”  (Sorry, personal pet peeve!)  I usually buy the wild caught sockeye salmon at our grocery store, which is easily our most pricey meal of the week but worth it for the nutrients.  Sometimes I get lucky and there is some wild caught shrimp on sale, too.

Blackened salmon with avocado salsa and fresh lettuce.

Blackened salmon with avocado salsa and fresh lettuce.

Shrimp Fettuccine - recipe from my Practical Paleo cookbook

Shrimp Fettuccine – recipe from my Practical Paleo cookbook.  The “noodles” were simply grated zucchini.  This was such an awesome meal!

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Grilled salmon with a salad made of red cabbage, shredded carrot, cilantro, avocado and lemon juice.

But my favorite dinner of all is tacos!  I have been obsessed with lettuce tacos ever since I got pregnant!  It’s a great way to satisfy my craving for cold/crunchy food while still sneaking in some protein.

This is my favorite meal of all time!  Paleo tacos.  Ground beef, various toppings such as lime, cilantro, avocado, tomato, mango, cabbage, etc.  Wrap in lettuce.  I will probably make this every 3-4 nights.

This is my favorite meal of all time!  Our favorite toppings are avocado, tomato, mango, onion, cilantro and lime.  We buy the “living lettuce” and they make perfect little taco wraps.

I even found a way to make Asian lettuce wraps using ground pork, cilantro, bell pepper, cabbage and a homemade sauce made of almond butter and coconut aminos.  DELISH!

I even found a way to make Asian lettuce wraps using ground pork, cilantro, bell pepper, cabbage and a homemade sauce made of almond butter and coconut aminos. DELISH!

Asian lettuce cups

Asian lettuce cups!

While the majority of the people following the program are advised to avoid snacking, that rule goes right out the window for pregnant and nursing moms.  So I snack as often as I want.  My favorite snack is a really cold sliced apple and almond butter with a bottle of Topo Chico mineral water.  My other go-to is homemade guacamole eaten with sliced carrots or bell pepper.

I downloaded a nutrient tracker called Cronometer and logged my food on five random days of my program.  Readers, this is SUCH a healthy way to eat!  Seeing how many vitamins and nutrients that I am taking in has made me realize how silly it is for me to even be taking a prenatal vitamin.  I compared what I’m eating to what’s in the vitamin, and literally every single thing in the prenatal is being eaten in my diet alone.   Now that is pretty awesome!  I’ve backed off of taking the prenatal for now to avoid taking in synthetic vitamins and minerals for no reason.   I’ve learned a lot about what foods contain high amounts of things like folate, choline, fish oils, and all of the other things that you always hear are so important during pregnancy.  It was incredibly reassuring to see that this “diet” is so incredibly nutrient dense.

So, I’ve done better than I thought I would do.  I’m so glad I decided to try it, because I’ve actually surprised myself.  But in all honesty, I am really ready for my celebration meal!  I think about pizza every single day.  It’s a good thing I am doing this challenge or I’d probably be eating it weekly!  I look forward to my pepperoni pizza in a week and a half and then getting back to eating paleo most of the time.  If this pregnancy is anything like my last one, I’ll have a lot of energy and really enjoy eating healthy in my second and third trimester.

I hope that this post wasn’t too long or boring and that it gave you some ideas for dinner or maybe some motivation to try something new.  If you’ve ever done a Whole30 (pregnant or not) I’d love to hear your experience.  And if you know of any simple Whole30 approved meals, please send me a link!  Thanks!

-Lola

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Comments

  1. Your food always looks delicious! I love looking at your blog for our menu ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have to try that shrimp fettuccine recipe! How did you cut the zucchini so they were wide fettuccine?

    • Hey heather! I just used a veggie peeler… the same type I used to peel carrots or potatoes. It made the wide fettuccine type noodle.

  3. Hi! I found your blog linked on the Whole9 site in a forum comment when I did a search for pregnant Whole30. I am doing my 3rd Whole30 and am due in December with my 3rd child. In many ways, it is easier…but the cravings aspect is harder! I could not stomach greens or denser veg at all for 20 weeks…so it does feel good to be back on track. Also, this is crazy, but I live in CS, too!! For all I know, we have been in the OB’s waiting room at the same time. 😉 I have enjoyed reading a few posts so far! I want to read the whole place but I should go to sleep. 🙂

    • Hey natalie! I just saw your comment – sometimes I don’t check for comments on the older posts, so I nearly miss them. Congrats on your third tot – and yes, I agree that cravings get stronger with subsequent pregnancies! In many ways I did better at sticking to paleo with my 2nd, but in some ways I struggled a little more! I will say that now that Johnny is 12 weeks old I am thankful that I stuck to it as best as i could, because the weight came off pretty easily and my milk supply is more than enough. I think it has to do with all the good protein and fat!

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