Whole30: Preparation

whole30 means no ice cream ben and jerrys half baked

I’ve been feeling lousy lately. Back pain, upset stomach, general malaise… acne. Postpartum, I was a mess of hormonally driven health problems on top of edema, so I was a sad tree trunk trying to take care of a newborn. Breastfeeding, while the. single. most. difficult chore of motherhood, improved my health and mood.

I was a SUPERHERO. Not only was I producing life-giving nutrients for my infant son, but I also had clear skin, perfect digestion, and I could eat whatever I wanted — and not gain weight.

Super (ice cream). Hero (Pop-Tarts). Shae (carbs carbs carbs).

ben and jerrys half baked

Do I need to mention my sudden and desperate urge to drink Dr. Pepper after a lifetime of never liking Dr. Pepper? Thanks, pregnancy.

I stopped breastfeeding my son the moment he had enough teeth to cause real damage. Thirteen months. I thought, I have my body back. No more pumping. No more middle-of-the-night comfort boob. I could drink again (I couldn’t).

The downside? All my fun health perks disappeared.

Physical therapy helps my back pain. At the end of the day, though, the pain is pretty intense. On top of back pain, I’ve started to feel… awful…. after eating, specifically at the end of the day. Right around 7 p.m. And acne made a comeback to my face. Who knew it’d want to relive high school, and then get worse. Weeee!

So, back pain, upset stomach, general malaise… acne.

My physical therapist sent me to my primary care physician because my back pain wasn’t improving. My primary care physician conducted a dozen blood tests looking for the cause of my inflammation and found nothing. My OB commiserated with my pain, upset stomach and general malaise — said the acne was normal.

Rude.

But they all asked me the same question, “Well, what are you eating?”

GAH, YOU GUYS.

If you know me, you know I enjoy eating whatever I want whether or not I gain weight. Eating is my second favorite. Right behind sleeping. Food is fuel, sure. It’s also a delight.

But I looked at what I was eating.

Ice cream (back pain). Pop-Tarts (upset stomach). Carbs carbs carbs (general malaise).

And the Dr. Pepper…

My solution, of course, is simple. Change what I’m eating, but which thing — ice cream, Pop-Tarts or miscellaneous carbohydrates — causes my symptoms. How am I to know?

Oh, yeah, they made a diet for that.

GAH, YOU GUYS.

If you know me, you know I hate dieting. In all my years of desired physical fitness — I don’t have this desire anymore; I only desire more sleep — but, in fitness endeavors, food was almost never part of the equation.

title boxing

So, fitness wasn’t always successful, but I was OK with that.

What diet am I talking about? The dietiest diet of them all… Whole30.

Whole30 requires what I consider an extreme elimination diet for 30 days. No ice cream (what). No Pop-Tarts (shut up). No good carbs (pasta, bread, pancakes, happiness). The actual rules make sense: no dairy, no added sugar, no grains and so on and so forth. Fruit, vegetables, nuts (not peanuts), seeds and meat-based protein — all OK.

While tragic, cutting some of my favorite foods out of my diet doesn’t scare me. The planning, preparation and follow through on all of the other foods are terrifying.

I meal plan well. I meal prep just OK. I don’t meal follow-through for crap.

Work, plus life, plus toddler… plus more toddler (same toddler, just more)… plus dinner… plus clean-up? No, I don’t want to do that. I get through about three days of good food, and then it’s two days of crap, and then another day of good food, and then scavenging the kitchen for food because it’s gone bad or we’ve eaten it or it’s weird to eat together.

Whole30 requires all of that. So much of that. Without excuse.

I planned my Whole30 for Aug. 2-31. However, because my mombrain separates its life into different buckets — work, life, toddler, more toddler, taking care of itself, etc. — I also planned a Date Day right in the middle of it with my husband at a favorite event complete with off-limits food truck food and beer.

Guess what you can’t have during Whole30?

viven wine dive wichita kansas

BEER.

GAH, YOU GUYS.

I love beer.

I bought the Whole30 cookbook and the beer tickets like, the same day because life and taking care of myself are not the same bucket.

They’re different buckets.

Here’s my new plan:

Cut my off-limits foods one-by-one. No more Dr. Pepper, ice cream or Pop-Tarts.

Reduce pasta intake and try not eat all the rice with all the soy sauce (because soy is also against the rules).

Then, practice.

I need to practice Whole30. I have mombrain and limited meal follow-through and UberEats. I’m set up for failure.

Plus, I really want to go to the beer event, drink the beer, eat the off-limits food truck food and enjoy Date Day.

iron childhead fest 2017

I will practice Whole30 for 15 days starting Aug. 2. During my practice, I will test some of the recipes from the Whole30 cookbook and find at least seven, solid, cookable-by-Shae recipes for family dinner during my actual Whole30, which is yet to be scheduled.

Because Date Day at the beerfest is happening.

#mealprep: Baby food edition, vol. 4

When my husband and I decided to make another human and care for said human by providing all the necessities — nourishment, safety, love — I made grand assumptions about how that human would interact as part of our greater family unit.

He would sleep here or there and for this long and he would breastfeed for this long and start solid food at this age and he would enjoy being locked in baby jail — the sectioned-off portion of the living room WITH ALL HIS TOYS — and he would eat organic and… the list goes on.

Today, the saga of trying to provide nourishment to a tiny human continues. In case you missed the build-up, read:

breastfeeding-and-pumping

Newborns instinctually know that food comes from the momma but they do not instinctually know how to get the food from the momma.

My son’s inability to latch for the first few weeks of his life and his bizarre head-shaking motion when he did not immediately get food were proof enough of that to me.

Henry-August 2017_70

Babies, after successfully getting the hang of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, suddenly need solid food. So when you’re finally comfortable getting them to consume milk or formula, you have to introduce pureed nonsense to the mix.

My son’s first bites were immediately pushed back out of his mouth. Oatmeal, pureed sweet potato, mashed bananas… everywhere.

Invest in bibs. You’re worth it.

Then, after getting the hang of eating and swallowing pureed food, and after getting everyone on a breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule that works for both the baby and the parents, you have to throw actual solid food into the mix.

That you have to cook.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

My husband and I operate in the reality that this baby has to eat what we eat — that we’re not going to make him special food because he’s a baby and doesn’t like tomato sauce — that we’re not going to cave and make him chicken nuggets when he balks at the idea of eating an actual piece of chicken.

We’re operating in this reality.

But we’re not operating well.

I leave work at 5 p.m. — a respectable and perfectly normal time to leave work. Because I am the. luckiest. woman. in the world, 5 p.m. is also when my mother-in-law brings me my son from her house. So my son and I are settled in at home by 5:30 p.m.

I start dinner.

Usually, I need to dice onions, slice up peppers or chunk other vegetables, prepare a salad, get chicken thighs ready for their hour-long oven roast, “salt and pepper to taste” — you know, cooking things. To do any of this preparation, I need two hands and the freedom to move from one end of my galley-like kitchen to the other.

TWO HANDS and the FREEDOM to move.

Ha!

How do you cook with a toddler?!

What might have taken an hour, now takes nearly two!

I used to trap him in his baby bouncer, but he’s about an inch away from being able to climb right out of it. Plus, he hates it.

So I have to watch him like a hawk.

I tried to distract him with snacks, but the dog always steals his puffs — and he thinks it’s hilarious so he just feeds the dog the puffs.

Which are not cheap and not for the dog!

I tried to ignore him and let him wander around the baby-proofed parts of the house, but he gets bored or something and chases me around the kitchen whining.

cooking-with-a-toddler
Pay attention to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Seriously, how do you cook with a toddler?

Plus, he’s hungry at 5:30 p.m. because — back when he was a baby — we trained him that’s his dinnertime by feeding him first omg what is wrong with us we’re so dumb.

So I give him a yogurt pouch and hope for the best (i.e. hope it doesn’t end up in the carpet or his hair or wherever he decides to squeeze it).

And it’s still not enough.

This toddler can toddle himself into a fine hangry rage when not fed in proper time.

On bad evenings, we eat the mom-gave-up-box-of-mac-and-cheese.

gourmet-mac-and-cheese-hahahahaha
Gourmet Mac and Cheese — because I put an avocado on it.

On better evenings, Matt and I eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. By ourselves. Henry will have two or three bites of family dinner, and then cry about being in his highchair because he’s full from his yogurt snack, and the follow-up squeeze-y pouch, and the handful of puffs, and the 8 ounces of milk. By then, it’s bedtime, and Matt and I are eating cold dinner at 8 p.m. And that’s like half-an-hour off my bedtime.

HOW. DO. YOU. FEED. TODDLERS. Gaaaaaahhhhhh.

I can’t make his dinner first, and then make our dinner — we’d never eat real food again! Plus, his food has to be monitored the whole way down his throat to ensure he doesn’t choke on it. Because, while toddlers have teeth and can tear and chew and mash up solid food, they’re still terrible at feeding themselves.

Legit, from newborn to now, he did not get better at eating.

Pasta is impossible to pick up. Spoons are for the weak. Toast is an olympic event.

On the nourishment front of parenting, my son is fed and happy and healthy. On the nourishment side of adulthood, my husband and I eat bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese more often than I’d like.

But it’s organic so there’s that.

#mealprep: Baby food edition, vol. 3

The first foods my son ate I made myself — you know.

Making my own baby food became too time-consuming, so I switched to store-bought jars and pouches. I even boasted about finding good deals at my grocer — not as good as homemade, but near enough to satisfy this mom.

Then, the constipation struck.

Not my own, my son’s.

In the imaginary instruction manual I’m going to write for hospitals to hand out to new parents on their way home with their bundles of joy, I’m going to have a whole section on constipation.

What it looks like. (Rabbit poop.)

What it sounds like. (A lot of fuss.)

What causes it.

When I asked what caused my son’s sudden constipation — thinking it was something I’d been eating — the answer came matter-of-factly and immediately from other moms’. Like it’s well-known. Maybe it is.

But I didn’t know.

“ABC’s,” they told me, which stands for apples, bananas and cereal (of the rice variety). The internet confirmed.

I checked the pouches I’d been getting for $0.69-1.29.

Apples, apples, apples. Bananas, bananas, bananas. Apples, bananas, apples.

Of course.

OK, I thought, I’ll get baby food without apples or bananas. He doesn’t eat a lot of rice, no rice cereal.

Constipation solved!

Perusing the baby food aisle during my next grocery shopping trip, I discovered something annoying about my go-to store-bought baby food brands: If it’s inexpensive, apples and bananas are the first ingredients.

What. The. Hell.

If I wanted something with a pineapple-, pear- or spinach-base (that also wasn’t just sweet potatoes over and over and over again), I needed to cough up nearly $2 per pouch — still less than the $3-per-pouch brand of rainbow-infused wheatberry ground by hand.

But still.

Now, with fewer coupons in hand, I split my baby food spend between super apple-y food and food without the ABC’s — just in time for my son to decide he needed to eat THREE jars and pouches per meal, instead of two.

Yaaaaaaaaay.

On top of this, we’re weaning from breastfeeding — at a year of breastfeeding (my goal) and the end of my patience with the whole mess (but that’s another blog post) — so I buy whole milk.

I’m not sure if you can sense the eye roll in my writing so I’m going to go ahead and indicate one in text form.

::face-with-rolling-eyes::

Constipation is a demon akin to teething when it comes to the fuss my son can work up. He’s pro at fuss.

To cure his condition, my husband and I overcompensated. The cure for constipation is to increase oatmeal, prunes and maybe a dairy product so I put all three in his face daily in hopes of relieving his discomfort.

It worked, but… what we didn’t know was how the side-effects of a round of ear-infection antibiotics would interact with his constipation and new diet.

Our intentions were so good, you guys.

The result? A poo-pocalypse of epic proportions. Like something out of a horror movie. Every poo during Baby’s First Christmas was a blow out. I think we made two baby-poop-caused stops on the way home from Indiana.

I shudder thinking about it now.

This is going in the instruction manual, too. Crowd funding soon.

::face-with-rolling-eyes::

#mealprep: Baby food edition, vol. 1

meal prep baby food

Baby food is a racket.

At my local grocery store, a 4-oz. jar of baby food sweet potato is $1. An actual sweet potato is $0.87.

When peeled, cubed, steamed and pureed with a little water, I can get at least 16 ounces of baby food sweet potato out of one actual sweet potato. Four times more food for $0.13 less than the cost of one jar of baby food.

cubed sweet potato for baby food

This is my argument for buying a Baby Brezza — it steams and purees fruits and vegetables for baby food.

baby brezza baby food maker with sweet potatoes

True, the actual device could have bought me 100 4-oz. jars of baby food — but my son could eat through that in a week.

messy baby eating carrots

He. eats. so. much. food.

Four to six ounces at a time, he eats! Plus, a side of oatmeal and some breast milk to wash it all down.

Three times a day.

ice cube tray baby food storage sweet potato

Before baby — even during pregnancy — I did a good job of prepping meals for the week. Meal planning, coupon cutting, grocery shopping — that was my jam. I made smoothies and overnight oats for breakfasts and salads for lunches with a separate container for salad dressing and everything.

I even prepared 13 freezer meals for the crockpot in effort to prevent copious amount of takeout during my maternity leave. (And I’ll never do it again.)

smoothie packs and freezer meals

So it should be no surprise that I am an excellent baby food prepper.

baby food ice cubes

I’ve pureed carrots — like a lot of carrots. And sweet potatoes — like a lot of sweet potatoes. (Carrots and sweet potatoes make so. much. food. It’s ridiculous.) Plus, a yummy little mixture of avocado, banana and breast milk he lurves.

avocado banana baby food puree

Take two small avocados and two small bananas and blend with or without breast milk to get 16 ounces of food.

A few carrots with a little water make just as much.

Don’t even get me started on how many cubes of food I can make with a couple of sweet potatoes.

Add an apple, a zucchini, some squash or crown of broccoli…

baby food cubes

This kid eats better than I do.

The Baby Brezza makes the steaming and pureeing of the food much faster — and way less messy. Another argument for purchasing what amounts to being a $100 food processor I’m only going to need for just a few more months.

Soon, he’s going to have more teeth…

…so he can chew…

…so he can eat big people food…

…because he’s an actual human person, not some sort of alien that stays my baby forever and only eats mush.

Such crap.

 

 

Our favorite homemade baby food recipe

Avocado-Banana Oatmeal
about 1/3 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado-banana baby food cube thawed, see below
  • 1/4 cup baby oatmeal
  • 1-2 Tbs. water or breast milk

Directions

Thaw the frozen avocado-banana baby food cube in the microwave, about 30 seconds for one cube. Add 1/4 cup of baby oatmeal and 1-2 Tbs. of water or breast milk, depending on desired consistency. Stir and serve!

For the avocado-banana baby food cube: Mash two small avocados and two small bananas — or one large of each — and blend until smooth with a little breast milk or water. (I didn’t even need the Baby Brezza for this one.)

rock star baby bib covered in oatmeal