A Doctor's Take on Whole30: Week 1

Originally posted on kristenmcelveennd.com on January 14, 2015

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Yep, I walk the talk. I'm a little late to the party, but as you know, you can't go into something like this without proper planning! Without planning, you will not be successful. So, if you really want to commit to this, sit down and plan your milestones. 

First things first - what the heck is Whole30?

Well, it's a great program, community and book that I've been recommending to a lot of my patients. As you know from previous posts, I'm not a fan of gimmicky detoxes or cleanses. But I AM a fan of eating cleanly to naturally cleanse the body...all the time, not just for a cleanse...though I do believe in moderation.

Spoiler alert: if you eat a clean diet 90% of the time anyway, you won't need to cleanse!

Still, I had a LOT of fun this holiday season and I'm actually looking forward to getting completely off sugar for a bit and getting my brain back. I HATE feeling like I NEED something, and that's how it was getting for me over the holidays with grains and sugars, even though they were "healthier" choices of grains and sugars.

My brain can feel it...and so can my joints. So it's time for a little downtime to let my tummy relax and my joints de-flame.

When moderation sneaks its way into your daily life...its no longer moderation - it's time for a reboot.

Short bursts of super clean eating have been prescribed by NDs forever. And each one of us has a little different approach. Elimination diet, anti-inflammatory diet, GAPS diet, SCD diet, Whole30, Paleo - these all are similar in that they remove common allergens and common foods that cause inflammation. These aren't necessarily made to be followed long-term, but they can certainly help you feel better and help you figure out what foods are actually bothering you that aren't obvious allergens. 

For my practice, I take an anti-inflammatory approach very similar to the Whole30 approach, only based on my own clinical experience and research. My issue is, I don't have the time to construct meal plans and recipe ideas, etc. with each patient and to each patient's taste.

Plus, you really need to do those things yourself as I've found that when I do spend the time to create meal plans for someone else, they say it's not to their taste or budget and then I've done all that work for nothing.

This is where I like to recommend the Whole30 book and online community. I like the way they break it down and help provide meal plans and shopping lists and recipes...something I just don't have the time to do for each patient. So I am grateful this book is here. It really is quite the community and they are all over social media. I am a huge fan of all the Instagram Whole30-ers too who post real recipes and real stories from real people. 

Anyway, back to me ;) 

I can get bored with certain dishes or get grumpy with the amount of dishes to do (especially when I'm detoxing from sugar), so I take it 1 week at a time.

A common misstep people can do is plan the whole 30 days at once and then get off track week 1 and decide to chuck the whole thing in the garbage. Taking it one week at a time helps prevent that frustration.

You never know what may not be available or what mood you may be in.

Speaking as someone who tends to make midnight mayo on a whim, it is absolutely necessary to then think of several things to eat that week so I can use every last bit and not waste those beautiful Vital Farms eggs! Egg salad, tuna salad, salmon salad, deviled eggs, ham wraps...have I mentioned I love homemade mayo?? So delicious and NO sugar (almost all store-bought mayo has sugar and canola oil - both no-no's in my book and on Whole30!).

The point is, you have to leave room to be flexible, otherwise it just gives you another excuse that it's just "too hard." It's not. But it does take work. 

If you are on a budget, planning too far in advance can also present problems because you never know what may be on sale until you get to the store.

I've decided to share my experience as people always ask me what I did and how I got past certain impasses. 

Remember, I'm a doctor, but I'm also human. You asked for some insight to my life, so you're going to get it!

This isn't too different from how I eat regularly, but I'm sure I'll hit a little sugar withdrawal from my cacao nana ice cream fetish and oats with maple syrup and...AGH! Back to Whole30...

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see my daily posts and pictures (links are at the very bottom of this page)!

So here is my week, broken down and NOTICE:

  1. I focus on getting greens every day with lots of veggies and am not just eating meat and fat, in fact my portion of meat is rarely more than 3-4 oz as a little goes a long way - use veggie fiber as filler if you feel you need more to keep you satiated - if you don't already have a food processor, or at least a box grater or spiralizer, they can be extremely helpful
  2. I recycle a LOT so that I'm only cooking heavily a couple days a week
  3. I always try to freeze at least 1-2 servings of tried and true recipes like meatballs, so that I have a quick repeatable meal when I'm too tired to cook and just want take-out - freezing food in glass is better than plastic, so I like to use these food storage containers
  4. I sleep on a very different schedule than most people - usually 3am - 11am, so I don't always have time for 3 meals. That's just how I roll. You have to do what your body tells you to do (within reason).
  5. I add all kinds of herbs and spices to my food depending on my mood - it's a great way to dress up leftovers and give them a different flavor so you don't feel like you're eating the same thing 2 days in a row - NOTHING is bland with herbs and spices and salt - you just need to find the flavors you like.
  6. I plan specifically for the days that I work in the office to only have to cook breakfast so I don't overwhelm myself and have to cook after a long day (especially since I rarely get home before 7:30)
  7. I try to go for walks or get some outdoor play (sledding, skiing, kayaking) on days that I don't workout - but I LOVE my workout - it's super healthy and only 15 minutes, 3 times a week!
  8. I never drink coffee on an empty stomach (it can cause heartburn) and I actually start every day with a glass of lemon water BEFORE coffee or food - more on that later



  • Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in garlic ghee over 1/2 sweet potato with spiced ghee and 1/2 avocado, sliced and sprinkled with Maine sea salt with sea veg, black coffee
  • Lunch: stew leftovers
  • Dinner: salmon filet, baked, with broccoli and tomatoes


  • Pre-workout breakfast & post-workout breakfast (as above)
  • Lunch: salmon leftovers
  • Dinner: stew leftovers


  • Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in ghee with 2 strips sugar-free bacon over sautéed greens (mix of collards, chard and spinach), coffee with or without ghee
  • Snack: cantaloupe 
  • Dinner: Paleo Pad Thai veggie version (no chicken or shrimp)



  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, fried in ghee with 1/2 yam and 1/2 avocado, coffee with ghee
  • Lunch: left-over 1/2 chicken breast from workout meal with Paleo Pad Thai leftovers
  • Dinner: Asian meatballs & cauli-rice leftovers


  • Breakfast: Asian meatballs with 1/2 spaghetti squash and herbs/spices, coffee with spiced ghee
  • Snack: cantaloupe 
  • Dinner: cauli-rice leftovers with greens/veg


Read my reviews of Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and the Final Results here!