The information included in Dear Stephanie posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation, or if you have any questions regarding conception, pregnancy, or your prenatal treatment plan. For more Dear Stephanie posts, click here. Have a question for Steph? Click here to e-mail her. In last week’s Dear Stephanie, I addressed the appropriateness of the #JanuaryWhole30 for breastfeeding mamas, and provided several Whole30 strategies for mamas who choose to do a Whole30 while breastfeeding. This week, I thought it would be helpful to share what a typical week of Whole30 meals looks like for me, a currently breastfeeding mama who is currently doing a Whole30.
My Whole30 Plan of Attack
My Whole30 strategy hinges on two factors: speed and convenience. I typically have eggs and veggies for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and a huge salad with whatever protein I make for dinner. This requires me to prepare 3-4 main protein meals each week, hard-boil eggs, and roast a few trays of veggies for my weekly food prep. Every now and then I’ll make my own guacamole, dairy-free pesto, or dipping sauce, but I often let Primal Kitchen or Tessemae’s do the extra work for me. These convenience items make this way of eating more sustainable for my schedule.
Here are a few shortcuts I’ve found helpful: Pick your 5. Do you find yourself making similar meals week to week? That’s a brilliant strategy. You can help reduce decision fatigue by having a few staple meals and a standard menu in your household. How I do it: My family has 5 or so go-to recipes. These are simple, delicious options that I can make in under 30 minutes. We keep the ingredients for these recipes on hand at all times. If I’m in a funk and don’t know what to cook, I resort to one of these 5 options. This replaces the need for an emergency call to Dominos. Meal plan. I’ve found the Benjamin Franklin quote,“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” to be dead on when it comes to a successful Whole30. Use a colorful meal planner, an app on your phone (I like Cozi), or just a pencil and paper. How I do it: I start by asking my husband what he’s interested in having for the week. We typically have one or two of the recipes in our top 5, ground meat with different spices, baked chicken thighs or breasts, baked salmon, and we’ll usually try a new recipe. This helps keep things simple, cost-effective, and interesting. Would I love to try a bunch of new recipes every week? Yes, of course, but at this time I’m not willing to sacrifice playtime with my 16-month old. Meal prep. Assemble a few proteins, veggies, and condiments on a day that works for you. Once you have protein and veggie dishes ready to go, you can easily add a drizzle of healthy oil; grab a piece of whole fruit; slice up an avocado; open a jar of olives or nut butter; or toss on some shredded coconut. This creates lots of opportunities to create Whole30 meals that fit the meal template. How I do it: I spend about 2-3 hours doing some batch cooking on the weekend. I bake sweet potatoes, roast and steam veggies, and make at least 2-3 of our weekly proteins. This way we always have veggies and protein available. In the middle of the week, I’ll pop another 1-2 meals in a crockpot or our Instant Pot. It’s super easy to throw ingredients in a slow-cooker or pressure cooker and let the machine do the work! This frees up some time so you can work on the other things on your “to-do” list, sit back and relax, or chase your toddler.
Assemble meals on the fly. Once you have protein, veggies, and condiments ready, get creative! Mix your favorite protein, veggie, and healthy fat combinations based off what you prepared on the weekend and what you have stocked in your refrigerator and pantry. How I do it: I often make a few pounds of chicken breasts or thighs and keep things interesting by using different spice or herb combinations. I’ll take a plain baked chicken breast and turn it into a Whole30-compliant pesto chicken over zucchini noodles; chicken and marinara over spaghetti squash; or chicken salad with mayo, sliced grapes, celery and walnuts in a lettuce wrap. With a little practice and planning, these meals come together quickly without a lot of fuss. Have a night out! After all of your hard work, why not enjoy a meal away from home once or twice throughout the course of your Whole30? You’ll have less mess and more celebration for making through another week. High-five! How I do it: While we don’t eat out often, when we do, we make sure to find restaurants that serve high-quality food and are toddler-friendly. Where we are living right now, that pretty much limits us to Whole Foods. So, on Friday nights, my husband and I head to Whole Foods for our dinner date. How romantic, right? I usually make a salad or have a collard green wrap with a side of roasted potatoes or fruit. The bonus? While we’re eating dinner at Whole Foods I can always purchase a few groceries to get us through the weekend.
Example Meal Plans
I wrote about the importance of consuming enough calories and fluids in the previous post; I want to share an example of what this looks like based on the meal prep strategies outlined above. Here is what a typical Whole3o day looks like for me: Meal 1: Egg and veggie scramble cooked in ghee with a side of sweet potato hash, sauerkraut, and a cup of bone broth Time-saving tip: Chop a bunch of bell peppers, mushrooms and onions ahead of time. Instead of slicing the sweet potatoes for the hash, top one of your previously baked sweet potatoes with scrambled eggs and sauteed veggies. Alternately, you can spiralize the sweet potato to add variety. Snack: Carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes with guacamole Time saving tip: Use baby carrots and purchase pre-made, compliant guacamole. Meal 2: Salmon cakes on a large salad with Tessemae’s dressing and a side of berries Time saving tip: Make a double batch of the No-Fuss Salmon Cakes from The Whole30 freeze them or make a simple salmon salad by mixing a can of wild salmon with Primal Kitchens Mayo and having it with a salad made from raw and roasted veggies. Snack: Apple, macadamia nuts, and a hard-boiled egg Time saving tip: Make a dozen hard-boiled eggs to keep on hand, or purchase pre-made organic hard-boiled eggs. Meal 3: Beef stew (made with cubed winter squash and potatoes) and mashed cauliflower Time saving tip: Toss the ingredients in an Instant Pot or slow cooker for a hands-off meal. This works great mid-week when you have less time.
Finding A Whole30 Meal Plan That Works For You
Did you notice that there are no serving sizes on the above meal plan? That’s because everyone is different. Just like there is no-one-size-fits-all pregnancy diet, there is also no perfect diet for breastfeeding. Your goal? A diet that is based on nutrient-dense foods. This is the best for you and your baby, and your exact nutrient demands will depend on how active you are, how much your baby is nursing, your blood sugar tolerance, weight, and a variety of other factors. While some moms may be able to maintain an abundant milk supply while consuming 1,800-2,200 calories, others may need much more than that. Since a sudden drop in calories may put your milk supply at risk, you want to be careful about not dipping too low when embarking on a new nutrition plan like the Whole30. Let your hunger and energy guide you. See how your milk supply and baby are responding. If your baby has at least 5-8 wet diapers, appears happy and content, is gaining weight and growing in length and head circumference, you’re on the right track. Every day may be different. Personally, some days it feels like there’s not enough food in the world to fill me up. Other days, I can barely make it half-way through my typical portions. You may feel satisfied in between meals and don’t need to snack; that’s great! There’s no need to snack if three solid meals is working for you. Listen to your body, but make sure you’re eating enough. And finally, if your daily meal plan doesn’t always look like the one listed above, don’t feel guilty. When you’re a breastfeeding mom, sometimes a smoothie for breakfast or a handful of macadamia nuts and an Epic bar for lunch is just going to have to work. Plan to eat three meals a day following the Whole30 meal template, but also accept that on certain days that might not be possible for you. Beating yourself up over a few meals and snacks that aren’t your version of perfect is actually counterproductive. Focus on the big picture when it comes to your Whole30, and you’ll do great. Have questions or a response to today’s post? Join the conversation on Instagram and Facebook, and check out our Whole30 forum for more suggestions and strategies from other Whole30 mamas.
Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com.