Chris and I began the Whole 30 challenge on October 1, which puts us just over halfway through. Living in Saipan is actually really conducive to the program – fresh produce and coconut are abundant and cheap, while off limit items like dairy are quite expensive.
The program in a nutshell:
- 3 meals per day.
- Each meal: protein, veggies, fat.
- No alcohol, legumes, added sweeteners, grains, dairy, MSG, carrageenan, or sulfites.
I’ve outlined below what we eat on a typical day. When I say “veggies,” I mean whatever I can find in the market, which is usually some combination of carrots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, eggplant, green beans, pechay (a dark leafy green), onions, or bell peppers.
Breakfast – An omelet with eggs, grated coconut, and veggies. We top it with a little kimchi and fresh lemon juice.
Afterwards, we have papaya from the backyard and coffee.
Lunch – A coconut milk curry with pork (a chop or ground), and veggies. Afterwards, I might have a banana or more papaya and iced green tea. Lately, I’m really into mashing ripe bananas with a handful of coconut and panfrying it.
Dinner – A chopped salad with chicken, black olives, and veggies, sometimes topped with a fried egg.
On the weekends, we’ll spend a little more time in the kitchen and have lemon tilapia with coconut and veggies instead.
We do our best to follow the plan’s recommendation of 3 meals a day and minimal snacking, but I’ll grab a handful of almonds if I’m still feeling very hungry shortly after eating. I then try to make the next meal large enough to hold us over.
At no point have we followed the rules 100%, despite the plan’s very firm insistence. For example, our sunflower seed butter has a little bit of added cane sugar. While I know this will affect the clarity of our results, I’m still getting a good idea of which foods trigger certain problems like acne and indigestion.
The main struggle that we’ve encountered is diversifying fats and proteins. Residence in a place so heavily reliant on imports means that some foods are prohibitively expensive. Until recently, we had been using tofu as an additional protein, but legumes aren’t on the Whole 3 menu.
At the same time, I’m also trying to rethink our food budget and our perspective on spending. You know that I’m unapologetically frugal, but did you know that Americans spend less on food than any other country? On average, US folks spend about 11% of income, while folks spend around 43% in Egypt. I track our own budget meticulously and, during September, we spent 21% of our income on food (both grocery trips and restaurant dates).
I think it’s great to be frugal in some areas (technology, clothing, entertainment, etc.), but when it comes to what we put into our bodies, I want to be increasingly conscientious and open to spending more on food than we would on other things.
Do you keep a food budget?