My Food Freedom Journey

Kevin and I did our first Whole30 in March/April of 2018. It’s been a few months since then and we are still struggling to find food freedom. We’ve had many ups and downs on this food freedom journey and I wanted to update you all on our progress. It’s been tough to find a balance, but I think we’re getting closer!

Whole30 gave us a lot of great insight into our eating habits and the foods that make us feel like crap. Dairy isn’t great for either of us, but we’ve found that it’s mostly milk and ice cream and we can handle eating cheese without terrible side effects. Gluten makes me feel bloated and gross but it doesn’t mess up my insides. Two weeks ago, we did a little experiment with vegetarian meals and found that beans are a no-go for Kevin (yes, it’s the smelly farts if that’s what you were thinking!).

July was a “fell off the wagon” month, as my family came to visit the first week of July and we did a lot of eating out and treated ourselves. When the family left, we had a hard time getting back into our normal routine and ate out a lot more than we should have. August has been better, but we’ve still eaten out too much. Kevin went on a work trip to California and ate like crap for three days (and I ate like crap because who wants to cook for one person?).

What We Eat

When we’re not “off the wagon”, we’ve been trying to eat a Paleo Diet. Basically whole foods: protein, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats. I won’t say I really believe in the scientific evidence for the paleo diet, but essentially it’s made up of foods that are good for us and that we can both eat without having stomach issues. Dairy, legumes, and grains are excluded from the Paleo Diet for the most part (which is why it works for us).

We’ve been using an awesome app called Mealime to plan our meals for the week. You can pick your preferred eating preferences out of these options:

  • Classic – speaks for itself
  • Flexitarian – easy on the meat
  • Low-carb – easy on the carbs
  • Paleo – eat like a caveman
  • Pescetarian – vegetarian + seafood
  • Vegetarian – zero meat
  • Keto – ultra low carb

You can also mark any allergies or food restrictions you have (and mark any foods you just don’t really like). Then you pick how many meals you want to cook (we do 6) and how many servings (we do 3-4 servings so it’s enough for the two of us for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day).

We’ve done Paleo and Vegetarian so far, and we’re trying out Flexitarian this week! One of the struggles we’ve faced with eating healthy is budgeting. We have some pretty aggressive debt payoff goals we’re working on and it’s hard to eat healthy on a budget. We like eating paleo meals but we’re going to try flexitarian this week and mix it up with some meat + fish dishes, rather than just meat.

I would highly recommend everyone try using Mealime (no, I’m not getting paid to say this) because it really has made our lives a lot easier! They have so many recipes to choose from, they even make your grocery list for you, and the meals have been pretty easy to make so far. It has helped me gain more confidence helping Kevin cook dinner and we don’t have to sit and debate what we want to eat each week, we just let it pick 6 meals for us and then we change one or two of them if they don’t sound that great.

Mealime also has a paid option with extra features but so far we’ve been doing just fine with their free app!

How We Budget

As I mentioned, we have some aggressive debt payoff goals for 2018 so we try not to let our grocery budget break the bank. One thing we know for sure is eating out is expensive and not worth it. If you’re going to get something decent, it’s going to be at least $20 for two people. Our weekly groceries usually add up to about $150, so that’s almost 15% of our weekly grocery budget!

Eating vegetarian substantially lowered our weekly budget (duh, meat is expensive) but unfortunately our bodies didn’t do well with the excessive amounts of beans and chickpeas in the food we ate. With meat and fish in the budget, we try to stay at around $150 per week ($600 per month). We’re still trying to get this down to around $500 a month, but we do alright as long as we’re not eating out. That’s when it gets expensive — $600 worth of groceries and $100-150 of fast food/restaurants.

Another thing we’re trying to tackle is the coffee budget. Some months, we don’t spend any money on coffee. Other months, we spend over $50 on Starbucks trips! I know, that isn’t a lot compared to some Starbucks addicts but I hate paying for $5 frou-frou drinks throughout the month and then seeing the appalling grand total. It’s also something that is totally unnecessary for us right now. Maybe in 2019 when we’ve paid off all our debt, we can spend $50 a month on frou-frou coffee beverages, but right now that money has other places it should be going. I have found a brand of cold brew coffee I really like, Stok, and I try and drink that instead.

But, we do love our Starbucks trips, especially when we’re running errands on the weekend! Ah, budgeting is hard.

This weekend, we also tried ordering our groceries online and picking them up from Wal Mart. It was an interesting experience to say the least! I loved being able to pick the cheapest items and it’s easier to keep everything within budget since you can see the total and add/remove items from your cart accordingly. We didn’t feel comfortable ordering meat online, but we were able to order everything else and the pickup was really easy! My only criticism is that you can’t use your reusable bags if you do online pickup, and the amount of bags of groceries I had was atrocious. I had maybe 2-3 items per bag and at least 15 bags (for $65 worth of groceries).

Our Workout Routine

We’ve gotten back on the working out wagon this month (yay!) and try to hit the gym every day. We don’t plan rest days because with our crazy schedules we usually end up taking 1-2 rest days a week (unplanned). It’s easier to wait for something to come up and take a day off rather than try to plan days off.

Working out has made it difficult (for me in particular) to keep grains out of my diet entirely. My body loves getting carbs before working out and I have more energy if I include pasta or rice in my diet. I’m working on finding different ways to fuel my body in order to have the best workout and the best diet, so for now I am allowing some grains and monitoring how I feel when I eat them.

I love working out in the morning and getting it over with, but it’s hard to wake up early enough to eat and get a good workout in before work. Kevin and I have been working out in the evenings after dinner and it’s going well so far! I have enough energy after dinner and the gym isn’t as crowded after 8:00. We try and tackle 1-2 muscle groups per day and rotate through them (i.e. chest, biceps/triceps, back, legs, abs).

We’re still working on the late-night snacking that takes place after working out. Since it’s summer, we’ve gotten into a bad habit of having ice cream every other night (I mean, it’s dairy-free but still). I am usually hungry after working out and need to figure out some better snacks to have post-workout. Any ideas to share?

As soon as we’ve really gotten into a workout routine, I’ll start posting some more fitness-related content! If you want to read a great fitness blog, check out my brother’s blog: Alex’s Fitness Academy. He posts great content on a pretty regular basis!

Food Freedom Goals

Looking to the future, here are some goals we have for further defining and living our version of food freedom:

  1. Consciously asking ourselves: is this worth it? Food freedom is all about finding the balance, not restricting yourself from certain foods or food groups.
  2. Limiting the snacking/snacking on healthy foods.
  3. Reducing the number of times we eat out to only twice a month.
  4. Continuing to work out daily. 
  5. Keeping a food journal to monitor how we feel when we eat certain foods (i.e. grains).

What about you? Where are you at in your food freedom journey? What are your goals for the rest of 2018?

Published by Sami Hertel

Oregon native, current Utah resident, blogging about my adventures on lifeafteroregon.com!

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