Whole 30ing all over again

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Last March/Lent was when I committed to my first Whole 30. I had always been someone who believed all diets/cleanses were fads (I thought gluten-free people were just being ridiculous) and were pointless. As long as you ate balanced and lived a healthy lifestyle, you should be fine. But I guess almost two years ago now is when I began really to think hard about the connection between food & health. There are obvious no-no’s when it comes to nutrition, but what if things like my cycle, my period, my skin, or my fatigue could all be improved by changing the way I eat? What if I didn’t have to get a prescription for every little symptom that arose? What if it was, in fact, all connected?

So by this time last year after a great deal of research, I had begun to limit my intake of dairy & grains, but would still eat both casually here and there. The thought of eliminating them entirely was overwhelming – my solutions for quick & cheap meals had consistently been homemade pizza, fruit & yogurt, a sandwich, or a dish with rice/quinoa.  As for the legumes, that’s what I had replaced most of our grains with – so that was kind of a big deal as well. And sugar? I didn’t realize how much sugar I consumed on a regular basis until it was entirely removed. That was difficult (mainly because of the sugar withdrawal headaches).The alcohol portion, not a huge deal as I’m not much of a drinker anyway.

While I didn’t complete the Whole 30 perfectly, I was still pretty dang faithful. And I felt good. But very soon after, I went back to occasional dairy (mainly goat products, but not exclusively), dry/soaked beans, and slowly sugar crept its way back into my life again. And I’ll be honest when I say as much as I avoid grains like the plague, if it “accidentally” shows up in something I’ve ordered out at a restaurant (like breadcrumbs) – I eat it. And then there are corn chips & potato chips…my greatest downfall of all time. With the one exception, perhaps, being those tasty (and expensive) Starbucks lattes.

As of late, I’ve also been indulging like mad in sweet treats – all grain-free and mostly dairy-free – but still sweetened with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and dark chocolate. And while most ingredients may be “compliant” for overall health, temperance Katie! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these kinds of goods here and there (I’m not the food police!), but I’ve let it become my norm, essentially. While the whole 30 is a challenge with a time frame, it’s also a lifestyle. We are meant to learn from our experience, and apply those guidelines going forward if what we’re seeking is to truly improve our health. There is a reason this diet bans “replacement foods” with compliant ingredients.

So here I am. Ready for another 30 days of no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, and no alcohol. And while we’re at it, probably no caffeine (which I’ve mostly adapted to recently anyway). Will it be difficult? Yes and no. But mostly no. Last year it was difficult. But one of the greatest fruits of a Whole 30 is changing our perspective on food. A lot of the habits that began last March have now become second nature to me. I try to check myself if I find it becoming an something of an obsession, but I think I really just enjoy the model the Whole 30 lays out, knowing and having confidence in what I put in my body, and the creativity that it urges me towards.

Now that we’ve entered ordinary time and the Christmas season is officially over (wahhh), let us begin. Day one, today!

Whole 30: Day 27

How I made it to day 27, I’ll never know. I literally thought about doing a whole 30 for MONTHS and could not bear the thought of a week without cheese, chocolate, lattes, and chips. Truly. But I was driven to do it for reasons that I could not ignore. And here I am almost done! And Imma be real with you – it’s not that hard! I mean, it is but it isn’t. I honestly haven’t even thought much about being on it in the past two weeks. We buy the food we can eat, and we prepare that food. We don’t eat out much anyway, and the times we have gone out, it’s been fine. I may have occasionally bent the rules by not being a stickler for hidden sugar in a few things (particularly at a restaurant), but other than that – golden.

How do I feel? Great. I mean, once I got over the nasty cold, things improved tremendously. I am not craving grains. I am not craving dairy. I don’t really get hungry between meals. I haven’t gotten sick of eggs & sweet potatoes. I’ve made some delicious meals that are twists on grainy/dairy-filled classics. It’s challenged me a bit in the realm of meal planning, but as long as we have enough food on hand, things go well.

Now typically when I tell people what I’m doing, their response is “so do you just not eat?” NOOOOOO! Everyone wants an explanation of what exactly I can eat (expecting it to be a list of 2 things). So what has filled my fridge & pantry this month?

Meats & Protein

  • Pastured, grass-fed beef
  • Organic, free-range chicken (of all types)
  • Wild caught fish (salmon, cod, tilapia, shrimp)
  • Canned tuna fish (in water)
  • Organic, free-range eggs (so many eggs!)

Produce

  • ALL THE SWEET POTATOES
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Avocadoes
  • Organic kale
  • Organic arugula
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Organic apples (honey crisp!)
  • Plantains (a newfound love!)
  • Oranges & clementines
  • Kiwi!
  • Bananananas

Extras

  • Organic coconut (milk and oil)
  • Dijon mustard (yummmmm!)
  • Almonds & pecans
  • Lara bars (because I can’t help myself)
  • Beef & chicken broth (organic, no added sugar)
  • Canned tomatoes & tomato paste (crucial!!)
  • Jars of roasted bell peppers
  • My unbelievable, homemade almond butter! (will share soon!)

There you have it. It’s a lot of foods. Not gonna lie, though…it’s pricey. I’ve gone all in and worked on buying more organic too. Why? If the goal of this is to seriously improve my health, and I continue eating meats with loaded hormones and produce with pesticides…then I won’t accomplish what I wanted. So while it’s more expensive in some ways, it’s worth it if I’m clearing out my system of anything harmful. There are still ways to save money and be smart about it, though. To be fair as well – I’m not buying junk like chips and salsa, I’m not buying expensive cheeses, I don’t really pick up any “treats” – and once I’ve eliminated all of that stuff, there’s more wiggle room than you’d think.

Would I recommend this? YES. SO MUCH YES. And I’d recommend it to anyone. Even if you’re the vision of health, you don’t have any obvious issues, and love your body. Why? It requires discipline, which I think is a virtue most of us could always strive to have more of. Think of all the times we indulge without realizing it – that mocha latte, cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday, out to dinner with friends and family, an evening sweet on a snowy day, a treat for Sunday…I am the queen at finding all sorts of “reasons” to give in. And I don’t foresee myself giving up all tasty treats here on out, but just knowing that I can say no as much as I have…that’s a good feeling.

The Whole 30 has also changed the way I look at food and nutrition. Well, it’s actually been a long road and this cleanse is more so just confirming things I’ve already been thinking. But I am truly so much more aware at what goes into my body – the meats that most grocery stores sell, the 50,000 extra ingredients in so many products, the amount of sugar one could consume in a day without realizing it at all. Being aware and understanding that quality matters. And whether we have a food allergy/sensitivity or not, the government and food industries have certainly steered us wrong as to what we should be putting in our bodies.

So I plan on continuing a more paleo diet, with some added organic or raw dairy in certain forms (and maybe a bit of natural sugar here and there). I’m sure I’ll have slip-ups (April does bring with it Easter and my birthday, sooooo), but I’m so grateful I had the push to do this. Just a few more days!

Whole 30: Day 9

Here I am. Day 9 of my Whole 30. The first week had it’s ups and it’s downs. The meals I’ve been making haven’t been radically different from how I normally eat, but I’ve missed the cheese, the occasional afternoon sweet treat, and of course my greatest guilty pleasure: chips in any and all forms.

Also, my parents were in town this weekend and we ate out a few times and THAT was a challenge. When I’m out, I throw all nutrition guidelines to the wind and eat whatever I’m interested in having…but alas, I could not do that. It actually turned out okay and I had some delicious meals thanks to some very accommodating restaurants. But I still so badly wanted the bread that was at the table.

A big flop in my first week included getting sick. I still don’t know if it was my body reacting to the no sugar-grains-dairy mixture, but it came. I lost my voice completely to a painful soar throat followed by a miserable head cold. BUT. BUT BUT BUT…I still kept to the whole 30. Minus some honey for my throat (it was painful).

I’m still a bit sick, but pushing through. Still no real benefits that I’m seeing, and I’m bummed that I’m still so tired (fatigue is one of those things I’m trying to cure in my life), but it could also just be that I’m still sick and recovering. And it’s early on. I have no plans of quitting, though. And I figure I’ll just keep going until Easter…so a whole 34ish.

One notable fact from today: I am not craving grains or dairy. Which is pretty crazy. I mean, if you were to put a slice of pizza in front of me…I’d want it. Badly. But just don’t do that, and I’ll be fine. So that’s exciting!