Monday, February 16, 2015

our (almost) Whole30

Whole30 was a spontaneous decision. I skimmed the list of rules one night and decided to start the next day. Jim decided to join me.

I am a fairly healthy eater and healthy cook, but I don't restrict anything. I try to keep sugar and treats in moderation. We eat a lot of fresh food. Generally the only rule I follow is to cook mainly from scratch and to {nearly always} only eat foods with recognizable ingredients. That doesn't mean my kids have never tasted a Dorito. Their dad loves doughnuts. When we are on vacation or visiting I don't make an issue of food. 

I wasn't necessarily trying to lose weight. I was more curious about how foods affect me. Aside from unpleasant but pretty normal pms, my only complaint is a foggy brain sometimes. This could have more to do with three children chatting at me all. day. long. than with food, but I was curious whether sugar and flour might be contributing to both of these.

The rules for Whole30 are to eliminate all sugar, grains, beans, alcohol, peanuts, dairy, and all processed food for thirty days. Basically you eat only vegetables, meat, seafood, fruit and fats. They are super strict about no cheating whatsoever. Even a taste of anything containing the restricted ingredients requires that you start all over from day one. There is no almost.

Well, I cheated. I am not a good rule follower. Especially when choosing between rules and parties. There was a birthday party, and then a super bowl party, and another birthday dinner . ..  I did not start all over again. Also, after I cheated the first time I gave up and started adding cream to my coffee. Sue. Me.

Aside from a few cheat days after which we did not go back and start over, we did stick with the Whole30 program. A typical day looked like this:

eggs and sausage for breakfast
big salad for lunch
fruit for snacks
meat, vegetable, potato, salad for dinner

Overall, the meals were very satisfying and (aside from the black coffee) on an average day, at home, with no temptations, the rules are not difficult to follow. The hardest part is the extra time it takes to prepare food, and eating so much meat is expensive. (I'm not sure I agree ethically with consuming that much meat. The diet does seem elitist). 

This is what I learned:

-I reach for convenient foods way more often than I realize. I don't usually eat breakfast, so around 10 I might grab something easy like toast, and then I snack on tortilla chips and chocolate chips the rest of the day. I've learned to replace this with fruit and nuts, and take the time to fix myself lunch and sit down and eat it.

-I rely on bread and grains more than I need to, especially for quick lunches. I didn't even buy bread this month, and the kids didn't miss it. 

-I eat chocolate always. I didn't realize just how often I grab chocolate chips, especially when I am stressed or bored.

-Sweet potatoes saved me. Tossed in olive oil with salt, roasted until they've caramelized- I could eat these all day long. This is nearly as good as chocolate. For real.

-It is fun and easy to roast all kinds of vegetables. I rotated trays of vegetables every day, and we ate them for all of the meals. I want to keep doing this.

-I still endured pms. In fact it was really strong this month. I had hoped avoiding sugar would help but it didn't seem to. Maybe it is lack of vitamin D. Maybe it is part of the curse and overcome through prayer and dying to self.

-Jim and I both felt more mental clarity and energy overall. 

-I noticed behavior improvements in the kids, and one child in particular. I think fewer grains may help her. 

-I enjoy all food, but don't try to turn them into a pretend food; i.e. cauliflower is cauliflower, not pizza.

-We eat more cheese and dairy than we need. I was using a lot of cheese, and when we eliminated it I found we didn't miss it. 

Our plan is to continue all of these habits as our normal daily diet: more protein, plenty of living, fresh foods, and for the most part no sugar or grains throughout the week. On weekends we splurge and eat whatever we want. I will continue to keep a stash of dark chocolate for backup when the sweet potatoes aren't cutting it.

The negatives: 

My problem with any diet is that is makes me think about dieting, and thinking about dieting makes me want food. (The strength of the law!)  After struggling with my weight most of my life, the key for me was learning to enjoy food but not too much of it. I fear diets because they make me anxious and rebellious. 

I really don't want my kids to grow up afraid of food. I prefer to not make an issue of food at all. I only ask them to pay attention to their bodies; How does your body feel? Are you full? Do you think that eating more dessert would make your body feel good or bad? Generally, this works well enough. They will often say I can't finish this {sugary dessert or snack} because my body says it's enough

Diets are the new legalism. We secretly love laws. We crave measurements and restrictions because they give us a was to achieve something. (I don't mean people who have health issues or food intolerances). It is good to fast, good to cleanse your body and to heal it with food. But diets can also become one more form of idolatry. During our diet Sam kept saying, why don't you just eat healthy? 

In summary, I love food! I love food for all of the reasons- because it heals and nourishes and gives life. And I love food because it brings people together. Because it is celebration and tradition and nostalgia. I love to prepare food and I love to feed people. A party will always trump a diet, as I think it should. I believe God gave us food for pleasure and to thank him for, and when we have a healthy relationship with food we can enjoy it and indulge sometimes and celebrate heartily- without guilt or condemnation. 


ryanstraits said...

Loved the idea of there being a correlation between dieting & legalism. I can definitely see that. I've come to many of the same conclusions about fad diets, since I have to eat food that I like or they won't work. Food is good! Just eat less of it ;)

Corinne Cunningham said...

I did a cleanse not that long ago that brought up a lot of similar conclusions and issues as what you're talking about here. Long story short, I found out that dairy and I don't get along.... but that just like you - I love food!!!! I think it's all about being mindful about eating. I love doing cleanses now and then to reestablish a good relationship with food. I often go heavy in one direction or another - all meat dishes or all vegetarian... and I end up forgetting about moderation ;) Moderation and I have never gotten along well. So it's good to reset, is my point :)