I’ve done a Whole30 before. It’s everything you’ve heard: time consuming in the kitchen, withdrawals that may cause you to lash out at loved ones, and significant weight loss accompanied by an eventual energy gain. And, when that thirty days is up and you engulf an entire sleeve of Oreos (what?! They were organic!), you will think your body is destroying itself from the inside out. A full week of comfort eating will be the only way to feel normal again.
On top of that, those extra pounds that took 30 days to lose, BAM! They’re back, helped along by sudden access into the land of quick and easy carb-options for dinner (pizza anybody?). And the worst part, after my body adjusted to 30 days without processed sugar and white flour, I gave myself eczema by returning to my old eating habits so quickly. The eczema lasted for over a year! And I had it on my face! Ugh. Whole 30. Worst ever.
So, why in the hell am I on day fourteen of another Whole30?! It’s the caveman diet. No, literally, you can have the thinking skills of a paleolithic man while eating this way. I am not counting calories or portion controlling my meals. I’m just cooking with the options that I have and making sure I feel full. I don’t even have to scan ingredients, because I know anything that comes packaged is basically a no-go. Am I in the kitchen cooking for the majority of the day? You would think yes, but I have tweaked this Whole30 to fit my agenda.
First of all, my husband is joining me this time around. It was actually his idea. Twelve years ago I quit smoking cold turkey because John suggested we both kick the habit, strength in numbers. Also I wanted to impress him... I am still the same girl.
We begin our day with a can of sardines. I can’t even call this breakfast because it feels wrong. This is something John has done for awhile. I chastised him for his disgustingly fishy smells while I wolfed down syrup-laden pancakes (what?! They were homemade!). But, I LOVE simplicity and nothing requires less effort than pulling open a can and eating. Bonus reward, no extra dishes to wash afterwards. Perfection. We pair our sardines with a hot cup of coffee, complete with a dollop of coconut oil. I feel satiated and have energy that pushes me through to mid-day, which means I’m not heating up the cold coffee left overs in the Chemex to keep my eyes open.
At lunch time, I make us a meal fit for a caveman-Thanksgiving. It is all combined in a single bowl and tastes like heaven . That is the saving grace; roasted squash (spaghetti, butternut, pumpkin, crookneck) or potatoes (sweet, yams, yukon) used as a base. Slow cooked tomatoes with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, bacon, eggs and herbs dumped on top, with a handful of fresh kale, chard, or arugula. It’s easy to mix it up and also to prepare an abundant amount of base carbohydrates for next day’s lunch. John comes home for his break and we feast.
Dinner is being completely disrespected. We juice the crap out of some veggies and suck it down through a straw, while distracting ourselves with a video game. Realistically, it’s not that bad tasting, but attaching it’s consumption to Ms. PacMan tricks me into enjoying the process. We use celery, cucumbers, lemons, and green apples as a base. We change the leafy green depending on what we have on hand: kale, chard, collard greens, spinach. That was the hardest part in the beginning, I guess because dinner feels like more than a habit. It is our custom, or what is left of our accumulative cultures, that seems to flourish as we share a meal together. If I hope to successfully keep some of these new habits after our Whole30 has ended, I will have to incorporate that feeling of family camaraderie during lunch as opposed to dinner.
The deal breaker for me will be sugar. As a steadfast rule, I should be saying no to sweets in all forms right now. By meeting my cravings for simple sugars, with protein, I am rewiring my brain (or so I have been told). But, I have already caved on this, by freezing ripe bananas and blending them with coconut milk and unsweetened cocoa. Mondays are our once a week family movie night, which includes eating ice cream. As I write this with Monday looming, I will make an extra effort not to let my cravings command me, and skip the fake ice cream until after our Whole30 is up.
The ultimate goal (for me) is feeling better. After eliminating so many foods that I ordinarily eat, I have an opportunity to introduce things back into my diet and gauge how I feel (dairy, grains, legumes). I am not quick to judge a food based on one day of reactions. I have frequent headaches, bloating, and mood swings, so I know that my gut is not happy about a lot that I am ingesting. After kicking my two main food evils out (processed sugar and flour), I hope to have a clean enough slate to determine if anything else is messing with me.
After all this is said and done, I hope to make great strides towards addressing my adrenal fatigue. Please read Angi’s brilliant previous post, "If you're a woman, you probably have adrenal fatigue. Here's how to fix it.". I know that we as mothers are faced with the insatiable needs of others and can’t imagine giving up on life’s small pleasures to carry us through the day. I have found myself in tears this past week when I realized that I couldn’t resolve my frustration over a bowl of cold cereal or drown my emotions in a glass of wine (I don’t actually drink that horrible stuff, but writing “glass of bourbon” sounded too raging alcoholic…). Crazy thing is, not having a crutch to rely upon made me deal with it, right then and there. It blew my mind how conscious that choice felt; be a pissed off mess or have power over my response.
Whole30 is not long term. To me, it is an extreme elimination diet that I am using to expedite detecting what foods mess with me. It isn’t a sustainable lifestyle. If anything, it sucks bad enough that once I reintroduce rice or beans, I might get that pleasure release I need to continue making better eating choices. I would kill a man for a taco right now, but I’m looking ahead. Once I can eat the things that make my body thrive, I have goals: I would like to begin a yoga practice (Tara) and begin supplementing the vitamins and nutrients I can’t get from my diet with other methods (Angi). I am so thankful for my Mindful + Mama women and this chapter in my life that I get to share with others (not to mention the accountability that just might keep me away from the cookies this time).