The whole reason I started to write that post about “Halfs” was because I’ve been thinking about doing Whole30.
My boyfriend, who knows a lot about food (and has been teaching me), was the one who suggested it, but later said he wasn’t sure he wanted to go through with it because he’s really not an extremist.
But, I kind of am.
Whole30 is like paleo, but more intense. No added sugar, no dairy, no grains, no beans or legumes, no ‘fake stuff.’ Lots of veggies, healthy meats, some fruit. The concept behind paleo, basically that our biology has not caught up with our technology, seems logical. The idea that, while our bodies evolved to love the shit out of fats and sugars because those only showed up a little and we had to make the most of them, we’re not quite equipped for the influx of processed nonfoods that most of us intake on a daily basis.
Processed foods date back only to about the middle of the 20th century, so working moms could save time on food prep. That’s not even a hundred years ago, so of course our bodies aren’t dealing well with that. Lots of empty calories, preservatives (what, you want to preserve your innards..?), shortcuts and filler. Lots of fats and sugars to make things appealing (and oh, they are).
Couple that with our largely sedentary lifestyles and no wonder our whole country is obese.
Paleo throws it back past the agricultural revolution. Whole30 asserts that you may be so immersed in stuff that’s not really doing you right that you don’t even know what life is like outside of that norm. Mildly irritated insides might be contributing to any number of functional issues in one’s life.
I buy this idea because of the way kefir changed my life over the summer. I’m not saying it’s the only factor, but I will say that for the first time in years, I didn’t get sick. I haven’t missed a day of work this year — even when the person I am closest to has had coughs and colds — and I am giving a solid chunk of the credit to the little buggies that live in my intestines.
A co-worker of his has done it and she says it’s great. That it sucks at first, and there’s definitely a hangover period, where I imagine your body like a toddler throwing a tantrum because I want the yummy bread and I want the cookies, damn it! But that later, as you adjust, you start to feel really great. Inexplicably happier, more energetic, less irritated.
But… no sugar? No bread? No rice? No dairy? Like, no cheese or yogurt or cereal with milk? Oh and no alcohol either. And no cheating?
Whatever, man, it’s only thirty days. I got this.
Two weeks ago, on the way to the grocery store, I announced, “Let’s do it.”
We carefully avoided the bulk food section where we normally get granola (for the yogurts) and other various grainy things like flour or rice. We headed for the meats, where I picked up a chicken burger and read the ingredients. It had cheese in it. I stared at it for a while. Walked away. Came back. “I’m not ready!” I proclaimed, and chose two different varieties of chicken burger to try. (Then I went back for the granola)
I’m not a lost cause. Shit like this takes planning, if you’re going to do it the right way. When I wrote about not doing things by halves, I was thinking about moving to Kansas. We’re not here to discuss whether that decision was sound, but the way it got executed sure as hell was.
If I’m going to do Whole30, I need to know what I’m in for. I (hilariously) divided up the cabinets, putting everything “approved” on the bottom shelf, and everything else higher up. I split the fridge in half, just so I could see what we already had and were already eating that qualifies, and also see which things would be out for a month.
(to be fair, most of the Whole30 Approved stuff is in the produce drawers, not pictured.)
I’ve started downloading recipes so I can make a shopping list so I can feel secure in the knowledge that I am not going to starve and that I in fact have several interesting meals planned. Because every day after school I want a snack, and sometimes it’s trail mix, and sometimes it’s chex mix, and sometimes it’s cream soda with rum and none of those are on the menu (well, maybe trail mix.. the one I’m eating this week has added sugar, though).
Apparently, you need lots of carrots and broccolis and other stuff like that to shove in your face at snack time.
And those cravings for pancakes, for French toast, for cookies and cake and Panda Puffs and popcorn and hot cocoa? Have another carrot and maybe some nice grilled salmon.
I’m told that people (especially dudes) doing the Whole30 lose a bunch of weight (though you’re not supposed to measure as you go). I don’t want to lose weight. In fact, I’m a little hesitant to do it because I want to avoid losing weight. By most people’s standards, I eat pretty healthy. Not a lot of junk, pretty good choices.
My sticking points, and part of the reason I want to do it, is the sugar dragon. Although I don’t like things that are overly sweet, instances where I eat so many cookies I give myself a stomachache (yes as an adult) are not unheard of.. they’re not even rare. Once they’re in front of me, I can’t stop (especially if I’m making them, and there’s batter too.. mmmm batter). Then 15 minutes later I’m miserable for an hour. You’d think the pain would teach me, but it hasn’t.
If you can break the habit, then you can stop craving. Then, theoretically you can treat all those foods like I now treat soda: I know it’s bad for me, I don’t really crave it on the reg, but now and then I just want a good old bubbly cold sugar caffeine shot, and I get nice and high, and then I crash nice and hard, and we all move on. It’s not a compulsion; it’s a choice. And somehow, bad choices you make in full control of yourself are okay.