I’ve been on a journey of mind, body, and spirit since my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. I’ve begun to scratch away at a lot of unhealthy mental habits, like the “shoulds,” perfectionism, always needing to be busy/”productive,” doing things I really don’t enjoy as a means to an end, always thinking I’m right, having somewhat of a hot temper, the blame game, and much more. I’ve learned to set boundaries with others directly and indirectly, to resolve conflict more productively, and to know myself on a much deeper level than ever before. It’s always going to be a work in progress but I am so much happier than I used to be and it all just feels right. I still miss my mom so much, but I believe she gave me these gifts with her passing. It has been the most difficult work I’ve ever done, to acknowledge that many beliefs I used to have and think of as truths are up for discussion. But it has been invaluable and I will never go back to seeing the world as I used to. As I’ve had to learn firsthand, “life is too short.”
Anyway, you’re probably thinking, “So what is Whole30?” or “where does Whole30 fit into all of this?” Recently I’ve been questioning the food I put into my body. I’ve always thought of myself as a relatively healthy eater because I actually like fruits and vegetables, and have always noticed that the healthier I eat, the better I feel. But I never really took it seriously. And lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been SUPER lazy, gravitating towards takeout and pre-made foods. I’ve had digestive issues my whole life (nothing too serious–an aversion to fatty foods and lactose intolerance), and lately I’ve been feeling bloated 80% of the time. I take care of my body by working out but all this mind/body/spirit work got me thinking–why am I not so mindful when it comes to food? What am I putting in my body on a daily basis?
I started watching documentaries about food on Netflix, and checked out a couple of books from the library, including “Whole 30” and “100 Days of Real Food.” The authors of these books had similar mindsets–that the food we eat should be unprocessed and give us energy. There have been plenty of occasions where I feel exhausted after eating and need to take a nap. Also, times when I don’t eat for several hours and start craving sugary sweets and eat those at the last minute because I’m too hungry to make real food. Bottom line was that I needed to get my act together when it came to food.
I’ve been trying to be more respectful to myself in general–taking care of myself, exercising, talking to a therapist, taking medications, setting boundaries, doing things I love and enjoy, etc. On that journey of caring for my mental health, the next logical step for me was to eat better. What we eat can have a huge effect on our mental health and emotions. Honestly, the main reason I exercise is to take care of my mental health–so why wouldn’t I also want to put good nutrients into my body?
Whole30 is a 30 day diet/movement where you only eat “whole foods.” No, you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods. Though I did buy one item there for the challenge. What it means is you can’t eat anything processed, no grains, no legumes/beans/peanut products, no added sugar, no alcoholic beverages, no dairy, just to start. Then, after you finish, you’re supposed to slowly start reintroducing foods back into your diet to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s about noticing how different foods make your body feel by resetting it to a place where you only eat foods that are plain, simple, and anti-inflammatory by nature. It’s roughly based on the paleo diet, only eating foods similar to what our ancient human ancestors consumed.
I’ve never been on a diet before, and once tried going vegetarian which lasted less than a week. But I will say that I’ve planned this diet a lot better than that. We’ll see if I can stick to it–I already have at least one planned “off day”–I’ll be going to Milwaukee to visit my grandma at the end of the month for her 85th birthday and I can’t just go to Milwaukee without getting custard at Kopps. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In general, Milwaukee is a place where I tend to indulge myself–they have butter burgers, fish fries, an amazing Italian bakery my aunt takes us to, and a whole lot of beer and cheese. I think I will have to stock up on some beer and Italian desserts while I’m there to bring home with me to celebrate finishing Whole30. 😉
I just finished day 1 (yesterday) very strong. I went to bed early and woke up early this morning with a lot of energy. At the end of the day I felt really great–likely both because of the food I ate and the sense of accomplishment I felt after spending the better part of the day meal prepping a bunch of food for the week (which I will possibly be describing about in a later post). Part of the Whole30 challenge is to really put effort into the food you make to appreciate it more.
I have a major sweet tooth but the sugar cravings haven’t hit me yet. I know, it’s only been a day, but it was a Friday!! A day of the week where I normally indulge myself to the max.
For now, I just want to try this out to see if I can feel a difference, mostly for the benefit of my mental and emotional health/clarity. I’m excited to find out and share what I learn. Let me know if you’ve ever tried Whole30 or any other crazy diet that made you feel better, physically and emotionally!