I made a deal with myself for the month of March. The deal came from reading a book – It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. (This is a big step for me guys – this girl generally don’t do nonfiction.) I first heard about the book and the 30 day experiment from the fashion blog What I Wore, which I pretty much read religiously. (I know, you’re learning so many new things about me.) Anyway, What I Wore is a great daily read and this fabulous, positive post was what made me curious about eating whole, real foods.
The Whole30 involves cutting dairy, grains, artificial sugars, alcohol, and legumes out of your diet for an entire month to cut down on systemic inflammation (basically inflammation around your organs), allow your body to absorb nutrients from natural foods, and balance hormone levels. It follows the “Paleo” diet, meaning eating foods our bodies adapted to eating from the caveman days – mostly vegetables, fruit, meat, and healthy fats. According to the book and the TONS of websites I browsed through – including the official website from the authors of the book – the benefits of eating this way include clearer skin, better functioning digestive system, more energy, fewer mood swings, and no more cravings for artificially sweet, salt, and bad for you foods. Cosmetically speaking, it’s supposed to help manage belly fat that just refuses to go away, no matter how many crunches you do, because you’re banishing the systemic inflammation in your body. Weight loss is not the ultimate goal, though. The goal is to reset your body to eat the way we should be eating, without a reliance on too many carbs or lactose that can mess with the way the body functions. At the end of the 30 days, you slowly reintroduce dairy, bread, and other items you had sworn off back into your diet and evaluate how crappy it makes you feel.
Day 6: My Thoughts So Far
After nearly a week of health eating, I can honestly say I feel really, noticeably good. I haven’t been missing cheese and bread nearly as much as I thought I would. I stay full for MUCH longer between meals (this may have something to do making sure there’s a source of protein in each meal I eat, something I wasn’t doing before). It’s easier to eat three regular meals a day when each meal is filling and good for you. And I’ve actually been having A LOT of fun challenging myself to cook at every meal and being prepared for lunches at the office the next day. You can see one of my first recipe attempts above (it was DELICIOUS) and several more below.
Guys, I’m getting SO MUCH BETTER at cooking meat. I’ve been browsing a ton of recipes online and adapting them for what I like (and actually buy) and the extra time I’m spending to feed myself is definitely worth it.
Compare these two scenarios: You come home from work stressed out and feeling like a fatty because you were trapped behind a desk all day. You’re starving, and therefore totally unmotivated to exercise. You microwave a frozen burrito or throw a pizza in the toaster oven, sit in front of the TV to shove it down your facehole, and then spend the rest of the night feeling bloated from your cheesy carb-a-thon.
Second scenario: You come home from work stressed but not quite hungry yet, on account of the tasty, protein-filled lunch you had four hours ago. You’re able to get in an hour-long workout, and once you’ve gotten all sweaty and gross, THEN you feel the hunger. You’re literally practicing depleting and refueling your energy. You grab a whole bunch of veggies, a palm-sized portion of meat, and my personal favorite (AVOCADO) and start gleefully chopping and dicing and planning and sauteing and seasoning. (For real, with the gleefulness.) You’re probably playing music and feeling energetic. (Okay, this might just be me, but it’s fun.) You stop eating a few hours before you go to sleep and overall, feel you had a productive and healthy day.
Obviously, this is best case scenario. And the planning and preparing works a lot better if you have a regular schedule, like yours truly. Still, even if you work different hours each day, everybody’s gotta eat lunch at some point.
The biggest challenge for me has been adapting my grocery shopping habits and budgeting. With all the fresh food, I am taking more trips to the grocery store (which means more walking – yay?) and spending a bit more money. I do think it’s worth it for the sake of health, but it’s a little annoying to note I was at the local Superfresh last Friday, yesterday, and I will probably have to go again tomorrow or Friday. This is equal parts because I loathe the idea of letting food go bad because I bought too much and because I’m still getting used to planning a whole week’s worth of meals at once. I’ve been eating LOTS of eggs, and LOTS more sweet potato, which is one of my favorites.
The other challenge is doing it on my own, which isn’t so bad, really. Every once in a while I crave a little bit of the boyfriend’s beer or see my roommates eating cheese and get envious, but overall, I’m enjoying the test of my willpower. It’s empowering to note that YOU choose what goes into your body, and you’re the only one that can make it healthy or make it harmful. It’s not like I plan on never drinking alcohol or having ice cream again (my soul would be dead without ICE CREAM) but I feel good about making those things special exceptions to a healthy diet, not the tenets that make up a very crappy diet.
The very last preachy thing I’ll say is that so far, from the book and from my own short experience, the biggest thing I’ve realized is the emotional attachment we have to food and how we interpret that bodily as a “craving.” My body isn’t telling me I NEED ice cream or pizza. My emotions are telling me that I like the camaraderie that comes with having a pint with friends at the local bar or that childlike indulgence that comes with a big ice cream sundae. I love the feeling of slowly sipping a glass of wine after work, and LOVE pizza from Nomad, guys. And that’s the thing. If I’m going to eat stuff that’s bad for me, it’s gotta be the stuff that tastes really friggin’ good. No more crappy microwavable, processed foods. I want Nomad to make my delicious pizza with love, and with fresh ingredients.
Anyway, I said much more than I planned. Check back for more food-related insight as I continue my month of healthy eating.