Hi there. I’ve been a little AWOL in the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d let you know the reason why. My life has been turned upside down and time to think and write has been drastically cut. Nevertheless, I’m not too worried about that as I’m focused on this present journey. I need to see it to the end, or rather, to the next stage, where I hope to be able to manage my time better.
So what am I doing? Well, after reading a very interesting book over Christmas ( It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig), my husband and I decided to do a Whole30 diet month. At the moment, I’m married to the kitchen and feel like I’m spending all my spare time (and more) cooking, but I know it won’t always be like that.
What’s the Whole30 diet, you ask? In a nutshell, it’s a month of following a very strict diet of good protein, fats, vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit. Every meal (including breakfast) has the same basic make-up and snacking between meals is to be avoided if at all possible. Here comes the difficult part. You cut out all of the following foods: dairy, cereals (including rice), legumes, seed oils, sugars (of ALL kinds), soy products and all the bad things to be found in processed foods like MSG, nitrites and nitrates and sulfates. The book gives you a list of what to avoid and why it should be avoided. So you’re eating “whole” foods for 30 days.
At the end of the 30 days, you can slowly add back foods like dairy, cereal etc and you will be able to see exactly what effect they are having on your system. You can then decide if or how much you will eat those foods in the future. This allows you to end up with a personalised diet which should be right for you. The premise is that the foods you cut out may be having a bad effect on your digestive system, and consequently, on the rest of your body. According to the authors of the book, many people have seen dramatic health results from following the diet (lowered cholestrol, lowered fasting blood sugar and lowered blood pressure to name a few) and have consequently changed the way they eat permanently. Although people report losing weight on this diet, my main reason for doing it is to improve our general health and keep us healthy into the future. I like the way the book gives simple explanations of why certain food or additives should be avoided. It makes you feel that you’re making an informed choice.
If you haven’t come across this diet or read anything about it, you’re probably wondering what it’s like and how we are managing to cut out so many foods. Surprisingly, we’re managing very well, thank you! We’re on day 12 now and although we miss some things, we haven’t really felt hungry at all. It’s definitely not a diet that leaves you feeling lean and mean and craving food all day. During the first week or so I had a low level headache that just didn’t want to budge. I presume it was due to my body going through a detox process, but that has passed and I feel generally ok. I have yet to feel the surge of energy and clear mindedness that many people report, but I’m hoping that will arrive soon. My husband is Italian, so the thought of doing without pasta, pizza and risotto for a month had him quaking at the knees, but now he says he has hardly missed them (ok, he really missed his Friday pizza last week, but he held strong!).
The interesting thing about this journey is that you learn so much about yourself and your relationship with your food. We’ve realised that most of our between meals snacking is psychologically motivated and not prompted by hunger. “I could have told you that,” you say. But there’s a great difference between being told something and realising something yourself! And I’ve realised that we are stronger than we think we are.
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What’s amazed me perhaps most of all is the way that I’ve been able to embrace cooking for the first time in years. I knew that if we were to succeed, I would have to make meals that were specially tasty to convince my husband to continue with this for a month. I’ve been browsing the paleo cooks’ sites and also bringing my own creativity to the pot. Who knew that a fragrant vegetable curry and fried eggs would make a good breakfast? Or that you can add spicy meatballs to vegetable soup to get some protein? Today’s surprise was a meatloaf made in the slow cooker. It was spicy with cayenne peppers and a natural spice mix and cooked in a delicious tomato gravy made from tomato pulp, salt, pepper , parsley and dried chives. I just mixed the gravy together in a cup and threw it over the meatloaf. The magic cooking process did the rest! We’re saving the recipes we really like and keeping them for the future!
Have you tried this diet or any other diet with success? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. If you are doing a Whole30, what are your secrets to success? What are your thoughts on diets and dieting in general? I’ll update later on as to how it’s going for me. Suffice to say that no sugar has passed these lips for 12 days. Amazing! And if you have any questions, fire away. I’ll answer if I can.