It Starts With Food (And the Destruction of Everything I Thought I Knew)

What is Whole30 and why am I doing it? And why should anyone care? And what’s up with that photo?

The book It Starts With Food has been on my radar for a while now. Some close friends have read and loved it, and over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to clean up my food intake. I’ve cut out a lot of processed food, switched to whole grains, flirted with organics and started reading a lot of food labels. I thought I was doing pretty well. But a month of vacations filled with pizza, craft beer and patriotic mini fruit pizza’s I realized I needed a kick in the pants. Enter my newest Kindle download.

I assumed It Starts With Food would be a great pick for me since it’s all based on science- and I love me some indisputable facts. I flew through the book in less than two days. I just couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know about food, and how much I didn’t truly understand about the human body. As a Wikipedia and “let me Google that for you” aficionado I was actually a little embarrassed.

I’ll spare everyone the scientific details, but the main eye-openers for me were these:

  • The human body is not designed to handle the majority of foods we eat today, even the ones we consider healthy and essential. I knew this about processed foods, chemicals, pesticides, additives, hormones etc. But legumes? Peanuts? Grains of all kinds? Ummm… excuse me?
  • Added sugar and increased blood sugar levels lead to insane hormonal imbalances, forcing your body to store fat because it thinks it’s starving. The picture above is proof that my body is not starving. But based on the levels of sugars in things we eat everyday (yes, even the healthy foods) are raising my blood sugar to unmanageable levels, causing my body to store unnecessary energy and to fail to tell me I’m actually full.
  • Your digestive tract (and small intestine) is the center of your immune system, and we’re all being assholes to ours. The small intestine determines what substances actually make it into your body and which go out as waste. Because we’re eating like crap, we’re essentially poking holes in our system and allowing all the bad stuff in.
  • Inflammation is totally different than I thought and actually really serious. Okay, so I didn’t actually know what inflammation was, I admit it. So I’ve always ignored it when people talk about it. Turns out, it’s kind of a big deal. See what I mean here.
  • Almost every health issue we face today can be directly traced back to the way we eat, and we can actually reduce or eliminate these health problems by changing our food intake. If I can rid myself of migraines, low energy and bloating (see bullet point about being in a bikini) by swapping my pasta for guacamole and chicken breast, I think I should at least give it a go.

The book suggests doing The Whole30, or what some may view as a cleanse. I’m trying to avoid that word because it makes me think of someone eating raw cabbage and drinking green juice for a week, but it’s the best analogy I have. Essentially, you cut out all the foods that do not directly contribute to making your body healthier. For an entire 30 days. No cheats, no exceptions, no caveats. And the list is LONG. However, this allows your body to “reset” to zero- giving your cells the opportunity to heal receive vital nutrients without all the extras. After the 30 days you begin to reintroduce foods that you cut out. You’re a little science experiment of your own, observing how all of these foods affect your body on a clean slate. Then you decide which, if any, you’ll allow in your normal diet.

I’m nervous, but I’m sold. The main reasons are:

  1. I never stick with anything, so it would be cool if I did at some point.
  2. I believe in science more than I trust the other sources of nutrition information I’ve been receiving my whole life (most originate with marketing campaigns. Is this meta since I’m in marketing? Or just plain hypocritical? Jury’s out.)
  3. I’m essentially a hypochondriac and will do just about anything to decrease my health-related anxiety levels.
  4. I want to help Tim reach his goal of living to be 110.
  5. I like a challenge.

So now I pass the torch (book) to Tim. I’m fairly certain I’m doing this with or without his participation, but it would really blow if I’m eating grilled bok choy for dinner while he’s nomming on Pizzeria Lola.

I’m blogging as an accountability fail-safe for myself so that I can’t quit partway through without being a least a tad embarrassed. I’d also like a record of this ridiculous journey in the event that it does work so I can convince friends/family to do the same.

Next up: pantry clean out, CSA sign-up and Whole30 grocery shopping prep work. And probably some beer in the meantime.

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