Tag Archives: it starts with food

It’s Day 30! (We Made It!)

Holy buckets, it’s DAY 30! I’ve been putting myself under a lot of completely unnecessary pressure to make this an all-encompassing, penultimate Whole30 blog post. And then I remembered that we have to do reintroduction anyways, so forget that.

Instead I’m going to follow the advice of the Whole30/Whole9 founders and make this post a celebration of my Whole30 and the wonderful things that have come from it. That’s right, a 100% positive post. Except with my expert levels of snark and sarcasm it will likely be a 90% positive post. I’m trying, really I am. Let’s go over the great things that have some of this process! And you know what’s cool? The list is LONG.

Physical Changes

  • Sleep. I’ve been saying this since week one. While not foolproof or 100% consistent, overall I am sleeping well and through the night. I wake up fairly easily in the morning and earlier than I did before. Did I morph into a complete morning person? No, but I’m closer!
  • Energy level. Like sleep, this isn’t 100% consistent but I am far more energetic throughout the day. I’m more productive, focused and feel less like being a bump on a log in front of the TV. Sure, I still do that (hello, Bachelor in Paradise is on) but it’s because I want to – not because I’m too drained to do anything else.
  • Anxiety. I’ve battled with panic attacks and anxiety since I was a teenager. Overall, my anxiety has been greatly reduced.
  • Back/neck pain. This usually goes with my anxiety; a very sore neck and upper back is how my stress manifests. This incredibly annoying pain has been virtually eradicated since Whole 30 week one.
  • Hair. This one is kind of strange. Multiple people (including my mom) have asked me if I’ve dyed my hair darker. I haven’t. It’s weird, but must be Whole30-related.
  • Nails. I usually have super brittle nails, but they’re looking pretty good now!
  • Headaches. Mine have completely subsided since the day of the pea incident. I also haven’t had any migraines– but since those tend to be tied to hormonal, stress and weather (strange, I know) factors I’m leery to chalk that up to Whole30 alone.
  • Weight loss. No – I don’t know how many pounds because I didn’t weigh myself before we started. Did I drop a dress/pant size and am I magically at my ideal weight with a 6-pack? Of course not. But my dresses/pants DO fit significantly better. I can feel the weight loss even when I’m just walking around because my body feels freer. I went back and forth about a million times trying to decide if I should post my before and after photos… but screw it. Here they are. (I didn’t start taking pics until day 5).
    Top row - Day 5, Bottom row - day 30

    Top row – Day 5, Bottom row – day 30

    Not bad, right? I know it isn’t incredibly impressive- there’s plenty of Whole30 before-and-afters that are insane transformations. I definitely ate too many starchy veggies (sweet potatoes, yum) for those kind of dramatic results. But I feel more comfortable with my own body and more confident. I can’t really ask for more.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Eating at the table. I love that we have started using our kitchen table as something other than a dumping ground. Tim and I eat as many meals as possible together at the kitchen table. Sure, it isn’t always the most exciting mealtime (we tend to have great conversations when we go out to eat) but it’s uninterrupted time together.
  • Improved kitchen skills. A huge part of Whole30 is cooking. There’s just no way to get around it with such strict guidelines. Our kitchen and some of our prep tools have never gotten so much use (I’m looking at you, food processor). It’s been awesome to improve my cooking skills – and FINALLY make a decent over easy egg.
  • Love of healthy foods. As I said in my last post, the breadth of fruits & veggies I now eat is so much larger than ever before. I was missing out on so many great things until I was essentially forced to try them. Now I look forward to veggies rather than reluctantly adding a few of the same to my plate.
  • Water. I drink SO much water now! I was never that big of a water drinker before. And even stranger… I crave super cold ice water, which I used to hate. Now I’m heading to the ice maker multiple times a day.
  • Athletic performance. While I do wish I’d worked out more during Whole30, when I did make it to class I was killing it. Seriously! I seem to have all the energy in the world and find myself reaching for heavier weights. In general, I just like being active more.
  • Appreciation & awareness. Eating well is time-consuming and expensive. I feel very fortunate to be in a situation where I am able to make healthy decisions and can afford to do so. It’s an incredible injustice that healthy eating is not possible for many due to finances and access.

Overall, I feel pretty great! Would I recommend Whole30? Absolutely. Did it completely transform my life? No. But could it still? For sure. How will my habits change now that I have more freedom? Am I REALLY free from mindless eating? Will I make good choices? TBD. There’s no time to think about that right now, because tonight I get to have some wine! More to follow over the next week on reintroduction and life post Whole30.

 

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I Swear I’m Not Crying – Now Give Me a Brownie (Whole30 During a Crisis)

Food is deeply personal and emotional.

I’ve heard a variation of that sentiment no less than a hundred times as I’ve gone through Whole30. It’s been a frequent source of annoyance to me. Every phrase that accompanies the idea is an cliche that insinuates that humans aren’t capable of making conscious decisions: “Eating ice cream right out of the carton when you’re upset” or “Pouring a drink after a long day at work” and “Eating the whole pan of brownies all by yourself”. Been there, heard that. Shut up. My food does not control me.

Unbeknownst to me, the correlation between food and emotion was going to get extremely intense for both Tim and myself during Whole30 -and for reasons we never would have predicted. But a scary admittance to the hospital by my father-in-law for a heart attack (and subsequently a major but successful coronary bypass graft surgery) will do that to you. Nope, we really didn’t see that coming.

A large part of grief and coping is finding comfort. As it turns out, comfort tends to be best buddies with familiarity and routines. A favorite pair of sweatpants, your husbands T-shirt, a cozy blanket, and (of course) food. I’ll level with you: there’s just nothing reassuring about a salad. Or LaCroix. Or roasted beets (particularly when you’re brand new to roasted beets). Even in the dead of summer, I’ve been finding myself wanting lasagna or chicken noodle soup or some extra cheesy pizza; foods that remind me of family and memories and safety. And difficult times really do make you want a drink. Just a little something to take off the edge, help you relax or give your mind a break. Whole30 foods by design do not offer these comforts.

We seriously considered quitting- if only for a matter of convenience. Who the hell wants to grill up some salmon and asparagus when you get home from the hospital? Not me. Making a Whole30 approved meal from the hospital cafeteria was close to impossible. And no snacking while waiting for a 5 hours surgery? Not exactly ideal. And don’t even get me started on vending machines. Besides, who really cares about food at a time like that?

But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that Whole30 was probably more of a benefit during a difficult time than a hindrance.

We couldn’t rely on food or drinks (drinks in particular) to help us process complicated emotions. Trust me, we wanted to. But instead of a scotch and some wine, we had a good hug and a cry or two. A major part of Whole30 is breaking emotional food cycles and habits- this was a huge test of that willpower. We passed!

We didn’t sit around eating junk just because it was convenient. This would have been so easy at the hospital. I would have had a minimum of two cookies and a bag of chips on surgery day alone if I would have been able to. There’s no way that would have helped the situation.

We neither overate or forgot to ate due to emotions and stress. Food isn’t usually the first thing on your mind when you’re worried or upset. But Whole30 made sure we ate (and ate something healthy) and stopped me from eating my emotions at the same time.

And finally, there’s nothing like a scary health incident to make you realize that you want to live as healthy as possible for as long as you can. There are so many health-related things in our lives we can’t control. Often we’re at the hands of biology, genetics, accidents, etc. But we can control what we eat and how we treat ourselves. Someday that could be the difference between a trip to the hospital or a trip to Italy. Or decades of trips to the pharmacy vs decades med-free. If I can do my part to help my health and my future, then I have to do it.

It reminds me a bit of a (controversial) quote from It Starts With Food:

“It is NOT hard. Please don’t tell us this program is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

I thought that was a totally jerky comment when I first read it. But now I know that’s very, very true. Whole30 isn’t easy, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than most real life scenarios. And it might just help you through one someday.

 

Haters Gonna Hate (Whole30 Criticisms)

New? Check out this post to get caught up on what Whole30 is and why I’m blogging about it.

I get it. The Whole30 seems kind of crazy. It feels extreme, it looks very limiting, and it just doesn’t make a ton of sense from the outside. I’m here to tell you that I know exactly what you’re thinking. No, I’m not blindly following Whole30 and drinking the Kool Aid (because I can’t have any damn Kool Aid) without giving it any critical thought.

Tim and I have been incredibly lucky that our family, friends and coworkers have been supportive (and even cheerleaders) of our Whole30 experiment. But its not like that for everyone. I’ve been doing my research and compiled some of the main arguments against Whole30/Paleo/Whole9 along with my responses. These are my personal opinions and thoughts- all of which are subject to change as I move through the program.

1) Whole30 is a fad diet, just like Adkins or Southbeach or any other number of weight loss programs. It’s just a moneymaker for the owners.

I understand where this comes from. There’s been a lot of press lately about Whole30 as the “new hot diet trend” sweeping Hollywood, Instagram, etc (here’s one of the articles). To me, this comes from journalists who aren’t doing their research. If you spend any time at all on the Whole30 website or with It Starts With Food, you’ll immediately see that weight loss is not, and should not be, the main motivation for doing the Whole30. Yes, most people who do Whole30 lose some weight. But there’s no scales, no counting calories (I’m looking at you, MyFitnessPal) and no huge weight loss promises. I’m not buying Whole30 brand foods, endorsed products, supplements, attending hosted meetings or paying per pound I lose. The Whole30 program is totally free – you don’t have to buy It Starts With Food to do it. Yes, blog traffic probably equals money for Dallas and Melissa… but we all have to make a living somehow. It’s about giving yourself a nutritional reset, not melting fat. (But how could it be a surprise to ANYONE that eating healthy food= weight loss?)

2) The idea of basing your diet on what cavemen did is ridiculous. We’ve evolved since then and our bodies are able to handle modern foods. What, should I not use a cell phone because the cavemen didn’t use them either?

This is my favorite argument – because I used to say it ALL THE TIME. I’m a total hypocrite -I think I even said this just weeks before starting Whole30. This was my mantra every time someone even whispered the word Paleo in conversation. Turns out, I was just really, really ignorant. (Also, Whole30 is slightly different/more hardcore than Paleo, but let’s roll with this.) In my opinion, Paleo could use a new mascot. No one is saying that we should do as the caveman did, not really. The very best way I’ve seen to describe Paleo can be found on Nom Nom Paleo, in her post called Paleo 101. I highly encourage you to take a peek. She even has it in a cute little cartoon form. This should clear up all that caveman confusion.

3) Our bodies need the nutrients from legumes, dairy and grains. You’re not getting adequate nutrition.

To this I say… read the book! There’s a lot of science behind this topic that’s incredibly enlightening. In short: while these foods are sources for nutrients like protein, fiber and calcium, there are other ways to get these nutrients. And in reality, the human body is really bad at extracting nutrients from the previously mentioned types of food. It’s much more efficient and lower risk to stick to veggies, fruits, healthy fats and meat/eggs.

4) You’re starving yourself. There’s no way this is sustainable.

First off, if you’re starving yourself then you aren’t doing it right. There is really no limit to how much food you can consume on Whole30 but rather which foods you can consume. If you’re constantly hungry you need to adjust your meals. This has happened to me a time or two and I’ve learned that I need to eat more than I initially thought I did. I’m also eating high calorie fats with my veggie/protein intake such as avocado, nut butters, nuts and oils. And if I work out I eat five times per day instead of three. No one here is starving- not one bit.

To the second point: Whole30 isn’t MEANT to be sustainable. It’s a 30 day reset. A “cleanse”, if you must. When Whole30 is done you start to look toward your future and consider how to use these principles and learnings to find your optimal lifestyle. I don’t know what mine will be yet, but I do know I won’t be living 100% Whole30 forever.

5) This entire program is made up! The rules are arbitrary! (See main blog image that’s been blowing up on Twitter lately)

True! And the Whole30 program is totally transparent about this. There are some “yes” and “no” foods that make no sense and seem inconsistent. Such as: yes to white potatoes and no to corn (aren’t they both whole foods that are starch?!), no alcohol even in cooking, sugar from fruit is okay even thought other sweeteners are not, etc. Weirdly… this doesn’t bother me. Nothing in the world is entirely black and white, but you have to make some calls and draw lines somewhere. There’s a million foods and a million arguments for whether things should be included or shouldn’t be. To me, the important is how these pieces come together to make a whole. So while I don’t agree on every tiny detail of this program, I do believe in the overall idea. Whole foods = better health. It’s hard for me to find issue in that statement. And that’s really what it’s all about.

There’s a million additional arguments and issues floating around out there as regards to the Whole30 or the idea of “elimination diets”. But here’s what it boils down to, in my opinion:

  • It’s easy to attack something you don’t understand.
  • It’s convenient to attack something that you don’t like, or that intimidates you.
  • It’s easier to dismiss something than it is to actually try it.

And most importantly….

hatersgonnapanda

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Paleo 101 – Everything you need to know! In cartoon form!

Back, Back, Back, Back It Up (Whole30 Rules and Resources)

I woke up with Cha Cha Slide in my head (How?! Why?! Is there no mercy in this world?) 

Since it turns out a few of you lovely coworkers and friends of mine are actually interested in what I’m doing/eating (bless your hearts) I realized it was time to back it up a bit. This post explains more about the Whole30, what the rules are and what I hope to accomplish. I’ve also included a series of links at the bottom for anyone who’d like to do some self-guided research.

Whole30 – The Low Down

Take a quick little trip over to my first post for a little bit of background on how I found Whole30, what I learned, and my first-pass at goals and assumptions. Below is my interpretation of the Whole30 and what it means to me.

Goals/objectives: To rid the body of excess sugar, chemicals, possible allergins and anything that doesn’t make it innately healthier. This is done by eliminating a series of foods (we’ll get into that in a min) that your body is not able to properly process or fully utilize, thus breaking your addiction and dependency on them. It’s not really a cleanse, it’s not really a diet… it’s a way of being extremely conscious of what you put in your body and how your body is able to respond to said foods.

Rules

  • Eat foods ONLY from the approved list.
  • Completely eliminate foods from the “no” list – absolutely NO cheats or you’ve essentially wasted your time.
  • Eat 3 meals a day and try to avoid snacking. The only exception is pre and post workout “bonus” meals.
  • Take time to eat – no more meals at the TV or on the computer. Make a connection with your food.
  • Eat a balance of protein, veggies, fats and (occasional) fruit at every meal.
  • No drinking alcohol. I’ll repeat, no drinking alcohol. This rule is the biggest bumskie, let’s be honest.
  • No calorie tracking and no scales.

YES Foods

  • Lots and lots of protein (aka meat, meat and more meat… and seafood)! The catch: protein should be certified wild-caught, sustainable, free-range, organic, grass fed, etc. This meat is damn FANCY, because we are what our food eats. And I’m willing to bet that the meat you’re currently eating is eating things that make me think it should be turning into zombies any time now.
  • Eggs! Lots of eggs! Again, these should be organic and as high-quality as possible.
  • Veggies. All of the veggies and A LOT of them. Organic where possible. [Sidebar: I considered calling it “veg” like every other country does but I just. can’t. do. it.]
  • Fruit. All of the fruit! Some are better than others, such as berries and melons. Fruit isn’t really as “unlimited” as veggies because sugar = sugar = sugar, no matter the source.
  • Healthy fats. This is the weirdest part for me because the list is less intuitive. This includes healthy cooking fats  such as ghee and coconut oil,  but also eating fats like avocados (being encouraged to eat unlimited amount of avocado makes me want to dance around in my underpants to a Spice Girls song) as well as most nuts and olives (barf).
  • Coffee (black). Water. Soda water.
  • Vinegars
  •  ….that’s pretty much it.

NO Foods

  • Alcohol. Cue my whiney pants.
  • Processed food, but that’s a given. But this does make things interesting because even some canned veggies have surprise additives like sodium chloride so they’re out. Read your labels – even on items you think you know.
  • Grains – gluten or gluten free. FAQs: yes, this includes quinoa. Yes, this includes flours. Yes, this includes corn tortillas, etc.
  • Starchy veggies, like corn and white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a-okay and they’re yummier anyways.
  • Dairy. Again, this is ALL dairy. That means butter, too.
  • Legumes and soy. This one is interesting and surprising, I think. It includes all beans (except green beans) and includes anything wit soy in it. That means a lot of condiments and edamame.
  • Oils. Canola, vegetable, etc. Again, this is in A LOT of foods. I couldn’t find ANY cashews at Target that weren’t roasted in a no-go oil. he exception here is EVOO.
  • Sugar. All sugar forms that aren’t naturally in your food. This means no added sugar (or corn syrup or similar substances) often found in flavored coffees, dressings, marinades, spice mixed, etc. This one is also really difficult to spot and requires a ton of label reading. And yes, this includes stevia/Truvia.
  • I’m probably missing something because it’s really almost everything you normally eat.

Note: I had to put away my Sriracha for 30 days. SRIRACHA = LIFE BLOOD. I just needed everyone to know what the real sacrifice is here.

What I Hope To Get Out of This Mess

There’s many, many reasons someone might choose to do a Whole30 program and It Starts With Food lays out a lot of them. Here are my (modified from my first post) goals:

  • Kick the sugar cravings and food “addictions”. This refers to my mid-afternoon snack at work which is rarely healthy as well as my post-dinner chocolate/ice cream kicks.
  • Stop the mindless eating. When there’s food I’m eating it- particularly munchies at a party or event. I just can’t stop, and don’t even REALIZE I’ve been eating so much until halfway through. It’s gross, and I’m totally over it.
  • Develop a deeper appreciation for healthy food options. I’m in a veggie rut and I’m pretty picky about my proteins. It’s time to expand my daily foods and incorporate natural flavors.
  • Learn to cook outside my comfort zone. Much like the bullet above. It’s time to branch out. I’d also like to cook more simply.
  • Get as healthy as possible. This is the number one. I’ve been getting into a great exercise routine but that’s only one piece of the health puzzle. It’s time to be as healthy as I can possibly be to help set me up for a healthy life.
  • Improve my mood and energy levels. I think a lot of my tiredness and moodiness is food related. Time to see if that’s true!

And that’s about it! My 30 days runs from Sunday, July 13th – Monday, August 11th. I’ll be trying to blog as much as possible in order to keep track of my progress and share learnings.

Resources (Trust me, you need these)

It Starts with Food – This book is the backbone of the Whole30. It’s great for those who like to know the “why’s” and the science behind it.

Official Whole30 overview and rules

Must-have Whole30 downloads (shopping lists, meal planning guides)

My Whole30 Pinterest board – meal ideas, tips, tricks, from around the internet

 

The Hot Sauce Stands Alone (Kitchen Clean Out)

Last night I started my first official, no-turning-back-now Whole30 prep: cleaning out the kitchen. I dedicated the entire evening to going through every pantry, fridge and freezer shelf to remove or hide any non-approved food item (I’ve been calling it contraband for added dramatic effect).

I knew this would be time consuming, so I pulled out a soon-to-be-illegal beer (or three, whatever) to enjoy during the process. I grabbed some boxes and shopping bags and got to unloading. Okay… I knew a lot of items would have to go. But I still maintain that Tim and I have been eating pretty healthy, so how bad could it really be?

Here were my self-imposed rules for dealing with Whole30 violating foods:

a) If it’s insanely processed, it goes in the garbage. No matter what.
b) If it’s somewhat healthy, unopened and shelf-stable I’ll keep it for possible food shelf donation.
c) If it’s a food we might decide to reincorporate and it will keep for 30 days (i.e. brown rice), it goes into a bag/box for the basement.
d) Hide all of the refrigerated/frozen food that can’t go in the basement in opaque bags. Out of sight, out of mind?

I should also note that I threw away a ridiculous amount of expired products. I actually found a jar of pickles that expired in October 2012… #yuck. I feel like cleaning the kitchen out of expired products was worth it alone.

So, what were the results? I’ll let the whole “a picture is worth a thousand words” cliche do the majority of talking for me:

Refrigerator contraband! Yes, those bags are full of beer.

Refrigerator contraband! Yes, those bags are full of beer.

Goodbye, pantry foods.

Goodbye, pantry foods.

Sad, lonely pantry.

Sad, lonely pantry.

The results were eye-opening, to say the least and I have to admit that it was a liberating experience. It felt good to take concrete steps towards a new lifestyle and better health. Uncharacteristic amounts of willpower were required to put a food that I really enjoy in the trash, but I was able to do it without much remorse. Overall, I think this was a big win and made me feel way more empowered to kick this off on Sunday.

Whole30 Kitchen Clean Out Resources:

Meatified: Prepping Your Kitchen for Whole30
Video: Cleaning Out the Kitchen

Next up… I try out a CSA and attempt Whole30 grocery shopping!

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.