I may initially get a lot of heat for this from some people who succeeded on diet challenges. But keep reading. If you still want to hate me after this, email me and we can talk it out. Or hug it out. Hugs are great!
So why am I so against diet challenges? Especially timed ones, universally measured ones, and prepackaged ones, and especially the ones that make you prep the same 3 meals for 7 days. Because they’re usually not sustainable. I always say:
“If you can’t imagine yourself eating like that for the rest of your life, don’t do it!”
I’m not saying don’t change to a healthier way of eating – just change it to a way that provides variety, a way that nourishes you every day, a way that remains enjoyable. And don’t tell me you enjoy eating grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and a side of plain brown rice 3+ days a week. The only thing I can eat 3 days in a row without complaining is chocolate cake. And even that would get old.
Your body needs a variety of foods because it needs a variety of nutrients and while one can argue that many of today’s diet programs require a healthy diet alongside the shakes or supplements, it doesn’t take a way from the fact that you’re either feeding your body in a monotonous way that doesn’t correlate with every stage of life, every season, or even every particular health condition you may have. Or you may depend on a shake or supplement to feel good. A diet, not in the sense of a way to loose weight, but in terms of what you choose to eat every day, is such a personal thing that I believe it has to be customized to fit YOUR body with the right foods at the right time.
So eat more SOUL foods: Seasonal – Organic – Unprocessed – Local.
That to me is more important than any sort of calorie counting. I haven’t looked at calorie content in a loooong time. The only thing I read these days is the ingredient list. You should strive for a diet that puts you in tune with your body’s needs, and that goes way beyond weight loss. Not every person thrives from the same recommended daily allowances of minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbs. Heck, even where you live in this world makes a difference in what your body needs.
Or doesn’t need. Or want. And that’s where the whole “being in tune with your body” thing comes into play. Unless you have certain food allergies or sensitivities, you probably don’t worry too much about what you can eat at any given time. But what if you don’t know? What if you eat healthy, exercise and maybe you’re even a vegetarian or vegan, but you feel kinda off on some days. Can’t sleep as soundly as you used to… “maybe I’m just getting old”… Or: maybe that eczema is food related, maybe those weekly migraines are food related, maybe that energy slump has nothing to do with the amount of coffee you drank or didn’t drink. Maybe your child’s behavior has to with his diet. Maybe your PMS pains have to do with your diet. Maybe it is dairy, or gluten, or nightshades, or something else you never thought even bothers you.
Just because you don’t have any cramping or diarrhea doesn’t mean that certain foods don’t affect your health in other ways.
Look at me for example: I seriously thought I was eating pretty damn healthy, but I keep getting breakouts on my face. And for the past couple of months I’ve been battling my second round of perioral dermatitis. That’s a fun one! Here’s what that looks like:
It’s got a lot to do with bacterial overgrowth (too much sugar and carbs can lead to that) and also certain moisturizers, fluoride (in water & toothpaste), and stress. I stress a lot and need to work on that. And I eat a lot of fruit so that’s where my sugar overload probably came in.
I didn’t want to guess anymore. I wanted to know if foods cause these breakouts and outbreaks. And that’s about the same time I came across the Whole30 Diet. I dissed it at first, ’cause you know – it’s timed: 30 days. Thirty days without sugar, dairy, alcohol, and grains. All grains – not just gluten containing ones. So no oatmeal, no quinoa, no yogurt, no cheese, no chocolate, no bread and *gasp* no wine! “So what the hell do you eat?” everybody asks me after I tell them I’m NOT pregnant. I eat loads of vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, and animal proteins.
So you’re eating paleo now. I thought you don’t believe in that!? I don’t (side note: I believe that many adverse reactions to grains have more to do with what’s been done to these grains over the past 50 years or so (gene modifications, pesticides, herbicides, etc) than the actual (original) grain itself. That is in cases of sensitivities – allergies or autoimmune diseases are a different chapter altogether.
So, no – I’m not planning on switching to paleo forever. Sounds contradictory to what I said in the beginning, right? About not doing a diet if I can’t keep it up forever. Sort of. The difference to me here is that the Whole30 is like an “elimination diet”, which is meant to be temporary. During an elimination diet you eliminate all the foods that can trigger reactions for at least 4 weeks and see how it makes you feel. These trigger foods are usually dairy, sugar, gluten, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, citrus, and sometimes shellfish and eggs.Then you can bring back each food group one by one: try some gluten free grains for a couple of days first. No reactions? Good. Try gluten-containing grains next. If you notice a difference, eliminate the guilty food again for 2-3 days before you try the next food group.
The Whole30 does not call itself a diet. It is a catalyst for a new lifestyle for many people. It teaches you to eat nutrient dense food to nourish your body so you can learn to eliminate cravings. There’s a lot more to it (feel free to read up on it on their website).
The Whole 30 does not eliminate citrus, or shellfish, or even nuts or eggs. These last 2 provide a lot of healthy fats and other essential nutrients that you want to keep in your diet. However, if you suspect an allergy – especially a severe one, please go see your doctor or allergist.
So what am I trying to accomplish?
My personal reason for doing the Whole30 is to see if I really can feel better and hopefully clear my skin. I want to find out if I would do better without gluten or dairy. I didn’t have any adverse reactions before: no cramping, no pain, no constipation. But like I said, that doesn’t mean that my health was ideal either. I also want to be able to speak from experience whenever I suggest an elimination diet to one of my clients.
Well, how’s it going so far?
As I’m writing this I am on day 10 and I have to say I feel a little better already: I fall asleep faster, stay asleep better, I have more energy, and once I got over days 3-7, I actually felt fuller from less food. They have all the phases and moods listed out on their website and so far it’s all come true: days 4-5 “Kill All The Things” YES!! I was super grumpy! But I got better. I am getting used to eating things like butternut squash soup for breakfast and it’s good! If you follow me on Instagram you can see some of my meals (successes and fails).
So follow along and maybe try it for yourself!