On February 27, the first full day of Lent, my family will be starting our next Whole30. What is the Whole30 you ask? And why during Lent?
What is the Whole 30?
The Whole30 is a food program that allows you to take charge of your health and change your relationship with food. It is 30 days (or longer and, in this case, with Lent upon us, our Whole30 is 40 days plus another 7 days of fasting during Holy Week- so 47 days) of eating nothing but truly nourishing foods. It means foods that are not damaging to our bodies in any way which, incidentally, goes against that traditional food pyramid we grew up with and certainly goes against the Standard American Diet and will not include McDonald's or Taco Bell. Doing a Whole30 gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between what you put into your body and the energy you feel, the aches and pains that can't be explained , the weight you can't lose, the mood swings that take charge of your days and the chance to change your life. Because let's face it. What you eat does affect your health. And your health affects EVERYTHING!
Recent findings have led me to believe though some may already consider my eating healthy, I really do need to take charge of my health and change my relationship with food. While we eat a primarily Paleo like diet, I am known to cheat a bit. Okay, a lot. (yeah, my husband is shaking his head as he reads this and I see the little bubble over his head that says 'she eats WAY to much sugar and dairy'....I know dear, I know). Yes, I'm known to eat my share of raw dairy, cashew ice-cream fudge from Trader Joe's, Gluten Free Brownies (pretty much my answer to everything), chocolate (milk chocolate if it's my choice), and pretty much any sugary thing that is minus the artificial ingredients. , So no, I'm not a saint when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter) .
Anyway, I've struggled on and off for years of unexplained fatigue, sleep issues, digestive issues, etc. that just haven't gone away entirely though they improve and, yes, of course the more I stick to the healthy Paleo diet, the better the improvement. I've started seeing a health coach and, little by little, have been piecing things together. I've learned a lot more about what devastating effects NOT having a gall bladder can have on a body and I haven't had one for about 24 years now. And I've learned a lot about Adrenal Fatigue (yes, it's real and yes, I have it.... probably have had it for quite a long time. QUITE a long time.) and I've learned about genetic testing that may pinpoint a few other things about my body and how it absorbs nutrients.. But while the testing is still out, I do know about the adrenals, the low iron, and the missing gall bladder. And that all needs addressed. And what better way to do it then knock out all the foods I have a bad relationship with. Yep. It's time for another Whole30. Extended Whole30.
Is This Just Another Fad Diet?
In a word? No. In more words? It's not about giving up calories (I never count calories), or eating less like fad diets are. The Whole30 is about discovering good food standards and eliminating an unhealthy relationship with your food and an overactive immune system and a disrupted digestive system. It's about eating (a lot of) foods that feed and nurture your body - giving you better digestion, more energy , eliminating food cravings, resetting your metabolism, and yes, maybe even shed some pounds if you have them to shed. Fad diets do not do this. The Whole30 will.
Our First Whole30
Our first Whole30 was back in 2014 and I blogged about it here. I posted weekly updates that included what we ate and how we felt. That experience was quite an awakening to how much certain foods were dominating our lives, how emotionally connected we were to food, and how much better we felt (after a week or two) of being away from those so-called foods. We definitely learned about what foods/food groups cause inflammation, congestion, joint pain and other pains, digestive issues, and more. (I already knew foods and ingredients affected my mood)
2014 was our first year of being Paleo. And we were struggling with adapting to the lifestyle and seeing the dramatic effects it was having on our health. My husband was losing an incredible amount of weight and Lent was coming fast. We had no idea what to do. A typical Orthodox Christian fast involves complete abstinence from all animal products. And while that wasn't a problem as far as the dairy was concerned, it was a problem for meat and oils (tradition has it that oils were once stored in pouches made from animals skins/intestines and therefore was also given up along with the animal products). We had been toying with the idea of doing a whole30 but kept putting it off because, well frankly, it left me quaking how to truly stick to this paleo thing 100% with no cheating whatsoever.
What to do? We approached our priest for discussion and advice and well, a blessing. We had ( and continue to have) amazing support. So instead of the typical Orthodox fast, we follow a Whole30 for the duration of Lent.
What does this mean we give up instead of meat, dairy, eggs and oils? It means no grains (none- not a one including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, oats, etc), no alcohol, no legumes (legumes include beans, peanuts and soybeans and anything containing soy) with the only exceptions as green beans snow peas and sugar snap peas), no dairy (not even my raw cheese), no artificial ingredients including carrageenan, msg, or added sulfites, no baked goods, 'treats', or junk foods made with approved ingredients (in other words, no treats even if they are paleo), and absolutely no sugar of ANY KIND. Yep, that last one is a killer for me- making this truly harder than any Orthodox Fast I have followed.
And why , again during Lent? Because we know we'll stick to it. We are a family of faith and we have always taken the Lenten season very very seriously. If we say we are doing this for God, we WILL DO IT.
In the upcoming weeks I hope to keep you updated on our progress like I did week by week back in 2014. It may not happen weekly this year, but I will post at least a few times and perhaps share some new favorite recipes. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the Whole30, check out the books I have pictured on the right of the post or any of the websites below! And of course, feel free to ask questions!
Food Freedom Forever - (click on the image above) I haven't read this yet- just stumbled on it while looking for links to sources. I just may put it on my wishlist soon!