It starts next Monday! LENT and our adventures with our first Whole30.
If you are unsure of what a Whole30 is, I'll explain, but you can read LOTS more here at the Whole30 Website! This program was started by the folks over at Whole9 - Dallas and Melissa Hartwig - authors of It Starts With Food.
Melissa and Doug started the Whol30 program back in April of 2009 as a way for 30 days to strip all food groups (sugars, grains, dairy, legumes) that have a negative impact on our health without us necessarily being aware of such. I learned about this program when I became introduced to the Paleo Diet and read their book- which I must say is a book I highly recommend as it really explains the reality of these foods and how they affect our bodies in pretty basic and understandable terms for the layman. As you may be aware, our family is Orthodox Christian....so as we have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet and seeing the differences it is making within us, I have been grappling with what on earth to do when Lent comes around.... It is Orthodox Tradition to abstain from all animal products during the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week - the week before Pascha (Easter). I struggled with this until speaking with our priest. He set me straight in realizing that our health comes before the standard rules of the fast....and there is certainly more to the fast and preparation for Pascha than abstaining from meat. So for this year at least, we have his blessing to follow the Whole30 for an extended period of time in lieu of the typical fast. Of course, doing this during Lent is all the more reason to STICK to it and not even THINK about straying from the plan!
So ..... What does it entail?
For the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week (an extra week) we will be avoiding the following foods that will help our bodies regain a healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation and discover how much these foods may be impacting our health...and determining which we might still want to keep in our diet as a daily, weekly, monthly routine or NOT AT ALL.....
- no sugar of any kind..... no artificial either (of course, we don't do this anyway) - no sugar includes honey, stevia, maple syrup, etc.
- no alcohol
- no grains
- no legumes (this includes beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc and all forms of soy) - the only exception is that green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are allowed if you desire as while they ARE technically a legume, they are more 'pod' than 'bean' and green plant manner is generally healthy.
- No dairy (well at least that's SOMETHING that's part of our normal Lenten fast)
- No white potatoes (or red or purple or gold....you get the point...- sweets are allowed!)
- No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites (This is a no brainer for us...we avoid the MSG and sulfites completely anyway and usually swerve from carrageenan - frankly I'm surprised that's all they list... there's so many hidden ways of hiding MSG...most people wouldn't know this...)
- No desserts or junk foods even if made with "approved" ingredients...in other words, avoid replicating junk food for the 30 days - I'm still making my son his birthday cake for his birthday... it may be gluten-free - and my husband and I won't eat it but my boys can...
- No stepping on the scale or taking body measurements during the program - this is to help you realize it's not about weight loss (though lots of participants experience it)- it's about focusing on health and lifelong benefits...
So what shall we eat?
3 meals a day - each containing a protein ( Ruminants- a.k.a. beef, buffalo, lamb, elk, venison, etc.. - Poultry, Pork, Eggs, Seafood and yes, even processed meats IF they are organic or 100% grass fed with no added sugars or sulfites, nitrites, MSG, etc.), LOTS of vegetables, and a healthy fat.
We are allowed fruit in moderation with our meals.
We are not supposed to snack between meals if we can at all help it.... they say if you get hungry between meals it's because you didn't have enough protein or healthy fat with your meals to tie you over.
We are allowed Ghee - which is clarified butter as it does not contain the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter which could impact the results of the program.
We are allowed limited amounts of fruit juice as a sweetener within a recipe. LIMITED
We are allowed vinegar as long as it doesn't contain added sugar or malt vinegar as that usually contains gluten.
I've started my meal planning. I've used our favorites from these great cookbooks!
I've bought some 100% Paleo snacks to have on for my husband's work meals and to have on hand for those 'just in case' moments. My husband works 12 hour schedules and can not always sit down to a meal....so we've planned. He'll take things like salads that contain a serving of protein and a healthy fat (avocado or guacamole, salad dressing made with olive oil, or a handful of healthy nuts). But he'll also have Lara Bars that are paleo (not all are...we have to read labels!), RxBars, and Chomps Snack Sticks to have in his locker at work JUST IN CASE he forgets to take his food with him! So at least if he doesn't get a meal in, it's at least REAL food he's eating and doesn't have to starve or give in to a food that's not allowed.
I'll have those things in my purse too in case we get stuck somewhere unexpectantly - traffic or something.
My son is 15 - and while he wants to support us in our decision - especially Dad as it may help him lose some weight - and has an understanding that it really is healthier, he's not thrilled as you may imagine. We are making some exceptions for him and our toddler. They will not be limited in snacking - but it will be Paleo foods only. They will be allowed all the fruit they want for snacks as long as they are eating protein and healthy fats too. I've also consented to allowing my teenager gluten-free pancakes 1x a week.... on SATURDAY....NOT a school day. I really want to see if eliminating added sugars from his school days might make a difference in his attention and focus with school stuff. And if he's at a friend's place.... he doesn't have to follow the Whole30 strictly. That shouldn't happen too often so we should still be able to see a difference in the school week.
During the last two weeks, we will be adding the foods from the 'Not Allowed" list to try them out and see if and how they affect us.... one food for 3 meals for one day every three days.... in this order : dairy, grains, wheat, legumes
So That's the plan.... It starts next Monday - so maybe I'll post weekly to let you know how it's going along with our menu plan and maybe a couple of recipes.