In 2015, I did my first Whole30. I was trying to really reset my nutrition, jump start some weight loss and in general, feel more in control without being unhealthy about it (You can read more about my journey with food and fitness here
The Whole30, if you aren’t familiar, is a nutritional reset. For 30 days, participants eat no grains, no sugar, no dairy, and no beans or legumes, as well as some food additives and stuff. There is a ton of information about how and why to do a whole30, so I won’t get into all of that here. Check the website if you want to, and I would encourage you to do so.
I have had very solid, steady results with my whole30s. I now do one every spring. I sleep better, I have more energy, I’m less bloated, my menstrual cycle is less annoying, my skin clears up like magic, I usually lose a little weight (8-11 pounds over the month), and overall, I just feel… better. It’s difficult, sure. But that’s another point in its favor, for me. I tend to be a very easy going person. I’m an astoundingly unpicky eater, so I very rarely express firm opinions when people ask me where we should go for dinner. If my food isn’t exactly what I ordered, I’ll eat it anyway. Even when I’m cooking for myself, I find that I will eat something even if I don’t love it. So it is very, very good for me, one month of the year, to say “I can’t eat this and I need you to accommodate me.” It isn’t easy, but it’s a good exercise for me.
The hardest thing, then, is the period following my annual whole30. All of a sudden, I can eat all these foods I love, and so I often overdo it, and end up at the beginning of June, frustrated and off balance nutritionally.
Here’s what I do to help with that: I eat paleo at home, and then, when I’m out, I make a decision that works for me in the moment.
What do I mean I “eat paleo”?
I avoid grains: no sandwiches, pastas, rice, etc.
I avoid added sugars: this one is pretty obvious, but also really hard! I try to limit and avoid adding sugar to recipes but I also try to avoid eating things with a lot of sugar in them.
I avoid dairy: I use almond milk, I tend to cook without cheese, etc.
So what do I eat?
I eat lots of vegetables. Leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, you name it, I eat it, when it comes to veggies.
I eat lots of meat. Almost all of my meals have at least one serving of animal based protein, from eggs to seafood to steaks. When I can afford it, I try to eat meat that has fewer chemicals, and that was raised and slaughtered humanely. Someday, when I win the lottery, I’ll eat all local meat. But for now, I have to make due sometimes.
I eat lots of fruit! A lot of people think I don’t eat fruit, but I LOVE fruit. Yes, fruit has sugar in it, but you know, a banana is better for us than a snickers bar. And fruit is PACKED with vitamins and nutrients. So too bad, I love it.
I eat nuts and seeds. Almonds, cashews, walnuts- and anything made from them- are fair game! Almond milk and almond butter are staples in my fridge.
So, why do I eat this way? Well, eating paleo acts as a road map for me. It helps me avoid foods that i know don’t help me feel my best. I have a lot of trouble counting calories without it turning unhealthy, and so eating paleo is a way for me to eat without counting and still feel like I’m on top of my nutrition.
But I’m far from perfect about it, and that’s ok. I love ice cream. I love ice cream so much I’ve been known to eat it for meals, eat it twice a day, eat my own and then finish someone else’s. And I refuse to live in a world where I deprive myself of something I love- and for what reason? So it isn’t “good” for my body. Ice cream is good for the soul. The same is true of pizza. Pizza is a wonderful invention.
But I know I can’t eat like that all the time. It’s all about balance. And for me, I try to find that balance by eating paleo (ish)
Superhero action of the day: where do you need to add balance in your life? Is there something you can make into a “not all the time” food without feeling miserable about it all the time?