Well, I did it! A pescatarian version of Whole30 for 180 days. Done and dusted. It feels great to show up for yourself and actually DO one’s New Year’s resolution! I’ve been very faithful and good, which feels totally empowering.
Whole30 is an elimination eating plan that most people do for 30 days. They then gradually reintroduce foods, while monitoring their response to them. Eating only whole food for a period of time changes people’s habits about food. I had done this twice, but then just resumed my previous habits, so I wanted to do it longer to really establish new patterns and possibilities.
Whole30 eliminates sugar, all grain, dairy, soy, legumes, bad fats, alcohol, caffeine, and manmade chemical additives. It is not a miracle to me that people feel better when they eat only whole food the way God created it. Much of the man made stuff we eat are addictive, are either acknowledged as drugs or laced with drugs, or are not natural to eat at all, and are really only “food-like substances.” Many are contaminated with pesticides, growth hormones, preservatives, artificial flavors, and processed in unconscionable ways.
Much of my motive for eliminating these things was (and is!) to step away from the industrialized food system, whose motives are profits and not nutrition. I have been involved in food politics since 1981 when I became a vegetarian after reading Diet for a Small Planet. (I now eat sustainable fish too).
Eliminating a lot of these foods for me means purifying what I imbibe, and eliminating corruption, greed, toxic contamination, and manipulation from my diet. I’m voting against these things with my food dollar, and fasting from them by not partaking in them.
Not eating sugar, for example, you see how they add it to everything, to make you want to eat (and buy) more of what they are selling. The more we as a society eat it, the more we crave it and want it. It is addictive, an established drug. And although I’m someone who would always choose salty crunch over sweet; it is amazing to me how different I feel about sugar after not eating it at all for six months.
I was at a buffet the day after being done with my 180 day fast and was totally not interested in the beautiful dessert options arrayed there. I did not feel like I was missing out at all. Obviously, in the past, I would have had some. But having stepped away for six months, it held none of the usual allure (or habit).
Whole30 encourages people to find their “food freedom” after they finish, by just adding back in only the things that are “worth it” to them. These things will be different for everyone. For me, when my daughter comes home and makes homemade pastries, I may feel like it is worth it. And there are bites (but maybe not whole bowls?) of ice cream in my future.
I plan on keeping eating the way I have been the last six months for 90% of the time going forward, picking and choosing when to deviate. For example, I want to have the goat cheese in my salad when I go out, instead of asking them to remove it. I want fried calamari or fried clams once in a while when I’m at a place that really does them well. There are some of my baked goods and dressings that may get a little bit of honey put back in them. But will I start eating a croissant every Saturday morning again? Probably not. I’ve found a new baseline for how I will be eating going forward.
What did I first eat after going without for a 180 days? Did I eat the Red Lobster rolls I used to lust after? I happened to find myself there, but did not eat them. After three days being done, have I even had any sugar yet? No. I did not spend the 180 days looking forward to eating industrialized food again. Frankly, if we are talking about something I have craved in the past, I’m unlikely to pounce on it now, because I don’t want to re-enter the craving cycle that I have now so thoroughly broken myself of.
Sunday dinner, though, we were out at a top notch Indian restaurant with a friend, and I had a bit of homemade Kashmiri Naan filled with nuts, raisins and mango chutney. I had never had it before, and definitely was not craving it. So far that has been my only step off the Whole30 since I’ve been done. It might have been “worth it,” but it did not turn out to be.
Overall, this project was a success on many levels. Firstly, I feel in control, instead of being at the mercy either of food itself, or of a wildly immoral food system. Secondly, I’ve done this long enough that I’ve found lots of workarounds, including discovering a huge variety of delicious food ideas to fix (for example), as well as new ways to order food in a restaurant.
You all want to know if I’ve lost weight, even though Whole30 is emphatically NOT designed as a weight loss program. A lot of people do lose weight doing Whole30, probably because their body is used to eating crud, and it is relieved to be finally getting some fresh, whole food. For me, I have been eating well all along as veteran blog readers know, so I wasn’t sure what would happen. Part of Whole30 is to not step on the scale during the 30 days, so in my recent 180 day stint, I did not step on the scale either.
I thought I might have lost more weight than I did because I’m one size down in clothing, two sizes down in shoes, and my rings are too big, but interestingly, my weight is very similar to before. However, I am less bloated, holding less water, and fantastically “regular” in the bathroom department for the first time in my life. Whole30 calls these “non scale victories.” And while I did not feel bad when I started this, I feel over the moon fabulous now.
Part of my goal when making this year’s New Year’s Resolution was also to get my step count up to 10,000 steps a day which is supposedly normal. I did not achieve that part of the resolution exactly as I designed it, because for me right now, it turns out that takes about two hours that I don’t have available in my regular day. Still, since my work is very sedentary, and especially now that I have the energy to do it, I wanted to find a way to fit more movement into my schedule.
My solution is that I joined a gym nearby a couple months ago, and have traded that time consuming step goal for three classes a week in the gym, which are much more rigorous anyway than my typical meandering walk. So I still am meeting my goal of moving more, only in a different way, and will continue to slowly ramp this up going forward.
More than anything, what feels important in this whole thing is the power that is harnessed when choosing to show up for yourself to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, without being blunderingly naive about the unhealthy “societal norms” that you take into your system. Be in the world but not of it. The purification process is very liberating!