Back in January, I began looking into my food choices. Which I had always considered fairly good, but then I made the mistake of taking some jerk's advice and actually writing down what I was eating, and I discovered that my diet consisted of good food bookended by total crap. So it would go like this: HEALTHY BREAKFAST then cookies HEALTHY LUNCH maybe more cookies or chocolate or hell why not both HEALTHY SNACK which I should probably add chocolate to HEALTHY DINNER with some wine, duh, then dessert than maybe more dessert before going to bed because let's not deprive ourselves.
I began looking into said diet because I suspected I could feel better, and also I had one of those scary doctor's appointment moments, wherein they weigh you as an afterthought and you look at the scale and you're all WHAT THE NO THAT CANNOT BE PLEASE GOD HELP.
I was already thinking about the connection between food and emotional health, anyway, because I could certainly tell that eating too much sugar had a negative effect on my mood (and yet I couldn't stop, dear God no). I had read "The Mood Cure" some years back, and the author made a pretty interesting case about sugar being bad and fat not being as bad as everyone said it was, but there was all this talk about supplements and then I got sleepy or something shiny distracted me for a few years.
But anyway, there I was, feeling kind of gross from my post-Christmas cookie binge, not to mention my post-cookie-binge flu, so I began to do some research about diet and its effects on mood. By "some research" I mean a ridiculous amount of reading. I read books and then I read the studies cited in the bibliographies of those books and then I read more books that those scientists wrote and then and so on. (I highly recommend Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and "Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It" Oh! And Robb Wolff's "The Paleo Solution.")
I was convinced that I should try out the paleo/primal diet, which essentially recommends cutting out grains and sugars, and focusing on meat, fish, and vegetables. Oh, and not avoiding saturated fats because the whole idea that saturated fats are the devil is simply untrue. If you're interested in the full scoop, you can go here. (A strict Paleo diet, I should note, also eschews dairy, but I wasn't quite ready for that in the beginning.)
Now, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know, because I keep telling you, that I'm a sugar addict. I like sugar. A lot. But I bought a shit-ton of vegetables and meats, I depleted our supply of Christmas cookies via my mouth, and I told myself that I would try this out for one week. Just one week! And then I could have a cheat day, and then I would tough it out for another week. And so on.
But a week passed, and I realized I didn't feel like cheating. So I continued for another week. And then a month. And then another month. I actually liked eating like this, it turned out. And I didn't see any reason to stop.
Now, I wasn't Super-Paleo, which means VERY LITTLE FRUIT and NO DAIRY, and for all I know ONLY ORGAN MEATS THAT HAVE BEEN FRESHLY TORN FROM THE ABDOMINAL CAVITY, GRAARGH. But I had definitely renounced all grains, and I realized that they held no real allure for me. I didn't even want pasta. And I used to eat pasta every other day. I liked pasta, my friends.
But I felt good. I noticed that my skin improved, and my energy levels were much higher. I also, incidentally, lost a few pounds. But while I was never tempted by grains (this was reinforced for me when I had a few bites of birthday cake at one point and felt like I was being punched in the gut for the next several hours), I had definitely cheated. With chocolate. And ice cream. And yogurt slathered in maple syrup. For instance.
Then I read about this Whole30 program, which was right in line with what I've been trying to do. And because I was already 80% of the way there, I thought, what the hell. 30 days isn't all that long. 30 days of absolutely no dairy (not even milk in coffee). No sugar at all. Not even artificial sugars. Not even sugar-free gum. Oh, and no alcohol. COULD I DO IT?
I am here to tell you that I COULD, and I DID. And I had no problem with it. I felt great. I lost more weight (about 15 pounds in all). And it was during this Whole 30 Program that I managed to get off of some of the meds I had been struggling with. It was kind of fantastic.
(My only problem was what happened when, once I was done with the 30 day program, I tried out some of the foods I had renounced. Because I never intended to shun them forever and ever, amen. I still wanted to live a little. (Except I'm done with grains. Especially wheat. I don't know whether I have an intolerance, or what, but my body has sent me a clear message that wheat is not my friend.) Anyway, here's what happened in my head, every time I tried one of the foods I had been pining for, however mildly, during those 30 days:
1. Well, this isn't as good as I remember it being.
2. I should eat it anyway. Because I CAN.
3. Aaaand now I feel horrific. I am a goddamn genius.
This has so far been my experience with frozen yogurt, regular yogurt (I really like(d) yogurt), several desserts, alcohol in all its myriad forms, and cheese in all its many wondrous incarnations, including -cake. Oh, cheese! I always loved cheese. It now is just disgusting to me. I'm not trying to be smug or self-righteous when I tell you this. I am mourning the loss of cheese. It's like seeing an old boyfriend you once were desperately in love with and now all you can think of is how he smells like something that's been in the fridge too long.)
So that's the deal, and I highly recommend checking it out, if you're at all interested. But I'm not saying you're an idiot if you don't, you understand. I hesitated to even bring up this topic, because I didn't want anyone to think I was judging their food choices. I realize this is intensely personal, what you put in your face-hole. I'm not saying that you should all eat like this. I'm only telling you what works for me. I like eating this way. I feel good. And who knows? Maybe it would work for you as well.