If you had met me a year ago, you would have been greeted with a loaf of freshly baked bread drenched in butter, some homemade jelly and a smile. I loved to bake, and whatever I baked, I most definitely ate. Not only was I addicted to anything filled with carbs, I had an obsession with cheese and a love affair with sugar. Sure, I ate “healthy” but you better believe that I indulged in baking up any decadent recipes that crossed my path. But all that changed when we participated in a Whole30 this past May.
After eating on such a restricted diet for a month, I was a little nervous about what would happen once we completed our Whole30, but I was in for a big surprise. I assumed that we would be so proud of sticking it out (which we are), a few pounds lighter (I lost 15 lbs and hubby lost 5lbs!), and probably go back to our prior diet, being mindful of keeping things in moderation. Three days after completing Whole30, we went on vacation for a week. When coming off of Whole30 you are supposed to gradually add food groups back in to see if there are any food allergies or sensitivities that you never knew you had. We tried to gradually add foods back in but it was tough to go slow.
On day 31, my first stop was cheese. Oh how I had missed my friend, Mr. Cheese. As I cut myself a slice, it was if heaven opened and sun was shining down on this moment. But as I took a bite, all the clouds rolled in and I was left disappointed. Why? Because it tasted like plastic! No joke. I have always loved cheese and had given it a nice little corner of my heart, erm, stomach. My dad had to limit the cheese in the house growing up otherwise we would eat it all in a matter of days (or hours, depending on how many kids were involved of course). Hence, I didn’t see why cheese would ever NOT be a part of my daily food. My husband said I should be glad as cheese really isn’t all that healthy to eat, at least in the amounts I used to consume it. Yes, logical response, I however wanted to cry.
Next up on my reintroduction list was bread and all things beautifully baked. One night we had spaghetti with garlic bread. Oh delicious noodles, covered in sauce, paired with delectable garlic toast. Only a few hours after dinner, I noticed my stomach hurting. Not long after I passed a mirror and saw a noticeable difference in my appearance. My stomach was so bloated! Never in my life had I seen such a change after eating. Sure, I might have felt bloated, but I had never seen a change. It was disturbing change, but also heartbreaking as I realized that bread would not have the same place in my life as it once did. Again, my husband was logical in stating, “processed grains aren’t all that healthy anyways so you should be happy; why don’t we just eliminate them from our [family’s] diet all together?” BREAD WAS ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS! Did he have any symptoms? No. He is just the smarter eater of us two and knows a problem when he sees it, and thus avoids the problem. Ever heard the saying, “my wife is always right”? Yeah, well not so much in our house; more like the other way around.
Okay, okay, I’m done ranting about my beloved bread. If I’m truly honest, I am somewhat glad that I saw a noticeable change because I have never felt better or seen such slimming results than when I eliminated wheat and most other grains from my diet. I remember saying, “if I could only cut out carbs, I know I’d lose weight” and never finding the strength and self control to do it. And yet, here I am, wheat-free and loving the body I’m in.
So what does ,”life after Whole30″ look like for us? Unprocessed all the way. Sure there are some exceptions we make but our goal these days is to eat unprocessed foods in our house and if we go out, we aren’t as strict. I am off wheat no matter what though not only due to my symptoms after eating it but also because I have a hunch it was negatively affecting my nursing infant. So for his and my sakes, I am wheat free. As for dairy, we mostly avoid it but do drink kefir now which is dairy but lactose-free. Sugar is also on the “mostly avoid” list and when I do eat it, I usually always get a sugar rush/headache very quickly after only a few bites of whatever treat it may be. We are also trying to convert our whole household to our new way of eating, which means getting our 2 year old on board. So far, I am happy to report that she has become more interested in munching on veggies for snacks than graham crackers so we are headed in the right direction!
Aside from my occasional, and totally unnecessary, feelings of guilt when I eat something with dairy, sugar, or grains, I am excited about this new adventure we are embarking on. I have found endless recipes that have been altered to make comfort foods healthier, along with many baking options using almond or coconut flour or no flour at all – check out these amazing flourless muffins over at Averie Cooks. I am also happy to finally feel healthy, even when eating ice cream (say hello to banana ice cream!). So, did Whole30 cure me of my emotional eating? Not exactly. But it did give me some insight into how I need to fuel my body better. When the food cravings come, I turn to sweet strawberries or banana ice cream or zucchini noodles and chow down in peace, knowing that I didn’t gain 10 pounds from my snack.
Want to switch to an unprocessed diet? I would advise you to slowly change over your pantry to unprocessed foods. Not only does it ease you in, but your wallet will thank you too. As you use up processed items, replace them with simple foods, or unprocessed substitutes. While it’s not much more expensive to eat an unprocessed diet, restocking the pantry comes at a price (and totally converting your kitchen really is a must- not only does it help with your mindset but if all you have to cook is unprocessed ingredients, it takes away the mind battle of eating junk from habit). We don’t eat grass fed, organic, etc., but the main items on our grocery list are fruits, vegetables, meats, and eggs. If you don’t think you can eat this way all the time, try doing Whole30 first and see how you feel after. Who knows, you might get some surprising results like I did. Whatever you do, I hope you find food that not only makes you feel great but also invites your taste buds to a party too. “Healthy” food does not have to mean “blah” food. Bon Appétit!