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Real Food: Life after the Whole30

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Many of you have read all about my recent adventures with food, or, more accurately, lack of many “normal” foods. Towards the end of February, I started what ended up being 54 days of the Whole30 diet, as proscribed by the Whole9 Life founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, that “30” in there refers to 30 days, but I decided to go hard-core and do 60 54.

You will probably also be able to tell from the plethora of posts about the Whole30 that I enjoyed it. It was difficult at times, but it forced me to learn about good food. Real food. I had to start making my own salad dressings and using better oils. I began to use all those dried spices that had been taking up space in my cupboard. I started reading labels and growing increasingly disgusted with the food and beverage industry.

For 54 days (not including a “cheat weekend” after the first 30 days), I avoided all dairy, all grains and grain products (including corn and all of its derivatives), all sugars and sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), all legumes (peanuts, soy, etc.), and most preservatives and additives.

After the first few days, I started to feel consistently great. I had a predictable and steady amount of energy from morning til night, and got great sleep. I was motivated to start running and do ab workouts.

I ate a lot, learned a lot, went through vegetables and eggs like nobody’s business, spent a lot of money on groceries (and I didn’t even get the ideal grass-fed organic meats I was supposed to), and ultimately lost at least 15 pounds (I haven’t done a final weigh-in since losing more weight after the diet was completed). I was getting “wholly healthy,” as I called it.

At the end of my 54 days, I needed a change of pace. Even the Hartwigs admit that the Whole30 is a bit too extreme for anyone to keep up for any extended length of time. The Whole30 is actually a stricter version of the Paleo (Paleolithic, Stone Age, Caveman, etc…) diet, and only meant to be undergone for 30 days here and there.

Having done such an intense diet for two months and then needing to break free, then finding myself in exams, then packing, then moving (to a city and in with my boyfriend=major transition), then looking for a job, and on and on, I fell off the good-food wagon. I guess I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who wasn’t wracked by cramps after every bite of “normal” food after so long an abstinence, but it was altogether too easy to fall back onto more convenient foods.

Convenience and frugality warred against my new good-food habits, and cooking for a non-vegetable-or-healthy-food lover further compounded my dilemma.

I still haven’t fully made peace between the warring factions. Farmer’s Markets have made it easier to justify the purchase of good-quality vegetables and meats, and I am attempting to home-make bread, dressings, sauces, burgers, chicken fingers, and other favourites and staples.

My plan of action is to real-food-ify my kitchen as much as possible. By “real food” I mean non-processed, non-preserved, organic ingredients wherever possible. I will use honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oils, organic flour and vinegar, make my own spice mixes (like seasoning salt), and generally go back to buying items without preservatives and additives.

The trick will be bringing Johnathan along with me, but I accept it as a personal challenge!

Two amazing bloggers help our real food revolution on an almost daily basis: Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, and Heather of A Real Food Lover. These ladies have made the spices and the sauces, the breads and the pastas, and have real food solutions for almost any “normal” junk-filled dish.

The bread recipe I have been making lately is from 100 Days of Real Food. It has turned out differently every time I’ve made it (I think I’ve been making it with 4 1/2 cups of flour instead of 4 1/4. Oops), but it’s infallibly delicious!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe

What are your go-to real food solutions? How have you managed to wean your household off of additives and preservatives? I’d love to hear your stories!

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Scale no weighing

Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

Scale no weighing

On the Whole9 people’s list of guidelines for the Whole30 diet (which I started on February 22, 2012), there is a bit of a strange stipulation against weighing and measuring yourself:

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.

This, of course, flies in the face of everything that we know to be normal about diets and weight loss programs, right? We’re all familiar with that Before and After series of torso shots of people standing in their bathroom in underwear. We hear of people stepping on the scale to monitor their progress.

It’s natural. We are curious: we want to know!

One of the things I really like about the Whole9 mindset is that health is not only about weight loss. Instead, it’s all about balance.

Balance between quality and quantity, between getting healthy and staying healthy.

I forgot to take the requisite torso shot on the first day of my diet, and again at the one-week mark. I regret that, and I regret that I didn’t realize this final rule until I went back after I started my second week to make sure I was doing things right.

But I’m excited. I am so proud that I made the decision to do something that is so against the grain in order to not lose control of my body and my health to comfort foods and convenience. I’m thrilled at how energetic I feel and that I have been motivated to take up running. For years, I have felt a distinct lack of discipline in my life, and I feel like I finally am gathering the skills to be more disciplined.

I’m actually considering making this endeavour a Whole45 or Whole60, in an attempt to completely break my dependence on sweets and any remaining emotional connection with food. It sounds a bit hokey for those of us that looooooove to eat, but I don’t want to be ruled by hunger pangs or enslaved to potato chips.

I want to be clear: this is not about shedding pounds. Yes, I would like to avoid having to buy another wardrobe, which means losing some girth in the hip-thigh-tummy region, and I’m afraid of “letting myself go”, which could so very easily happen. But I want to make the decision to be healthy, not just skinnier. Healthy.

Please comment with your perspective on our tendency to have an emotional connection with food…