Whole30: 30 days without cacao
Last week, I shared with my Feed Me Family that I was currently on a 30 day challenge, known as the Whole30. For those that are new to this space, I assist in managing a café that is based on the Paleo way of eating, and along with some of my friends and colleagues, have committed to 30 days of a strict Paleo diet that excludes all sweeteners and Paleo-fied desserts, as well as sticking to 3 meals a day, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and a few other details which can be read about here. And this challenge has not only given me the opportunity to detox my body and become even more in tune with what I am eating, but it has also opened my eyes to my current relationship with food.
Rewind back about 2 and a bit years ago and I was just opening my eyes to the world of nutrition and the concept of food as medicine. Prior to this, my relationship with food can only be described as toxic. I would drown my emotions in nutella, I worshipped soy milk, hot chip sandwiches (on white bread) were my weekend indulgence, I was completely blindfolded to the affects of sugar on the body, and I was absolutely disgusted when I looked in the mirror. Food was the answer to every problem, celebration or moment of boredom, and I had no concept of how much was too much. I distinctly recall one year on my birthday I went out with work colleagues to an all you can eat breakfast buffet, followed by a 3 course end of year corporate lunch which then backed onto an all you can eat Brazilian Churrasco birthday dinner with friends! Like, who does that?? How on earth did I expect to feel good on my birthday with that much food inside of me?!
So what do I eat now?
These days, food and I are like besties! With such a great respect for my body, my determination to live well to at least 120 years old, and my knowledge of what nourishes me and what doesn’t, my diet is very similar to that of a Paleo diet, but not down to a tee. I still consume wholegrains occasionally (in the form of quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat etc) and I aim to have at least two meat free days a week. My body thrives off no dairy, minimal gluten and legumes, not too much meat, a moderate amount of fresh fruit and nuts, and a truckload of green veg. Cacao is my long time lover, and my sweet tooth is regularly satisfied with homemade treats of the IQS variety. Call this diet what you will – I am certainly not a fan of labels, and believe in purely listening in to the call from our bodies on what feel right.
And whilst the above way of eating certainly serves me and gives me the nourishment I feel my body needs, this Whole30 challenge has also opened my eyes to a few of my sneaky little habits which haven’t quite evolved as much as I thought they had. When I feel stressed, overwhelmed or even bored – I reach for food. Sweet, cacao-coated food! Sure my target has evolved from a sugar-laden, processed cherry ripe to a homemade paleo salted caramel slice, but the emotions behind it are still there! Emotional eating is definitely something that affects us all I think, whether we like to admit it or not, and I am definitely grateful for this little reminder that I am not immune! Green tea has become my new go-to when the sweet cravings kick in and it has helped so much, as well as plenty of meditation and deep breathing.
What else have I noticed?
I’m a serial snacker. Although this I think I have always known. Sticking to only three meals a day just doesn’t sit well with me, and I need my small top-ups throughout the day to get me through, both mentally and physically.
But all in all, once the initial detox symptoms of the challenge subsided (feeling lethargic, un-focused and having a few headaches at the beginning), my energy begun to shoot through the roof. When I am in my element, I feel in my element! I feel lighter, brighter and almost radiant. My energy levels when exercising have been better than ever and feeling bloated and heavy is a thing of the past. I feel I have given my gut a better chance at healing by removing even the 'safe' sweeteners, and I feel alive and well. Apart from one teeny, weeny little thing..
Food is no longer fun!
Being on the Whole30 means absolutely nothing of the dessert variety. Not even a smoothie, blended fruit, NADA! Which has left me in absolute shambles. After 3 weeks of not a drop of cacao to my tongue, it is all I dream about. My interest in food as a whole has fallen to the floor. I rarely feel inspired to cook. Eating has even become somewhat of a chore; something I have to do to get rid of that hunger pain in my stomach instead of out of pure enjoyment. Savoury food fills the gap, but yumminess has gone out the door. I don’t care how fancy and flavourful my steak is – it just doesn’t bring me the sense of fun and freedom that my sweet tooth (and heart) craves!
Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly glad I took on this challenge and am so proud of my achievements so far. I feel great, my body is thanking me for it in so many ways, and I have proved to myself that life on earth can exist sans dessert and my ‘will power’ is still in tact.
I also believe that food is to be enjoyed. Food should be fun. Food should light us up, and add to the high-vibin’ crazy party that is life. I want to get excited about a meal, taste the magic that it brings, and be able to celebrate life with cake! And in knowing that I can do exactly that with nourishing treats and desserts that are good for my body, and that support my desire for a long and healthy life; well that just makes me want them even more!
So thank you Whole30 for not only testing out my will power, detoxing my body, and making me feel god damn good and strong; but also for reigniting my love affair for sweet, decadent (nourishing, IQS) desserts and helping me to remember to savour each and every bite from the moment they are back in my life!
Your turn: Are you a savoury person or a sweet one like me? Have you done the Whole30 challenge or are you thinking of doing it? I would love to get your feedback!
Happy Friday loved ones!