Posted in Whole 30

Ridiculous and Authentic

All my adult life, I have read articles about health, weight loss, exercise, changing your habits, and whatever else might apply to my health. Loads of those articles are written by people who have made significant changes in their lives, and nearly all of them started out pretty sure they would never be able to change.

They say ridiculous things like: “I just have a slice of sweet watermelon if I’m craving a piece of cake,” and “If I am craving something crunchy, instead of chips, I just eat a handful of baby carrots!”

Oh, I think when I was younger, I thought maybe those things would work. But, then I bought a bag of baby carrots…and they were nothing like chips. Not for one second or in any way at all were they like chips. They tasted like water…and left my fingers wet. You know what chips do? They taste like salt and fat…and they leave my fingers orange (because the two best chips ever are Doritos and Cheetos). Those carrots were pretty good dipped in ranch, but then I learned that for all the calories I was spending on ranch, I could just eat the chips!

I have also read this sentence just shy of one million times: “When I stopped eating refined sugar, my taste buds adjusted, and fruit was decadently sweet enough to satisfy my sugar cravings; I don’t even crave my evening bowl of ice cream anymore.”

While I believed them that drastically reducing their sugar intake would give their taste buds a break from the ever-present sweetness of sodas and candy and other sugary things – and make less sweet things taste sweeter, I just didn’t believe that they were being authentic about not craving ice cream. Rather, I thought they were being disciplined.

Well, here are the ridiculous and authentic things I have uttered this week, causing my daughter, Sage, to call me out as “one of those people who say those things.”

  • Upon receiving the apple juice box that came with my hamburger happy meal, I said with delight, “Oh! This is going to be like drinking a soda!” When nearly all you drink is water (and unsweetened tea), apple juice is super sweet. It’s true. My taste buds will tell you it’s true. I’ll try not to tell you, though…unless you have clicked on this blog, then I’ll tell you because we are talking about this Whole 30 journey. But, if I’m at a fast food joint with you, I will not tell you that apple juice is just as good as soda. I promise.
  • While I was doing paperwork and munching on pistachios, I said, “Geez. These are so good. These salt and pepper ones are like eating chips!” To which Sage said, “Liar.” And through my laughter, I said, “No really! You have to taste the salt and pepper ones!” And she said, “Mom. I believe you that they are good. I do not believe you that it’s like you are eating potato chips.” You, Gentle Reader, don’t have to believe me about how perfectly satisfying these particular pistachios are. Drive yourself to Costco and pick up a bag. The bag is huge – which is good because you will eat a lot of them. And you might think they are as good as chips!
  • This afternoon, I stood at the kitchen counter, eating cherries and spitting the seeds into the compost bowl, and thought, “These are so delicious! They are sweet and perfect…and more addicting than candy.” I was only talking to myself. I was not being silly or even having a conversation with Sage. It was an authentic thought: these cherries are better than candy.

So, here’s the thing. Until you experience some things, they are only talk. Until you own them yourself, they lie beyond what you can imagine is true. That’s why it was so annoying to me when people said or wrote things like this.

Before I did Whole 30 – and the subsequent weeks of experimentation – I was absolutely sure I would be unable to quit sugar. (I’m not quitting sugar altogether, but that’s another conversation.) I couldn’t really even picture it. The first thing I did every morning was make a big mug of tea with a huge scoop of sweetened condensed milk in it. The first thing I did was give my tongue some (a lot of) sugar. And I did not stop refueling my sugar tank until I went to bed. So, hearing someone say that natural things like fruit can meet our physical need for sweet things…I guess it made me feel weak, like I was broken somehow, with no control over my sugar consumption.

So, I made lots of jokes about it.

But, in my gut I knew those jokes were stand-ins for courage.

And THAT’S what I think Whole 30 takes. Courage.

What if those people who annoyed me with their watermelon-instead-of-cake talk were actually bearing witness to something I needed to hear? What if even while I was rolling my eyes at them, my ears were hearing some things 48 and I would need down the road? What if those people I secretly (or not so secretly) judged as ridiculous were just being authentic in ways that would bring me courage someday down the line?

So, maybe the question is: How does one find the balance between being that preachy person who just sounds like she is bragging…and bearing witness to a new truth you didn’t know you had the courage to learn?

Posted in Whole 30

Bouncing Around – Post Whole 30

It’s about a month since I finished Whole 30.

I continue to learn a lot about my body, since I decided that my reintroduction process would be lengthy. Roughly, it has looked like this:

5 days of Whole 30 + Dairy: I didn’t have any health troubles with dairy. It didn’t affect my sleep, my arthritis, nor did I have any of those lactose intolerance symptoms people often report.

…then…

5 days of Whole 30 + Grains: My sleep and arthritis seemed to be fine, and I didn’t have any of the gluten intolerance symptoms.

…then…

5 days of Whole 30 + Sugar: BAM! Had one sleepless night and some swelling in my hands. Also discovered that I have very little power to be consume sugar in moderation.

Give me a little…I’ll take more, please. I paid close attention to how I use sugar. My habit has been to use a heaping teaspoon of sugar in my large cup of tea. And not having used sugar in my tea for 40 days, it was striking to me when I scooped up all that sugar on my spoon. It occurred to me that I have no idea how much sugar that is, so I measured it. And it’s easily 2 teaspoons, but nearly a tablespoon. Huh. Learning, learning, always learning.

…then…

5 days of Whole 30 + Nothin’: Just back on the Whole 30 program to reset before I did some more experimentation. In those 15 days of dairy, grains, and sugar, I gained back nearly all the weight I had lost. That was super disheartening, but it was a great lesson. There is no way that I ate thousands and thousands of extra calories that would add up to 7 pounds of gained weight. But, it’s entirely possible probable that those foods caused inflammation and water retention which accounted for most of the weight gain. This was proven when I lost all the weight again during 5 days of pure Whole 30. The only way I lost all that weight was if it was water and inflammation.

 

…then…

5 days of Whole 30 + Sugar 2.0: Tried sugar again (without dairy or grains, so no ice cream or cookies – just hard candies and sugar in my tea and sugar added to the fruit sorbet I made…sigh…and some soda). My sleep was affected, and my hands hurt. It also seemed I had more headaches, but I didn’t really keep notes on that, so I’m not sure.

So, my understanding is that our bodies process carbs (grains) into sugars, also. Therefore, having pinpointed regular sugar as an inflammation trigger, I’m wondering about grains. So, I’m now in the middle of…

5 days of Whole 30 + Grains 2.0: So far, I’ve had some sushi which has rice in it and croutons on my otherwise Whole 30 salad. I think I’ll have a sandwich for dinner with the whole wheat bread I bought. I’m trying hard to only add grains, not sugar…so nearly all cereals are out, and I don’t like oatmeal without some brown sugar in it, so that doesn’t really work. I’m trying to find a nutritional pattern that I can actually enjoy. And I won’t enjoy oatmeal without sugar…at least not now, but my tastes are changing.

Posted in Whole 30

Seriously?! Gout?!

I self-diagnosed myself today.

I have gout.

Apparently, gout is a kind of arthritis, but it is gnarly. People who consume too much uric acid or have bodies which don’t process uric acid well – we get gout. We also get kidney stones, which is awesome. I know that because my dad is great at making kidney stones, so it is not a surprise that we are uric acid twinsies. Anyway, gout’s main symptom is deep and sometimes out-of-nowhere pain. Its usual home is in the joint where the big toe meets the foot, but it is generous with its pain and allows it to radiate throughout the foot – and even up the legs.

I have not seen a doctor about this because my old doctor was a not nice guy, so I requested a new doctor…and she can see me mid-July. (sigh) So, it’s up to Dr. Jennifer to diagnose herself. Today, out-of-nowhere, I was plastered to the sofa, unable to talk or listen because of a shooting pain in my big toe joint. I did not bump it or even bend it prior to the pain.

Knowing what I now know about how food affects my arthritis (and sleep!), I googled “foods to avoid if you have gout” and discovered that sugar, caffeine, fried foods, beef, alcohol, refined carbs, processed food, and a few others are on the “avoid this” list for gout. Well, that’s pretty much Whole 30, now isn’t it?!

I have been adding in dairy (no problem), grains (no problem), and now sugar (uh, problem). I have had sugar in my diet for two days, and I am not good at moderation. I allowed myself a soda, and now there are four empty cans by the sink, headed to the recycle bin! Imagine what my body is doing right now – trying to process all this refined sugar after 40 days without any!

So, it’s back to Whole 30 for me tomorrow. I shopped, chopped, cleaned, cooked, portioned, and prepared my way through this evening, so I can go back to work tomorrow ready for Whole 30 eating again. Egg cups with broccoli, onion, and Whole 30 compliant sausage for the morning, and lots of veggies chopped and ready to eat all day.

I’m actually looking forward to it. My stomach has been distended and uncomfortable since I started eating sugar a couple days ago. I’m ready to drink gallons of water and unsweetened (decaffeinated) tea to keep hydrated and flush my system.

Here’s the empowering part:

I know that I can do Whole 30. I’ve done really well on it. This time around, I can simply say, “Yah, I better give up sugar altogether since I seem to have no control over it, and it’s likely causing gout flare ups.” That’s a very new power of mine. Just 6 weeks ago, I was sure I couldn’t possibly make it through Whole 30. I was wrong. Boom. Capable Woman reporting for duty, ready to manage my health.