Thursday, January 23, 2014

January Personal Eating Plan

Mystie at Simple Pantry Cooking did a Whole18 version of Whole30.   If you want to go back to the beginning, the simplest way is probably to track backwards using the links within the posts.   I love her food photos.   They make me want to run to the kitchen and start chopping up vegetables.  And that usually is something not on my most fun list of things to do.  

She summed up her normal eating in this post,  My Personal Eating Plan , and invited others to join in.  So here goes, my very cursory experience with Whole 30 and what my food plan looks like right now.

Feeling logged down by carbs in early January, after the goodies associated with the Christmas holidays, I happened to see this thread:  Low carb diet for weight loss at the 4Real forum.   It pulled me in because I almost could have written the original poster's question.

 I also am over 50, nearing menopause, and finding I can't take my food habits for granted any more.    My parents both were slim pretty much throughout life, but 3 out of 4 grandparents were stout and most of my aunts (I don't have any uncles by blood) were or are also overweight.   My brothers and I seem to be in the middle -- we aren't really overweight but if we don't watch it we start putting on extra pounds, especially as we reach middle age.  

I had never heard of Whole30 before.  I have seen many mentions of Paleo but haven't researched any further.    From what I understand, Whole30 is a detox version of Paleo.   You can find PDFs of their foods to eat and foods to avoid here.  

Basically you are supposed to avoid all sugars, all grains, all alcohol, all dairy, and all beans; plus ideally, avoid chemical additives to meats and artifically raised livestock or eggs.   No potatoes, either.   I think the idea is that all these things became staples later than the Paleolithic "caveman" days of hunters/gatherers.   Things that you can potentially gather in the wilderness or bring down with a spear are OK, though I think there is a bit of wiggle room for livestock and coconut oils and that kind of thing. 

I liked the idea of trying a modified version of this regimen because last time I effectively lost weight, about 4 years ago, it was with a version of Atkins low-carb.  I did a 2-week jumpstart of Atkins -- they call it Phase 1 - with basically no carbs, and I almost died.  Not literally but I felt like a zombie, lumbering around listlessly with graveyard breath and no working brain cells, let alone emotions besides dull determination.   Very like a zombie now that I think about it.  Still, when I added back a few whole-carbs I felt great and I lost 20 pounds without even trying hard.   I have never been able to do that since.    

Whole30 actually sounded easier to me than Atkins, because you don't have to worry about high vs low-glycemic vegetables, or avoid all fruits, etc.     I am not very interested in the hunter/gatherer evolutionary fitness argument, because people did fine throughout history living mostly on bread and wine and olive oil and smoked fishes and that type of thing.   Our society didn't start having terrible trouble with food until they started putting corn syrup in everything and stripping whole grains of all their nutrients.  

But I do think that when I eat too many carbs my system gets sort of turned towards craving even more.   And I start getting depressed and lower in energy.  And that happens especially during holiday seasons. 

So I started a modified Whole30.   I wanted modified because I knew I didn't want to worry about nitrites in meat, or potential sugars in sauces, or buying organic everything.      I just wanted to clean up my food patterns, not perfect them.    The 80/20 Rule applies here.  

My favorite "sensible" type eating plan is the NoS Plan, so I decided I was basically just going to ramp up the NoS and combine it with Whole30.  I would avoid beans and dairy and grains (at least, for the most part), but I wouldn't give up alcohol, and I would let myself off the dietary hook from Saturday vigil mass to Sunday afternoon.   

When I experimented with NoS earlier this year I found that allowing Saturday and Sunday as "off" days pulled me off my "good" weekday habits, and I am accustomed to Saturday-vigil relaxations of Lent after years of programming, so it is actually easier to limit "S" time to 24 hours rather than 48. 

I also decided I wouldn't keep a food diary, and I wouldn't weigh myself until February (that is one of the rules of Whole30, and I liked the idea, because then I could focus on how I feel and act and how my jeans fit rather than on numbers -- I have a tendency to get obsessed with scale numbers).

I wouldn't count calories, trusting to the bulk of the fruits and vegetables, and the satisfying nature of proteins and natural fats, to moderate my appetite. 

I know this is not how Whole30 is "supposed" to be done, and if I were either almost already Practically Perfect in my diet, or dealing with huge diet-related problems, I would probably commit to being more strict, but I thought of this as a Trial Run 30, or a Half-Hearted 30.  

With all these qualifications, the regimen has been working quite well for me.   I have way more energy than I did.   I crave vegetables rather than Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.    My jeans seem to fit better.   I love not worrying about the numbers on the scale.

I still have the mid-afternoon slump that Mystie mentions, but this is partly because I get up early (before 6 am usually) and don't get to sleep by 10 because the rest of the household aren't morning larks.     So I pretty much need an afternoon nap to make up the sleep deficit.  

One of the things I found somewhere on the Whole30 site was that we tend to eat too much of processed sugary things because our bodies are starved for real food.    In other words, we don't get the signal of fullness even when our stomachs are overloaded, because our nutritional needs haven't been met.   That may seem like "Duh!" to many people but for me it was a lightbulb.   That's exactly what I experience when I am eating too much of something non-nutritious.  I feel starved even though my body is overloaded. 

This idea made me feel sorry for my poor body.   No wonder it sends me those desperate messages.   Now I will feel less guilty for my lack of will-power and more inclined to pay attention to what it is trying to tell me.  It's hungry, poor thing!  

All in all,  I can see why Whole30 works so well for some people... it probably resets their system, retrains their way of looking at food, and helps with their nutritional status.    Those were my goals for commiting to the 30 days, so that is working. 

I am planning to cycle through the regimen more rigorously during Lent.    I probably still won't be a purist about sugar in sauces and that kind of thing, but I will probably try to cut out alcohol and nitrate preservatives in meat.    That is just about enough penance to live with. 

For February, I will probably stick pretty close to what I am doing now, except that I may allow for half-and-half in my coffee and a sprinkle of grated cheese on my eggs --  I miss dairy and I probably need the calcium.  

If I were going to write a diet book, it would be something connected with the liturgical year and monastery food and what the saints have written about food.   I found this site Monastery Food.      If I update occasionally on food plans and health for this blog, which I would somewhat like to do, I would probably go in that direction.    

My all time favorite series on weight loss and maintenance through a Christian perspective is bearing blog's series.    In fact, I think I am due for another reread. 


  1. I love this. I think Whole30 is a fascinating place to start, but the strictness of it was too much and too all-consuming. I'd say what I'm doing now is more like a lenient Whole30 + dairy. :) And, of course, even while on it, I took communion - and remembered God speaks to us through bread & wine, so not to become "too good" for bread and wine.

    Going to look at the NoS link. :)

    1. Yes, indeed! I like short term reset regimens like Atkins Phase 1 and Whole# (insert whatever number: )). Dr Phil has a similar short term detox type thing, and so does French Women Don't Get Fat. You can see I've read a lot of diet books.

  2. I don't think that I could ever do Whole 30. For a while, I tried "Trim Healthy Mama" and I ended up feeling so lousy! With my oldest on the SCD diet right now and transitioning to GAPS soon (hopefully), I find myself thinking about food way too much. And the more I think about food, the more that I want to eat it!

    So far, eating whatever I want and sticking with the No-S principles is enough for me right now. I have a significant amount of weight to lose and diabetes is threatening to appear but I think I will simply stay the course until spring until these new habits are firmly ingrained. Then I can change things after that.

    Kudos to you! I admire your self-discipline! Do you have any extra you could donate to me, LOL!

    1. Hi Susan, I don't have very much self-discipline at all! Beans and dairy and grains aren't big draws for me. So I don't miss them that much, except cream in my coffee. My main craving is just for sugary things. And on that front, I have cheated regularly, but I am doing better than I was doing before. So you see this really is the Half30.


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