Okay, so in all seriousness, that went pretty well. We not only survived but I think we are onto something we can keep. Today I’ll recap what my expectations were going in and how that actually turned out.
Expectation: People say this is hard, but that’s coming from folks who hate to cook. I love to cook so this should be easy.
Reality? Um, no. NOT easy. You have to read every label. The following items are banned because they tend to cause gut inflammation in many people: soy, ALL grains, dairy, legumes, peanuts, alcohol, carrageenan, seed oils, corn, sugar, and all sweeteners of any kind. Try finding a packaged anything that doesn’t contain any of those items. You are making your own clarified butter, dressings, sauces, spreads, etc. That takes HOURS. And if you cannot eat bread there is no such thing as grabbing toast for breakfast. You have to cook. Did I mention I am not a morning person? And WHY is sugar in E. V. E. R. Y. T. H. I. N. G. ???
Expectation: I will get sick of sweet potatoes and eggs.
Reality? Didn’t happen. In fact, I think I fell in love with both of them. It helped to keep things shifting often by not eating them the same way all the time. Which brings me to the next point…
Expectation: I will experience food boredom and want to bail out.
Reality? This did not happen either. But it goes back to all that work. I had heard several friends say they got really bored, but they are all the ones who don’t like to cook so they resorted to many repeats of the same few meals. For us, menu variety is pretty important so we only repeated a handful of recipes over the whole month. But that meant a LOT of work for me. It would have been much easier to repeat the same menu each week.
But I did get tired of lettuce very quickly. I mean, it really is the taste of sadness. Someone get me this t-shirt, please.
Expectation: I might feel crummy initially.
Reality? YES. I read that the worse your diet is before you do this, the harder the first week or so is. My diet is not really all that bad. I avoid a lot of sugar so I didn’t think that would be hard, but the month before we did this was December and you know what that means, right? ALL. THE. COOKIES.
Expectation: I will have a lot of energy after getting through the initial slump.
Reality? Yep! I really did feel like I could hike Pikes Peak in under 3 hours. In fact, I plan to do so this summer (well, not the 3 hour part), so I have motivation to eat like this long-term. In general, I slept much better most nights and woke up feeling better. I had more energy all day and it was at stable levels from dawn to bedtime. I also felt less moody - at least after those few days when I wanted to hurt anyone who dared breathe my air.
Expectation: This is going to destroy the grocery budget.
Reality? Total annihilation.
But this was worth it. Good food is expensive, even when you don’t buy all grass-fed, organic, metro-hipster-brand everything (we did not). But when I compared the grocery bill for the month to what I would have spent at the doctor’s office to fix some random ailments, it was no contest. I was about to go in for ulcers that wouldn’t heal, lower back injury that wouldn’t heal, and a suspected thyroid issue. All those things disappeared.
I’ve also noticed I have fewer headaches, my arthritic knee is no longer sore, my skin is perfect, I sleep soundly, heart palpitations are gone, moods stabilized, and I am not wanting to hit the hay right after dinner.
The final verdict is that we will probably stick with an eating plan that is mostly Whole 30 and Paleo. I say "mostly" because there will be times when veering off the plan is either worth it or necessary. Like when there is birthday cake or a wedding. No way in 100 years I'd expect our client ministries in Africa to cater to a wildly restrictive diet, so there's several weeks each year where anything goes. And I'm not going to go to Herculean lengths to find bacon with no sugar. In general though, I’d like to keep the health benefits we've gained and I’ve settled into a better routine with the planning and prep work, so staying on the plan seems well worth it to us.
But on my long layover in Seattle later this month guess who is having a maple bar with a tall latte?
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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