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The Power of Food

Meg Chaney

Chicken Curry, one of our favorite recipes from   It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways    by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

Chicken Curry, one of our favorite recipes from It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

My husband and I have been taking the Whole 30 challenge this month. Thirty days without sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy, a little crazy, yes? I thought so too, but I was intrigued, and wanted to give it a chance. I can hardly believe that we're now down to the last week. We've almost made it!  Here are some of my findings so far:

I love fresh vegetables and fruit! And I sorely underestimate the amount the four of us will eat at a meal (especially if I want leftovers for lunch the next day!). Also, meat and vegetables are tremendously filling! They leave me full, and settle well with me.

I still need a snack, largely because our days start early around here. But, with so many things off the table, I find my snacks are healthy, fruit and veggies, things that will only give me more energy.

It’s not all that hard to say no. I’ve been presented with several opportunities to cheat. In that past, I would have said that “ I had no choice.” Who can stare brownies in the face and say no? Definitely not me. Plus, I worry about being impolite if I do say no. Now, I’ve found, that it’s really not that bad. I really do have more control over myself then I thought I did. Food, does not have such a crazy hold on me.

It's not impossible to travel and eat healthy. I was kind of nervous about doing Whole 30 during our Spring Break trip, but we succeeded! We packed coolers with plenty of food to eat, had our lunches pre-planned, and researched the menu of a local restaurant at our destination. We knew, before entering the restaurant, what exactly we could eat there, and left feeling satisfied, without cheating. Honestly, it was hard being on a family vacation and having to plan so much, but it was doable. We made sure our hotel room had a little kitchenette, so that we could cook some meals while we were there as well. This definitely helped a ton! And I found myself loving our picnic lunches with the kids each day. It was such a great way to spend time together! (Picnic lunches on vacations are definitely a trend I plan to keep after Whole 30!). 

Do I feel incredibly different? Not really. Sadly, this eating plan hasn’t really helped my headaches. They’re still there, but, we can count out a lot of food groups as the culprits now, which I guess is helpful? I'm also not sure I have loads more energy,  but I do have two little kids who honestly wear me out each day. My amount of energy largely depends on them, how well they sleep at night, and if they have a good rest time during the day. Just the same, I feel good about myself, and the food choices I'm making this month.

After Whole 30? We’ve talked about still trying to eat pretty healthy. Still filling up our plates with protein, fruit and veggies. Yes, grains will find their way back into our lives, but I’d like them to take a smaller role in the meal, at least most days.

Hardest part? Planning 3 meals, 7 days a week. It’s been good for me to get back into having a meal plan, to have options. For several years now, we’ve basically ate out on the weekends, or had leftovers at home. I would like to try harder after Whole 30 to plan through the weekend as well.

Missing? I definitely miss our homemade popcorn on Sunday nights (we usually have a movie night with the kids!). Although we’ve been creative this month, making baked sweet potato fries each movie night. I’m sure we’ll go back to popcorn, but we may have the homemade fries as well.

Also missing? The ability to order pizza if I’m truly exhausted... and wine. I like the occasional glass of wine with the hubby :)

And I know the hubby is missing legumes, we love our lentils and peas :)

We had gotten pretty slack, eating out too much, and not having fruits and veggies at every meal. This has been a great way to get us back on track, make us think about what we’re putting into our system everyday, and look toward the future. And in a lot of ways, it’s empowered me.

We always have a choice.

We’re not trapped.

Food should be enjoyable. It should be favorable. It should be fun. Those are things I want to teach my children. I also want to teach them that there’s always a choice. We don’t always have to indulge.

In some ways, I think when you indulge too much, the moments that you do splurge are less enjoyable. You haven’t been anticipating it. It’s not that best thing ever. But when you save up, when you ask yourself “is this truly worth it? Is this the best cake recipe ever?” then you can truly enjoy it for what it is, a treat. Then you can enjoy food. Enjoy life. Feel good about yourself, and the way you’re raising your loved ones.

Whole 30 has been a great way to experiment with this.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still have 7 days left.

Here goes the last week!