I’m a bit of a rule follower. I like structure and boundaries and knowing what’s expected. This doesn’t mean that I never deviate from the path laid out before me, though. If that were the case, I never would have bucked the conventional wisdom of eating more whole grains and less meat in order to explore a paleo eating philosophy. But it does mean that I love it when I know what I can and can’t eat. It makes me feel comfortable and in control.
The Whole 30 was made for people like me. I am an expert at following the rules for specific eating regimens. In fact, I have been successful with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Diet Center, the Standard American Diet (SAD) in its healthiest whole-grain/light protein manifestation, low-fat, low-carb…you name it, I’ve probably considered it at some point. You see, I’ve always loved food and I have spent decades searching for a way to eat that satisfied both my appreciation for food and good flavors and my understanding of how my body works and what my body needs.
Let me pause for a moment first to reiterate that paleo works for ME. I think it can also work wonders for others, hence sharing these things on my blog, but I am not in any way a judge of what others choose to eat. At all.
The reason the Whole 30 works so well for me is that it gives me the rules that I need to follow in order to be successful. My definition of success has several different elements to it. Yes, I would like to lose a few pounds and be a little leaner, but I am more interested in a long-term ability to feel thrilled and overjoyed in every eating situation. I have spent too many years worrying if this or that would make me gain weight or slow my weight loss. What I’m okay worrying about, though, is whether or not something makes me healthier inside and out. Physically AND psychologically. The Whole 30 gives me a brief respite from needing to assess if something makes me more or less healthy, if something will trigger a binge or not, even if something is too much or not.
During the Whole 30, I don’t step on the scale – (one of the rules) – so I don’t know whether some meal made me gain weight or not. When I’m journaling what I’m eating, sometimes it looks like too much (and a little part of me wonders if someone is judging that) but what I’m listening for is the signal from my body telling me if I’ve had enough or if I’m still hungry. That part of me has been damaged over the years and its voice is not very loud. What this process allows me to do is to go ahead and have some nuts or a spoonful of coconut butter or another piece of meat and to relax about it, knowing that the food is good for me and at some point I will find my balance.
This part is easy. When it becomes more difficult is when my Whole 30 comes to an end. At that point, I need to make these decisions independently, one by one, and they aren’t always easy. My plan is to stay fairly close to the Whole 30 guidelines, but my previous experience is that as I loosen things up, stray outside the boundaries, I move farther and farther away from them. But I’d rather not because I feel so much better without grains, processed food, sugar, even dairy. The trick is remembering that when social situations or cravings or long-standing habits get in the way.
In a few more days, I’ll be working hard to look at each situation and determine if my choice makes me healthier and, if it doesn’t, is it worth it? Do any of you struggle with this too?