It’s been about six weeks since I began detoxing on The Whole30 program, which eliminates sugar, dairy and grains as options. I mean, they are gone, gone gone from my diet. And so has much of the joy of eating.
Let’s take coffee. I loved my two big cups of morning coffee, each with a slug of half and half. Morning coffee was a treat, not an energy boost, at least not for me. Half and Half is not permitted on the Whole 30. By the end of the second week, morning (black) coffee was so joyless I completely stopped drinking it. I mean, what was the point?
So I’ve been drinking tea. One day I had something like 7 cups of tea or herbal infusions. By the day’s end I could not look at another cup.
Carbs are important, but only as part of whole food. So my carbs come from sweet potatoes. By the 10th day of daily sweet potatoes I just couldn’t swallow another bite of one. I could not.
Have I mentioned that I am not a big meat eater? Oh, I love a good tenderloin and game or a nice roasted chicken. But to eat meat of some kind at just about every meal? That’s just not me. One morning after the gym I had leftover salmon and cauliflower for breakfast. But what I really wanted was a big ole bowl of cereal. Because I’d had so many damn eggs I should have been squawking like a chicken.
Oh, wait. You think that image of a meal up top looks good? It does look good. It’s fresh, whole and beautifully prepared and presented. But imagine eating like that every meal, every day. Or two meals like that daily. For months. IDENTICAL.
Doesn’t look so good now, does it?
Chop, stir, saute. Repeat. Again. And again. Forever.
Now, I love to prepare food and I love to prepare food that tastes great. The problem with Whole 30 is that you have to cook like that every meal on every day or your food tastes….grey. I think it would be way easier if we had, say, a personal chef. Which we don’t.
My shortcut is the paleo prepared food section at Whole Foods, which costs almost as much as a personal chef. I’m sure you know what I mean. But after a week, I saw how they repeated the same foods week after week and sometimes day after day. Their Paleo spicey ground beef looks just like dog food. Riley thinks so, too, because when I eat it, he begs for some. I mean.
“Food is just fuel,” Hot Trainer said to me one day. He eats five meals a day: a meat or chicken, rice or sweet potato, broccoli. That’s his diet day in and day out.
Joyless. That’s what that kind of eating is. Joyless.
We Sicilians think of food as an event! We want it to taste good! We want to experience the joy of eating, not just shovel it in. We want to eat with gusto and we want to drink wine! Which is NOT ALLOWED on Whole 30. NOT ALLOWED.
The only compensation is this: I actually get hungry.
Oh, you don’t think it’s a good thing? Come to find out, it IS a good thing.
If you let yourself get hungry, your body starts utilizing excess sugar for fuel. Once the sugar is gone, it burns fat.
On Whole 30, the only sugar we consume is that which comes in fruits and vegetables. So my sugar store is gone pretty quickly and fat is being burned.
Being hungry is a good thing, indeed. For our health. And thanks to both Hot Trainer and Trainer Tom who support me all the way, I am getting through it. But hunger is not a natural state for Sicilians.
Each hunger pang is a hunk of fat being burned
Surfing the ‘net, I read something else that was counter-intuitive: Don’t eat five small meals a day. And eat your biggest meal at night. Because your body needs to get hungry to burn fat and you want it to burn fat during the day when you are most active. It’s not necessarily a Whole 30 concept, but W30 falls right in line with it because you are not supposed to snack.
If you really can’t stand it or in a food emergency, W30 allows you to eat a Larabar. Well, I’m here to tell you I took one bite of a Chocolate Coconut Larabar and that was enough. I have never met a more joyless protein bar. Cherry Pie is a bit better, but not enough better that I’d break out in song or anything. Angels did not sing. So they’re not a treat. They’re…fuel.
I write this as I finished fueling up–I mean–dinner: some cashews, some boiled shrimp with hot sauce I made myself with sugar-free (W30-compliant) catsup, and half an artichoke. That was dinner. And I’m damn full. But, like eating at a Chinese restaurant, I guarantee you I’ll be hungry in an hour. And burning fat.
So here’s my plan. I’m sticking to it (yes, I stuck to it all through the holidays) until about a week before I go to school at the end of this month. Since I won’t be cooking, I’ll wean myself back onto a few things. I’ll pack a few things to get me through. I am certain it’ll be a shock to my system to have some dairy, grains or sugar. I’m back less than a week before we leave for Antigua, so I’ll probably keep to the modified diet and eat healthy on vacay. I’ll try not to go crazy while i’m away and then I’ll pop right back on when I’m home. Because really, I do think that it’s a good way to eat. Just not a lot of fun.
With food such a sad part of my day, I’ve had to find my joy elsewhere. And that’s not such a bad thing.
This is the point at which I’d give you a fun Whole 30 recipe. But I don’t have the energy. So I’ll just tell you what has become my favorite breakfast: a ripe banana, sliced, with a Tablespoon of almond butter drizzled on it. Oh yeah, And my favorite “snack” if I am hungry: a small portion of unsweetened applesauce loaded up with cinnamon. I mean, who knew cinnamon was tasteless without sugar? Whole 30 recipes coming, though. They’re coming.