Saturday, January 25, 2014

Whole30 - Day 20

I'd been over-eating sweets since Halloween (after eating clean for two months) when I decided I'd had enough. Enough of constant up-and-down weight gain, food cravings, bloating, exhaustion, etc. Nevermind the fact that I have progressed into periodontal disease. So, on January 6th I decided to start the Whole30.

The biggest difference between this "program" and just eating paleo is that there's no dairy and absolutely no sugar, regardless of its source. You also aren't supposed to make substitution foods (like pizza) so that you're able to really understand your eating patterns and figure out what makes you unwell.

In reading their book, I was most struck by the idea that a lot of the foods we typically eat are foods without brakes. As I look back on the mountain of candy I've eaten over the past two months, remembering that I really didn't stop until I felt sick, I felt a sense of clarity. Because here's the thing: I used to think there was something wrong with me because I wasn't satisfied with 1 or 2 cookies, and that I could eat the whole box sometimes. Last spring, I thought it was a signal that I wasn't eating enough calories and should try to eat more overall to diminish the cravings. It never worked and I was back with "willpower." Sort of like drinking.

Since I've cut out sugar completely (including Splenda!) I no longer crave that rush. (Although last night I was dreaming about Hershey's Kisses.) Instead, I find myself satisfied by what I'm eating. Which is strange, because I always used to feel like I needed a "little something extra" after dinner - dark chocolate when I was trying to be healthy, candy or cookies when I wasn't.

I have another ten days to go. The only thing I miss at the moment is cheese, not as an everyday thing, but on pizza. The thing is, I'm not so great with dairy, so I'll see how it goes.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Paleo's Wearing Wine Goggles

There are many subtle disagreements between the various main proponents of Paleo (Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf) and Primal (Marc Sisson)  ways of living that don't really matter. For example, some argue that sweet potatoes are okay, others say they're no better than the average white potato. At the end of the day, it's kind of immaterial - if we're all an experiment of one, we can find our own path as we try to improve our health and feel better.

However, there's one notion they all seem to agree on: alcohol is a-okay. Sure, beer is out because it's made from grain, but wine is delicious and so very good for you, right? Marc Sisson even posts a list of all the drinkable options. Even though these authors all admit that wine isn't Paleo (strictly speaking <wink>), it's just possible that our ancestors ate fruit that had fermented, right?

I know it bugs me because I'm an alcoholic. But it also bugs me because they make a special exception for alcohol, fail to recognize that there are deep connections between immune disorders and alcohol use, and overlook the simple fact that continuing to drink while transitioning to Paleo will limit the benefits you gain from your 21 or 30 day trial. (Who can't give up booze temporarily to see how it affects their health and well-being???? Hmmm. Oh yeah. Alcoholics like us couldn't have ever done that.)They take a hardline on grain and legumes, so why not apply the same logic to alcohol? Or at least be as hardline as they are about dairy....

Personally, I think anyone who drinks during a "health reset" misses out on a real opportunity to evaluate their relationship with alcohol. Include it in your list of "don'ts" and then try reintroducing it at the end of the experiment, just as you'll do with grains or dairy. (Of course, if you're a big alcoholic like I am, all experimentation has previously been completed so there's no need for a test-re-introduction...that would be utterly stupid. YES - you are still an alcoholic even after you do convert to Paleo). Even if it's not that difficult to give it up, you may discover things you wouldn't have otherwise known, like perhaps it contributes to your pollen allergy, or it makes you really sleepy the next day. With that knowledge, you can better plan how and when you drink. OR you may find it near impossible to remain compliant and completely reassess your drinking patterns. Who knows unless you try?

The only exception to this rule (that I've found) are Melissa and Dallas Hartwig over at the Whole9. They take alcohol off the menu during the 30-day nutritional re-set. I felt much better when I discovered that. At least somebody has taken off the wine goggles.

If you're sober, keep on keeping on. If you're not, give it a whirl - you can always drink next month.

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