During the month of January, I decided to join the Whole 30 bandwagon.
The Whole 30 (http://whole30.com) is based on the book, It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Going a month without sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy is supposed to help boost energy, kick the sugar craving, alleviate pains, and more. The book shares that many of our symptoms are revealed through the foods we eat. If we eliminate those foods from our diet, the symptoms can disappear.
This was a tough journey, but over the course of the 30 days, I learned five important life lessons:
1. Self-discipline: Anything can become an idol in our lives if we let it, and I was always craving for another treat or more food. Sometimes the thoughts of ice cream or chocolate would cloud my mind and make me lose focus on what is truly important. I would eat when I was bored, or I justified a milkshake because I had a bad day. I realized I needed self-discipline in the small things so I could also have it in the big things. The Whole 30 requires self-discipline. It required me to decide if I was going to give in to my flesh or if I was going to stand strong and win. It would have been easy to give up and go back to my old ways, but I knew they weren’t getting me where I wanted to be. If nothing changes, nothing changes. The cool thing about the Whole 30 is that it is a 30-day plan, and it only takes 20 days to create a habit. Now a lot of what I learned is ingrained in my daily routine.
2. How to cook/prepare meals: I am not a cook. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t even want to be in the kitchen. I hate the time that it requires. I hate the mess that it makes — I could go on and on. Starting the Whole 30, I quickly realized that cooking is necessary to change things up and not have the same boring meal day after day. I needed to learn how to add different flavors to things so I could savor my food instead of crave something unhealthy. In order to eat whole, clean foods, I needed discipline to plan and prepare my meals. In doing so, I learned that it’s not as bad as I once thought it was, and it actually became somewhat enjoyable. I found myself on Pinterest daily looking for yummy recipes to try. The key for me, however, was to find simple recipes for tasty meals. I have had fun finding out how to use spices in meals to spruce things up, something I’ve never done before. I learned it doesn’t have to be fancy or take hours to prepare in order for it to be a family favorite. Now I have chosen to plan ahead for the week. I have a sheet that I write down what we are going to have for dinner, and I stick to it. It helps keep us within our budget when I grocery shop, and it helps me to stay focused. It keeps me on guard at all times. A game plan is good.
3. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet: A diet is all about what you’re limited to — you can’t have this, and you can’t have that. Count the calories. There’s too much salt or too much fat. The list goes on. I don’t want that! I want it to be about what I can eat and why it’s enjoyable. I want to see my meals as something to look forward to. I wanted to retrain my brain to know what this isn’t about being on a diet or restrictions. It’s about eating what’s healthy for me and having those “other” things in moderation. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says our bodies are God’s temple, and that comes down to the food we use to fuel our bodies. I don’t want mine to be backed up and unusable. I want to be able to be a vessel and a light to others.
4. Real foods can make great treats: Banana ice cream, frozen berries, smoothies — all great, delicious choices for a sweet treat. After the Whole 30, I haven’t had many treats, but I’ve noticed just how sweet they are. Fruit has become sweet enough for me now, and that makes me happy. Does that mean I don’t eat any chocolate or cookies? Nope. It just means I will no longer let the thought of dessert control me. I will enjoy treats in moderation and still be proud of how far I’ve come.
3. It’s going to be OK: If I crave chocolate, and I don’t give in to my desires, it’s going to be OK. If my flesh says I need more, and I don’t cave, it’s going to be OK. I thought I needed all the treats and pastas and breads to be fully satisfied, but I don’t. I don’t need any of it. Food is a tool to fuel my body, keep me healthy, and give me the ability to fulfill my call in life. My life is about giving glory to God. I want my thoughts to be centered around Him and not around my fleshly desires. And if I put Him in the center, then I know everything is going to be OK.
My journey is only beginning, and I know I have a long way to go, but it is worth it, and the refining process is good.