September 30, 2012 by Darlene McC
I’m in the middle of 30 days of eating whole foods on a restrictive Paleo program called Whole30. Read any previous posts here for background.
The first Good Food rule seems simple enough: the food we eat should promote a healthy psychological response. Pretty straight forward in concept; but as any stress eater can tell you, it isn’t really that simple. Foods are naturally tied up in our emotional centers. Sugar cookies conjure up visions of Christmas with your snuggly grandmother and ice cream sundaes are how you get through cramps; but what about your less-obvious hangups? Like ordering Thai takeout whenever you’ve had a long day and are too stressed or tired to cook? What about pizza Fridays with your partner where they make the dough and your house smells like pepperoni? These smells and tastes are still rooted in your sense of well-being and habit.
This week I was really surprised by the psychological affects food was having on me. I’d weathered the stress test of week 1 and had prepped myself for week 2, expecting some digestive troubles but little else. So lets dig into the week.
Monday & Tuesday (Day 8 & 9)
Though Dallas & Melissa are optimistic and supportive, they do warn about a particular problem in week 2 you should be aware of:
Digestive distress is common and may take a few months to completely resolve. The inflammation-causing foods you’ve been eating have been like sandpaper in your digestive tract for all the years you’ve been eating them. Remove all of them, and your digestive tract starts to heal – but the healing process can be unpleasant. Constipation or diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas, and general discomfort are common, and are all a normal part of the process, as your intestinal lining starts to repair itself…
It Starts With Food – page 214
So – I think it’s safer for all of us and our TMI sensibilities if I just write of Days 8 & 9 under the “Umm… yeah…” column and you take the hint. I had some distress, mmm kay?
Additional TMI warning: Whole30 also caused me to have the easiest “round of my cycle” I have had since I was about 15. Almost no cramps, really quick, no bloating. Kinda of awesome and unexpected. ‘Nuff said.
Wednesday & Thursday (Day 10 & 11)
So my digestive “issues” started to ease; and in their place was a grumpy, unsettled sensation that would not go away. This is when the stress eating began to creep in. Wednesday wasn’t so bad because I had clients all day; but Thursday afternoon, at home and writing, it was all I could do to keep out of the kitchen. The worst part was that I knew I wasn’t hungry; I just wanted to eat! Fortunately, I don’t have too much in my house that’s off plan – a few olives for healthy fat and a spoonful of apple sauce to try and get myself through.
Its hard to put my finger on exactly what was going on. I hadn’t been sleeping great, I think partly due to the “distress” of the early week, and it was taking a tole on me. For 2 days I felt like a little kid 30 seconds before a tantrum. I had to keep reminding myself how good my body felt otherwise and that this was all in my head.
Now’s as good a time as any to share the #1 mind blowing thing that has happened; the thing that kept me from eating bread mid-week (and I don’t even LIKE bread):
My Hands Don’t Hurt!
For nearly 10 years the joints in my fingers have popped and cracked. They’ve all be jammed, a few broken – the second knuckle on my right ring finger has been a small sausage for a long time. But last week, around Friday, I realized that I couldn’t hear them popping and cracking like I have for a DECADE! Though my knee and shoulder are still bugging me, knowing that my small joints are getting better has kept me going.
Friday & Saturday (Day 12 & 13)
As the end of the week approached I was back on the wagon. I re-read a few chapters to see if I’d been missing something and had an unfortunate realization: I’ve been drinking Coconut Juice… It’s supposed to be coconut MILK. Yup. I’ve been getting a little more sugar than I intended, even if from a natural source. So I knocked that off. Suck.
I’m not calling it an official fail because I don’t think that’s been causing much inflammation; but should I do another Whole30 (which is likely) it will be interesting to see what that absence of that additional sugar will do.
The other interesting thing at the end of this week: after my digestive troubles resolved my appetite started to lessen a bit. I’ve felt like I was eating WAAAAAAY too much; but it was what I needed to keep from getting hungry before the next meal. As the week came to a close I started eating a few bites less. I’ve been careful to eat slowly and try to listen for the “I’m done” signal, which I plan to continue into week 3.
More Crazy Dreams
Friday also dawned with the latest crazy food dream.
Again at my mothers house I get up in the morning, wander to the kitchen, and start my day with one of my favorite late-childhood meals: a ham sandwich on white bread with an obscene amount of ketchup. I chomp my way through it, licking ketchup off my fingers and the back of the sandwich, occasionally dipping it in the globs of ketchup that fall off onto the plate. Two moments after the last bite I realize that it was made entirely of off-plan foods and I have just thrown away 2 weeks of good eating for something that didn’t even taste that good. The guilt is immense.
So perhaps the last week has been my sub-conscious telling me to grow the hell up? On Monday one of my clients apologized for whining too much during he workout on Saturday – she said that she got home and realized she was allowing herself to act like a whiny kid whenever she didn’t feel like working out, but that part of being an adult is sucking it up. It’s doing the hard work because it needs doing and baring through it. This week felt a lot like regression therapy for my food. Going back to old habits, making peace with them, and then sucking it up and doing the hard work.