I’m not going to say that travel makes me gain weight, but…. so far it’s been a travel-heavy summer filled with big meals, plenty of snacking, and lots of alcoholic drinks. I started out pretty well on a solo trip to Albuquerque, where my sit-down meals consisted of healthy breakfasts and appetizers at hotel bars; I didn’t eat that much (though I certainly enjoyed nightly wine) and I hiked several miles every day. I felt great after that trip.
But then I headed to Phoenix on a group press trip, where I had great plans to make smart food choices, limited the wine intake, and try to fit in some good exercise between scheduled events (which included plenty of spa treatments; don’t feel sorry for me). Alas, those two-hour group lunches and dinners at top-notch restaurants, where the carb-filled and rich foods kept coming to the table, just did me in. As much as I want to say no to savory macaroni and cheese and overflowing bread baskets, when it’s in front of me at the table, and I’m chatting with other journalists and PR reps for literally two hours, it’s just hard (for me) to ignore.
Then a friend and I took our kids to Orlando and Boca Raton, where, again, we enjoyed some great meals at the Boca Raton Resort & Beach Club. That trip was followed up by 10 days in my childhood state of New Hampshire, where I thoroughly indulged in lobster rolls, ice cream, and Dunkin’ Donuts. And more wine.
I’m not (totally) lamenting my free-wheeling attitude over the last six weeks or so, but eating like there’s no tomorrow has certainly shown itself on the scale and in how my clothes fit.
I know I feel and look so much better when I don’t indulge mindlessly in pasta, chips, chocolate, and wine. I’ve reined in the eating and conquered some bad habits before, for example, with stints following Body For Life exercise and nutrition program, as well as weeks at Fitness Ridge and Rancho La Puerta. I come off of those experiences committed to making smart choices and enjoying sweets in moderation.
Alas, oftentimes life–and travel–gets in the way of good intentions.
That’s why, in this month of August, when I have no travel on the books, I’m committing to Whole30, dubbed a “short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”
What it means in real life: No sugar, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no alcohol for 30 days.
For a girl who loves her breadbasket, daily breakfast of Cheerios and skim milk, and nightly glass of wine this is gonna be hard.
But I’m determined to follow the program, namely to see what sort of willpower I’m capable of. I’m guessing I’m going to feel less bloated not eating so many carbs. I’m hoping I’m going to rid myself of daily sugar cravings.
I’m up for the challenge.
I’ve ordered some packaged meals from Pre-made Paleo, started researching the thousands of online Whole30-compliant meal recipes, and filled up my grocery cart with grocery items from my local Whole Foods. Here’s where following the program gets tricky: I was so proud of my stash, that I snapped a photo of it to share here, but then discovered that the almond milk pictured below has carrageenan, an ingredient prohibited on the Whole30 program. The natural additive is used in items like almond milk for its gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties, but has been known to be “destructive to the immune system.” So that’s out.
I’d also read that Larabars were okay as “emergency” foods on the Whole30 program, so I grabbed a couple of those, but then realized that the fruit and nut flavor I’d bought had honey in it (no sugar, honey, syrup allowed) and I’m not supposed to eat peanuts either (the peanut butter Larabar only has peanuts, dates and sea salt as its ingredients–but still, no peanuts permitted). These are the Larabar flavors that are compliant, according to the Whole30 website: Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Cashew Cookie, Cherry Pie, Chocolate Coconut Chew, Coconut Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Bar, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie.
If all this sounds rather restrictive, it is. And for folks who can eat a balanced diet of whole foods with treats in moderation, it may sound absolutely ridiculous to cut out major food groups. It flies in the face of “normal” eating. But for me, I found it wonderfully refreshing to walk into a grocery store knowing exactly what I could and could not walk out with (well, minus the almond milk and Larabar confusion; I’m learning).
For 30 days, I’m game to eat restrictively and then re-introduce foods to see how they make me feel. I can’t imagine life without bread or ice cream or wine, but, as most “diet books” say, in moderation. I haven’t been feeling very “moderate” this summer, so I’m hoping Whole30 will indeed help me reset, get rid of cravings, stop some bad habits, and help me enjoy foods I love–again, in moderation, at home and when I’m on the road.
To begin, I’ve started this challenge by baking a Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole (pictured in the graphic at top) and enjoying a hefty portion for breakfast. I’ve packed plenty of grapes, carrots, a smaller portion of the leftover casserole, as well as an “emergency” Epic Bar (“looks like Spam,” says my husband) for my family’s afternoon kayaking adventure today. I feel prepared and supported not only by my family but the vast network of Whole30 devotees found on the website forum.
I’ll report back here occasionally to share how it’s going in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear some advice and tips from anyone who has found success with Whole30. I also welcome your favorite recipes!
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