I am beginning to think 30 days is a bit long for such a challenge. Honestly, not because I can’t do it. I am very fortunate that circumstances allow me and my husband to finish the How to Eat Challenge.
Neither of us work outside the home, nor do we have children. Both of these factors play a major role in how we eat. The closest we got to actually testing our resolve to eat from home was Friday when we went hiking in the Mt. Baker area. And even that was pretty easy to plan for.
I made a bunch of great Whole30 approved snacks for us to devour on the mountain. There was a rustic almond flour loaf (for Chris, it’s way too high calorie for me), curry cashews, and a variation on hummus for me. The hummus was made with potatoes instead of chickpeas. Sounds weird, but it was pretty good, if a little bland (I just need to play with spices more).
Exceptions to the Rule
I’m not one to be rigid with rules. In fact, as I’m participating in my own challenge, I’m finding many ways I will tweak it if I’m ever to repeat it. So, I guess it kind of goes without saying that I am hard-core not sticking to all the guidelines set by Whole30. My family eats a mostly plant-based diet, so if we followed Whole30 strictly, we would not get nearly enough protein. To modify, I allow quinoa (technically a grain) and tofu (made from soy, which is a legume).
But the two exceptions I want to discuss this week are the “no substitutes made from Whole30 approved ingredients”, and “no baked goods”. Whole30 doesn’t allow dairy, nor do they allow dairy substitutes (unless it suits them and sells their cookbooks, but I digress). They specifically say “No vegan cheese alternatives”. But I’ve been using the hell out of vegan cheese alternatives. And I refuse to feel guilty or like I’m not practicing the true essence of the challenge.
The “no substitutes” rule is for those who would use alternatives to satisfy a craving for something they are missing. I am not missing cheese, and haven’t missed it in a long time. I started making my own vegan alternatives years ago, and we gradually transitioned to it as we adopted a plant-based diet.
Experimenting with Sweetness
I love looking for recipes which have cheese in them and seeing if I can replicate it using vegan substitutes. It’s part of my game I’m playing.
The other game I’m interested in pursuing is playing with recipes which call for sugar. I’m currently banning all types of sweeteners, including most fruits (bananas, dried fruits, dates, pineapple). This is actually exceeding Whole30’s strict “what to eat” guidelines. The program allows fruits, even super sweet ones like dates or pineapple.
I’m going more toward the Keto approach with fruits. With the exception of applesauce, the only fruits I’m allowing are Keto-approved berries and citrus (lemons and limes for their juices). And here is why I’m ignoring the no baked goods rule. I want to see– now that I’ve pretty much demolished my sugar cravings– if I can create snacks and treats without any sweeteners and with only natural ingredients.
Why don’t I just do it with Stevia or monk fruit? Because I really don’t like the taste of these sweeteners. And a couple of times they gave me a feeling way too close to a sugar rush and crash. (It was weird, because that’s supposed to be why they are better substitutes. My body is weird. Let’s just agree on that.)
Playing With My Food
Okay, so I’m ignoring a couple of rules for following Whole30. But you know what? I’m not doing Whole30, really. I’m practicing my How to Eat Challenge.
This week I stocked up on some delicious locally sourced berries and rhubarb. I have a small stock of nuts– pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts (which could make amazing homemade Nutella), and almonds. There’s also almond flour and coconut flour, ground flax seed, lemon and lime juice, and ghee, along with coconut milk.
I’m definitely going to play around with flavors and experiment with making some true no-sugar treats this week. This has me fired up and I look forward to sharing some of my mis-takes, successes, and epic failures (which I learn from).
But that is this coming week. So stay tuned…
What happened this past week?
I had a little frustration in my data-collecting science experiment regarding one of my tools. Namely, the scale. Now, typically I am completely ambivalent to what the scale says. And I wasn’t getting frustrated with myself. I was just really confused.
Looking at my data, the only thing I had changed from Week 1 and 2 against Week 3 was I focused on keeping my protein levels the same, but slightly decreasing my fat intake. I based this tweak on Week 2 having somewhat high fat intake, and plateauing on weight loss.
However, this week, I consistently gained weight. My sleep was awesome, I was still under or just barely over my calories each day. I was moving throughout the day (not as intensely as a month ago due to bicep tendon injury, but calorie burning nonetheless). My water intake is terrific. So, what gives, scale?
I think other scientists might feel the same frustration in a different context. They check in on all their specimens. Group A, looks good. Group B looks fine. The control group is dead? How did that happen?
So, I’m playing a little more with what I’m eating and re-focusing on fundamentals of how I eat. And already, I’m seeing the trend go back towards what I would consider normal.
What Went Well
We had our first real true test for eating from home when we went to Mt.Baker. But the food I prepared was so delicious, neither of us missed take-out or our normal Co-op sandwiches. So that was definitely a win. Plus we found what I call a Savrith Tree location (long story, just rest assured it’s purely magical).
I’m really digging our dinners together. Lunch and breakfast can be a challenge when I have a jam-packed day ahead, but nothing will make us rush our dinners together. It’s hard to say we will never watch a movie or television show while eating dinner again, but I have a feeling those will become rare occurrences.
What Needs Work/Biggest Lessons of the Week
It’s sometimes hard for me to recognize Chris and I are very different people. I mean, physiologically. We’re practically the same in every other aspect. Chris needs to and can eat a lot of food. And I mean A LOT. True, he did consume more than he should have in regards to cashews, but that’s a whole other story.
Chris eats a lot, and sometimes I find it hard to let him have all these extra treats while I feel I “can’t”. It’s not that I can’t, and I need to work on shifting my mentality around this concept. I just realize if I eat those extra treats, I struggle to maintain the momentum I’m experiencing. My body reacts to the smallest changes. So if I eat 20 cherries in one sitting, even though they are a healthy treat, it shows in my data.
I also learned from just listening to people wiser and smarter than me how important it is to develop systems visa vie goals. I can “want to lose weight” all I want and create SMART goals with timelines and measurable data. But I have really no control over whether I actually lose the weight. That’s up to my body. All I can do is treat it right- eat well, move, sleep, drink water. The rest is ultimately up to Fate. Chances are if I’m eating clean, moving, getting enough rest, and drinking enough water, I will lose weight. But it’s not a guarantee.
It’s just an interesting revelation.
What I’m Doing Differently
I’ve already mentioned I’m going to play with some recipes involving treats. I’m thinking a strawberry rhubarb crumble of sorts to start. Other ideas may come to me as the week goes on.
I’m working on a couple projects which will get my day up and going earlier. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects my breakfast routine. Stay tuned for more information on that as well.
I’m loving our dinner practice also and I’m sure we will keep doing it after the challenge. The mindful eating is very difficult but honestly I really need it.
Honestly when the challenge ends I’m not sure if I will change much. I think all the aspects of the challenge are improving my health tremendously. Not eating breakfast until I’m up for at least an hour is going to stay. Having our awesome deep love dinners will stay. Sitting down without media to eat my breakfast and lunch will stay. Drinking water before snacking will stay even though it’s super hard for me.
I don’t think anyone else has come up with this kind of distinction between how we eat and what we eat. There is a million people telling us what to eat but no one knows how to eat well and I think the HOW is what changes lives most.