Tuesday, September 10, 2013

no sugar for 30 days

Last month we decided to give up sugar (among other things) for 30 days. How crazy is that? It is especially crazy for a Dane like me. It is not that Michael and I sit around and eat a ton of sugar all day long or struggle with a sugar addiction, but it does sneak into many things we eat. Giving up sugar meant giving up all grains, legumes and dairy. Yikes. We decided to take the challenge, we figured we could do anything for 30 days.

Now that being said, I do want to be clear we are not suggesting that you should do the same as we did. This was a personal choice that worked for us. I believe that certain eating plans/restrictions are a personal choice and that one cleanse/way of eating is not necessarily good for everyone. Health is most important and each body responds differently and there is no size fits all in my opinion. The reasons we decided to take this challenge was:

  1. My brother had been nagging encouraging me for a couple of years to do it, and I finally gave in.
  2. I actually ate fairly close to this way before I started getting sick, and we thought it would be worth a try to see if my change in diet the last several years (to a mainly plant based diet) was having a negative effect on my body.
  3. Most of the foods we would eliminate are known to be inflammatory, which could also be contributing to my health issues.
  4. Eliminating added sugar is always a good thing for your body (maybe not your cravings:)).
We used the Whole30 as our framework for this experiment and as I said, we are not necessarily endorsing it. I didn't do a ton of research, but enough to know it was a good thing for us to try.

Looking back, I am glad it is over, but also glad we did it. This was not an easy thing to do, in fact it was very inconvenient. Being a pastor and pastor's wife, means many meetings and get-togethers and that most of the time includes food. I hate being that person who can't eat certain things that someone has cooked for me. It just made getting together with people a hassle. We brought our own food camping and to certain events and made do, but it wasn't easy. It also meant meal planning and cooking meals 3 times a day. Lots of time cooking, lots of food consumed, and lots and lots of dishes washed. A very time consuming and rather expensive venture. I will say however, all of this got easier as we got closer to the end, but it has been nice since then not having to arrange everything around food.

The nice thing that happened during the Whole30, was that I was full for much longer between meals, which was great. By the final week, my feet and knees also seemed to be better (and I even got to play some tennis with Michael a couple of times, without having much pain afterwards). The hard part is not knowing, if I happened to just have a good week that week or whether it was directly correlated to the food we were eating/not eating. I didn't get a ton of energy like we were supposed to, but you can't win them all:)

All in all it didn't heal my body, and we aren't pregnant, but I do think it was a good thing for my body overall to be cleansed of sugar and inflammatory foods, and potentially it seems it has moved the healing of my feet and knees and bladder along.

After reintroducing the eliminated foods again, my body did well. There are certain things from the Whole30 we will continue to incorporate in our everyday life since it seems to be a good thing for my body.  For example asking myself what sugary treats are worth the splurge and which ones are just being eaten because they are readily available is a good self check. Eating more protein and good fats is a good thing for me and something my body has been lacking. I have noticed after reintroducing foods that I have been more bloated and my stomach may have bothered me more. My feet and knees and bladder have been a lot better though which is a praise.  Given my health issues and the rollercoaster it sometimes takes me on, it is too early to tell if these positive and negative reactions are due to the challenge or just because. I will monitor this in the weeks to come.

For those of you who are interested in the Whole 30 I will write another blog post with our meal plan. I felt like a sample meal plan would have been helpful. That is one recommendation I would give, to carefully plan your meals/stock your fridge before starting the challenge. We made the mistake of returning from vacation and then deciding to start the challenge the day we got back and the day before camping. Not the greatest strategy ... and once I got a plan going it got much easier. This is probably something I will try to continue. Our week is usually unpredictable and hard to plan meal wise given the amount of meetings/get-togethers we have in a week, but just having an idea, a tentative plan is actually pretty helpful and can help us eat closer to Whole30 when we are home.