Day 2: Waiting for the shoe to drop.
11AM: Hungry. Normal hungry, not hangry (yet). The photo is of homemade chicken salad with the most awesome mayo ever. I wonder how long I can eat this before I hate it…
4:45PM: I need to read for school. Perhaps I’ll enjoy this reading with a glass of wine – NOOOOOOOO!
This would be a good time to evaluate my goals. By the end of the Whole 30 I will:
- Gain an understanding of my body’s nutritional needs to optimize performance, longevity, and mental health
- Ensure that I do, in fact, have social skills in the absence of social drinking
- Assert control over cravings so that I can choose the foods I consume with the full knowledge of their effect on my health and well-being
So why did I choose Whole 30 over other “diets”? Well, thanks for asking!
When you boil it down, the Whole 30 essentially minimizes sugar intake to those found naturally in whole foods. And there’s pretty solid science behind the sugar detox. It has been established that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, even stroke and cancer. Woah – big jump, right? Not really.
Here’s the thing. We are not inherently rational creatures. My best friend Abby once said “I wouldn’t be crazy if I could help it” (Preach!), and she’s right. We are naturally emotional, reactionary beings and our brains are actually designed that way. The reward system in our brain lights up when we get something we want or like – an achievement at work or the gym, or that cupcake (or wine!). We immediately associate that good thing with our surroundings, then log that piece of information back in the dusty files of our memory. What happens the next time we’re in the same environment is pretty interesting – we begin to anticipate the same reward. You might find yourself salivating when you hear Tejano music (or is that just me?). All of these processes occur relatively unconsciously – that is unless you’ve gone out of your way to crush the sugar dragon.
Recent research has indicated that sugar consumption activates the same pathways and neurotransmitters in our brains as cocaine, and sugar may even be more addicting than the 80’s superstar drug of choice. No big deal. That seems normal.
So. Sugar is addictive (surprise!). Sugar is EVERYWHERE. It’s estimated that 80% of the food items in America have added sugar. Unknowing consumers purchase items filled with the sweet stuff because the label says “whole grain” or “fiber”. Turns out our bodies can’t handle all the added sugar we’ve been stuffing our faces with for the last few decades and eventually the body revolts (obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, diabetes, and death – to name a few).
Hence, Whole 30. Clean it up. Start over. Understand how my favorite foods may need to be treated as treats, rather than staples. You can’t truly understand how certain foods affect your body until you eliminate them – then slowly, methodically, reintroduce them one by one.
Let’s just say, this is one giant experiment. And I’m the rat.