Saturday, April 19, 2014

Whole30: The Good, the Bad, and the Jesus in all of it

In case you haven't noticed, our eating habits have changed in the last month. Like a lot. At the beginning of the year, we (but mostly I) determined that a cleanse/detox/elimination diet would be good for our systems, just to see what foods "mess with us" and cause us to perform at less than our best. I've been really, really tired all the time and D has a lovely GI system... so why not give it a try?

I had heard lots of good things about Whole30, so after months of mental preparation we finally started the 30-day journey. And let me tell you... it brought out a range of emotions.

The Good
Whole30 is a good 30-day elimination diet for cleansing your body of any possible irritants. The constant bloating in my stomach (that I never realized was constant) went away, my face cleared up, and I had SO much more energy. Like SO much. I bounced out of bed every morning without even hitting snooze (and I'm usually a "hit the snooze 5 times" kind of person), and didn't need to crash until bedtime. D found that his reflux went away and lost a lot of weight.

The Bad
It's expensive to eat healthfully, y'all. We bumped our grocery budget up by $80 for the month and still found that we were scratching for every last penny. Also, our town is not exactly Whole30-friendly, so I did have to take a few trips out of town to get valuable items like grass-fed butter, sugar-free bacon and salsa (why is sugar in EVERYTHING?!?!), soy-free tuna, phosphate-free shrimp, and canola-free cashews at the beautiful Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. But those trips were like going to Disney World; strolling the aisles full of compliant food was like a dream. So it wasn't terrible, but a teensy inconvenience.

The Very, Very Ugly
On Whole30, you eliminate anything that could irritate your gut or your body as a whole-- which includes just about anything you've ever considered "comfort" food or a "reward." No dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sugar of any kind, no processed foods. So guess what happened when Friday night movie night came around? We wanted to call Papa Johns and cry. The struggle was real and our cravings were intense (especially that one time when D's professor brought pizza in for the whole class... poor guy...). It was ugly, but y'all-- it's only 30 days. And we survived without rewarding ourselves with food, like a dog. It was so, so ugly, but in the end we are so, so proud of ourselves.

We couldn't have gotten through the 30 days without some awesome recipes to make us feel like eating clean is not actually a chore. We loved some of these meals, and I will continue to make them!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin
Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers with homemade ranch and celery & carrot sticks
Frittatas for breakfast like this one (to make breakfast not so boring... eggs all the time!!)
Slow Cooker Paleo Pot Roast with carrots and mashed rutabaga

And of course I became Suzie Homemaker this month by making our own staple foods... it took some time at the beginning of the week but it was so so worth it!
-clarified butter/ghee
-tuna salad (with canned tuna from TJ's)

Other than that, we kept our sanity by eating a "treat" every now & then of berries with coconut milk or Caveman Custard. And I ate sweet potatoes with everything (esp. melted ghee... yummmmm).

So what now?

We've scarfed down 2 pints of ice cream (each), mini donuts/honeybun, and an XL pizza from Papa John's since Tuesday. And truthfully, while it was amazing to be able to take those first bites, we left the table feeling kinda gross and unsatisfied. Our bellies bloated and D's head nearly exploded. Was it really worth it?

I'm finding that, now that I have true freedom to eat whatever I want and go out to eat at any restaurant without worrying about hidden ingredients or their choice cooking oils, I'm actually longing to go back to those rules that once seemed so confining. I miss the food that gave us sustenance, energy, and life. And also, I don't really enjoy going to the gym simply because of the motivation to "work off" all that junk I just consumed, as if I'm paying back a debt; it's a lot more fun to exercise just to stay active and get stronger.

We didn't do this thing officially for Lent or for any spiritual reason, but Whole30 has quickly become a Jesus experience for me. He taught me self-control and His sufficiency, but He is also teaching me that this whole experience is a whole lot like the freedom that He has given me out of sin & death.
"If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed." -John 8:36
A relationship with Jesus is far from imprisonment. Rather, He broke me free from the prison that I was once (oddly) delighted to be a part of, where I could delight in myself and please my own flesh. And I never realized what a Hell I was actually living in. But on that Good, Good Friday, He spoke not a word as men nailed Him to the Cross and placed Him in that prison so that I could be set free. And just 3 days later, He was risen and broke the chains that once held me and Him inside and walked triumphantly out of the prison to be King over everything-- even sin & death. In Him, I no longer have to be chained to any of the selfish sin that once consumed me; He has set me free.

I am free from worry, free from fear; I am free to live a life of contentedness, freedom, and trust. I am FREE to do those things because He has done it for me. I don't have to fear tomorrow or worry that my needs will not be provided for-- He has taken that on for me. Break my chains, set me free, let me run rampant because the chains of fear are gone forever!

I am not free from pain, but I am free from hopelessness. I am not free from sorrow, but I am free to be comforted. I am not free from danger, but I am free from destruction. My soul is free and free forever-- thank you Jesus!

Just as I long to go back to the meals and food that gave me fuel to live energetically and fully, I long to dwell in Christ as a radical follower. No longer do I want to go back to those foods that gave me a false sense of freedom; nor do I want to ever go back to a deceitful life of sin that lies to me and tells me that it will satisfy. And it will.not.satisfy.

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I will probably eat a jellybean or two (or maybe 10, because Starburst Jellybeans are sweet nectar), but I'm thankful that I have freedom to eat what I want and live more fully. And I'll do that while praising the risen King who allows me to live freely with hope, grace, and joy in Him.

Now if someone can just help me find where the best deals are on coconut oil...

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