Oh how I wish that I went out on an amazing date, or that a special someone from my past reappeared and that I’m now ready to change my Facebook status to “in a relationship with _____.” No, I still haven’t met the man of my dreams. This update is in regards to my relationship with unhealthy food. We broke up. We are now just friends, not codependent, unhealthy lovers like we once were.
As some of you may recall, 24 days ago I embarked on the Whole30 challenge that I’m doing with a large group of dedicated women from my local Pure Barre studio. In many ways, this process has felt like I’m going through a break-up. I’ve felt lonely at times, and I’ve craved the comfort I once found in my faithful companion- food. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I’ve stayed compliant to all aspects of Whole30 and I’ve made some really healthy strides when it comes to realizing why I depend on food. In fact, I have finally been able to control my cravings and my emotional need to eat.
I cannot say this change has been easy, as mentioned in an earlier post, nutrition serves as my Achilles heel in my fitness regime. Prior to this challenge I knew food served as both a comfort and a reward. I knew I depended on food for more than just the nutritional elements it delivered. Now, after eliminating dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, alcohol, and the process of grazing; I’m more aware of profound roles that food served in my life.
The truth is, in addition to feeling lonely, I’ve also felt pretty raw this month. Sans my usual vice of overeating , my emotions have been more immediate and powerful. My first indication of this was actually on my first day of the challenge. I had my lunch packed, but when I walked into the lunchroom at work (blame the fried foods) I was overwhelmed with the reality of this challenge and the idea that for the next month I would have to avoid much temptation. That voice in my head told me I wasn’t strong enough and that I could never say follow thru with self control. Fortunately, I tried to ignore that voice, quickly made a salad, avoided the fried shrimp, and sat down to settle into my new routine. Since then, lunches have been fine, but I confronted something powerful that first day. I describe it as raw, because I made this step without my usual companion of comfort food!
So far, eating three balanced meals and then eliminating snacks, unless hungry, showed me that I often ate when bored or tired. Food made me feel better after I finished my afternoon classes and faced a lull in activity. Food obviously served as a reward for completing what I’m paid to do. Likewise, when I’m tired at the end of the day I would have another snack rather than just realizing I needed rest.
Another change is that I’m finally listening to my body for signs of true hunger. I hate to admit it, but in the past, I didn’t enjoy feeling hungry because I associated this feeling with moments of low blood sugar and shakes. Clearly, I wasn’t actually in tune with my true signs of hunger. Now, my stomach grumbles, and when I wake up hungry, I’m excited to give my body what it needs.
On this regime I’m eating fewer calories but given the balanced meals and lack of sugary foods, surprisingly, I now maintain my energy more consistently throughout the day. I used to face dips of energy and at times really longed for a nap to get through long days. Since this challenge started, I cannot nap, I don’t need to nap. I feel pretty energized!
Hopefully I’ve been able to express some positive outcomes of my changed relationship with food. Whole30 is by no means a magic pill type of a plan. I can critique aspects of the plan, and I know I will not completely comply to the regime in the future. I have six days to go until I reintroduce food groups back into my normal diet. While I recognize that I have a long way to go to fully face my food addiction, I can acknowledge that I started.
Similar to how I’ve felt once the heart heals after a hard break up, I’ve sat and wondered why I didn’t make the call sooner The answer is simple. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to break-up with food for I still needed the comfort and reward. I’m not sure where I will stand 6 months or a year from now in regards to food, but I know I’m already better off than I was a whole 24 days ago.