The #Whole30 Challenge

One of the best and worst things about working in a bookstore is that you see interesting titles and covers every day and you know that you’ll never find your way back to a solid 3/4ths of them. As the holidays approached, our (not insignificant) quantity of cookbooks swelled, and we flipped through them appreciatively. They didn’t tempt me too much, though- I don’t really cook. By which I mean I basically never cook.

Like many people I have a weird relationship with food. (The rest of this paragraph will be about it, so feel free to skip ahead if this is a difficult subject for you!) I didn’t grow up in a food-centric household; my mother hates cooking and would probably live on grilled cheese if it were possible, and my stepdad’s only contributions in the kitchen was frying pierogies. Cooking was a time-consuming chore, plus all the clean-up… As an adult, my favorite food is basically anything someone else makes. I go through intense eating phases where only one or two things will register to my brain as food, so I’ll eat the same thing for every (or nearly every) meal for weeks at a time, and then suddenly switch to something else. Between ADD, my ADD meds, and tea, my appetite is inconsistent at best. I hit a certain point when tired or hungry that I become essentially incapable of choosing food; and hangry is definitely a Thing with me. All in all, I don’t like thinking about food any more than I have to, and I prefer to be even less involved in the preparation if at all possible. Despite all this, though, I do not have my mother’s apathy; I really love food.

I probably saw and shelved the Whole30 books multiple times a day for a solid seven or eight months before I ever cracked the cover; my attitude towards diets is pretty uniformly one of disdain. Life is too short to waste eating shitty food. I don’t remember why I peeked, but I was surprised by what I saw, and after more than a month of consideration, chatting with coworkers and friends, and generally hemming and hawing over it, I’ve decided to give it a go.

If you’re not familiar with Whole30, here are the basics. For 30 straight days, you cannot consume: added sugar or sweeteners (including honey and Stevia); alcohol (even for cooking); grains; legumes (including soy); dairy; additives including carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. You are not allowed to make or recreate with approved ingredients any baked goods, sweets, or treats of any kind, on the basis that it’s missing the point of resetting your relationship with your food. You are also not allowed to weigh or measure yourself whatsoever during this period, on the basis that it also distracts you from the point of being more aware of your body and how you feel, and not just obsessing over a number. Finally, there is no calorie counting or portioning. After the 30 day reset, you reintroduce the off-limits categories one at a time (if you choose) to see how your body reacts.

I will be doing a Whole30 challenge from 1 February – 2 March 2018, and the 10 day reintroduction from 3 March – 12 March. The reason I’m waiting until February instead of giving it a go in January is that four days is not nearly enough prep time for me. Getting the fridge and pantry ready is going to be a feat, and I want to try a handful of recipes in January before diving in for the full month, that way I know there’s at least a few things I can make! I’ll be hunting down and compiling recipes, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way!

Wish me luck- I’m going to need it!