WARNING: This is a text heavy post with no photos! And it's a little rambly.
My Food History
I don't remember much about food growing up, but I remember that both of my parents were always cooking. We cooked a lot. Everything seemed to be from scratch. I remember begging for instant potatoes and TV dinners because they were a treat! (How silly that seems now!!) I never was super interested in sweets or sodas, but I loved bacon and fried eggs! Looking back I realize how lucky I was that my parents taught me how to cook and that we cooked so much with fresh ingredients. I was a silly kid back then who couldn't stand chunks in my tomato sauce, but I think it set the stage for my future food journey.
My Food Journey
When I was in college I gained A LOT of weight. Seriously. A lot. Most of it could probably be attributed to Mc Donald's, late night studying and early mornings, and a very long commute. Oh, and a breakfast burrito every morning. Rob and I learned about Dr. Atkins a loooong time ago and read his book. It makes sense! Don't eat so much sugar. Duh! But sugar is in EVERYTHING. So Rob and I started changing our habits and the way we cook and we lost a lot of weight. But when we would go back to eating bread and pasta it would come back. We were tired of the weight roller coaster.
A couple of years ago we watched the movie Food, Inc. It rocked my world. For real. I can't look at food the same way after that. This began a new chapter of the food journey. Changing for health reasons and not for weight loss. I've learned sooo much in the last few years about what goes into food, who makes it, what secret ingredients things have... It put me on a quest to change everything.
Whole 30 and Paleo
Paleo is an interesting concept that reminds me of Atkins, but I think it's better. Paleo means eating only natural stuff and not processed in any way. Whole 30 is also very similar, but even more strict. We have been using concepts and recipes of both during 2014 and it's gone pretty well.
I can't honestly say we went 30 days because we had some cheat days. But since we had been changing the way we eat for so long I think we were ok. For Whole30 you eat only natural foods, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no white potatoes, no sweeteners artificial or fake. It's rough. The no dairy is what hurt the most. Everything else was no problem, but I seriously missed cheese! The one thing that I did do is learn how to drink my coffee black. Yep, black. Now, it has to be a GOOD coffee, but I can do it!
The Wrap Up
After 30 days I lost 13 pounds and have completely changed the way we cook. The first few days I purged our kitchen of all kinds of seasoning packets, packaged foods, sauces, salad dressings, ... anything with chemicals and sugar. It felt good to get rid of it. Then I was forced to cook fresh because there was nothing to fall back on.
Some of my favorite recipes were Pumpkin and Beef Sautee, BLT Omlette, and this amazing dry Sugar Free BBQ Rub. We even learned how to grind up our own pork and make sausage patties! I'm working on perfecting breakfast sausage. I'm not quite there yet, but we have lots of ground pork to practice with!
The kids didn't really get fully on board. They still had to eat at school, so they couldn't go 100% all natural. In the beginning Ethan was devastated by the Whole30! I cried every night begging for pasta and saying his dinner was ruined! By the end of 30 days though, he ended up in the kitchen with me helping me cook. He actually did all the meat grinding the other day! I just cut the meat into pieces for the grinder. That's been fun - having him cook with me. He was the main one who needed a food reset. Haven is pretty healthy already, but Ethan was slipping into some very bad habits. I think these 30 days have actually been the best for him out of all of us. He's making better choices now. I have tried not to force decisions on him, or ban him from anything. I don't want him to sneak things or to go nuts when he grows up and discovers junk food. So instead of denying him things we talk about what's in it and why it's not a healthy choice and what might be better. If he still "NEEDS" it then I might give in to a small portion, depending on what it is. There are a few forbidden foods in our house - like gatorade, poptarts, bread with corn syrup, and other things with dyes and chemicals that gross me out. But I'm still willing to let him have a little treat to keep him from bingeing on it later on. Now he goes for a package of blueberries instead of a bag of gummy bears. I'm proud of him!
Ok, that last bit got pretty wordy. I guess my overall thoughts are:
1. the Whole 30 and Paleo are really good concepts and I think we have discovered a way of eating that I feel really good about.
2. Giving up dairy was too much, and I think I'm going to keep eating cheese and yogurt.
3. Making everything fresh is not really that hard and I've really enjoyed teaching those skills to my kids.
Soooooo..... if you are thinking about giving these a try - go for it.