I’m at the end of this Whole30, my third successful round. It’s been a great experience (as they all have), but I’m at the point that I seriously need to consider what my successes have been and where I intend to go from here.
More on that later, though.
Today, I’m thinking about my paleo framework.
To me, the genius of following a paleo or primal or ancestral or whatever-you-want-to-call-it form of eating isn’t just that it’s customizable , but that it’s encouraged to be so. We all have different backgrounds, we all have different health needs, we all need individual diets.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to what we eat.
I do strongly believe and strive to live by a point that’s made in It Starts with Food: every single bite of food we put into our bodies will affect it positively or negatively.
For me, that’s where Whole30 comes in. It’s that crucial dietary reset that gives me the clean slate I need to be able to figure out which foods do what. I confess, as I always do, that it’s not always easy to stay within a strict paleo diet for 30 days (though looking at some of the fad diets out there I’ve watched people put themselves through, it’s not so bad: green beans and hard-boiled eggs for a week? Gross!). Your body goes through some wacky stuff (and there might be a day or two that blowing up the universe seems like a good idea), but pushing through is the best way to get to the information you need to eat and live your best.
It’s the starting point – an elimination diet – from which to experiment.
It’s a chance to play mad scientist on your own self.
It’s not the only option, though, when it comes to getting started…
- Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Transformation
- 30 Day Intro to Paleo from The Food Lovers
- Practical Paleo – packed with lots of 30 day plans, recipes and the easiest to understand info in the paleo world
- The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation
They’re all good. They’re all solid. It’s up to you which one to choose and commit to.
And as important as those 30 days are, it’s what you do afterwards that matters most: it’s when, with a little time and a little work, you figure out which foods belong in your personal diet framework.
Let’s put it this way: if you hit up a buffet on day 31 and taste a little of everything you see, you’ve wasted your time. You’ve spent 30 days removing a lot of foods – legumes, grains, funky oils, sugar, starches, alcohol, dairy – and dumping them all back into your body at the same time means you won’t be able to see how you react to them.
It could also be incredibly problematic, from a digestive standpoint.
Pick one of those foods that you actually miss and introduce it back into your diet a few times over the span of a day. How do you feel immediately after eating? What about a day or two later? Any bloating, headache, heartburn, stomach distress, itchiness, acne breakouts? Did that food make you feel hungrier after you ate it? Does it set off an incredible craving for more and more and more of that food? If it’s a yes to any of those questions, that might be a food you want to leave out of your framework.
And if it’s a food you don’t miss, forget about it. Seriously. Later on – if and when you actually are missing it – go ahead and give it a try, while still being careful to evaluate it for next time.
In It Starts with Food, it’s recommended to re-introduce and evaluate dairy on day 1, gluten-containing grains on day 4, non-gluten grains on day 7 and legumes on day 10. It makes sense. This is your chance to finish up the experiment you started on day one and collect the data you need to make the best choices going forward.
It also requires being honest. There are certain foods I can’t eat for very definite health reasons. There are others that I shouldn’t eat for the same reasons that I try to finagle. I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself I can eat a Greek yogurt every day. Once in a rather long while is more like it. Ice cream too. And you know – if it’s my aunt’s homemade banana ice cream on a hot summer’s day we’re talking about…well, that’s worth having my stomach blow up to about six months pregnant size and make noises like small trolls are trying to escape. But otherwise, it’s a big fat nope.
Where are you in the process of building your dietary framework?
Note: Please don’t take this as medical fact. This is my experience. That’s all. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider, do your own research and make the best decisions for you.