Well I’ll admit, Nathan and I attempted Whole30/Paleo in the past…and it was more of a Whole5 situation if I’m being honest. We didn’t eat horribly (we both grew up eating clean, good food) but once we were in college and started making our own eating choices…we discovered that the Christian Chicken (and other combinations of bread and cheese) made more appearances than they should have. Plus, Nathan and I both work full time, so I don’t have the ability to come home and cook an extravagant, full meal without us both starving to death!
Fast forward to Nathan’s birthday at the end of March. He started having some pain and pressure in his stomach. His birthday was on Saturday, he went to the doctor on Monday, and on Tuesday his blood work came back with results of Pancreatitis. Immediately I started looking up ways to get rid of this thing. I’m pretty crunchy when it comes to doctors and medicine, and I try to avoid both at all costs. From all of the research I did…everything was diet based. I went home, threw away basically everything in our pantry and put us both on a strict diet. One week of gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, no processed or fried foods and the pain was gone for Nathan. The following week he had a CT Scan scheduled to assure us that there was nothing more than just the Pancreatitis. The results came back from that, and everything looked great! #praisehands With this condition, once it’s gone, it’s gone. It typically doesn’t flare up or anything.
We started talking more and more about how (surprisingly) easy it was for us to eat clean. Granted, it was at the risk of his well-being and that definitely factored into it. Knowing that my husbands health was on the line made me never want to look at fried chicken again. However, we noticed that any other time we had tried to eat clean, there was a HUGE mental battle. For anyone who doesn’t have this problem…props. But for me, it felt like a war between my stomach and my mind. Once you let that mental block go…it’s smooth sailing. Food is just food. It’s purpose entirely is just fuel for you body, fuel to do the things in life that REALLY matter. But that concept got lost somewhere between GMO and government cheese. Viewing it as just fuel and not revolving our days around it was a game changer for us.
Nathan and I found a few tips that I wanted to share with anyone who is potentially trying to eat well:
1. Make it the new normal. Eating clean didn’t mean we didn’t go on date nights or couldn’t have desserts. We now FREQUENT El Felix and split fajitas, followed by a our absolute favorite new ice cream and a movie at home. Side note: coming from the girl who ate ColdStone EVERY WEEK for six years, this ice cream is GOOD! It’s the only one we’ve found that we now prefer over others.
2. Snack, snacks, snacks. We are both huge snackers. If it were up to me, I would snack the whole day and instead of eating full meals. We found a few of our favorite crackers, macaroons, chips and so on that make it feel more normal than eating Kale chips and pretending like they’re good. If you can’t do any dairy, this brand has other flavors that are delicious as well.
3. Try new foods you didn’t like before. This whole thing completely cleansed my palette. I essentially ate so much processed crap that I never even tasted flavors of real food. Food I hated before, I love now because I can actually taste it! Y’all…that’s how bad it was.
4. CHOICE MEALS. I can’t stress this one enough. I got this term from my sister and love it so much. I hate the idea of a “cheat meal” because cheating is the worst, and who wants to feel that way? She says, “If you’re eating 21 meals a week and 3 of those meals are “cheat meals”, then you’re still eating about 85% clean.” Which is GOOD! Now that Nathan’s health is no longer at risk, we could technically eat whatever, we are just choosing not to.
5. Think about what you eat. Make a smart decision instead of just pulling up to a drive thru and ordering a number 5, 8 count with a large sweet tea because you’re too lazy to think of a better alternative, and it’s what you’re used to. That’s where we were. #preach
6. Last but not least, find alternatives. For some reason I thought I was going to DIE without bread, so i got Ezekial bread english muffins (cinnamon raisin) for breakfast, which are YUM by the way. We also found this gluten free, dairy free pizza…because who doesn’t love to cozy up with some Netflix and a pizza? I know I do.
I switched out coffee for green tea, so i still had caffeine (can’t do black coffee…I’m weak). And most importantly I started realizing that most of what Nathan and I did revolved around food, so we started finding other ways to plan our days than around what we ate. And, although we still enjoy food, it forced us to get more creative with dates and ways we spent our time.
Gracious, this is long and if you got to the end then you are the real MVP. I could probably go on for days about clean eating and how much it has changed our lives, but I won’t bore you with the details. But take it from the girl who was in tears on Day 4 of Whole30 – if I can do it, literally…ANYONE can.