We have been eating real food for almost 4 years now. But I finally took the plunge, and did something really radical. I took the Whole30 challenge, eliminating grains, dairy, soy, sugar, and legumes. Yikes!

It was a much better experience than one might expect. My skin is clear, my belly is flat, I don’t crave snacks between meals, and I have more energy (despite my children’s sleep habits). Basically all of these are new to me. I truly enjoyed everything I ate, and I even discovered some new favorites. However, unforeseen circumstances (sick kids, life stress, etc.) caused me to end the challenge on day 21 instead of 30. I still tried to add foods back in slowly to determine my sensitivity level. I also plan to eat less grains and dairy as I proceed on my real food journey.

Things I learned…

  • It is easier to give up bread than cheese.
  • One CAN enjoy coffee without half and half or sugar. Coconut milk is an amazing substitute. In fact I may be hooked.
  • You can never eat too much coconut (shredded, oil, cream, etc.) or avocado.
  • Mid morning/afternoon slumps are not inevitable.
  • Sugar makes me hangry (hungry + angry = no one is happy!)
  • Chipotle carnitas are legal and delicious over a salad with pico and guacamole.
  • My kids love eggs.
  • Paleo pancakes are delicious in their own right, especially with fresh, local strawberries.
  • Soy lecithin is sneaky. It is even in some tea bags!
  • Herbs and spices are a whole foddie’s best friend.
  • I CAN stop eating when I’m full.
  • I still can sleep like a rock, as long as my kids aren’t whining.
  • A meal swap is a glorious thing when everyone involved is on board with paleo meals.
  • The variety of colors, textures, and visual appeal of vegetables is inexhaustible.

Things I struggled with…

  • The incredibly strict nature of the challenge. No cheating or you’re done. Meaning I couldn’t even lick my finger when I made food for my kids. Even Chubby’s birthday cupcakes.
  • Social situations. Church small group, family get togethers, movie night with a friend – all a different ball game when you’re options are limited.
  • Sometimes needing to prepare two meals to be sure that my kids eat something.
  • I got tired of eggs, eggs, and more eggs. I felt the most limited at breakfast.
  • So long to the “clean out the frig” meal, the “something from nothing meal,” and worst of all the “poor folks meal.” (Some examples casseroles, fried rice, rice and beans, etc.)
  • Date nights are severely restricted. Eating out and take out are extremely tough to order without being an extremely annoying customer. And booze is out too.
  • You must, must plan every meal…or you will have to resort to something illegal.

Overall, it was an enjoyable, eye-opening experience. And I’m glad to know that in the future, should I need to shed a few pounds,  tighten the reigns on my eating habits, or just do some healthy cleansing, I can easily come right back to this.

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