Last summer was less than fun. The Lord sustained us through a whirlwind, from the moment I finished the school year until just about the moment I went back to work. We moved. We traveled. Family situations occurred. Our sweet, 13-year-old pug had two major “incidents” that required rest and recovery. When August arrived, I was exhausted.
In the back of my mind, I wondered: More exhausted than I should be?
Ultimately, I decided that, yes, I was more tired than I should be at my age. (I count not being able to walk from room to room without needing a nap as “too tired”.) With a new school year looming, I knew something had to change. In my state of health, I would never have been able to survive it. After some research, I opted to try Whole30. At first glance, it felt drastic. But I’d already scaled back to such a limited diet anyway, that it didn’t seem like a sacrifice too gargantuan to make. At the end of July, I took the plunge.
Within a week, I felt like a new person. Each day, I could feel my inflammation reducing and I had increased energy.
The Lord taught me so many things during those 30 days. It’s been almost six months since I finished my Whole30, and, since then, I’ve essentially settled on the plan that makes me feel best: a modified AIP Paleo diet.
What have I learned on this little adventure?
I was shocked and appalled at how much of the American diet is involves sugar. Recently, I joined a friend on her first Whole30 grocery trip. I saw it on her face when she realized she could eat nothing that had been processed—because just about everything contains sugar. I remember that exact feeling, and it’s jarring. To this day, I wonder how we arrived at this place, with a food system built on sugar. (If you’ve never, please ponder that for a bit. Perhaps even read labels more closely the next time you’re at the store. It’s overwhelming!)
Processed sugar genuinely does impact my body and health. I can literally feel the inflammation as it builds and subsides, if I eat sugar. (Best option: Don’t eat sugar.)
God gave us delicious, nutritious, whole foods with which to nourish our bodies and to sustain them. Yet my heart felt entitled to things like chocolate cake. When I stopped eating processed sugar, the first thing I noticed was that naturally sweet things tasted almost too sweet. Eating a banana, for example, was a bit of an adjustment. I had never realized how sweet a banana actually is, because my body was accustomed to the extra-sweet taste of processed sugar. Now, it’s rare that I crave sugary-sweet things. Fruits are sweet enough. But the bigger lesson was that I don’t deserve to be able to eat everything I want, whenever I want it! I am to be content with what the Lord provides and approach each meal as a physical manifestation of His provision. A grateful heart was cultivated through my Whole30.
In the kitchen, I tend to make things too complicated. At the beginning of my Whole30, I scoured Pinterest for slow-cooker recipes and other concoctions that would mimic my favorite comfort foods. But I quickly realized that a) that wasn’t the point of Whole30 and b) I was working much too hard! Why did my heart push against a simple meal of meat with a couple of vegetables? To this day I have no idea. It’s so simple and easy, and I still cook that way today as a result of my Whole30.
Danielle Walker of Against All Grain is an AIP Paleo girl’s best friend. It is a fallacy that grain-free foods are gross. For my birthday, I was given Walker’s cookbook, titled Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. AMAZING! Every recipe we’ve tried is straightforward, hearty, and delicious. She makes specific modifications for those on the AIP protocol, which is a tremendous help. Even if you’re not on a Paleo diet, you should check out her website. This girl has talent in the kitchen.
My food-discipline is directly impacted by my spiritual-discipline, and vice versa. If I allow my self-control to wane in one of these areas, the other will also suffer. Also, I’m not nearly as naturally-structured as I perceived myself to be. The level of structure this plan required was/is all grace, all the time.
Finally, God is sufficient for all things. Whole30 is definitely not the only reason I know and confess that God is sufficient. But it was a good and timely reminder.
Overall, the Lord used this ultra-restricted diet plan to grow me in self-control, gratitude, and submission to His plan for my life. Despite any failings I have in the food choices I make—yes, that happens!—this growth makes my time on Whole30 a success.
Have you done the Whole30 program? Do you follow a special diet of any kind? I’d love to hear how your life was improved through a change in diet It’s always encouraging to hear how the Lord uses His creation (food) to heal.
Soli Deo gloria,