Two weeks ago, my husband and I jumped into our third round of the Whole 30, to reset after the holidays.
We, okay so mostly I, had gotten in a funk with not cooking enough, being too busy in the month of December to focus on meals, and even when I was cooking, filling our plates with foods I knew my body wouldn’t handle well and avoiding the ones that were good (i.e. vegetables.) Even though I had planned on eating some worth-it but not so great for me foods at the holidays, the cycle of not-so-good foods lasted way started earlier then I wanted and lasted beyond the holidays.
So, we decided to reset with food with one of my favorite ways, the Whole 30. If you’re unfamiliar, first and foremost it is NOT a diet. It’s a 30-day nutritional reset meant to reset your system from all the foods that could potentially cause you problems as well as the cravings that hold you down. You cut out dairy, gluten & grains, legumes, added sugars, and alcohol for 30 days, but you CAN eat meats, eggs, seafood, veggies, fruits, and nuts.
I know it looks hard and intimidating, and it is that first time around. It’s going back to the bare bones of whole foods, cleaning up your eating, and then after 30 days reintegrating the food groups slowly to see how each one affects you, if at all.
The first time we did it two years ago, we followed it to a T and I learned that I don’t handle some kinds of dairy well (raw and hard cheeses are ok in small forms), gluten makes my muscles achy, beans doesn’t mesh with my digestive system, and sugar gives me brain fog not to mention makes my cravings rear their ugly heads.
My husband, on the other hand, discovered he isn’t really affected as much by certain food groups. So I just tend to steer clear of those foods most of the time, but finding food freedom means you can eat those things if you want to. It’s learning to balance and find moments when it’s worth it to eat the gluten laden, sugar filled homemade Cinnabon-style cinnamon rolls that I make every Christmas morning as tradition.
Sometimes though, I just get in a bad cycle and have to start all over again. Holidays + busy month + not cooking enough = feeling crappy from foods THUS need to reset.
But Friday, after twelve days of squeaky clean eating, I quit this round of theWhole30 for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and you know what.
It was worth it.
Don’t hear me wrong. I am 100% for the Whole30, resetting your nutrition, and finding out what sorts of foods affect you. I whole heartily believe in the program and am a huge advocate for eating whole foods and utilizing WHOLE supplementation if needed. Food is what sustains us and something that can heal us, and I will always advocate for real over processed/fake, home cooked over meal replacement shakes and eating out.
But having done the Whole30 already, I know what affects my body. I know how to eat and what to avoid. I just don’t always make the choice. And truthfully, in the spirit of the Whole30, I should have stuck with it for the rest of the month, but I chose not too because this time around, I could tell my heart, soul, + mind didn’t really need it.
Yes, I needed the reset physically and two weeks was enough to get me back on track with cooking and feeling better already. But I found myself last week thinking about the Friday night dinner plans I had with friends and how worried I was about the host having to scramble around finding a recipe for me and being stressed about it.
So I didn’t say anything about the Whole30 thinking I’d either eat before or just pick around some of the foods. Then Friday rolled around and I was excited that I could have a glass of wine that night and sit around sharing heart stories with my friends.
Until I realized I couldn’t.
That’s exactly what I thought too. Oo, I’ll have a glass of wine tonight! Oh. I can’t.
And all of a sudden, my heart felt heavy. That I couldn’t make a choice to enjoy the evening because I was bogged down with rules and restrictions.
I’ve read testimonials and I’ve been that person that said no before. I could’ve just sat at dinner with my glass of water and Larabar in my purse and had a good time. But I know my heart would’ve felt heavy all night because gathering around the table, sharing a meal, and conversing feeds my soul.
So I skipped the wine, but when dessert came and they were gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip bars–I ate one.
I didn’t feel guilty for quitting.
I didn’t feel ashamed of giving up.
Because I didn’t let the devil in.
So many times I think our life plays out like this:
We have a goal in mind but there’s a restrictive process to get there. So we find support, maybe we research some, we plan and prep, and then we jump right in. It gets hard, but oftentimes I think we put on our big-kid pants and stumble through to the end just to say we did it, relying on our own strength and maybe even becoming a slave to this thing just to get us through instead of relying on His sterngth and then we aren’t fully happy at the outcome.
Or, we don’t put on our big-kid pants and go the other way completely giving up, and becoming a salve to all the guilt and shame the devil sneaks in.
Either way, we end up unhappy and enslaved to something.
Whether it’s addictions, our job, working out (been there!) or even food, too often we become bonded to the things of life. I realized Friday that when I heard in my heart the thought of I can’t I was slowly becoming a slave to the Whole30 this time around. I know the right choices to make when it comes to food, but I just hadn’t been making them.
And isn’t that our Christian walk?
Knowing the way to live and choosing to live that way.
I felt the nudge that night from the Spirit telling me,
It’s ok Caitlin. You aren’t a failure if you give up on this Whole30. There’s no need to feel less than enough or guilty if you eat that cookie. You are good. You are mine.
This is how I made you.
Rely on me not yourself.
I don’t believe in being a quitter. My mother raised me that way, and I will raise my children to follow through with things. But I also believe strongly in listening to the Holy Spirit. And sometimes, God nudges you in directions you might not be sure of, directions of quitting something you weren’t finished with yet, but guess what–He’s finished with you there. You might even be in the midst of where you think you’re supposed to be, going along, following the plan, when all of a sudden He whispers to you to move.
(He did that all the time to His people in the old testament if you want more proof.)
Hear me, I’m not making excuses that the Holy Spirit told me to quit the Whole30 just to justify it, because I know that to get the full effects, I should’ve followed through with the program. But for the health of my heart, mind, and soul, right now just wasn’t the right time for me and God let me know it. Which also sort of made my husband happy to quit too BUT he did say he wanted to transition to more whole foods and Paleo style and for me–which is something I’ve literally been praying for in our home and perhaps that’s what God wanted these two weeks to be about.
See, I can do the meal planning and prep. I can cook my way through the Whole30. I can regurgitate information about why EVERYONE should try it at least once in their life and why whole foods are best for you.
But I can’t change my heart + mind (or other’s) around food just like I can’t change my heart + mind around how I walk through life.
Only Christ can.
And right now, He’s much more than the Whole30 to me.
I’m sure I’ll try it again sometime this year because I do like the concept and spirit behind the reset. And I LOVE helping and encouraging others to transition to a whole foods lifestyle. (So just because it’s not right for me at this moment, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you!)
But until then, I’ll continue to let Christ feed my heart, but I’ll probably eat a few more gluten-free cookies along the way.