I interrupt your regularly scheduled What We Ate Wednesday post for a book recommendation. I’m doing this because 1. We didn’t eat anything new or exciting this past week and 2. It’s really been on my heart to share this book with you.
Let’s take a moment and address the elephant in the room, shall we? And by elephant, I mean jelly beans. Or maybe it’s those Cadbury cream eggs or the Reeses cups shaped like Easter eggs.
I feel vulnerable admitting this, but I love all these Easter candies. Well, maybe not those cream eggs, but please give me all the jelly beans. Just the Brach’s though.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I’ve done my time with the Whole30 reset diet. I’ve tried and failed miserably, I’ve made it half-way through perfectly then completely fallen off the wagon and once, just once, I’ve made it a full 27 days following the plan to the letter.
So I’ve yet to go a full 30 days according to the program rules, but I’m still working on it.
I tried again this past January, but my heart just wasn’t in it. My meals were all Whole30 approved, but I snacked too much. On chips. And the occasional piece of chocolate. Or leftover birthday cake. Um, those things are not allowed.
I got to the end of the 30 days and was disappointed that the arthritis in my feet was still in a flared up state. Why was I surprised by this? I don’t know, but I was. Maybe because I had worked so hard to prepare all those Whole30 approved meals. It just goes to show, you can’t do a reset diet half way.
I took a few days off to get my head together (and spend a lovely day away with my husband) and then hopped right back on the Whole30 bandwagon. As I sit writing this post, I’m on day 23. I’ve done it all to the letter – so far – and I’m proud of that, but this time is different. It’s different because for the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig, the co-founder of the Whole30 program.
This book came out a couple years ago, but at the time, I didn’t think I needed to read it. However, as I neared the end of my failed January reset, I decided to order the book from the library and just see what it was all about.
This book has changed my thinking about food.
I feel like Melissa hopped right into my head and was addressing all of my exact concerns and issues around food.
I remember reading on another paleo blogger’s website years ago that she didn’t want special occasions tied to food so she didn’t make birthday cake for her kids. They didn’t get candy in their Easter baskets and you can be darned sure they weren’t going trick-or-treating. I was horrified at the thought! Why?
Because I love food!
Food can bring so much joy.
Food connects us.
We all eat.
There is a reason why there are so many foods tied to specific holidays and ocassions. I didn’t want to take the food out of the celebrations with my family. When we travel, the eating is often my favorite part. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS.
But I do know that certain foods are triggers for me. I’m one of those people who wants “just a little taste of something sweet” after a meal. Then once I have that little taste of sweet, I want something salty and then sweet again. And the cycle goes on and on. That isn’t healthy. I should, as a grown, adult person, know not to eat those trigger foods. I should know to not even buy them. I am, after all, the one who buys all the food in this house. Yet I continue to sabotage myself in this way.
Melissa, in Food Freedom Forever, helped me to understand the concept of “worth it.” It’s OK that I like to eat. It’s ok that I like sweets and french fries and ice cream. It’s ok that food is important to my family. But I know that I cannot eat those “celebration” foods on a regular basis and maintain my health. I just can’t. And that stinks, but it’s the hand God has dealt me.
I’m so, so thankful that I know that I can follow the Paleo diet, make sure I get enough rest and regular exercise and thereby keep my Crohn’s disease in remission. But having that knowledge is not enough. I have to do something with it.
Let’s get back to those jelly beans, shall we? Melissa has given me tools to use when presented with temptations of foods that are not the best for my body. I am a fully grown adult with money and car keys. I can drive myself to the store just about anytime I want and get some jelly beans. There is no one telling me when I can and cannot eat them. That’s good, but it also means the responsibility of what I put in my mouth is all mine.
I didn’t just arbitrarily pick jelly beans for my example because all the Easter candy is in every single store right now. They truly happen to be one of the little treats that I love the most. I know, I know….good quality dark chocolate has health benefits…blah blah blah…I like jelly beans.
Rewind to where I said I do all the shopping for the family. So every time I go to the grocery store or the drug store, I am confronted with the option to buy some jelly beans. They’re only available for a short time each year. I’ve been really “good” lately. I’m under a lot of stress. I’m working really hard. I deserve a treat. All of these are good reasons to toss a bag in my cart, but does my body deserve this? The simple answer is no.
So now, instead of going through this litany of reasons why I deserve the jelly beans or cookies or whatever the treat of the hour is, I think: is it worth it? I know that I will feel tired and my stomach will be upset after I eat those jelly beans. Will it be worth it? I also know that it will turn on sugar and junk food cravings for me. Is that something I want to deal with right now? Do I have time to deal with that right now? If the answer is no, then I walk away from the candy aisle. BUT, if the answer is a resounding yes, then I toss that bag in my cart and skip to the checkout. Sometimes it will be worth it and sometimes it won’t and only I can decide which it is in any given situation. This is the freedom that this book has shown me that I have within myself.
I love being in my house all by my lonesome. It doesn’t happen all that often and I relish the time to blast my music, clean the house (I never said I wasn’t crazy), lay down and read, or whatever else tickles my fancy at the moment; it’s just a joy to have that freedom. But invariably, when I’m alone in the house, I feel the pull to eat unhealthy food. I don’t know why that is. No one here is going to judge me if I break out the ice cream in their presence. Well, maybe I will be judging myself. So why do I really only feel that temptation when I’m home alone? Guess what – Melissa addresses this phenomenon in Food Freedom Forever.
She addresses so many other social occasions that present problems for lots of people. She talks about how to handle doubting family members and snide comments.
Maybe you don’t deal with any of the issues addressed in the book, but I bet someone you know and love does. Read it for them.
This has been a long and somewhat rambling book review, but these are all things that have been on my heart and mind to share with you. I realize there are some people who truly don’t enjoy food and never deal with unhealthy cravings, but those people are few and far between. I would bet that most people will find something in this book to which they can relate.
The beginning of the book explains reset diets, different options and their value. Then it moves into how to do a proper reintroduction – which, in my opinion, is the very most important part of any reset diet and the part most people skip right over. That’s like going to the doctor, getting all the tests and then not paying any attention to the results! After reintroduction, the rest of the book focuses on how to achieve food freedom forever.
I highly encourage you to read this book. I think most of you will find it enlightening and immensely helpful. If nothing else, it’s nice to know that you must not be the only one dealing with these issues if someone actually wrote a whole book about it! It’s an easy read too. Melissa is funny and light-hearted, but no-nonsense at the same time.
I’ve read my library copy, but in fact, I’ve ordered my very own copy because I know it is one I will want to reference often. In my future health coaching business, I foresee these issues coming up over and over again and will want to have this book to loan out. No, I am not being compensated in anyway for writing this review. I’m sure the Whole30 people don’t even know about it. Just consider this a recommendation from me to you: If you have any struggles around food, read Food Freedom Forever. It just may offer the common sense advice you’ve been searching for.
As we approach Easter, I have lots of delicious recipes up my sleeve, so come back next week for another What We Ate Wednesday and see what’s in the hopper. See what I did there? Hopper? Easter? 😃