I’m back! After about six weeks of no blogging I am rested up and ready to go. For the past few months, I’ve been toying with the idea of changing things up, diet-wise. I have always been pretty set in my food philosophy. I cook my own meals with whole, organic ingredients and prioritize whole grains and veggies with the occasional treat. However, over the past year, I have not been feeling like myself. I’ve been sluggish and plagued by constant stomach aches. My sleep habits went from decent to terrible and I’ve been breaking out like I’m hitting puberty all over again. After some blood tests to rule out any major problems, and lots of research, I’m begining to think my diet may be a factor. I’ve been researching elimination diets to help figure out what’s not agreeing with me. I want to FEEL better. (Looking better doesn’t hurt either!)


So I have decided to embark on a Whole30 Challenge. This was originally suggested by the owner of my gym, who really believes in it as a way to eliminate some potentially irritating foods and eat in a really natural, healthy way. I think this is the perfect time to get started because I just spend a wonderful family weekend in Texas eating BBQ and cupcakes while drinking beer.

I started by reading the book, It Starts with Food, a few weeks ago when I was taking a break from blogging. I downloaded it onto my iPad and started to peruse. I got completely sucked in and finished it in two days. The book spends a lot of time on our unhealthy relationship with food. Many parts really rang true to me. The authors break down, step by step, how your body responds to various things you put in your mouth. This was particularly eye opening for me. They explain the role of macronutrients, hormones, how to control cravings, and the role your gut plays in overall health and wellness.

The Whole30 program is the groundwork for a 30 day elimination diet that is designed to help you break the cycle of cravings and help reprogram your brain about food. Many people have tried and had a great deal of physical and psychological benefits. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, but the philosophy of {lean protein + produce + healthy fats = health} seems logical and safe. Plus, more than anything, I wanted to experiment with this eating style to see if my food choices are really making me feel lousy.

I anticipate that this is going to be really hard. We become so set in our ways over the years and my brain has had 30 years of food programming, so I’m curious to see how I feel once this gets going. In terms of meal planning, I am looking forward to the challenge of creating new recipes and trying out some new things. For one thing, the diet is pretty dependent on coconut based products (flakes, chips, oil, and milk), so I’m looking forward to the experimentation.

Here is a breakdown of the Rules:

  • NO sugar
  • NO grains
  • NO legumes (including peanuts)
  • NO dairy
  • NO soy
  • NO junk food
  • NO cheating

Now you’re probably thinking: “Dara, are you insane?” Maybe. There are a lot of delicious things in this list, but there is a ton of bad stuff too. And most of these elements are eliminated, not because they are “bad” foods, but because they produce poor responses in your body, like inflamation, hormone shifts and GI disruption.

What I love about this plan is that you don’t have to carefully measure portion sizes or count calories just eat lots of lean protein, veggies, fruits and healthy fats. There are so many interesting meals and recipes I’ve found with just a bit of googleing. And I’ve been really overwhelmed by reading the testimonials of people who have completed this plan. This includes folks online as well as some of my friends, who I follow through Facebook, and people I know at my gym. The best part is that it lasts just 30 days and then I can slowly reintroduce things into my diet. I’m hoping that I will kick my sugar addiction and begin to learn how my body responds to food better.

So, for the next 30 days I’m only going to be cooking recipes that comply with the Whole30 guidelines. I am already loving the challenge. I plan to post two new recipes per week, maybe more if I go nuts in the kitchen.

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