Eat well, live well, love well

Woolf Inked

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Hoooo boy.

This is one of the biggies for me.

And probably the hardest, most challenging-every-day part of my life.

I believe in heating whole, clean, as-close-to-its’-natural-state-as-possible food, for me and my family.  I’m intolerant to gluten and sugar, dairy and grains in general don’t agree with me, and forget anything artificial.  I have an auto-immune disease that can be crippling, the symptoms of which are very much affected by my food choices.

Basically, the cleaner I eat, the better I feel.

Period.

You would think that would make the choice really easy for me, wouldn’t you?  Eat well = feel great.  Eat rubbish = feel like death warmed up.

I wish it were that easy.

I am so very blessed to live in a wonderful part of the world where I have very ready access to beautiful, wholesome food.  We have a small farmer’s market once a week that provides seasonal produce, and great fruit and veg shop sand butchers  that provide a range of local/organic/fresh produce and meat.  There’s really no excuse for not eating whole and clean, all the time.

The biggest problem is what goes on in my head.

I struggle constantly with want vs need, and I give in to the wants way too often.  Sugar, anything baked, creamy cheeses, carby goodness, and my brain is satisfied – for all of about 30 seconds.  It doesn’t take very long for my stomach to start processing.

When I don’t eat well, I get tired, grumpy, foggy in the head and simply just don’t function well.  I certainly don’t love well, that’s for sure.

Reducing the amount of processed rubbish and replacing it with wholesome, home-cooked food is important to me, as it is one way in which I can love well.

Love my family by taking the time to think about what will nourish their bodies and meals they’ll enjoy, and to prepare them and share in them together.

Love my community by supporting local farmers and producers.

Love this planet God has blessed us with by choosing food that hasn’t been modified or tampered with, or required being shipped thousands of kilometres (that is not to say that I don’t buy out-of-season or non-local food, because I do, I try to keep that to a minimum).

Love the people I do life with by encouraging them to do the same, and walking alongside them in their own journeys to eating well.

Loving myself and my body, being grateful for this amazing creation I am thanks to God, by making choices that only enhance my health and well-being.

The choice to live like this isn’t hard.  Resisting the temptation to give in to temporary, fleeting satisfaction in lieu of being intentional about what I eat because it is good for me, not just because I want it, is the challenge.

My choices haven’t been great of late – I could blame the ongoing tooth infection and resulting pain I’m living with, losing my job this week, or any number of other life stressors, but here’s the thing:

There’s always going to be something.

There’s always going to be something that will make me want to turn to comfort food, to seek out instant gratification, to feel like it’s too hard to fight the resistance.

So I’m simply going to make a choice.  To eat well, and to love well.

It really is that easy.

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Whole 30: Madness or marvellous? Discuss.

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So, tell me, have you heard of this program?

If you have, put your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy (my hand’s up).

Keep your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy, but immediately knew it was something that would do you the world of good (hand’s still up).

Keep your hand up still if you thought you should do it, but immediately dismissed the idea because you knew it would be really hard (yep, still up).

Still keep it up if you dismissed the idea, but kept coming back to it, despite knowing how hard it would be (I’m still here!)

I know your arm’s probably aching by now, but keep it up if despite knowing how hard it would be, you reach a point where you feel so rotten, you know you have to do something, and Whole 30 starts to seem like a good idea.

That would be me last week.

I had allowed myself to fall back into terrible eating habits over the last few weeks, and reached a point where I had a nearly constant low-grade headache, I felt like I was moving through cement, and my head felt like it was filled with cotton wool.  This is pretty much what my brain looked like:

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I have had about zero mental clarity, and I’ve really noticed that my cognitive functioning has been affected.  Whilst I’m sleeping better than I have in a long while (I’m down to waking up maybe only a couple of times in the night, rather than 6), I am constantly tired and feeling like I need a nap.  I have no motivation, and whilst I’m supposed to be training for a 6.4km local fun run in December, I’m struggling to get moving.

On top of all that, my joints have been aching, which for me is bad news.  Nearly 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (related to Rheumatoid Arthritis), and it took until earlier last year to get under control with the correct medications, after a flare up of the disease that left me barely able to walk and took a few months to settle.  During this time, I saw a naturopath, who diagnosed me with wheat intolerance (not gluten or yeast, just wheat), and after cutting out wheat from my diet, I felt so much better.

You would think it would be a no-brainer to never go back to eating anything wheat-related, wouldn’t you.  And eating a completely ‘clean’ diet, because of the auto-immune disease I have.  It may be a no-brainer, but I’ve really learnt just how powerful a hold food can have over you if you let it.

And I do.

Five years ago I had an accident at work and was left with a permanent lower back injury, and during the recovery time, I became a comfort eater.  I had previously responded to stress by not eating, but dealing with pain was a new thing for me, and food seemed to provide some comfort.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Fortunately my I learnt to manage and live with the ongoing pain that resulted from my injury, but I’d formed the comfort-eating pattern very well.  So when I started to develop the symptoms of the arthritis, and ended up in a lot of pain again, food became my go-to comfort source.

Yep.

Genius move.

When I finally got the right medication and changed my diet last year, and became well and virtually pain free again for the first time in years, I vowed and declared I wouldn’t go back to harmful eating behaviours, as I knew how much better it was to eat clean and avoid the junk.

Except I haven’t.  Because I’m human.  And somewhat addicted to food.

Ok, cut the somewhat.  I’m addicted to food.  This has taken me until only recently to admit to myself, let alone actually verbalise it.

So something has to change.  Actually, a lot has to change, and the Whole 30 program seems to be the ideal start.

I started yesterday (which puts me on Day 2 today), and for the very short version, this means that for 30 days I will not be eating:

Sugar

Dairy

Grains

Any processed food, preservatives, additives etc

Alchohol

White potatoes

Basically, all the foods I love.  And are really bad for me.

My diet will be made up of meat, seafood, eggs, lots of veggies, less fruit, nuts and seeds and ‘good’ fats.  I know this will be so good for me, but I’m already in mourning for what I’m giving up.  And feel like I’m missing out on.  At least I don’t have to give up coffee, and am quickly getting used to the no-dairy version.

I’m under no illusion that this will be a walk in the park, and am relying on the wealth of information, recipes and encouragement available all over the internet.  And it’s only 30 days.

Someone please remind me of that when I’m willing to spare my life for a piece of chocolate.

So tell me, what do you think?  A brilliant idea?  Or complete madness?  Could you do it? have you done it?