Chocolate cake for breakfast: why I started a Whole30


The day after my son’s fourth birthday, I woke up way too early even though we’d all stayed up late.  I decided to console myself with a bowlful of leftover birthday cake, and a darn good one, too, if I do say so myself.  I’ll spare my dear reader the details, as the point here is not to induce drooling and increase cravings.  Let’s just say, I was looking forward to my next helping at lunchtime, and perhaps again in case of emergency, which tends to happen every afternoon at approximately 1:44 p.m. when the video I’ve set for the preschooler shuts off for the 5th time, causing him to wail and wake the baby when I’m at my metabolic lowest point in the day and have turned into the bear woken in the middle of hibernation, quiet time is over with a bang, and I need chocolate to cope.  But I digress.

Quint and I were enjoying the rare morning moments before the kids awoke, catching up on the past few days, chatting philosophically about goals, and we returned to the subject of starting a cleansing, whole foods diet challenge called a Whole30.  I’d been researching it on and off for a couple months, ever more convinced I needed to try it because I was consuming increasing amounts of sugar and refined carbs, not sleeping well, and was feeling sluggish a large portion of the day.  The testimonials on the website had me convinced.  But, as tired as I’ve been (due mostly to a teething and still-nursing-at-night baby), I couldn’t bring myself to just do it.  I kept procrastinating, reasoning that I just didn’t have the willpower to resist off-limit foods at social gatherings, special occasions, or on vacation.  I figured I would wait till after E’s birthday.  As Quint carried the dishes to the sink, he said, “So how are you going to handle all this leftover cake?”

“Eat it till it’s gone?” was my only half-joking reply.  My husband, who tends to know when I need a good healthy push, challenged me to start the Whole30 we’d been talking about right then.

“No more cake or other leftover treats?” I pushed back.

“No more,” he grinned.  He had been kind of apathetic about joining me on this program before, but not anymore apparently.  It was exciting, though, like whenever we set out for a challenging hike.  Suddenly, I felt like we were embarking on another adventure together, and I couldn’t wait to start.

A Whole30 is a month-long dietary program that involves sticking to a strict whole-foods diet of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.  The purpose is to eliminate all processed foods and additives that cause cravings, inflammation, blood sugar issues, and other health problems.  It’s like a reset for the body.  These are some of our reasons to do a Whole30 challenge:

-break free from cravings, reign in self-indulgence

-put food in its proper place (it won’t fill me spiritually, emotionally)

-emphasize nourishment, service, and gratitude with regard to food and shared meals

-to get more energy for my daily work

-use it as a spiritual discipline/ fast (since I can’t do a regular one while breastfeeding)

-reduce my consumption of inflammation-causing foods (to improve my skin and decrease chances of illnesses/diseases)

-regulate blood sugar (ditto for skin, as well as energy and long-term insulin sensitivity)

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