Bread, as everyone knows, is the “staff of life.” Honestly, if we’re talking homemade, fresh from the oven bread, piping hot cinnamon rolls, or even – OMG – still sizzling Indian fry bread (!), I’m going to agree that there’s nothing quite like it. It’s like carbohydrate Ambrosia. It is so delicious. So why would I give it up, even for a month? People have asked me, “Why in the world would you not eat bread?”
Well, here’s a little history of how I got to the point where I committed to an elimination diet that excludes grains, dairy, sugar, beans/legumes, alcohol and, sigh… even Mama Sherry’s homemade dinner rolls.
When I moved back to Idaho in early 2008, I was a wreck. I was overweight, unemployed, and feeling rejected at every level. People, cities, even entire countries seemed to say, “Meh, we don’t really care about you.” I know that sounds melodramatic, but that’s how it felt at the time. To say I returned to Idaho in order to regroup and get my bearings would be an accurate statement. Before leaving Seattle for my extended visit to England, I had quit my job and gotten rid of 90% of my belongings. Upon return, I had no home, no job, no car, and no local friends apart from my parents. Fortunately for me, they took pity on me and took me in – poor, homeless wreck that I was.
(Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
The first thing I did was get a job, followed by an apartment and a car. The change of pace from living in metropolitan cities to the small hamlet of Sandpoint, Idaho, was striking. With a population of just under 8,000, “rush hour” was having more than four cars at a traffic light and the biggest danger while driving was the possibility of hitting a stop sign-running tourist on their beach cruiser bicycle. Every day felt like vacation and my stress levels plummeted.
These things in place, I decided it was time to get a handle on my health. Since extreme change seemed to fit the theme of my current lifestyle, I opted for a traditional elimination diet. No wheat, sugar, dairy, chemicals, or alcohol. I rocked it, gaining confidence and energy with each passing day. With this diet, along with daily sessions on a treadmill my parents gave me (thanks again, M&D!), the weight came off. I lost 40 pounds in eight months.
Then I met Mike. Eight years later, those 40 pounds are back. Nope, I’m not blaming my relationship for my weight problems. Nosiree. I alone control what goes into my face. However, I can blame hormones, stress, and the fact that I stopped eating like I had eaten in “pre-Mike” days. Only nature and myself are to blame for this health derailment. It turns out, though, daily exercise, meditation, and “eating right” are no match for those things. Believe me, I’ve tried. Countless hours on the treadmill, multiple pairs of worn-out trainers, and a full-fledged Morton’s neuroma in my left foot all attest to the fact that you cannot outrun your fork or your changing hormones.
So, when my friend Patrice asked me to do a Whole30 with her in October, I went through the litany of typical questions – as noted in this post. I then asked myself what I had to lose, apart from maybe some weight. I’d been considering another elimination diet and that’s exactly what this program is, so, I opted in and one week later I am fully enjoying the experience. I am feeling stronger. My clothes fit better. I am less puffy. I wake up feeling rested. I am not craving anything and am rarely hungry. I am trying out scores of new recipes, even creating some. And I am losing weight – finally.
(Let me hear the choir!)
OK, all celebrations aside…I don’t believe this program is for everyone. Many people have no trouble shedding pounds and improving their health through any of the thousands of less extreme programs available. However, battling for eight years to lose weight that just kept piling on no matter what I did to shed it took a toll on me, mentally, and I needed an extreme shift. I remember coming home from the doctor’s office in tears because, after listing off the myriad things I’d been doing to lose eight – to no avail – she told me, “You’re just not trying hard enough.” She advised more of the same – much more of the same – and I almost cracked. This program is extreme but desperate times call for desperate measures. Nine years ago, and again this month, this program showed its worth. It has been the only thing that has ever worked for me and, next month, when I start the reintroduction phase and begin testing eliminated foods to see how my body reacts, I’m going to be paying extreme attention.
Have you ever done an elimination diet? How did it go? Did you do the reintroduction phase to determine what, if any, foods are problematic for you?