My food is killing me. (day one of thirty)

It’s been on my mind.

“Buy different food at the market,” I’ve told myself.  “Start with that.”

“Find another way to cope with stress than a dirty vodka martini, a filthy gin one, or a glass <or two> of cab; or an Amy’s Pizza; or Jimmy John’s.”

My joints hurt.  They’re swollen.  I’m sluggish.  Pain appears out of nowhere in random places of my body.  My memory is terrible.  My hairline is breaking out and I have no idea why.  I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was a year ago.  I no longer run long distances because I don’t have the energy or the inclination to get out of bed.

I’m not who I appear to be.  And I’m not who I have become.

My food is killing me.  I know it.  I’ve known it.  The stress that drives me to eat and drink is killing me.

The sugar is killing me, and I don’t eat that much of it.  It’s in the single cup of decaf I have in the morning in a flush tablespoon.  It’s in the pocket of my daily oatmeal where I pour a small amount of pure maple syrup.  It’s in the 25 Rolos that kept rolling into my mouth night before last, sometimes two at a time.  Oh, those luscious carmel-filled, foil wrapped pieces of sweetness were just delicious.  Okay, maybe I eat more sugar than I originally thought.

In fact, I’m mostly drinking it.  It’s the wine.

I must change!

It’s time to grow.

Today I’ve embarked on a whole foods diet for 30 days.  No alcohol; no sugar; no grains; no legumes; but rather only whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats will fill my belly, and hopefully my heart.  My inspiration is the Whole30 plan and book, It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  The Hartwigs begin their epiphany with a discussion on psychology and not calories which resonates well with my neurosis.  I depend upon food for comfort more than fuel, and I’m addicted to it.  And it’s in my head, as the Hartwigs describe.  It’s in my brain.

I will journal my withdrawal symptoms, steps to a rewired brain, and journey to health here.

For me, this is a spiritual, psychological and emotional journey more so than a physical one.  My spirit is telling my body to quit killing itself slowly and unconsciously.  “STOP!” it says.  “Be mindful!”

I’ve been on a food journey for decades and have already successfully overcome many food challenges.  I lost 80 pounds when I was a freshman in high school.  I lost 30 pounds three years ago through long distance running.  Most recently, I gave up caffeine, and I eat reasonably healthy, and am mindful about most of what I put into my mouth.  Dear reader, please realize this has taken me decades to accomplish but I am still struggling.  It’s been a constant battle of mind, heart, will, and physiology.

My significant problem of late is that I drink too much alcohol to brake quickly from my 200 mph non-stop worklife – for 12 to 15 hours every day – to 25 mph at home, only to jump back into the driver’s seat the next morning.

I’ve also not been able to successfully say goodbye to bread and rice or hello to consistency and discipline on my food journey.

I reward myself with food and drink.  They give me great pleasure.  They are my hobby!  And to have a meal without a glass of wine?  “Gasp!  No!  Never!”

I’m not a wine snob; I just love the taste and smell and feel – and idea – of wine.

“Eat and drink like you love yourself instead of hate yourself.  Find other ways to cope!  Do yoga to relieve stress.  Meditate!  Find another hobby!  Write!”   This is my new self-talk.

It all started with my sweet mother.  “Honey, shall we get you a hamburger to make you feel better?  Yes?” she would ask.  “Sniffle sniffle, sniffle.  Okay…” I would respond, and moments later we would be at McDonald’s and lo and behold, I did feel better!

Life is beautiful, and I aspire to reach my potential, be mindful at all times, and in control of my actions and choices.  I will attempt to love myself and suppress my base instincts for false pleasure so that true pleasure may find me.  Oh, find me, true pleasure!  McDonald’s, I’m so over you (although I do admire your newer healthy options).  And Merlot and Zin, please tell your brother Cab I will probably welcome him back because I know he’s good for my heart, but for now, so long.

May G-d help me.

I think He already is.  He’s led me here.

Today’s Food:

Tazo Mint & Tarragon tea.

1 nectarine.

Handful of walnuts.

A few pistachios and pumpkin seeds.

1 pint organic grape tomatoes.

2 cups organic mashed carrots with sea salt, 2 tbs olive oil, and cayenne.

4 oz Vital Choice Atlantic sockeye salmon with a touch of toasted sesame seed oil.

Today’s Mood:

I’m not working today so I’m feeling good and full of hope about my future.  I love to eat healthy!  It’s when I’m under stress, pressure, and get crazy hungry that I fall into a food and drink abyss.  Planning will be key on this journey!

Some Self-Hints:

Keep calming, relaxing music on the speaker when deep concentration isn’t necessary.

Don’t weigh myself for the next 30 days, as the Hartwigs recommend.

Try to eat 6 small meals every day.  (I’ve just learned the Hartwigs do not recommend this; I may alter this one.)

Eat when I’m hungry.

Don’t count calories, just eat lots of wholesome vegetables and palms of protein.

Eat healthy food until I’m satisfied.  Eat more vegetables than meats.

Consume fruit mid-morning.

Consume protein in the early morning to jump start my day.

Drink more water, and add lemon to make it more beautiful.

Try new whole foods.  Buy parsnips next time you’re at the market!

Stick with the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen when buying organic.  I love these!  Mystery solved!  Pennies saved!

Commit to yourself.  You’re worth it.

I’d like to offer a personal thank you to the Hartwigs for their Whole30 program and insightful book, It Starts With Food; for their clarity of mind and purpose, and for having the courage to follow their passion and expertise.  Yes, I want you to change my life!

Readers, please note, this is a chronicle of my personal whole food journey and not an endorsement of the Whole30 Program.  All thoughts and text are my own, and may not strictly adhere to the practices of the Whole30 program, albeit unwittingly.  To learn about Whole30 and achieve clarity surrounding the Hartwig’s philosophy, go to Whole30.com.

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