A little over a month ago a friend and I started talking about doing the Whole30 but after seeing how restrictive the plan was, we decided it didn’t seem realistic. Then we talked about October Unprocessed. Similar idea but not as restrictive in the food categories. It seemed more doable. There was one thing about Whole30 that appealed to me though and that was eliminating sugar entirely. So I came up with my own challenge for the month that I called “Wholetober Unprocessed.” Here were my rules: No sugar of any sort (white, brown, honey, molasses, syrup, coconut, cane, turbinado, you get the picture), no gluten, no processed foods with ingredients I can’t find in my own kitchen (in other words, if I can’t pronounce it, it’s out, but OK if I weren’t too lazy/busy to make it myself). Here I am on October 31st with the results of my challenge. Please note I did not make the kids follow my program. That would have meant mutiny. Instead I did some sneaky things to change what they were eating while still allowing them their junk.
I am going to let you in on something right now, this was hard. There were times in those first two weeks I thought I might actually murder for a Swedish Fish, I wanted sugar so badly and I felt constantly hungry (I was not, I had eaten plenty of food. It was all in my mind). In fact, I was not entirely successful in my Wholetober rules. But here I sit, typing this post on the most celebrated candy-filled holiday, staring at piles of chocolate treats, and I have not had one bite. I have gone 31 days without sugar (except of the fruit variety). At least, mostly. At first, I wasn’t really hunting out hidden sugar in my foods. The way I got through the first couple of weeks was my nightly apple slices with peanut butter. The peanut butter was organic but it did have a little cane sugar in it, 2g/per tablespoon. I let it slide but then found an organic peanut butter that was just peanuts, salt, and palm oil. Better. But I absolutely rooted out anything that had High Fructose Corn Syrup. This ingredient is enemy #1 and is in SO many products. I became relentless in reading the labels of the things my kids eat which are the items in my house that most often contain that evil, fake ingredient. The good news is more and more companies are changing their products so they don’t contain this ingredient. Even sneakier, when my kids saw me eating something really healthy and they would ask me about it, I would say “Oh, you won’t like this at all. There’s no need to even try it.” Ha! About 50% of the time they would try it and occasionally they pronounced it “Really good Mom.”
I still eat products with gluten. Let’s be real. Gluten-free products you get at the store are “meh” at best. I don’t care how they try, most breads are flavorless as cardboard. Making GF baked goods from scratch are much more tasty but I don’t really have the time or energy to be baking regularly. My kids and I have been eating GF pastas for years since Paul was diagnosed with Celiac Disease eighteen months before he died. More often than not, we eat the GF variety because we like it just as much. So that wasn’t a huge shift. But giving up all gluten containing products was more than I could do while also battling to stay away from sugar. And it was a battle, but one worth pushing through because there are very few things I miss. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting – yes. Everything else – nope.
Did I lose weight? Nope. Not a pound. Seriously. I ate mostly clean, but I didn’t keep track of calories. Mostly I just blame having Hashimoto’s. My metabolism refuses to collaborate. Frankly, I didn’t really think I would lose weight anyway. I really wanted to break my addiction to junk food. I was mostly successful. My biggest fail? Diet Coke. That stuff is my crack. I have seriously cut down though. Before Wholetober Unprocessed I drank minimum of 32 ounces of Diet Coke per day. This month I had 7 Diet Cokes the whole month. Woot-woot!
Going forward I plan to keep avoiding processed foods as much as possible. I also plan to avoid most sugars but will make an exception for raw honey and pure maple syrup. These are natural sugars. I wish I felt really great, but I don’t yet. However, my joints feel better, less achy, and I have had a very slight increase in my energy levels. I think, though have no quantifiable proof, that my brain fog has lifted a bit. So, I plan to work toward being 100% gluten-free by the end of January. I am 50% there but we are heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come on. Bread dressing should have its own food group and it would be my favorite. Bottom line: the biggest gain I got from my Wholetober Unprocessed is that I can give up sugar and keep my sanity, which means if I take other small steps toward healthy choices, this time next year I will have completely overhauled my diet.