Green: Whole 30, body and soul

Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Renae Green column

I have just completed the Whole30 diet. In case you’ve never heard of this eating plan, it’s a lot like the paleo (caveman) diet. No dairy. No wheat. No legumes. Just meat, vegetables, and fruits. On Whole30, you follow the plan for 30 days. You read labels and eat nothing with added sugar or preservatives. Just plain, simple, whole foods.

My daughter introduced me to the plan. She wanted to “get healthy.” The child (OK, young adult) was a size four. She lost 12 pounds, and now she’s a size two. I thought, I wanna lose 12 pounds in a month. I can do this. So I signed up, paid the registration fee, and bought the T-shirt. (There is no sign up, fee or t-shirt, so please don’t call me for information.)

I was perfect, the full 30 days. I followed the plan exactly. One of the rules is that you can’t weigh for the entire time. Apparently, the experience is supposed to change your relationship with food, and it’s not about the weight loss. Still, as that last day approached, I couldn’t wait to weigh. My clothes felt a little looser. Would I lose 12 pounds? Fifteen? More?

Y’all, I lost four stinkin’ pounds. Not even four... more like 3.8. All that work, all that sacrifice, for less than a pound a week.

That’s just wrong.

But it wasn’t a total wash. Somewhere around day 11, I felt more energetic. Around day 14, I noticed my joints were looser, less achy. By day 20, I knew I’d found the answer to many of my arthritis issues. I got out of bed without shuffling and creaking into action. I walked up a flight of stairs without even using the rail. I felt great!

It seems like I’ve always known the connection between food and health, but I thought I was a healthy eater. I love fruits and vegetables. I enjoy fish. I avoid processed foods. But once I really paid attention to what I put in my body, I found all sorts of hidden additives and preservatives and man-made chemicals, designed to make foods prettier or add to their shelf life. These sneaky devils hide in my wholesome-looking tuna packets, dressings and sauces. They slip into canned vegetables and frozen meats. They even show up in fresh foods in the form of sprays and pesticides. And y’all, they’re killing us. Or at least making us miserable.

I learned so many things during this 30-day experiment. I learned to read labels, to pay attention to the small print, and to make conscious connections between what I eat and how I feel. I learned that if I want to perform at my best, I need to be vigilant about the kind of fuel I add to my tank.

The entire process served as a subtle reminder to pay attention to the fuel I add to my spirit, as well. Sometimes, things that look healthy might hide hidden inflammatories and irritants. That television show or news program may seem innocent, but is it adding to my stress level? Those social media posts may seem entertaining, but does my anxiety and depression rise after spending too much time there? Am I really reading the labels on the things I put in my brain?

Like the foods I eat fuel my physical body, my spiritual health is fueled by whatever I feed it. From here on out, I plan to make a more conscious effort to consume whole, fresh, pure things. I’ll read uplifting fiction and nonfiction. I’ll spend time with real people, positive people, instead of with a screen. Like Jeremiah in the Old Testament, I’ll feast on holy things, such as God’s Word and prayer. And I’m pretty sure that before long, I’ll notice a difference in the way I feel.

I’ve done the math. If I keep eating this way, by the end of this year I could weigh less than I did in college. But even if I don’t, I’ll feel better, younger, more energetic. I’m now a paleo convert, a whole-foods evangelist, a clean-eating fanatic... for both body and soul.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty,” Jeremiah 15:16.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com