Day 29 of Whole30 finds me contemplating my reintroduction strategy. Should I do the fast-track model: adding each of the five eliminated groups individually and systematically over the next 15 days to see how my body, mind and spirit respond? Or do I keep going along as I am and only reintroduce when I feel the urge to try a glass of wine, something sweet, a legume-based meal, grain-based snack or dairy product? There are pros and cons to both. If I reintroduce systematically I can be fairly certain of what it is that may be problematic for me, but I hesitate to jeopardize feeling so good. Continuing status quo is another option, but by not systematically reintroducing the foods, I won’t know for a while at least what it is I’m not consuming that allows me to feel so good. I may be missing out on foods I love and thus causing unnecessary burden. Without being under the parameters of the strict plan I also risk blowing it on something that contains multiple food groups, like a chocolate chip cookie made with grains, dairy and sugar.
I fully acknowledge my dilemma is one of the first-world. For this, I am grateful.
I keep reminding myself that there is no “bad” food. I don’t approve of the Whole30 labeling some foods as healthy and some not. Max’s allergies come to mind. In the springtime he is debilitated by tree pollen. That does not make trees, nor their pollen, a bad thing, it just means that he needs to take a bunch of drugs and showers and stay inside more than he’d like in March, April and May. As it is for Max with trees, I believe I may find there is something I consume that sort of debilitates me, causing for me too the urge self-medicate and stay inside, i.e. shy away from/ be overwhelmed by people and responsibilities. It’s true that over the past few weeks sans booze and the above-mentioned food groups I feel much more grounded and capable. Sure I have had ups and downs, but it has been different. I don’t feel as jerked around by my emotions as I have in the past. I have felt happier and more even. Maybe it’s not even what I think it is, (alcohol, sugar and gluten) perhaps it’s just that I’m eating healthier overall– more grounding and nutrient dense fish, meat, greens and root veggies. Or maybe it’s not about food at all. Perhaps I’m learning skills through Whole30 that I desperately needed to hone, like standing up for myself with boundaries (this is what I will and won’t eat/do), practicing radical self-care (by golly this is my plan, and I’m sticking to it) and amping up my mindfulness.
When texting back and forth with my friend and mentor, GreenPlateKate, about my concerns with reintroduction she gave me the following advice:
Stick with your practice; you know peace and answers come on your mat. Ask for guidance and surrender control. Then, once you think you’ve surrendered, surrender some more. You’ll be guided and you’ll learn a lot through the reintroduction process. There’s no “right or wrong” way to do it, so just let that go.
I have to remind myself that I didn’t set out on this journey to limit foods forever, but rather to feel better and gather information. Removing the parameters is scary for me. It means over the next couple of weeks I’ll have a lot more decisions to make about when and how and what I eat and drink, and I’ll have to be even more mindful about how I’m responding. I still don’t have my reintroduction strategy solidified, but I as contemplate and ask for guidance, I will repeat the mantra, “surrender and trust”. I knew this journey could open the controlling, disordered-eating can of worms, and I only hope to be mindful and self-compassionate as I navigate reintroduction.