Let me make one thing very clear, Jacqueline: You do not expect a life-changing body experience in the next thirty days.
Because you’ve done this kind of physical challenge before. Really, fool, you’ve done much harder ones.
Remember when you were twelve and in a wheelchair? You were off of sugar, dairy, soy, yeast, fruit, eggs, beef, corn, gluten, alcohol etc. for months. In August, you accidentally didn’t drink for four weeks just because things hurt. Back in 2007, that whole “let me try to shove 500 calories in a day” thing happened, too.
Then there were the programs tried over the last two years, desperately hoping somehow you were hurting yourself by eating asparagus or salmon or whatever healthy-seeming food was making your ankle swell or you not being able to sleep. Let’s review:
Lyn-Genet Recita’s The Plan summarizes data she’s pulled from thousands of clients. The book guides readers as to how to clean out and neutralize the digestive system, reintroduce safe foods, and then clock the body’s reaction to new foods through various signal — pain, weight gain, skin flare-ups, hormonal imbalance, sleep issues etc. There are eating plans and recipes, and it’s all laid out in an easy-to-follow, non-threatening manner.
Barbara Allen’s Conquering Arthritis is similar, but geared even more specifically towards those with arthritis. It follows the same pattern: cleanse, rebuild, reintroduce, and learn what foods cause inflammation. Oh, and it throws twice-daily enemas in there, too.
When neither of those produced the miracle you were hoping for, you turned to the ALCAT test, hoping to figure out what foods cause specific inflammation in your body on a cellular level. For three months you removed 58 specific foods from your diet, on top of the Celiac and dairy stuff. Yes, the swelling in your elephant ankle went down… almost completely. And you finally lost a few of the flabby pounds that felt suffocating around you. But, again, no miracle.
They all were worth trying. You learned new recipes you cut down your sodium intake, you eat even more reasonably now than you did before, and the few things you did notice reactions to you cut out almost completely.
But as you move forward for the next thirty days, remember: you already eat so little sugar. It doesn’t sneak into your soft drinks because you don’t drink them. You don’t eat fast food, or processed snacks, or bakery treats, or… where else does sugar hide? You don’t. So the crashes and triumphs and massive amounts of weight loss and energy boosts and all that others claim to achieve when you just Googled “going off of sugar for thirty days?” That’s not gonna be you. If you didn’t lose ten pounds with The Plan or the ALCAT test, you’re not gonna lose it just by cutting out your few glasses of wine a week.
So why are you doing this? Let me remind you of your challenge parameters:
The affect on your health: You still drink wine, and now and then whisky. Sure, not a lot. But even a small amount can’t be good for you. Tending your body means protecting it from stress. And while you often use alcohol to reduce stress — on a date, at a work function, when feeling angst in social settings or emotionally drained at the end of a long day — drinking often ends with your body feeling more stressed. The very rare times you do eat a few bites of something full of sugar (sorbet, that crumb cake you made last weekend), it hurts your bones. Admit it. And the gluten-free Tates brownies you love so much? The dark chocolate? The treats that are low in sugar, or use coconut sugar/honey/maple syrup? Yes, they’re definitely better choices. You don’t eat them often. But you can try thirty days without them again. There’s no harm in seeing what happens.
The affect on your social life: You’re choosing to do this in November for a very specific reason. You were going to do it in January, but that would be too easy. Everyone fasts or goes off booze or cuts back in January. This takes you out of drinking at holiday parties or Thanksgiving pie or lots of other things. This is meant to be hard. It’s meant to reshape habits. That’s why you’re doing this specific challenge during this specific period of time.
The affect on your sense of self: You get so frustrated when a period of discipline doesn’t offer a miracle cure for your body. But buck up, kid! It’s a sign that your work over 20+ years with organics and whole foods and supplements means science still hasn’t gotten to the root of your issues — this lovely Lyme stuff. Doctors pat you on the back for how far you’ve come! So instead of getting discouraged, remember that these next thirty days are about setting no expectations. Rather, see what subtle but lasting lessons come. Like from the shopping stuff you just finished. Relax, kid. You don’t always have to take home the gold (don’t be dramatic. When did you ever take home the gold?).
So here’s the plan:
You’re not going all crazy grain-free during this period, too. Because, again, you’ve done that before and you know that white potatoes are okay and all. But for reasons you’re not gonna justify since you know the logic behind them, here is what you will not consume until December 4th:
- Sugar: refined, coconut, or whatever gross fake things people like to use instead that you don’t anyway.
- Alcohol. None. Not even to cook with.
- Cooked or frozen fruit. You know why. Frozen mango is a gateway drug, Raposo.
- Tropical fruit, bananas, grapes, and the fruits you know cause a reaction. You’ve been not wanting fruit lately anyway. Raw apples – you’re fine with raw apples.
- Corn / corn products / syrup. You know why. Buh-bye popcorn. And chips. And tortillas.
- Chocolate. All of it. Gone.
That’s it. You pondered grains, but you’re okay with grains. You’re not doing an elimination diet here; you’re exploring sugar. Go easy on yourself. Track the social stuff. See if you sleep better. You’ll be fine.
(I had to write this to myself to clarify why I’m doing this, and to separate it from every kind of “no this-and-that-food thing I’ve done before”. If you couldn’t tell, the whole journal approach to this blog is still developing. But this approach felt right. Thx. xo)