August is a very special month for me. It was exactly two years ago when I embarked on this amazing health journey of eating whole, real foods and seeing tremendous healing and new found health. For me, this whole journey started with a challenge. The challenge was called Feast and it was very similar to the Whole30 challenge that has gained so much popularity recently. It truly changed my life for the better and I haven’t looked back since doing it. As a way to celebrate two years of improved health and vibrant living, I am going to be doing another round of the Whole30 challenge.
While I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol Diet [AIP] for the past couple of monthes and will continue to follow it during the duration of the next 30 days, the whole30 challenge offers something a little bit different for me. Preface: the AIP diet allows occasional use of natural sweetners like honey, maple syrup and dates. In the last month, I have been using a little more of those sweetners than I would really like to admit. It’s been one of those things where I will have a little bit of honey in my tea, a little bit of honey in homemade popsicles, a little bit of maple syrup in pork sausage and a couple of dates as a treat. While I realize this isn’t terrible, I know that sugar in any form [including natural sugars] makes my autoimmune condition flare up significantly. This is especially evident when I consume little bits of sugar for a couple of days in a row – I start feeling more fatigued, start feeling a little more joint and muscle pain than normal, begin to experience some attention problems and my skin flares up a bit. The Whole30 program does not allow any form of sugar or the recreation of treats with things like dates, dried coconut, coconut milk – let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to find recipes for paleo pancakes, cupcakes, muffins, these days. So for me, this challenge is really going to be about cutting out sugar and seeing how that impacts my autoimmune condition.
Another aspect of this challenge that I am going to work on is eating three solid meals a day with minimal to zero snacking during the day. I know we have been taught and told that eating multiple small meals a day is best to keep hunger at bay and to avoid massive cravings, but to be honest, this is not the case. Allowing 3-4 hours between meals allows for better digestion and greater nutrient absorption – something I am working on. I struggle with nutrient absorption because of my permeable gut lining (which I am currently healing) so I know not snacking between meals will help continue to improve my gut health. I also notice that the snacks I generally gravitate towards are fruit, fruit and coconut bars and sweet potato chips. While again, not necessarily bad choices, I know I feel my best when I limit snacking and focus on nutrient dense meals. Additionally, taking out snacks from my diet will allow more opportunity for me to eat more veggies, meats, fermented foods and healthy fats that I know are so crucial in healing my autoimmune condition. I would absolutely encourage you to check out the Whole30 challenge and to see if it might be a good opportunity for you to reclaim your health.Make sure to follow along with me on social media for musings, challenges and meal inspiration. I will be hashtagging #AIPxWhole30