34 days ago, I decided to do a detox. That detox, more popularly known as the whole30, was an incredibly intense, huge jump into the world of vegetables, and honestly, I didn’t expect it to do much good. However, after four weeks and 4 weekends later of being neurotic and cautious about the foods I ingest, I’ve come out on the other side. Food has changed. I have changed.
For those who don’t know, the Whole30 is a 30-day regimen that completely cuts out grains, dairy, legumes, soy, alcohol, added sugar, and various additives that appear in processed foods. It’s intended to help you realize what kind of effect these foods have on your body; the goal is not to lose weight, discover food sensitivities you didn’t know you had, or give you more energy (though those are all side benefits, alongside many others). The main goal is to alter how you view and consume food.
Pre-Whole30: Approaching the 30 Days
Going into this process wasn’t a life-altering decision. I already knew that we ate fairly well; we loved vegetables, our energy levels were normal, we cooked and ate most of our meals and shopped the perimeters of the grocery store, avoiding a lot of processed junk without cutting it out entirely. I didn’t expect to have a crash midway through the detox, because I thought we were pretty close to the mark already.
Largely, this was true, but it surprised me to see how much I depended on food for that rush.
During: Idolatry and Addiction
I researched pretty intensely during the first week (how many ways can I cook eggs? Do I really have to give up Season-all and Lemon pepper? What kind of bacon is allowed? That thing has added sugar?!?), trying to find interesting recipes. It was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and I honestly caught myself thinking – will this really be that hard?
Answer: Yes. Yes, it was hard. The second week hit and I was mean, y’all. The first week I was a little sad, particularly when I had to give up brownies and ice cream, and couldn’t steal any of Mike’s fries when we went out for dinner one time. But on the whole, I was good.
Anyways, during the second week I was irascible about everything I couldn’t eat, unreasonably convinced that my life’s purpose was to eat donuts, and very exasperated about not eating cheese, which, like naptime in kindergarten, I didn’t realize I loved so much until its presence disappeared. (It did not help when I discovered Mike had bought and hidden an entire bag of Butterfingers that I couldn’t have. That was not a pretty scene. Normally I don’t even like Butterfingers!)
It was after that point that I realized how strongly food had taken over my life: not only taken over the last two weeks, as far as preparation and finding compliant recipes, but how much I depended on food for happiness. Why was it that I so desperately wanted what I told myself I could easily give up? I was doing this in efforts to be healthier and nourish my body well. Rationally, there was no reason to be upset. However, if I was willing to flip out over not eating donuts, candy bars, and sweetened coffee, what did that show about my mind and my heart?
It told me that I viewed food far too importantly. The Lord showed me an idol and an addiction I didn’t know I had.
How timely it was, then, that He appointed me to read and study Daniel 1-2. In these chapters, Daniel and three (among many) others are taken into training for the king’s service, and they ask to eat only water and vegetables rather than disobey God’s laws and eat the royal food.
I felt a lot like Daniel at this point, but one of the lessons in this passage for me was that Daniel, rather than making food his idol (or pleasing King Nebuchadnezzar as an idol, who might have taken issue with their dietary choices), he served his true King and gave up that food without a second thought because he wanted to be obedient. What would my response be?
Let me be clear: I didn’t start doing the whole30 out of obedience to God (I started it more out of curiosity), but in the midst of it I still wanted to be obedient and joyful. Even the Pharisees were called not to be somber while they fasted, but to be mindful of their Father.
After learning that from Daniel, I asked God to show me how to be joyful and not whiny about what I couldn’t eat. And today I’m deeply thankful for all the ways there are to prepare healthy and delicious food. God is so kind! (Particularly when He made vegetables and healthy fats like cauliflower, avocados, and sweet potatoes. Thanks, Lord.)
Now, I’m typing this on day 31, and I fully intend on introducing the foods I avoided back into my diet, because: 1. For real, bread = amazing; 2. There are things that are worth eating; and 3. I can go back into eating “forbidden” foods with a brand new mindset.
Food is not meant to be my master. When Jesus appeared to Peter and in Acts 10 and freed the Jewish people to eat all the food banned from Leviticus, that represents freedom for me as well. Eating food is not sinful, but my mindset can be. I will not be dominated by what I choose to eat or not eat, but I can consciously choose and make good decisions because I have been set free to follow Jesus and His example. [Side note:as far as I’m aware there’s nothing in the Bible about Jesus eating cheese, but the principles are in there nonetheless.]
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a slice of chocolate cake to go eat. 🙂