Friday, June 02, 2017

The Week After Whole30 -- The Deep Stuff

Gloriously it is now June and Whole30 is over.

But it doesn't actually feel glorious, not the sky's-the-limit-freedom I'd dreamt of the whole month, because, now, I have to face the question of "what next?"

Unlike my sister's boyfriend who dropped 15 pounds and powered his days with "tiger's blood" energy, I pretty much felt like me during whole30, including low energy bouts every afternoon.  But thinking back, there were some definite (and significant) perks:
-I slept like a log
-I didn't wake up with lower back pain for the entire month (haven't solved that riddle yet-?)
-I felt sated after and between meals
-I exercised mad self-control and could (not just the victim of the cheetos bag...)
-and (the biggest one) after figuring out how to prep and cook all this stuff, I lived emotionally at peace with food
(except when I asked all the questions about what on earth I'd eat after the 30 days were up)

It, of course, has got me thinking.

The reason I did the Whole30 was to reset my crazy habits; I'd started both to eat like a 14 year old and have cocktails every night.  It wasn't really going so well, especially in the deep caves where self-love lives.

So I committed to reset (and a commitment it is).  What it ended up feeling like for 30 days, which I had not expected, was a spiritual exercise, a fast.  As I kept not choosing my comforts day after day, all my stuff came to the surface, from the 5PM escape-reflex to the deep restlessness I feel around vocation and life stage, my propensity for control (w30 feeds this because you have to control your food and environment so much), on and on; the stuff kept coming.  In fact, it's still here.

I also felt pretty vulnerable moving through the world.  It's one thing to be 100% high maintenance in your own house where you orchestrate every parcel of food, and quite another to be adrift "out there," (road trip with kids to Arizona) trying to do it right.  A lot of the month I felt protective, defensive?  like a sea anemone gathered in.

And now I'm unfolding into the world again and wondering how to feed myself.

It makes sense that feeding ourselves whole and healthy foods is good, best.  It makes sense that avoiding sugar and alcohol, addictive toxins, is great.  It makes sense that when I ate solid good choices for 30 days, I woke up with no regrets -- for 30 days!  It makes sense -- and is a no brainer -- to carry on in this way and feel good forever!

But I can't imagine that I will!  Because of toast, popcorn, champagne, corn chips, corn on the cob, rice, tequilla, cakes, cheese and crackers, PARIS. (mmm, nutrition)

Such deprival to leave those forever!

This is the weird and wild power of food -- how the pleasure of it fights against the simplicity of our needs (remember the "real food" in the Matrix?  I think about that all the time).  And as if those two forces weren't enough, they wrestle with our bodies, our builds, and how we affect our looks.

I've been thinking about diets.  Over the decades, I remember my mom doing the Cabbage Soup Diet, the 90's no fat diet, the Mediterranean Diet, the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers.  These days we don't use the word "diet," especially not in front of our kids.  We say, "cleanses," "resets," "lifestyles."  But it's all the same; it's all work to make peace between our bodies and food.

I've never before thought of the two at odds (at war, even), but look how much social, personal, public space "how we eat" takes up.  We are all (most?  I'd love to meet the person who doesn't fall into this) finding our best ways to settle down with food.  And live in the skins of our bodies.  The work is not easy, and many days we're at least a little unhappy.

Benjamin Franklin talked a lot about moderation.  And that probably is the answer here.  But it sure doesn't come naturally to me around some of my favorite things.  So.... The journey (or war? or conversation? we can frame it however we'd like) continues as I inch my foot out of the whole30 safe haven and back into the world (where I've already eaten a lot of corn chips -- my one added food so far).

Because it's one of my favorite desserts/appetizers/treats to eat and is W30 compliant (a bridge food), here's a recipe for Sauteed Dates from Food52.  Nothing like them.

Sauteed Dates
I usually serve the dates on a plate of plain greek yogurt with the warmed olive oil drizzled on top.  Eating them with naan is the very best.  These days, though, I've just been eating them plain, and they're still something special.

Olive Oil
Dates (4-5 per person)
Flaky sea salt

I pit the dates and usually cut them in half, but if they're really soft, I just pinch them flat between my fingers before cooking.
Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Fill the pan with dates and cook, turning them a few times, just until they've warmed through and are a bit carmelized. (but they burn easily, so don't overdo it!) Serve them on a plate with flaky sea salt.