This is how I am feeling about this stupid Whole30 thing so far

Grumpy, mostly.  

That’s not true.  I am having all sorts of thoughts about self care and reward and food and emotion, some of which I am going to try and distil into more than an incoherent rambling. Aided only by black coffee because STUPID DIET.


Oh, also I hit a year sober a week or so ago, keep meaning to write a post about that.  It’s kind of so much not a big deal anymore that I haven’t done anything about it.  I have a little present waiting for myself that I will unwrap and show you all soon, but, you know.  I’ve been busy.

So, this diet.  I’m 21 days in.  Specific cravings have gone.  I am drinking black coffee without wincing, and the idea of a muffin seems impossibly luxurious.  I am rarely hungry and I have lost three kilos.  My mid day energy diphas  gone, I sleep well and as long as I have a coffee in the mornings I am in an excellent mood.  A resounding success, right?

Except that it’s brought up a lot of things about whether it is truly bad to retain some of one’s crutches.

I don’t miss any particular food.  I miss the oblivion.

The Whole30 people refer to certain foods as ‘food with no brakes’ – those foods which don’t send a proper satiety signal to the brain, and instead allow you to eat and eat and eat.  I miss those.  I miss the oblivion that they provide.  It could be salted pistachios or burnt fig ice cream or vinegar-drenched crisps; the texture and the flavour are less important than the mindlessness of it.   This, of course, is also how I used to drink.  Not for me the fast road to wipeout of hard liquor.  Doing shots always seemed singularly pointless, because I never wanted to get to drunk, I just wanted the journey.  What I craved is the mindless, repetitive sipping of wine.  Sip, down, sip, down, sip, down, refill.  Make sure there’s enough of a supply that you don’t have to think about quantities, and the thing about alcoholic liquid is that you can drink a lot of it because it doesn’t fill you up like ice cream, or quench your thirst like water, so you are only limited by your tolerance for intoxication.

So it was a red flag that I was eating the way I drank, and getting through the days waiting for that oblivion.

And this diet is designed to address that particular eating pattern:  It is all about eating three big meals with no snacking in between, paying attention to full signals, sitting down at the table and enjoying the food properly.  If you find yourself hungry, eat more at the next meal.

I said in the comments to my last post that the reason I wanted to address the snacking/reward cycle is that it was obliviating the real needs underneath it.  And not being able to snack has, in fact, meant that I am addressing those more.  I switch off the screens and read in bed.  I have started quilting.  I drink a lot of herbal tea because sometimes I want the warmth and comfort more than the calories.

Those are good things.  But none of them hit the right spot, not really.  That craving is still there.  There has been nothing transformative.

And you know what?  I’m starting to think that maybe that is okay, actually.  That sometimes, oblivion in the form of a bag of crisps and an excellent novel is just fine.  Maybe I don’t have to face my feelings all the time, or channel my energies into constructive things, or be responsible.  

I am so boring, you guys.  I am so respectable.  I send my children off with healthy packed lunches and clean uniforms and I pay my bills and I garden and quilt and read improving literature, and once in a while I go to a book group or have coffee with a friend, and I try and exercise and I budget carefully so my daughter can go to ballet and I have been with the same Lovely, Lovely Husband since I was twenty years old, and we forego overseas holidays in order to pay the mortgage and make sure there’s something left over for our eventual retirement.  

Maybe there’s nothing particularly transgressive about eating an entire pint of ice cream – indeed, Caitlin Moran talks about overeating being the addiction you have when you don’t want to inconvenience anyone with a more dramatic one.  But do I want to be as clean and virtuous an eater as I am in, let’s face it, pretty much every other area of my life?  I don’t know that I do.  I don’t know that this is a bargain I want to make.

I’m going to see this diet out, because I’m stubborn like that.  But I already know that I have willpower, and that I can conquer cravings, and that eating one way is better for me than eating another.  What I don’t know, and have failed to be convinced of so far, is whether I want to live without the messy, chaotic failings, and the temptations, and even the next-morning regrets.  

I have been doing this with a friend, and we keep joking ‘who even ARE we’ about asking for special meals in cafes and buying chia seed in bulk.  Who even are we.

But I think, actually, that I like my usual self, muffin top and all.


20 thoughts on “This is how I am feeling about this stupid Whole30 thing so far

  1. I’m with Caitlin on this and you seem to be too. I think you’ve worked out that your guilty food pleasures are just that – pleasure- not something that is going to send you to an early grave, or drive you to the depths of despair and shame as drinking will do. Enjoy day 31! PS where can I get the ice cream?

  2. Happy Birthday!!
    My god, that is impressive…a whole fucking year without alcohol!
    Good on you!

    I have done whole 30 3 times. the first time it revolutionized the way I ate…I still basically eat that way, day in and out, with a few things added back in. The next two times I did it to curb the sugar thing for a bit. And it worked, both times, although the sugar thing keeps creeping back…it’s sitting here right beside me right now!
    And that’s ok. I know if I really want to get clean again that I can do a 30 and it will help. But i’m with you at this point. I learned so much about food and what is good for me, and I have incorporated all of those things into my daily diet, but I also make room for the treats. The occasional gluten free pancakes, the non-dairy coconut milk ice cream, the dark chocolate sections, the salt and olive oil “crisps” (I love that term!) . In the midst of this yoga teacher training I am doing I swear that popcorn and chocolate are the only things keeping me going, and that’s ok.

    And my friends and I that all did it together still refer to tea as “Fucking tea”….never hit the spot when we really wanted something else1

    I’m glad you are going to see it through. I hope you also re-introduce foods as they suggest, it was VERY helpful for me and taught me a lot about what I should not be eating. I used to live on prevacid and haven’t used it once in 2 years, no indigestion, ever. That was a miracle.

    Meanwhile…CONGRATULATIONS on a year. It is a big deal, it IS.

  3. firstly, a minimal place holding hurrah on your one year. not that it doesn’t deserve all the bullroarers, annoying whistles and girls in spangled tights balancing on ponies that there are, but will hold those back till your ‘proper’ post. (btw you may well indeed just be flat out crazy busy, in which case, ignore me – but just in case: is there more perhaps behind your delay in ‘properly’ rewarding yourself and the celebration of a huge achievement? hmm…..)

    a brilliant post, thanks for this. I love that line of Caitlin Moran’s too. and your post reminded me of another couple of quotes. the first is from our fellow blogger moretomethanthis who came up with the insight that the reason that we loved Christmas, or weddings, or other big hooleys, when we were boozers, was not because of the actual drinking that goes on: but because of the LICENCE those days gave us to drink. on Christmas Day we could start at 11am and no-one would blink an eye.

    and it sounds to me as if it’s that licence you’re talking about here. that licence to dip dip dip instead of to sip sip sip… and some great thoughts here as to whether giving ourselves that licence with food is the end of the world. and I would concur, that if it’s not having consequences other than those patriarchically (fuck off, spellcheck, that’s a word, or if it isn’t it should be) frowned upon ten pounds, then no, maybe it’s not. and in which case, hurrah.

    the final quote though is from the sparkly Mrs D and her great words that we used to use alcohol to deal with problems in our life: and when we remove the alcohol, we find other ways of dealing with them that WORK BETTER. which for me is the ultimate answer to ‘why stop drinking?’ or why stop any other behaviour, if it’s not causing you to actually drive into bollards on the school run: because the other ways WORK BETTER.

    sorry enormous comment! but will just add that what if after you’ve finished your whole30 (and after you’ve climbed back out of the chiller cabinet) you might see what life is like if you give yourself unlimited licence in some other area of your life for a period of time? so that for example you can do as much quilting as you feel like, ever? and of COURSE, real life permitting. but just to see whether there is anything else that doesn’t just do the job, but WORKS BETTER?

    good luck and thanks again for a great post – always so good to read you. xx

    • Ah, Primrose, in another world I’d pop round to yours and demand a cup of tea and all the wisdom of the universe, which you seem to have in spades. Your question about why I haven’t celebrated actually brought me to tears, because I didn’t realise that I felt conflicted about it, but I do. This is the thing that I lack, not going to AA or having sober friends around, people to congratulate me. And even that isn’t true, because there’s any number of people I could tell and who would then say well done, but it feels so awkward to do so.

      I opened the gift after all, tonight, and I will post again accordingly. Thank you.

      • any wisdom of mine is held purely on a time-share basis with the rest of the sobersphere – you very much included. having said that the kettle is always on πŸ˜‰ have a soberversary hug from me xx

  4. Confession time: I have this weird food thing where I buy expensive florentine biscuits dipped in thick chocolate on one side. Then one by one I nibble and lick the chocolate off and sometimes get some crumbly bits of biscuit too. Then I throw out the rest of the biscuit because I don’t actually like the fake cherries that are in them. Wasteful? Absolutely. But here’s the thing – I don’t hide it. I ask my husband in the evenings when the kids are in bed, “just going to the kitchen to get some biscuits so I can lick the chocolate off – want anything?” and he says, “why don’t you just buy a block of chocolate?” and my answer is “because it wouldn’t taste the same or take as long to eat and there’s something comforting about slowly enjoying those biscuits one by one and turning them over and nibbling the chocolate off the other side”. I look forward to those bickies all day and in a way, I’m eating them mindfully and savouring them. The point to my story, however, is I refuse to drink or eat in secret because the shame would make it all so much worse. I drink openly and I suck chocolate off biscuits openly. Take me as I am! I probably sound like a complete freak with a compulsive florentine biscuit disorder but I just want to say there’s nothing wrong with using food for comfort sometimes. You don’t have to be perfect πŸ™‚ None of us are. xxx

    • I love this comment so much I can’t even tell you. Food rituals are so personal but we all have some, and yours is completely charming. I admire your willingness to do it out in the open: I still do not. Partly because I want more than half the family-sized bag to myself, or at least I don’t want to worry that there won’t be enough, or because I want to eat in bed, damnit. Whatever it is, when LH goes away for the night I rub my hands in glee and hit the shops.

      • I was scrolling down to leave a comment, as this post is so where I’m at in my recovery, but I stopped here because of Moments of Grace’s comment and your reply.

        You have given me so much to think about, Allie. First, and I am reading backwards in your posts so I’ve already said this but I will say it again: Happy Soberversary, I wish I was in Australia right now to sit down with you and celebrate properly (and screw the tea, we would be having that burnt fig ice cream).

        I am precisely where you are right now, and either you are advanced, or I am slow (or both), because it took me an additional 2 years to be bothered by how much my eating resembles my drinking patterns. I do not have the discipline (yet) for a whole30, but I have decided to try some therapy to see if I can get to causes and conditions.

        But Moments of Grace’s comment about her ability to just announce it… I got this little jolt inside, and thought, “What would happen if I did that?” and it gave me this moment of giddiness. Really, what would be so bad if I said, “I’m going to sit down with my chick lit/mindless reality show, and a bag of chips, and I’m going to eat as many as I want.” What would happen?

        If nothing else, this post (and comments) have given me so much to think about, and possibly discuss with my therapist next week (eek, I still hate saying “my therapist,” can you tell I’m averse to this process?).

        Thanks so much for this post, Allie. And Moments of Grace, if you’re reading, eat (lick) one of those expensive biscuits for me!

  5. Can you hear me cheering from the other side of the world?! To the 1 year soberversary – of course – but more loudly to your conclusion and you know what Allie (caps alert) I COMPLETELY BLOODY AGREE!! Having given up processed sugar for Lent I feel like life is just one big joyless harumph. I’m not saying that I want to go back to eating chocolate every day but life without some small transgressions feels very spartan and alerts the rebel in me (which is always dangerous!) and I’m not sure that is good for my overall wellbeing. So Hoorah for you!! πŸ™‚

  6. Oooh yeah. This post hurts for me. I am 4 months sober and desperately need to be more mindful about what I eat. But I’m clinging to food like a sailor to the mast in a storm.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your journey – and congratulations! You’re doing great, and being incredibly mindful. I will take some time tonight to fully read your post and let it sink in.

    ❀ Dinah

  7. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! What an incredible milestone you’ve reached. That’s massive and if you ever need a pat on the back, I’ll be happy to do it ….and give you a huge hug!

    I am a vegan and so I already eat fairly well except that I am a sugar fiend. I have a food ritual that I must confess to: I eat Swedish Fish gummy candies. To me, they are like crack and I cannot go a day without eating five of them. Yes, I said five and I count them out and jam the rest of the bag back down into my nightstand drawer for safe keeping. If I am getting low, I make sure to make it a point to stop at the store to buy more. It’s my ritual and I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ditch it just yet. Now, easter is coming and my second favorite candy is the ever popular Cadbury Creme Egg. You can bet your booty that I’ll be stockpiling those suckers since they only sell them for a short while.

    The point to my whole rambling comment is that I think you should complete your challenge and then find yourself a treat that you love and indulge without going to the extreme. Have a cookie or a few pieces of candy or whatever makes you happy. None of us are perfect and we don’t have to be! Live life….eat treats. Smile. πŸ™‚

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