Cleaning out the system…
In January I changed my diet. I hadn’t been eating foods that would generally be thought of as unhealthy, so I didn’t think this would be a very disruptive experiment. My wife and I had been directed to the Whole30 idea, which basically boils down to eating:
- meat, pasture-fed and natural, if possible,
- veggies, in-season are best,
- some fruit, the higher percentage of water content the better (watermelon has less fructose than mangoes),
- and a handful of nuts.
Slightly stricter than the Paleo diet it’s based on, it rules out all:
- and legumes.
You’d be surprised how sneaky soy and sugar infest nearly everything in the grocery store. You may also be shocked at how expensive it is to shop for meat and produce, even cutting out those expensive processed foods, and alcohol.
The Whole30 program works like a detox: eliminating food groups that are the usual suspects for food allergens for 30 days, then reintroducing them one at a time. Some symptoms I looked forward to getting rid of: congestion in the mornings, overall fatigue, and once a month headaches. With some skepticism, we decided the pros outweighed the cons, and started the day after New Year’s Day.
We struggled through the first week without too much complaining. Going without half and half in our coffee was a tiny challenge with a nice boost of pride. “Room for cream?” the barista asks. “None for me, thanks; I like it black,” I would smugly say. Going without a glass of wine at dinner was less satisfying, and cutting out beer made me sad. I think I compensated for my lack of beer by over doing the caffeine. My next detox diet will be to go 30 days without caffeine – crazy, I know.
What was most noticeable during the month was the fact that I was always thinking about my diet – even when I wasn’t hungry. It became a part of my identity. I was someone with dietary restrictions. With no history of known food allergies, I’d never had to really think about what I ate. Now, every bite was first mentally reviewed, and queried with the database of “compliant” foods. When my son left a good spoonful of yogurt uneaten, I had to catch myself from finishing up after him. But I felt good – I had clear sinuses each morning, steady energy levels all day, and I felt confident because of my self-discipline.
Snack, snack, snacking…
When you cut out most carbohydrates – and rice, bread, and potatoes previously made up a large portion of my meals – you’re often left hungry. It takes a while for your body to look to proteins and fat for quick energy, when it’s used to getting its fix from carbs. The Whole30 authors also encourage refraining from over-snacking. Somehow, I was supposed to get by on three filling meals and be done with eating. Maybe someone with a slower metabolism could hack that, but I need to eat!
For snacks, I chose:
- boiled eggs, until they became part of my very essence (seriously, the return on investment for owning chickens has got to be undeniably high).
- Yams, which are very easy to cook in the microwave.
Snackable Whole30 Compliant Protein from Shurky Jurky
But it was difficult to find snack-able proteins. I liked the idea of finding a good beef jerky for snacking. However, most beef jerky in grocery stores have sugar, added flavors, preservatives, and on and on. With serendipitous timing, the guys from Shurky Jurky had recently sent us a sample of their Whole30 compliant beef jerky. If you want to be adventurous, there’s also their chocolate covered jerky. I’m highly tempted to order their monthly subscription – monthly meat, delivered to my door. I’m not usually a fan of jerky – I find it too peppery and spicy – but this was different. It was chewable, smoky, and delicious beef. And it filled the gaps between meals.
Back to Reality…
January is over, and I can go back to eating whatever I want. It’s a little scary, to be honest. Even though I had to follow a restrictive regimen, my body felt good, and I didn’t have to guess what was causing annoying symptoms, aches, and fatigue. I weathered the gentlest cold virus ever over the last week. I’m not going to attribute mystical healing powers to the Whole30 (c’mon, you gotta admit diet programs can be a little cult-like). But I do think my immune system was strengthened. I’m looking forward to spring in the Pacific Northwest, and testing my immunity against the evil hay-fever. I think my body adjusted to higher amounts of protein from beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables, and nuts, and lower amounts of starchy foods. And I don’t want to ruin all my hard work. I’m in a difficult position of deciding how to proceed.
Do I want to keep certain food groups out of my diet, even though my experiment is over? Who does that make me – Brian, who doesn’t eat grains or drink beer anymore? Now, I get to choose.
A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary package of the Whole30 Compliant Shurky Jurky for purposes of review. All opinions are those of A Well Crafted Man. The portable protein snack is created from beef, bison, turkey, or pork. It is Paleo, Gluten-Free, Primal, & Whole30 compliant. Check out the Shurky Jurky website for more information and to purchase your own gourmet jerky.
To grow a plant, all you need is a seed or start, soil, sunlight, and salt-free water (I had to force an s in there somehow). Water is easy; it comes out of the faucet, and I point it at the garden plot until it’s soaked, twice a day. Sunlight’s easy, though I should have planned my plot for a sunnier patch of the yard. I’ll talk about seeds in another post, since first I want to tell you about our soil.
What I should have done
I should have tested the soil to check its pH balance, then correct it to a veggie conducive growing chemistry. I read (flipped through) the chapter in the veggie garden bible, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon, but I didn’t retain much. I remember something about loamy and silty soil being good, I think…but I never found out what category mine fell under. When digging our plot, my brother and I removed all the large rocks, anything bigger than a potato, and that alone filled a bucket. If we tried to get all the rocks smaller than that out, it would have taken days of back-breaking effort. Besides, my mom said a few small rocks help keep the soil wet, or something like that.
I also should have supplemented our poor dirt with some quality soil and compost. I started a compost pile last year, but didn’t really keep up with it (noticing a pattern yet?), so dumping non-decomposed – is it just called composed? – eggshells and coffee grounds wouldn’t do much to engender growth in my veggies. Maybe the pile will be decomposed by next spring’s garden.
What I actually did
Squat. I’m the lazy gardener. Sometimes I put in the minimal amount of effort to get the payoff that minimally satisfies. I am proud of the veggies we’ve eaten so far: a few handfuls of green beans, 3 cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, and basil. They were surprisingly tasty. To supplement the soil, I did buy two bags of organic soil and mixed that into the plot. For a garden the size of mine, I should have used six bags. We’ve gotten some edible veggies so far, but my neighbor’s garden makes me jealous. I guess the saying is true: you reap what you sow. And I’m a shoddy sower.
Luckily, I have amazing neighbors. Four out of the five houses around ours have gardens, and besides sharing their veggies, they’re sharing their tools and expertise. Check out this sharp-bladed contraption:
With just a few minutes of arm-jarring steering of the bucking rototiller, our plot was plowed. You can rent them cheaply from your local hardware store if you lack generous neighbors. Using the machine got what would have been 2 hours of effort done in 15 minutes. And remember my last post, where I said gardening should mostly be done by hand? Ha! I recommend using at least a gas rototiller to other lazy gardeners out there.
What other tools have you used to spruce up your soil? Or if you went the hands-only route, how did you prep your soil?
Jenni used to be an editor at a newspaper. I think the journalism blood is still pumping through her veins. She’s been blogging for most of our marriage, and, at times, I worry that she might have an addiction. I’m not sure there’s a cure.
These are the times I’m reminded I’m the husband of a blogger
- Bloggers often get solicited by companies and marketers, trying to reach the blogger’s audience. This can manifest as an invitation to dinner at a hip, Portland restaurant. I hear Jenni gush about the delicious, free food she’s given for review. They should have blogger-husband-to-go-containers for that kind of thing.
- She has an all day blogger event, putting me on single daddy duty. Not that I mind being with my own kid, it’s just that he’s easier to handle when you get to say, “tag, you’re it; he just poured his milk in my shoe.”
- I do get invited to join her on some of those events. I feel like she’s a celebrity when people say, “oh, you’re Jenni’s husband! I love her blog.”
- Sometimes we have to stop the car so she can get out and pose next to a warehouse. But then none of the shots show off the outfit just right.
- Random text conversations of ours get posted to her Instagram. My photo has been seen pinned on Pinterest.
- Our car’s interior is currently covered in glitter – and she knows how much I hate glitter. When a 3-year-old girl needs a birthday gift wrapped, however, I’ll suffer through.
- Craft projects litter every surface of the house.
- Whenever we go out to eat, and the server brings our food, I have to wait until she gets it on Instagram before I can dig in. In all honesty though, I do the same thing with beer.
- She experiments with recipes, and I’m the guinea pig. I can’t complain. My co-workers ask me who’s always making me so much good food.
- We have email addresses that just contain our first names and our domain name. It’s pretty cool. I don’t even need numbers after my name!
- I can drop phrases like SEO, printables, WordPress conversion, etc., into conversations.
- I recognize people from their blog. I feel like I know their superhero alter-ego, since I know them in real life.
So, it’s not all bad. Her foray into the blogging world has allowed us to meet some great people, who are also bitten by the bug. We’re part of a larger community that’s developing ways of sharing life together, online, and in person.
Happy blogging, honey.