Have you heard of the Whole 30? It’s an eating mindset where you take 30 days to “reset” your body and your mind, learning to intentionally eat foods that are good for you. I’m working my way through my third “reset,” and each time I feel like I’ve learned more about how I feel and how I think, when it comes to food. But I’ve also noticed there are some life-truths that I can use in my relationships, as well. Whether you’ve decided to try a thirty-day-reset or whether you just have a desire to have a healthier body and stronger relationships with those you love, I hope these thoughts will encourage you – so here are my life lessons from Whole30 (so far).
Habits and rituals make everything easier.
Doing a Whole30 can seem overwhelming, to say the least. For most Americans, restricting ourselves from eating certain foods is just plain hard, and it sometimes feels impossible to come up with “safe” foods. But having 3-5 go-to recipes that I can whip up in short order, and having several ingredients on-hand that I can always eat when I’m hungry is a huge help.
In relationships, having a few traditions or “rituals” also makes it much easier to connect. During busy seasons of life, the habit of sharing a cup of coffee or tea and praying with my husband before work has kept us connected with each other and with God, when our kids and work may make us feel stretched and even distant.
I love to surf Pinterest for new and amazing recipes, and to plan out intricate menus on pretty paper and hang it on my wall, or declare the week’s offerings on my kitchen chalkboard. But sometimes, the
Higher quality equals more satisfaction.
Part of the premise of the Whole30 program is learning to cut cravings by eating real, nourishing, filling foods. An ice cream sandwich might make me “feel good” in the moment, but it’s going to leave me hungry in ten minutes. By filling my plate with nutrient-rich foods, I’m teaching my brain and body what’s good for it, and in turn I’m more satisfied.
In the same way, spending quality time with those we love gives us the chance to really build deeper, more intentional relationship. When we take a few extra minutes for genuine conversation, plan for a small but special “celebration” of a person, we build stronger relationships that are more satisfying, and we build each other up, as well.
“Entertainment” is addictive and unsatisfying.
Sometimes we get into a rut where we think we have to make something new and exciting for every meal (I felt a burden to do this the first time my family did a Whole30 challenge). Pretty soon, though, we’re not satisfied with the sweet-tart explosion of flavor from a fresh blackberry, and we think we have to add sugar to make it taste better. (Have you tried buying foods at the grocery with no additives? It’s nearly impossible!) Learning to appreciate simplicity and clean flavors helps us make huge strides toward eating healthier foods.
In family and friendships, it’s all too easy to settle for watching a movie as “quality time,” but sooner or later if that’s the “meat” of our time together, it leaves us hungry for deeper connection. Try taking a walk together with your family. Invite your bestie for a cup of tea or some time in the sun. Don’t feel the pressure to have every gathering be social-media-worthy; the sweetness of simplicity in hostessing is rewarding.
Stay home! Make good things! Enjoy the people and the process.
During a “diet” of any kind, there’s a sort of anxiety that kicks in when you go out to a restaurant. Have you noticed it? You may think about cost, or you may be concerned whether you can find menu items that will fit with your food choices. You might worry you’ll be tempted to “cheat,” or embarrassed if others notice your choosing not to partake in foods not in your acceptable selections. Save the stress – eat at home! Nine times out of ten, you’ll save money and eat something more flavorful, more healthful, and you’ll be more relaxed as you do it.
Making meals together can be a great opportunity to build relationship, too. Invite younger people over and give them the opportunity to try a new technique, explore ingredients and flavors you’ve selected, and participate in plating and clean-up. Have another couple or group of single friends and assign ingredients to bring, then create a meal together. You’ll build beautiful memories as you expand your palate, and you’ll invest in each other’s lives and health as you do it!
Plan ahead (for simplicity).
Planning can be complicated, but it can also be a way to simplify your menu and your grocery list. I have a mental list of ingredients I always grab when I’m at the store. I also have an ongoing note page on my phone where I keep track of what I need at certain stores (and in the summer, I keep a cooler bag or two in the car so I can grab cold items while I’m out). Having one or two go-to meal ideas that are quick and don’t require checking a recipe can save so much stress on a busy weeknight. If you keep a few of those meals on your plan, it saves mental stress when the calendar gets crowded.
In the home, I’ve noticed this is equally important. Recently my daughter asked me, “Mom, can we please just plan some blank space on the calendar?” She was asking for time we didn’t have to leave the house, think of exciting activities, or entertain anyone else. While we love having others in our home, it’s also important to have time with just us, where we drill down to the stuff that matters. We have a cabinet in our family room that holds board games, and some of them are no-thinking-required. They are a great way to sit together and just be, often opening up the door to genuine conversation and connection.
(I’ve written a post here about my thoughts on “unplanning” that I think is helpful for brave hospitality, and for menu planning in general! Enjoy!)
Be all in!
The author of the Whole30 plan advocates making a celebration of food. If you decide to have a salad instead of nachos at your favorite restaurant, celebrate that salad! If you splurge on green tea ice cream (who, me?!), sit down and enjoy that ice cream and don’t miss the happy experience by eating on the run or staring at a screen while you do it. It’s important to celebrate the flavors and benefits of good food, and our bodies will thank us for it.
In the same way, we have to train ourselves to shut off our phones when it’s time for celebrating others. My sister-in-law tells her techie family no electronic devices are allowed at the table. We’ve removed the television from the main living areas in our house, because we want to spend the biggest part of our time really enjoying the people. Investing in relationships deeply and intentionally will reap big rewards in the short term and the long run.
I’ve created a printable I thought you might enjoy with these tips. Do you have other ideas for making it easier to follow a Whole30, eat well, and invest more intentionally in your most valuable relationships? Share in the comments below!
Here’s the printable PDF of tips-for-healthy-eating – if it inspires you, print it and use some pretty tape to hang it on your fridge or in a cabinet where you’ll see it often!
Would you like more hints from my family’s Whole 30 journey?
Here’s part one of a series on camping while our family was on a Whole 30.
Here’s a post where I share my thoughts as a Christian about Whole 30.
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