Read Thy Labels! : Whole 30 Final Stretch

I’ve come unstuck again.  This time, I fell over a sausage hurdle.  In my defence, the sausages were not purchased by me, nor cooked by me and I did ask ‘are these gluten free’ and received a ‘yes’ prior to chomping on said sausage.    Then reality hit me as I remembered that my mum (the sausage chef) often buys meat from a national supermarket chain…. ‘wait, where did you get these from’ … ‘Woolworths’.  Crap.  Further investigation uncovered rice flour and a couple of preservatives that are not Whole30 compliant.  Sigh.

I accept full responsiblity.  I should have asked more questions before chowing down. Even worse, I didn’t actually need to eat at that point in time.  I could have waited until my perfectly paleo dinner instead of snacking on leftover cold contraband.  But this brings me to my main point : READ FOOD LABELS CAREFULLY.

It is astounding how much extra stuff gets put into seemingly ‘innocent’ items.  Rice flour and preservatives in sausages (and that’s the gluten-free ones!).  Sugar is another sneaky additive in many things.  I found a container of dried fruit at work yesterday, and while dried fruit in small quantity is allowed on Whole 30, after a brief inspection of the label I was astounded to find that this dried fruit had ADDED SUGAR.  WTF?! The main ingredient in the mix was DATES.  I love dates.  Dates are LOADED with sugar.  Why oh why do you need to add MORE sugar ?!  A check of an Ocean Spray dried cranberry packet also showed the same horror – sugar added to an already sugar dense dried berry.  I. Just. Dont. Get. It.

I am looking forward to this week and the Whole 30 challenge being over though as the hyper vigilance required to be compliant is quite tiring (although I am still very wary of gluten and anything with added sugar).  I don’t have a problem with eating rice or rice flour (in small amounts) and I like having some legumes (properly soaked and cooked) in my diet (i.e. black bean salsa with eggs for breakfast).  I’d also like to go to a restaurant and order a steak with buttery mushroom sauce.

I certainly don’t plan to go on a free-for-all binge though (like I did last time!).  In fact, I plan to keep eating very Whole30-esque foods through February and beyond.  Like Alicia over at the HumbleFoodie I too “resolve to continue 2013 as year of health and abundance”.  This article made me realise that gluten intolerance isn’t just a GI thing and the past few weeks have conditioned me to ask ‘is that gluten free’.   I intend to stay far away from gluten entirely.  The plan for now is whole 30 style paleo Sunday – Friday with Saturday to be renamed Treatday.  By ‘treat’ I mean paleo or primal treats – mostly things from Elana’s Pantry along with some cheese or yoghurt and good quality dark chocolate.

I’ve noticed a couple of key things over the last 3 weeks – strict Whole-30 paleo is cheaper (impulse purchases are severely restricted – organic blueberries are my biggest ‘extravagance’ at the moment).  Not eating out is another huge saver and; I feel healthier, with greater clarity of thought.  I think a big part of this has been my non-consumption of alcohol.  I was reading recently (damn I love Wikipedia) about the first 5 precepts of Buddhism – number 5 is “I undertake the training rule to abstain from liquors, wines, and other intoxicants, which are the basis for heedlessness”. Buddhists abstain from alcohol as it interferes with their ability to be mindful.  Alcohol definitely interferes with not only my digestive system but my mindfulness and it takes me about 3 days to feel ‘clean’ and ‘myself’ again after I’ve had a couple of drinks.  I like being mindful, I like being present.  Alcohol inhibits this big time.  When I don’t drink it I don’t miss it and if I drink it I want MORE of it – moderation is the piss-weak concept I kid myself with every time I open a bottle of wine to drink ‘just one glass’.  Reality is, I drink at least half the bottle and then the next day I want more partly because it’s there, partly because once I have some I keep wanting some.  So no more drink for now.  I don’t want it, I don’t need it.

What I need is to be Happy, Healthy and Strong, and paleo and Whole 30 principles help me achieve this.

  • Thanks for the link! I too have found that the Whole30 is easier on my grocery and eating out budget. I’ve also had the same sense of horror when looking at dried fruit- dried mango is so naturally sweet–why would you ruin it by adding additional sugar?! It’s hard when looking for snack mixes or on-the-go munchies (not ideal but sometimes a necessity) and only finding items with additional sugar or roasted in some kind of oil I’ve never heard of.

    • Hi Alicia. You’re welcome! I really liked your post. Paleo is not very compatible with an on-the-go lifestyle unless you plan ahead and make your own emergency rations. I usually go for things like activated nuts but yesterday was a food or faint kind of ’emergency’ that I had not prepared for and the only other options were milk chocolate or biscuits (I was going with ‘faint’ had those been the only choices). Oil is definitely another ‘must read label closely’ item. There are so many crap oils used in packaged food! The easy answer is ‘dont eat packaged foods’ but as you say, sometimes it is necessary.

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