The Whole30 in Africa, a Reluctant Food Post
I finished the Whole30 last week.
Here’s the book about it:
I didn’t tell you I was doing it. To be honest, I was kind of embarrassed. I hate trendy things and I especially hate trendy foodie things. Even saying foodie makes me cringe. I have never jumped on a dietary bandwagon. My own cookbook, Djiboutilicious, is not Whole30 compliant. But maybe I should think about making a cookbook for living abroad that is…
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Foodie trends reek of privilege, wealth, excess, obsession, and self-focus. Food has become religion for many, with morality directly associated with how, what, and where people eat. Words like clean, whole, pure, good, bad, dirty have come to be applied to food and the people who consume certain foods. This means food is used to condemn, elevate, divide, and judge and that is dangerous.
Americans especially, talk about food a lot. Like a lot a lot. Obsessively. And they seem to be in the control of whatever trendy food diet is all the current rage. People are unable to make their own decisions and are plagued by guilt, shame, and judgment. Or even fear. Fear of bananas. Or of potatoes. They feel righteous about kale salads and avocado smoothies. They obsess over fit bits and calorie counts and forget about pleasure, enjoyment, freedom.
Clearly, I have issues with food trends.
This is a great post on Salon that captures a lot of what I think about food trends: My Body Doesn’t Need a Cure.
I believe in all things in moderation and that God gave us all things, including sugar, for our pleasure, if we consume them wisely. So other than when I fast for personal, spiritual reasons, I don’t restrict my eating.
But, I love to read about nutrition and food and sports. I’m captivated by the idea that nutritionists don’t really know what they’re talking about. People still aren’t quite sure what a calorie is or how to measure it. They can’t agree on what is healthy or what is killing us. Everyone goes gluten free because that will make us thinner. Except we’re still getting fatter. No matter how much kale or avocados or organic foods we eat, we still eat too much of it. And this is interesting to me. What is it about food that drives us, Americans, on the whole, so wild with opinion and fads that radically swing from one extreme to the next and yet we continue to be less healthy?
I’m also personally interested in how diet affects my running. I’m getting older and I’ve never gotten much faster than I was my first year as a runner, aged 30. I attribute most of that to the impossible heat. I run in temperatures year-round in which most running advice columnists recommend runners just quit. When I run in Minnesota I feel improvement in weeks. In Djibouti, I just keep slogging it out.
Can’t control the temperature, can’t afford the only air conditioned workout club in the country ($300-400/month). Won’t pay to run indoors with a fan on a wobbly machine – hotter than outside – at cheaper clubs.
Can’t control my age.
Can control my diet. Never really tried. But, after finding myself continually clicking on links to stories about nutrition and running, I finally decided to try something for myself. I wasn’t sure what to do, didn’t want to adopt a life-long change, and wanted something clearly defined.
I picked the Whole30. Maybe because it is known as an ‘extreme paleo.’ Extreme appeals to me. If I’m going to run, I’ll run marathons. If I’m going to Africa, I’ll go to Somalia. If I’m having kids, I’ll have twins. If I’m trying a food trend, I’ll pick a hard one.
I started while in Kenya, an experiment. I thought, if I can do this for one day while traveling, I can do it no problem, for 29 more days at home. And so, I did.
Here’s another book about it:
How’d it go?
I had a lot to learn about cooking this way. Our meals are grain-dependent. We love spaghetti, lasagna, hamburgers, tacos, curry, pizza. Pasta, rice, and bread are every day foods for my family. So how could I cook without relying on these things? Especially when my family wasn’t joining me? I would have to cook things that I could eat and that they would want to eat. Sometimes this meant making two things, though they did, to their great dismay, give up homemade pizza for the month.
I’m going to break this down into a few posts. At first I wasn’t even going to write about it but I will, possibly because I am running out of other blogging ideas. I will, reluctantly, join the internet glut of food-related bloggers.
Why do I cringe at this? I’m honestly not sure. If you have insights into this strange reaction, please enlighten me.
Here are the topics I hope to cover in the coming weeks:
Attitude Toward Food
After the Whole30
For now, what can I tell you about the Whole30?
I felt great before I did it, great while I did it, and great now that I am off it and have reintroduced anything I want. So did I learn anything? Ya, sure, you betcha. Come back later to read more about it.
Have you done the Whole30? Especially, are you an expatriate who has done it? I’d love to hear about your experience.