i have tried a lot of different things in hopes they would help my hypertension- herbal tinctures, homeopathic remedies, meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, essential oils, exercise, drinking more water, counselling, emotional freedome techinique (also known as tapping)... but for some reason, i had always felt some resistance to changing the way i eat. perhaps its because i kid myself into thinking i eat relatively well, perhaps its because i really LOVE bread and beer and cheese and treats, but ultimately, i think it just took a bit of an 'ah-ha!' moment to make me realize that all my late night snacking and endless 'because i deserve it!' sweets, had to be linked to bigger things happening in my body.
i believe albert einstein said it best - 'the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'
a few years ago, i did the elimination diet, made famous by gwyneth paltrow and her cookbook 'its all good' (one of my all time favouites- worth checking out if you haven't already.) the general rules with the elimination diet are similar to a lot of cleanses out there- no grains, no diary, no sugar or soy, no chemicals or processed food of any kind- the elimination diet goes a bit further, adding in no nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant...) no high sugar fruits (bananas, strawberries, grapes...), no red meat... so in the end, lots and lots of vegetables, a bit of fruit, and lean proteins. never in my life had i felt so bad (sugar and caffeine detox is no joke- so much so that i never went back to caffeine after completing this cleanse) but them SO DAMN GOOD! when the three weeks were complete, i felt like a whole new person. never in my life had i felt so amazing!
when i mentioned my need for a food revolution to my friend steph, she suggested whole30. its a bit of a trendy cleanse right now, and ultimately not much different than many of the other cleanses out there. where GP's elimination diet allows brown rice, whole30 gives you eggs. i cant decide which is better, but i'm thinking it might be eggs. also, because whole30 is so popular, there are ENDLESS resources and recipes online- a wonderful thing to be able to access when food becomes the focus of your entire world for 30 days.
so- june 1, steph, myself, and my friend katie started whole30. it was not all rainbows and butterflies like i tricked myself into thinking it might be (funny how we forget every other cleanse we have ever done, and suddenly think this one will be a cake walk.) but it also wasn't totally awful either. a good moderately challenging/rewarding cleanse. the hardest part for me was definitely all the meat. living with two vegetarians and having been a vegetarian for a good portion of my young adult life, i don't typically cook meat at home and kind of feel like i missed that window in life where you learn how to properly prepare meat. this cleanse definitely forced me beyond my comfort zone and left me feeling a little full of meat when all was said and done.
going forward, my hope is to continue eating a slightly more relaxed version of this cleanse during the weekdays (i guess perhaps paleo is a good descriptor for it...) and save any more indulgent treats or meals for the weekends. to be honest, i didn't end this cleanse feeling like a new person, i didn't suddenly have lots of extra energy or whiter whites of my eyes (something that did actually happen after my last cleanse). but my clothes all fit a little bit better, i have far fewer headaches (a side effect of my medication that nothing has seemed to help before this...) and i haven't been feeling 'crappy'- something that i didnt even realized had been an ongoing issue for me pre-cleanse. but perhaps most importantly, my blood pressure has started to come down. upwards of 20 points on my top number and 5-10 on my lower number, and for me, that is HUGE.
so- if you are looking for a way to help lower your blood pressure, or are interesting in trying whole30 for a good old fashioned eating reset, i would definitely recommend giving it a go. i think anytime we dedicate time and energy into eating well- cooking from scratch, incorporating more vegetables, eliminating all the little snacky things we habitually put in our mouths - that its always a good a thing. so with that in mind, i thought i would share a couple things thats were my absolute must haves to get through whole30, or just a few really awesome things to incorporate to your everyday cleaner eating habits.
coconut aminos - its a bit like a soy sauce, only sweeter. this stuff is made from coconut sap and heavenly if you fry it up a few vegetables (broccoli has never tasted so good!) and was really helpful during that first week when sugar and sweets is literally all your brain can think about.
a really good mustard - i have always loved mustard (when i was vegan in my teenage years, i would put it on pasta or boiled potatoes instead of butter. ew.) but a good mustard is perfect for adding to meat or veggies just to give it a little pop of flavour. yellow prepared mustard is usually fine, just be careful and read the ingredients for any dijon to ensure there is no added sugars.
vegetable spiralizer - this little gadget will change your life. i make zucchini noodles at least twice a week now, and actually don't notice a difference between them and regular pasta noodles (i know you don't believe me, i didnt believe me either, but honestly. try it. it will blow your mind!) there is also something so incredibly satisfying about eating an entire bowl of vegetables for dinner.
ghee or clarified butter - this one was non negotiable for me- if you do whole30 and find yourself struggling, potatoes with ghee and salt and pepper are literally the magic cure to get you through. i also liked to cook my eggs in it and at add a little to steamed veggies if i felt like they needed it. easy enough to make your own, (as its really expensive to buy in canada)...
mayo - again, easy to make a whole30 compliant version here, but an awesome addition to salad dressing and sauces that need a creamier feel. (i also loved whipping up egg salad for lunch- delicious on lettuce wraps)