made to crave & whole 30

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Food & Fitness, Miscellaneus165 Comments

This is the raw post I was talking about writing.  This doesn’t have anything to do with home decor or painted furniture.  It has to do with me and a constant struggle I’ve had since middle school.  This post is about food, body image, addiction and cravings.  It’s going to be real and honest.  I’m going to lay it all out there, knowing that a lot of you can relate.

Soooo…this would be a long story, but I’ve told parts of it before.  Of course, I gained weight after having two babies 19 months apart.  And then I lost 35 lbs.  And I put it back on.  And I lost some of it again.  And I put some of it back on.  I’m a classic yo-yoer.  I’m an “I’ll start on Monday”er.  I have every good excuse in the book as to why I should eat something or shouldn’t exercise at any given time.  I’m an optimist when it comes to the latest plan I’m going to try.  I declare victory as I slip on a smaller size, only to feel defeated when I start lopping over the waistline again.  My mood is often dictated by the number on the scale in the morning.  I weigh without my glasses, even though I can’t see the scale, because I am so much lighter without my glasses.  I hate clothes shopping, because it feels like the garments are judging everything I’ve decided to eat in my entire life.

It’s just a mess.  Does it all sound familiar?  I’m sure it does to some of you.

A few weeks ago, a thought occurred to me.  I’ve had it before, but I just laughed it off.  Here was my thought…

I am addicted to food.

at least...

Even saying I’m addicted to food sounds silly.  I know the graphic above is a joke, but it does seem really silly to call a craving for chocolate an addiction.  I mean, I have to eat.  So, I’ve always laughed off that thought and continued the self-destructive cycle of inevitable defeat when facing my struggle with food.

I have finally faced some truths, though, that gave me permission to admit that I am addicted to food (and here’s where it gets embarrassing)…

  • I hide food.  I don’t have a huge stash or anything, but I tuck stuff at the back of the pantry, so other people won’t see it.  Sometimes I’ll put something in my bedside table.
  • I get anxious about being out of a food I’m addicted to.  What if I want it and it’s not there?  (The end of the world, that’s what.)
  • I sometimes eat like it’s a race to the second helping or the bottom of the bag and I have to beat whoever might be in competition with me.
  • I am a mild mannered person and I will actually get angry at someone for eating something I had planned to eat.  I am very territorial about “my” food and will give you the stink eye if I hear a crinkle in the kitchen that sounds remotely like “my” chips.
  • I’ve looked at elimination diets, but I have been scared to death at the prospect of not eating cheese, butter, sugar, or any grains at all.  Terrified.

I was talking to my sister-in-law about all of this over Thanksgiving and she suggested the book Made to Crave.  I am about 3/4 way through it and it is an amazing book that speaks right to my struggles.  It’s just what I needed to acknowledge that I don’t need to “try harder” or fire up the My Fitness Pal app and count calories again.

Is anyone else just sick of that?  I remember a moment a year or so ago when I was measuring my breakfast and typing in my calories.  “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be?”  That thought was really depressing to me.  And selfish when stacked against my T1D son who will have to count his carbs his entire life.  Will I ever have a proper perspective on all of this?!  Will I ever eat well just out of habit?  Will I ever only eat when I’m hungry and to fuel my body?

So, I don’t need to try harder and start fresh on Monday.  It’s got to be about more than just being skinny.  There’s got to be a better option than counting calories, making sure I save enough at the end of the day for my double-serving of dark chocolate chips.  That always ends in failure.

It has got to be about conquering the hold that food has on me.  It has to be overcoming the addiction.  Going through the withdrawls and coming out the other side a changed person.

That thought is unbelievable to me.  I can’t even imagine not being taunted and tempted by food.  I can’t imagine taking one bite of something delicious and having that be enough or to not even be interested in it in the first place.  I can’t imagine being able to bake cookies as a treat for my boys without the fear of eating the entire batch.  It’s sad that my lack of self-control means I can’t bake cookies and yummy food for my boys.  Sad and embarrassing.

Now, I’m going to insert something here, because some of you might look at the pictures of me and think I am just being way too hard on myself.  Well, I am too hard on myself and that’s part of the problem.  I felt this way even when I was 45 lbs lighter.  There’s always more weight to lose, more exercise to be done and some splurge to beat myself up about.  Food is always the ultimate treat and my nemesis all at once.

Made to Crave gave me the push to change things.  That book really speaks to the heart and the spiritual aspect of the struggle with food.  It’s so encouraging.  Some of the things Lysa shares about herself…removing her hair tie before she weighs, splurging on Sunday nights before the Monday diet begins…are totally me.  Her words were like a hug from a friend and an assurance that I’m not alone.  And, the fact that her book is a NYT best seller indicates that it’s not only me and Lysa.

Enter book #2…It Starts with Food. This is the book that lays out the Whole 30 plan – where you eat certain real, whole foods for 30 days.  No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, no cheating, no excuses.  Yeah…a little scary.  This book deals with the science behind the addictions, cravings, overeating and why traditional calorie-counting diets more often than not end in failure.  The Whole30 plan is available for free on their website, so you don’t have to buy the book, but I was interested in the details, so I bought it.

 I started reading this book and Melissa Hartwig’s testimonial about conquering her struggle with food just about made me cry.  I was reading it aloud to Jeff and he put his hand on my arm.  “Can you imagine that for you?”  No.  Not lasting victory, anyway.

The book gets fairly laborious when it gets into hormones and what’s going on in your gut and all of that, but it’s very eye-opening as well and encouraging.  Understanding the science behind what’s going on in my body somehow makes it easier for me to commit to these changes and see it through.

I decided on Whole30, because I need a plan that is black & white.  I did very well on P90x, because it had a schedule for a set period of time.  I committed to it and I did it and I saw a big change.  But I was never really committed in the food area.  I allowed myself cheats and “relaxed weekend” and I know I didn’t see the kind of results I could’ve if I had committed 100% to everything.  Once the plan was over, I floundered.  I kept the weight off for about a year, but then it started creeping up again.  Now I’m up 10lbs and my oldest son asked the other day, “Mommy, why don’t you do your exercises anymore?”

So, with food, I need a black & white plan.  Whole30 is exactly that.  It’s strict and bossy and answers the “buts” with tough love and things we all know are true, anyway.

I think with an elimination diet, it’s important to focus on what you can eat.  My mom and I were talking about it and she pointed out that I can eat steamed artichoke dipped in homemade mayo!  I’m all over that one!  I painted a picture for Jeff of the kind of dinners we could have…roasted chicken, garlic dill potatoes and green beans.  (I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years, but I have decided to eat certain meat for this plan.)  I can snack on pomegranate, cashews, olives…all of which I love.  I can eat eggs for breakfast, which I do anyway.  When I start looking at it in terms of all of the delicious foods I can have, it makes it easier.

I’ve been working on writing this post for several days.  This one took a lot of thought.  It feels like I’m sharing a lot and I have waffled over if I should just do this and keep my mouth shut about it on my blog.  I mean, some things just don’t need to be shared on a decorating blog.  But, I know a lot of you followed my P90x journey and I know some of you struggle with the same thing and might want to take the leap with me.  It’s always easier to do this sort of thing when you’re not alone.  Jeff, my mom, dad, sister-in-law, Tai, and Allison of The Golden Sycamore will be joining me as well, which is awesome!


I won’t be writing full blog posts about this regularly, but I will give updates and share a post here and there when I have something to report.  I’ll share more on my Facebook page and Instagram using #whole30.  If I find some amazing recipe or tip, I’ll share that, too.

Now, I don’t know if this shift in thinking, this acknowledgement, these books or this plan will be the key to victory.  Maybe a year from now, I’ll be writing another raw post just like this one and I’ll be trying something else.  I hope not.  Right now, I am all in.  I’m going to approach this with a hopeful optimism and give it everything I have and I doubt I’ll regret it.

We will be starting January 1, 2015 (yes, on a Thursday, not on a Monday), so you have a few days if you’re interested.

PS – Let me know if you want to join us (all the way.)  If we have a few people, I can start a Facebook group for us to encourage one another.  Just leave a comment below or send me an e-mail…


The response has been so overwhelming that I did start a Facebook group HERE.  It’s called Whole 30 with Miss Mustard Seed.  Just request an invite if you’re “in” and want to join for support.

made to crave & whole 30

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165 Comments on “made to crave & whole 30”

  1. Marian, I have not read ‘Made to Crave’ but I have read ‘It Starts With Food’ and did my first whole 30 in November which included Thanksgiving; (read: no pie). I thought I was just a pig for how I craved and stashed sweets but reading the book and learning about the hormonal shifts in your body when sugar is consumed made so much sense to me and helped me to see that part of it wasn’t my fault: I’d become addicted and my body was responding to the effects of sugar. I read all the testimonials with a bit of skepticism. “Whole30 changed my life!”. Really?!!! There were hard parts of whole 30 especially day 5-10 when my cravings were BAD but on day 11 my wedding rings started spinning loosely on my finger and on day 13 or 14 my pant legs had more space in them. Something was happening. Whole 30 is satisfying. There’s so much you CAN eat. I was never truly hungry but I did have cravings. I craved a muffin for about 30 days. After about day 20 it went by fast. I lost 15 pounds! I followed the reintroduction plan exactly by the book which meant a muffin was still 10 days off and when the much anticipated day 40 finally arrived I found my muffin a disappointment. Momentarily good but over so fast. Not worth 40 days of cravings! I am now eating about 80/20 clean and there have been several non-scale victories, sleeping better, less chronic back pain, more energy, clothes fitting better, etc. I truly believe that sugar is a dangerous and highly addictive substance. I am going to be as Paleo as possible long term with occasional indulgences. I no longer crave muffins and I do eat occasional chocolate and wine. Whole30 is doable and taught me so much. I will say it’s requires thought & planning. Eating a bowl of yogurt or cereal for breakfast is way easier than a sweet potato, sausage & eggs. Cooking extra veggies at dinner time & saving them for breakfast is a good tip. I highly recommend it though & will be joining the fb group. Good Luck!

  2. For the first time in forever I’m starting a new year without the defeat of the previous year literally weighing me down. At 58 years old I recently lost 55 pounds with maybe 7 to 10 to go. I told my children and my husband they deserved this wife/mother all along, and it makes me sad I didn’t accomplish this before for me and them . This is NOT about what size jeans I wore, but every day feeling dissatisfied and ashamed. Another woman could have carried this excess weight and stayed positve and not moody- but I did not do that- I let it affect me in every way.
    My method was Ideal Protein- low carb, low fat, lower calorie, higher protein. It worked amazingly well. My good friend just lost 50 pounds with MediFast, another friend is down 35 with Trim Healthly Mama. If you know yourself, your must haves and shouldn’t haves, then you can figure out the method that is most compatable with your body and your habits.
    Marian , I think your blog was the perfect place to wtite about this because with the faith of a mustard seed, mountains in our Lives truly can move!
    God bless us all as we strive to take care of the body He gave us.

  3. Hi Marian, I also have struggled with losing weight and sticking to a food program long term. I had already decided to cut out wheat and sugar, but am now going to order this book on my kindle and start with all of you on January 1st. I have about 50-60 pounds to lose.

  4. I feel like you shared part of my journal with the world. After reading your post yesterday I read up on Whole 30 and downloaded Made to Crave, wow she gets me. I also ordered a new cookbook and I am starting the year off with Whole 30. I would love to be a part of your facebook group. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing, God is using you in my life and I know I’m not alone.

  5. Hi Marian-

    I have been wanting to share my own personal experience with you since you mentioned the food struggle. I recently watched the documentary Fork over Knives on Netflix. One of the most amazing things I heard on the film was from one guy who struggled for years before finally succeeding. I am paraphrasing but he said, he understood logically in words but our brains don’t understand words. He finally succeeded by using visionalization. He said he figured out he had to see success in pictures. I mention this because this could have a profound influence for all of us who are visual people, who have the talent of imagination.

    I have had my own struggles (addiction) mine was smoking. I finally quit after 24 years. I learned a lot about not only addiction but the steps to modify behaviors. I still struggle everyday to be a healthier person in mind, body and soul. I was even a weight loss counselor after losing weight.

    It is no coincidence that so many readers of your blog have food struggles. I have found that sensitive, caring, artistic, crafty people and the professions like nursing and teaching (creative souls) are the ones who struggle with addiction. I believe it is becaue of that sensitive nature we seek love and acceptance (sugar in my case) or some other pleasure (we are hard wired for that but in todays world of easy attainable processed foods) we don’t have to work as hard to get it. I am one of those types and for years have struggled to accept myself. I am saying look at the source and not the effect. At least we can value our talents and use our gifts (visualization, imagination and perception) to heal ourselves.

    I have identified with your european influences (I am an Army brat and was born in Germany, too) I have been a furniture dealer for four years now. I support myself from my business.

    I will be changing my Diet to be the Fork over Knives way with Whole Foods, Plant Based in January. Here’s wishing us all success.

  6. Brave post that I think so many of us can identify with in part or in whole. I completed a Whole 30 in June 2014 and will be starting agin January 1 as well. I learned quite a bit about myself and about what foods are real triggers for me (ahem…sugar). I remained mostly paleo until Thanksgiving and have noticed old habits creeping back in slowly but surely. Thus, round 2. I can say, I never felt better. I was sleeping so soundly but waking up without an alarm clock completely rested. My skin was so clear. My mental clarity was on target. From my first Whole 30 I gave up all diet soda (something not allowed during Whole 30 but also something I wanted to give up anyway. That was just my thing…), I also managed to kick that sugar dragon’s backside! Food tasted so good.

    I think you are wise to concentrate on what you can have, not on what you can’t. There is a huge Instagram community that will provide numerous ideas. Personally, it was challenging but not crazy hard. I will say, prepare, prepare, prepare. Don’t obsess about your meals but have what you need for meals and a snack if needed. I kept apples, carrots and peppers ready in the fridge. Enjoy the process and what you learn about yourself.

    As a side note…you are a lovely lady with more talent in your little finger than I have in my whole being. I love the part in Made to Crave that encouraged me to crave Him above all else. You are His princess and I am certain He delights in you!

  7. I subscribe to Michelle Tams blog, Nom Nom Paleo and starting Jan 1 she is going to have a recipe a day that is Whole 30 compliant . Great timing ! She’s even holding up the It Starts with Food book. I thought those of you in the FB group would especially enjoy this ( I couldn’t seem to join ) .

  8. I thought I was addicted to food, too, Marian, but when I stopped eating processed foods that contained added ingredients the sole purpose of which are to make food taste better, make us eat more, and to be addicting, I found out it wasn’t food I was addicted to at all, just those ingredients! It really is incredible, but cravings and “hunger” will go away in just a week or two after eating food that doesn’t contain those ingredients. You will feel free (and maybe, like me, resentful that these unhealthy ingredients were ever allowed to be added to our food.) Best of luck; I know you can do it!

  9. I know how hard it is to let it all out there for the world Marion, but you have us all here to support you and each other which is so wonderful! I too have an addiction with sugar and salt, 2 of the worst things to have, and getting older, it seems to get worse. I do well for awhile, then I find myself hurrying to eat the whole bag so I won’t have it in the house to tempt me anymore. I was always think growing up and could eat whatever I wanted and never gain an ounce. Then post menopause set in and I don’t recognize “me” any more and belly fat was something I always heard about and was foreign, now am plagued with and can’t seem to get rid of. I too would love to join you all on this quest together for better health and better choices going forward!

  10. I have felt the same way – but never said it out loud. You are so courageous and brave! The biggest thing that helped me was PowerfullFitness – all about planning/prep of clean foods for me AND the whole family, fitness and accountability on FB. It also talks about Made to Crave. Good luck-your going to do great!

  11. Miss Mustard Seed,

    I loved your post! I can soo relate. I read the book and did the dvd study of Made to Crave and loved it! It made so much sense to me. My problem is that I DO lose weight when I eat clean, but my problem was “sticking” to it long term. Cravings would drive me crazy and let’s not talk about my soda addiction! I switched to diet, tricking myself into believing it would be better. NOT! I was morbidly obese and recently diagnosed with a heart condition that I have to take medication for that can cause weight gain (I did), and depletes your energy. UGH! I crawled out of bed to take my kids to school to then go back to bed and got up in time to pick them up. I felt 90 years old and I was only 40. Through a God ordained meeting I was introduced to Plexus Slim! It was NOT magic bullet, but it balanced my blood sugar (cravings), burned fat cells(inches), and gave me natural energy( no stimulants) that helped me “stick” to eating clean and overcome my soda addiction. I am a work in progress, but I see light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t imagine not having it as a tool in my arsenal of losing weight and gaining health! Made to Crave gave me insight as to why I am the way I am, but Plexus gave me the edge to overcome it! God Bless and I wish you the best on your journey.

  12. Your story sounds exactly like mine. 35-40 pounds up and down up and down for the last 15 years. It’s awful. I’m starting a whole30 monday. I’m excited for you because I think you’ll find so much freedom in this plan. It’s more of a way of life and although it does take some planning ahead…it is so easy because it is SO black and white. Cheering you on!!!

  13. I think we must be long lost sisters, because you pretty much described my life! I start my 30 tomorrow along with my daughter. I’m really dreading the first week because I’m so addicted to Splenda and Sugar, but I know that I can take away their power by just giving them up. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I look forward to following along on FB too because I know I’m going to need to encouragement!

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