Seriously? That Whole30 was so friggin’ hard!
And so friggin’ great.
I went into this eating experiment really, really scared. I hate to diet and haven’t in years. Since I have been sober I have probably eaten some sort of sugar every day. Graham crackers at night with my tea. Candy at my volunteer gig. Ice cream and frozen yogurt and, as I was starting on January 1, the Holiday season had just ended with it’s excess of sugar. Could I go 30 days without sugar? Did I even want to?
I also hate new years resolutions, and starting a diet on january 1 felt really old, really anti -everything I believe in.
I also worried because I was doing it with other people, what if I screwed up? What if I just couldn’t do it, or, worse, decided I didn’t want to do it midway and had to tell them? (Of course, this is assuming it was all about me, which, of course, it decidedly was not!).
And I don’t cook. I mean I seriously do not cook, so processed frozen dinners, no matter how healthy I thought they were, were out.
This was going to be a huge change for me in so many ways:
– eating 3 meals, no snacking
– no sugar
– no grains
– no dairy
– protein/veggie/fat at each meal
I had to plan my meals, I had to figure out what to eat to keep it interesting and I had to cook, at least a little, or there was no way. I had to actually eat MEALS, sit down and focus. Put them together. I logged everything I ate and noted if I was sick, too full, had a migraine…whatever. Because THAT was why I was doing this. I wanted to see if I could feel better, help my arthritis and asthma, get healthier. When I stopped looking at it as a diet my success was assured and that’s when I finally committed.
At this point I am going to admit that I was not perfect on this Whole 30. There were days that, after choking down a huge breakfast there was no way i could eat again for hours and my scheduling was off. I did manage the right proportions of food at every meal, but there were a couple of meals that were a handful of olives, a slice of chicken or turkey and some carrots. Really small. AND I did not defeat the snack attacks. There is something so entrenched in me about a little snack with tea before bed. I didn’t do it often, but I did do that occasionally. I also never started over because of that, because, well, shit, look what I was doing for godsakes!! And that snack was never graham crackers….usually some blueberries or a handful of nuts, just something for my bedtime ritual.
So how was it?
Well, the first week or so was so much like early sobriety it was crazy. I couldn’t sleep well, I was naseous, I was mentally so focussed on food, just as I had been focussed on drinking. I had food cravings…making a piece of toast for a friend one morning I was brought to my knees..I wanted bread so badly! Actually, the thing I did crave the most was bread, muffins, a bagel..gluten. And I understand that that is the allergy showing itself, and what I am allergic to is what is causing me distress.
After the first week I knew I’d better get some new food ideas, and my lovely friend was right there to teach me how to roast a chicken (Yes. You heard that right. I had never roasted a chicken before. I’ve never BBQ’d either, so there!). I just roasted one the other night on my own and it was delicious…I’ve been eating off of it for 4 days! She also taught me how to make a great soup, and I learned the glories of the immersion blender, which I have now also used for mashed cauliflower. I learned about spices and how they helped, I learned to make sweet potato chips (omg), I roasted a lot of veggies and steamed them and ate them without butter. Love canned salmon mixed with guacamole and anything else I have on hand plopped on a bed of lettuce. I ate olives and avacados and macadamia nuts to my hearts content, and found a new treat in apple slices with almond butter. I can’t wait to try some of the slow cooker recipes I’ve seen.
I’m not afraid of attempting to cook…if I fuck something up there is always something else here to eat.
I am practically Julia Child.
But on to the gist of it, what happened, how did it affect my health?
Well, the arthritis in my thumbs has diminished substantially. At the most I get an occasional dull ache, when before I would get spasms and had hardly any strength in my hands.
I like coffee but it doesn’t like me… get acid reflux. Except I don’t have it anymore, even when I drink coffee. I try to limit it to 2 cups in the morning. I was lucky with this because I have always drunk my coffee and tea black, never adding sweetener or milk (except for an occasional latte)…others doing this with me had a hard time with this, though coconut cream worked for them.
I still had occasional migraines, but there was a lot of different weather here this month, rain and cold and heavy winds…all things that have always triggered migraine. So it seems like food wasn’t doing it, if it ever had before.
I suffer from chronic allergies, particularly a very bad cough that flows into asthma and hits me every day, EVERY day, makes me cough like crazy and then takes a while to catch my breathe. I took daily nose spray and claritin and inhaler. That has all but stopped. Seriously, for this alone I give great thanks. I suspect that it always had partly to do with the GERD, that goes and the coughing subsides. Oh, this is such good news!!
I spent close to a week with a woman who smokes in my second week, in a closed up house, and the asthma was barely a problem.
I have a lot of issues with my legs; pain and numbness, one of the reasons I don’t walk for exercise. That is not gone, but it is better, and it is also more focussed so that it feels like now I can get some real help in specific areas rather than complaining about how my legs go numb…it’s clearer where the problems are.
I don’t have the “sleep like a baby” thing to report…I am up way too late every night. BUT I still try and get 7-8 hours of sleep and even when I don’t I wake up more refreshed. I also wake up more often during the night, which I have not been enjoying…not sure why that is happening. Something to work on.
Much less brain fog. I’m clearer, remember more things and am getting things accomplished vs sitting around and not dealing.
I don’t crave sugar. You heard that right. I don’t crave sugar. I haven’t since week one, it’s a miracle.
That’s pretty damn good/great/awesome/fan-fucking-tastic!
So here I am on Day 31, trying to figure where I go from here.
And it’s not so hard to do. I like the way I feel. The cravings for bread/muffins etc tell me, clearly, that I should not, and will not pick gluten back up. I may add in a little rice, an occasional taste of something, but I don’t miss it and so why? I have no desire for pasta, and am not gonna try any gluten free breads. Just leaving that alone. Sometimes I think of a bready treat, like a cake for my birthday, right? they make them from almond flour and other things and they are delicious.
And that points to the sugar too. Maybe I’ll try a little dark chocolate occasionally, a fruit sweetened snack, and almond flour cookie, coconut ice cream. Maybe I will. But I’m going to try and put it off as long as possible, because what they call the “sugar dragin” seems to be asleep, and I like it like that.
Dairy? I may try an occasional latte, tho I can do that with almond milk. We’ll see. I don’t miss it. If I’m at a party and theres a cheese tray, well I guess we’ll see. I hate milk. I like yogurt ok but I usually used that on cereal instead of milk and not eating cereal sort of makes the need for yogurt nonexistent. Frozen yogurt? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, but that falls in that sugar category for me, something I want to avoid.
All in all I don’t think I’ll be changing much at all. I do want to do MORE…exercise, figure out any supplements I might need, learn more recipes, play with it. I do appreciate the restrictions being off…I didn’t like that part of it, but I never like restrictions or being told what to do anyway so that makes sense.
This is a pretty non-descript and boring blog post. Oh well. I want it for reference and I am putting it out there for accountability.
The Whole30 changed my life, and I feel like staying with it longer will only bring even more healing.
That’s what I am going to do, to the best of my ability. When I do add something I will be watching closely for reactions and modifying as needed.
This was no diet, it was a revelation.
And I am so grateful to the women who helped me through this.
I was scared and did it anyway. I have a lot of scary things facing me, doing this is a step in showing me what I might be capable of. Brave. OPEN.