From September 17th to October 16th, I did my first Whole 30.
What is a Whole 30? Check out all of these links to get a better picture:
It Starts With Food – the book that explains the science behind which foods are ok, and which to avoid.
It’s 30 days of eating clean, real foods. Whole 30 is all about knowing what goes into your body and where it comes from. Whole 30 is about avoiding foods that are commonly known as irritants to our stomachs and bodies as a whole.
The Whole 30 is supposed to help your body return to classic clockwork function. Your body will store and burn the appropriate energy. You should feel like a rockstar from Mars. You should be stronger. You might lose weight. Your skin may look better. Do you have fibromyalgia like I do? Less pain!
And so on and so on. It’s not easy to get there though.
No added sugar, even the fancy agave stuff.
No grains at all. No rice. No corn. No trendy quinoa.
No soy. No legumes.
No baked goods. No dessert. Whole 30 is also about learning to control why you want to eat the foods that you do, and how to control those cravings and sugar demons.
No pancakes. Pancakes made with coconut flour may be technically part of the meal plan, but they don’t stack up against a protein and vegetable rich breakfast. Pancakes, while yummy, just don’t have the same nutrient profile as eggs, avocados, and kale.
Also. No dairy.
I, the queen cheese lover, had not a drop of the good stuff until even a few days after Whole 30 was over.
I was one of those hardcore Paleo-ers and how did I feel about it?
I liked it. A lot. I missed cooking for myself delicious and complete meals, which I hadn’t forced myself to really do since grad school. Doing the Whole 30 forced me to take the leap to make those delicious, adventurous dishes again.
Did I feel like Charlie Sheen thought he felt?
Nah. By my 30th day, I felt like what WE thought Charlie Sheen must have been feeling like (womp womp). I had no renewed sense of self or energy. I still had headaches. I lost not one inch from my waist line. I was tired. I wanted a cookie. I was disappointed, but at least I enjoyed everything I was eating.
So on Day 31, I decided to stay within the Whole 30 plan, except for the occasional something. I avoided cheese and didn’t snack, even though technically I was allowed to.
As I fell back into crazy work hours that come with theatre life, and thus stopped planning my meals, the Whole 30 eating quickly fell by the way side.
And you know what happened?
My knees hurt. A lot. I realized that during the Whole 30, I hadn’t felt the need to have any of my pain meds for the fibro. And suddenly I needed them.
My skin, which I didn’t think was improving at all, was much more inflamed from my rosacea, and I’m breaking out.
My chronic fatigue is acting up, and getting out of bed is suddenly difficult again. Getting the motivation to do my work is becoming a struggle again. During the Whole 30, I could get through an entire day. Pre- and post-Whole 30, I would have to take a nap around 1pm because I had used up too much of my energy already.
My tummy is also very unhappy.
So maybe I needed more than 30 days to feel the amazing benefits of the Whole 30. Or maybe it really does take a lifetime of good eating to reverse the damage and find equilibrium in my body. Maybe I just need to appreciate feeling good, without showers of fireworks and prancing unicorns to tell me that I’m doing well.
What I also learned from the Whole 30 is that I don’t actually like to snack and pick on food in between meals. I also don’t have as extreme of a sweet tooth as I thought I did. Candy and flavored foods just don’t taste as good to me anymore.
As well, I may love cheese, but I don’t need cheese. Shocker.
So what now?
I figure that once the new year kicks in and the holidays are long gone, I’m going to go back to the Whole 30 style of eating. I may do 30 days, I may do 45 (more likely), I may stay that way forever, except for a holiday with grandma’s manicotti or my best friend’s wedding.
We’ll see what happens. I think it could be worth it to make sure I’m doing everything I can to improve my quality of life and stay away from the pain killers.
Have you ever tried to change your eating habits? What happened? I’d love to hear insight from anyone else who has had to partake in a restrictive diet, either by choice or necessity.