my whole30 journey

I’m going to be really vulnerable and honest (and borderline TMI) with you guys today. I always think it’s helpful to hear from someone who has gone through something, instead of just believing someone who is trying to sell a book or program. I’m going to give you a bit of history, and I can hardly believe that I’m posting this next sentence but here goes…

Back in February I became constipated for the first time in my life. Nothing would really help and I’ve been taking miralax since. I had some nights where the pain in my gut was so bad that I just had to lay on the floor with my belly on a pillow because that was the only comfortable position to be in. My doctor referred me to a GI, who said “just eat more fiber, this is very common.” I have been exercising and watching what I eat since mid-January so truth be told I didn’t believe her. I have been on a steady track to my healthiest body yet so I was confused about what could be going on. I tried so many different things – essential oils to help with digestion, enzymes to help my colon, probiotics, eating crazy amounts of grains to get more fiber (more on that later). I’d have crazy gas pain most evenings and things just weren’t right. There were times that it felt like my colon had sores on it or something. My GI ordered a CT scan because of the pain, and it came up clear (except that I was constipated – duh).

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 4.35.00 PMMeanwhile, my friend Elizabeth said she was doing whole30 to help with some stomach issues she was having so I texted her right away to ask her about it. When we were in Florida in June I decided that I’d had enough – 3+ months is long enough to not know what’s going on. I have always been a healthy person with very few health problems (praise God). This is just not like my body. And I didn’t want to resign to the fact that I would have to live like this for the rest of my life. I was done. So I decided that whole30 would be a great way to heal my digestive system and see what foods might be suddenly causing me pain. (my assumption was the grains of some sort were the culprit, the pain seemed the worst after those foods)

For those of you who don’t know what whole30 is, you basically cut out anything that can cause inflammation in the body. No dairy (no ice cream for 30 days? what?!). No grains. No added sugars (even the healthier ones like honey and maple syrup). No legumes. You can read more about specifics here. If you’re seriously considering the program or just want to learn more about food, this book is invaluable. It has opened my eyes to much to what food does to the body and quite frankly I’m scared of what they put in “food” these days. Reading the labels makes me understand why there is so much cancer and other diseases running rampant these days. But that soapbox can wait for another day.

whole30-meal

a typical whole30 meal: chicken sausage (with no added sugar, date wrapped in coconut, salad with homemade ranch, water to drink…this would keep me full all afternoon until dinner)

So I started whole30 on June 9, after a nice “last meal” at Olive Garden the day before. I think I ate my weight in breadsticks. Here are a few of my thoughts while going through the program:

day 2 – Woke up with another headache today and a cranky mood because I just don’t want to do this for 29 more days. I sure hope it’s not this hard for the entire time because I don’t know if I can make it. Are you kidding me that I can’t have some grilled chicken from Chick-fil-a because they add sugar to it? I guess I’ll just sit here then.
day 4 – Hallelujah for Target having a brand of lunch meat turkey with no added sugar. I never thought I’d be so excited about lunchmeat.
day 6 – I didn’t realize what a fog I have been in for the last 3.5 months. I’ve been so consumed with the pain I’ve been having and trying to remedy it that I haven’t thought about much else. Today was one of the first days where I walked around the house and got stuff done. So grateful for 6 days pain free.
day 9 – oh, now I remember what bloating and constipation feels like. Gratefully I knew this was coming from the timeline…just hope it ends soon. (it did, the next day I was back on track)
day 17 – today marks day 5 with no miralax (hallelujah). the hardest part of today and my least favorite thing about this program is going out to eat. I packed my salad (which was super yummy) and watched my family eat noodles & co. they also went to my favorite ice cream place so instead of watching them eat that too, I dropped them off and went to target and found some yummy dried cinnamon apples. still feeling good in my gut.
day 24 – things are moving right along…I’ve gotten in a good groove. I’ve been able to stay off miralax without issue (although I know my gut is still not healed yet). After the 30 days and reintroduction I think I might have to do another 30 days to continue the healing process and I’m okay with that. I’ve been so encouraged by people interested in learning more about Whole30 and am excited that I can share that path to wellness with them.
day 25-26 – so maybe I threw myself under the bus with my comments yesterday. These were horrible days…the only things I can think of to cause my pain and bloating are that for breakfast day 25 I had something with almonds in it (that can cause irritation in the intestines) and for the past 5 days I’ve had a big fat salad full of raw veggies for one of my meals every day. Raw veggies can be harder to digest. (so day 27 I had only cooked veggies with my meals and virtually no nuts…feeling much better)
days 31-40 – reintroduction has been so eye opening. it’s different for everyone so I won’t go into too much detail, but my main problem area seems to be grains. They’re the ones that caused the most discomfort (and constipation) of the foods that I reintroduced. The hard thing is that the issues didn’t show up for me immediately. I had problems 24-36 hours after eating them. This is why it was so important to wait 3 days between reintroducing each good. I’m so happy I now know my body better and what foods are doing to it. I’m 100% happy that I did Whole30 and would recommend it to anyone I know – health problems or not.

Tips on doing Whole30:
— don’t be afraid…it’s hard at first and mostly mental, but so worth it in the end
— plan and shop before you start the program. part of my frustration on day 2 is that I didn’t have a good meal plan
— research before you try to go out to eat. many places add sugar to their meat (hello chick-fil-a). veggies are sautĂ©ed in butter. I learned to pack myself meals when we’d be away from home at mealtime.
— you can do anything for 30 days. even if you don’t have digestive issues or diabetes or arthritis or high cholesterol. this program can (and I’d bet that it WILL) help your body in some way.
— it’s not forever, you don’t have to give up your favorite ice cream or mashed potatoes forever. but doing the program will make you think a little differently about the food you put into your body.
— find meals that you like and make them in bulk. save yourself time by making double batches of things you enjoy. for me this was cauliflower cilantro lime rice. yum. I think I could eat a whole head of cauliflower prepared this way and I don’t like cauliflower. another is zoodles – get this julienne peeler and you’ll be all set.

(By the way, for those who are interested in more than just how I felt while on Whole30, I lost 9 pounds in 30 days)

My friend Elizabeth just posted her experience with Whole30 on her blog, Hello Apricot so be sure to check hers out too!

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