Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whole30 Re-cap

I have headaches.  I've had them for as long as I can remember.  Nothing really Tylenol. No preventative meds, nothing.  Well, I take that back.  Some help, but they don't cure the problem.  

This summer I had Sophie.  At the six week postpartum mark, when I would typically be cleared to exercise, I had some torn muscles, and had to wait another 3-4 months.  So, I was still carrying quite a bit of baby weight, couldn't exercise and was having headaches again.  Enter a blog post from someone about Whole30.

At first, I didn't want to try it.  Scratch that.  I didn't think I could do it.  I have a huge sweet tooth. Plus, I love bread.  I mean, love it.  But...the pounds weren't coming off.  When Sophie stopped nursing and I had no reason to eat anything extra, I decided to give Whole30 a go.

Sixteen days in was The Hundred Event.  I ate something wrong (who knows what it was - it was a broth based soup at an Asian restaurant).  Within five minutes I had a migraine, shakiness and nausea.  The headache lasted two and a half days.  So, I caved and enjoyed the weekend of great food.

I decided to start again September 1st.  I think I lasted 10 days.  Finally, on October 1st, my cousin and I committed to a third try (for me), and began again.  It worked.  We made it through, and this is my recap...
I didn't follow the book's plan exactly.  I mean, I cut out all of the foods they said to, but I snacked.  It was a matter of getting through it for me.  The foods pictured above (plus Peeled Fruit's dried mango) got me through.  I ate tons of fruit, so many nuts, and not enough vegetables.

The first week or so, I felt terrible.  Basically, I felt like I had the flu.  Headaches, aches, grogginess.  Maybe about Day 10, life was good.  It was still hard for me, but it got much easier.  I'm not one to need a whole lot of variety, so I didn't try too many fancy recipes.  A chicken breast topped with green chili, a hamburger patty, salads with brown mustard for dressing, cauliflower rice and eggs topped with fresh tomatoes became my staples.  By day 16, it was smooth sailing.  

Then came the re-introduction.  First was the reintroduction of dairy.  The first day didn't seem to affect me too badly.  I got a little gassy after eating dairy (a cup of yogurt, a slice of cheese and a cup of ice cream).  Then it was back to Whole30 for two days.  

Day 4 was a reintroduction of gluten.  I ate it and pretty quickly my stomach started cramping.  But nothing terrible.  

Then I tried sugar in the form of my traditional coffee creamer.  I felt like my throat was closing a bit. It instantly became sore for about a day and I got a headache.

I messed up the next day and was out of town, so instead of Whole30, I grabbed a sandwich.  Terrible headache within 20 minutes.  They headache was bad for two days and then lingered another three. I'm guessing it was the nitrates from the lunch meat.

Four days later I had a tortilla with a little butter...gassy and a dull headache came.  The next day I woke up swollen and achy.  

Which brings us to yesterday...when I had a bowl of ice cream.  I didn't care.  I wanted it, so I ate it. BIG MISTAKE.  I have never had the stomach cramps I did after eating this.  I know it sounds dramatic, but it was painful, and was accompanied by gas and bloating.  And, the past few days, I've felt a bit foggy - not as alert as I was on the Whole30.

Soooo...I haven't reintroduced legumes.  I really don't miss them enough to reintroduce them.  

I've found with sugar (I think), I get the same reaction as I did drinking my coffee throat feels like it closes a bit and is sore for a day.  Weird.

The questions...

1.  Can I do this clean eating for life?  
Completely?  No.  However, it has shown me SO much in the past 30 days, that it was very well worth it.  I can more easily tell what doesn't work well with my body and what causes headaches, and being headache-free or living with fewer headaches is a big plus!

2.  Is it the dairy, the gluten or the sugar I can't handle?
I'm not quite sure.  I need to do a better re-intro in the next week or so.  I think maybe I don't do extremely well with any of them, but I'm also not deathly allergic either.

3.  Did I lose weight?
Yes.  Granted most of it was baby weight that I had not carried forever, but from the first attempt to now, I've lost 20 lbs (3.5 months) without exercising.

4.  Is this a typical reaction for the reintroduction?
I can't answer that.  I question if everyone would feel the same way eating so clean and then having these items.  Would our bodies be so used to cleaner eating, that we would get gassy and boated and whatever else with any change in our clean habits?  Or, it it more individualized?  Do tell.

5.  How do you move on from here?
I know there are things in restaurants (where I don't know how the food is prepared) that will give me headaches.  Looking back on my experience in August, it was probably MSG.  But, the question I weigh is whether or not to eat so clean that when I "have" to mess up it basically puts me out with a migraine OR to eat a little something every day not on the Whole30 to, in a way, build up resistance to the overreaction of my body when I consume something not on the plan.  Hmmm.  I don't know.

Also, continuing on this, I need to find ways to boost my calcium intake and incorporate more veggies.  It's been a great experience in so many ways, and it ended up being more doable than I ever imagined.

Have you done a Whole30?  What was your takeaway?


  1. I'm tempted to try this! Kevin and I looked at it and decided it was a little extreme for us right now. But maybe someday we'll dive into the Whole30 fun. ;-)

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Britt - gas and all!
    I don't think I'll ever do a true Whole 30 but I have been trying some new things for my diet and I've seen some incredible results. Like my horrible, horrible menstrual cramps vanished once I gave up soda.