Food sensitivities and the start of the Whole30 ride

Suddenly, I’m allergic to…food.
A week ago, I asked my friends for advice on dealing with food sensitivities. Lately I’ve been having weird and extreme reactions to food, that I’ve never had or realized before. I’m getting tested for allergies in a few weeks but want to do all I can in the mean time to help my body calm down.

Enter Whole30.
My wonderful friend Wendy (who is allergic to Facebook but amazing at private support hehehe) has been dealing with the exact same issues and strongly recommended the Whole30 program, which I’ve considered before, but never done. It’s popular among triathletes and others.

Whole30 is a 30-day health reset in which you eat meat, fish, veggies, healthy fats, nuts (if you aren’t allergic/sensitive) and a little fruit. And black coffee, thank God. NO added sugar, honey, etc., no booze, no dairy, no grains of any kind, no corn, no soy, nothing processed whatsoever, no additives like carageenan etc. It’s similar to a strict Paleo, which I’ve been experimenting with for the past two months with great results but not great consistency.

Why do this? It’s supposed to be great for inflammation and I am strongly suspecting that extreme joint inflammation caused by undetected food sensitivities may be the ultimate root cause of all or most of my pain issues over the past year.

One of the ways they describe Whole30 in the book is: “…the Whole30 is not a diet. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not even a weight loss program. The Whole30 is designed to change your life. It’s a monumental transformation in how you think about food, your body, your life, and what you want out of the time you have left on this earth. It’s so much bigger than just food. It’s a paradigm shift the likes of which you may only experience a few times in your whole life.”

Those are some mighty large claims. I am definitely up for a life-changing experience and we’ll see if this lives up to it. I just finished the first week…it’s been quite the roller coaster ride, with a happy end-of-week status and some pro tips and helpful reading at the end.

Day 1 Excited and Anxious.
Amazing breakfast: sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, eggs and a little bit of fresh pineapple. SERIOUSLY I FEEL BETTER ALREADY. Black coffee? You mean, like, without almond milk and honey? Oh HELL no. I’m highly skeptical. But, actually, it’s not so bad. Later, the anxiety kicked in. Someone said to eliminate nuts, one of my favorite snacks. That feels like it is threatening my very existence. (I know, right? WITH THE DRAMA. It all feels very dramatic at the time. Food is emotional.) Someone else says fruit is the devil. I’m sticking to the letter of the Whole30 law and keeping my fruit, but cutting back to a couple servings a day. I think I might be sensitive to nuts and might need to let those go.

Day 2 Eff This Shit.
I do not feel better…I feel pissed off and super crabby. Had no time for a real breakfast, and it’s pretty difficult to just grab and go on this deal unless you are far better prepared than I was this week since I just decided to jump into this head first. Cold beets and special “paleo-approved” bacon is not an inspiring start to the day. Egg salad with avocado instead of mayo wrapped in leaf lettuce for lunch is vile. The beef we slow-cookered for dinner looks like a bike tire. Three total meal fails in a row made me frustrated and overwhelmed. (I don’t have time for this! There’s NO WAY I have time for this!) I ended the day hungry and sobbing, cradling Whole30 cookbooks in my arms.

Day 3 OMG I FEEL AMAZING! 
My energy was on the low side during the morning gym workout, but my body felt less achy and my digestion was more functional. I observed a definite connection between my digestion and my pain level. Whole30 breakfasts – when you have time to do them right – are the BEST. Sweet potatoes, kale and eggs again. (Egg fatigue will set in soon, I’m told.) I also realized I need to focus on chewing more slowly; I don’t think I’ve chewed my food in the decade since G was born which has likely been, you know, a bit of a problem. Mid-afternoon hibiscus tea appeased my sweet tooth (or “sugar dragon” as Whole30 people seem to call it). I think almond butter on celery gave me a stomach ache. Please, God, do not take my almond butter. This is the “bargaining” stage of Whole30, apparently.

Day 4 Meh.  

Day 5 I need to let go of the scale. 
I’m supposed to stay off the scale. I haven’t been staying off the scale. It’s not ABOUT the scale. It’s about the NSV (non-scale victory), which for me is less pain and inflammation and more energy. I have less pain. My energy hasn’t rallied yet, but it will. In the end, I didn’t stay off the scale. But I will. I SWEAR. I will from now on, until day 31.

Day 6 WTELF. (What the ever-loving f-bomb.)
I have been all-in on this Whole30 for SIX WHOLE DAYS and I felt like total ass this day, with swollen joints. Oh yeah, I ate some regular, nitrate-free, non-paleo-approved bacon the day before. Yes, there really is special paleo-approved bacon without added sugar (Jesus. They put sugar in every damn thing). Technically, I am supposed to start the program over because I sugar-poisoned myself; however, I don’t plan to quit after 30 days so I’m going to just keep rolling. I baked eggs inside avocados (which is nowhere near as easy at it looks) and ordered special 100% coconut milk sans guar gum. I can’t WAIT for it to arrive; this is what my food life has come to. Almond butter on celery immediately gave me a stomach ache, again. So almond butter is dead to me for now and life isn’t fair. *sobs* Still, I am fascinated by how in touch this has made me with my body and its sensitivities. That’s pretty damn cool.

Day 7 Mind…Blown. 
I woke up feeling super crazy tired, which evidently, according to the Whole30 book, is extremely normal at this stage when your body is used to burning sugar and isn’t getting it. I was also tired of plain black coffee, so I put in some full fat coconut milk and cinnamon and it was a very satisfying change. I found myself getting in the groove and ate amazing today – eggs, avocado, kale, dates wrapped in paleo-approved bacon (SO freaking good), cod, broccoli, zucchini, blueberries, salmon, sweet potatoes and asparagus. I am also trying to make sure to leave at least 3-4 hours in between eating instead of grazing like I normally do, so my digestion works better.

I worked out at home after a long-ish dog walk, and it was rather unbelievably great. My joints were moving in ways that they haven’t in a year…after ONE WEEK. I went right back into plow pose with zero effort. I haven’t even been able to do cat/cow without pain and stiffness in SO long and it felt normal. I tested light sumo squats – NO problem. I even decided to jump on the treadmill and throw down a test of some 6.0 intervals – and felt PERFECT. I can’t even explain the difference in my body. I have no words. I’m still stiff and sore first thing in the morning and have a long way to go, but I believe this is going to help, big time.

Pro Tips and Helpful Reading
Here is the guar-gum-free coconut milk you can order. Technically guar gum is allowed, I’d just rather get it out. Wendy also suggested subbing cashew butter for my dearly departed almond butter, which seems better on my tummy. Be careful, though, I accidentally bought cashew butter at the co-op that has safflower oil in it, which is also technically permitted but not ideal. It drives me crazy when even the organic food co-op adds crap to otherwise healthy whole food. Read. EVERY. Label.

Read about carageenan from the point of view of a cardiologist. It’s one of those ingredients in commercial almond milk that I’ve always wondered about, but didn’t really want to know. Well now I know and I won’t be consuming it any more. If you’re ordering almond latte and thinking you’re being healthy, as I was, sorry, but you’re not. Cut that shit out. It’s crazy inflammatory and possibly carcinogenic.

Another super-smart food friend, Rachel, wrote about Leaky Gut and the Allergic to Everything Phenomenon. It’s a really great read and her blog is a great resource.

Week Two…I’m All In.
I will most *definitely* be continuing this Whole30. I can’t WAIT to see what week two brings. I’ll be much better prepared this week, and I need to massively thank my husband, Karl, who does a ton of food prep for me.

Have you ever done Whole30? Did it help? Would you ever try it?