Because They Asked–My Whole30 Experience

On the Whole30 Facebook page today, they asked: “Have you done a Whole30? Did you not experience any results or change until the very end of your 30 days – or even after? Did you write a blog post about your experience?”

So I decided that would be my motivation to respond here, covering it all and hopefully in 1000 words or less.

Whole30

I just finished the 30 days last Monday, and then went on for four more days before I decided Valentine’s Day weekend needed wine and chocolate. I was actually scared to go off the “rules,” which is not like me at all. I had such a great experience eating Whole30 style, eating/cooking way more and way better than I normally do. It felt wonderful to take such good care of myself for once. But Whole30 encourages you to stop after 30 days in most cases, and I was finally ready.

Why I did the Whole30:

As I mentioned in this post, the Whole30 cookbook practically jumped off the shelves at me one day at Barnes and Noble. I was totally taken in by this delicious looking cookbook and the first words in it: “This is not hard.” I knew right away my body wanted to eat this way and I wanted to heal two main things: my keratosis pilaris (a rash I’ve had all my life that probably says I’m not eating enough healthy fat or digesting fats properly) and my digestion. I also wanted to slay what Whole30 calls “my sugar dragon” and find a better blood sugar balance where I’m not crashing and hungry/snacking all day.

Now, the numbers:

Weight: I lost 3 pounds and had no trouble following the rule of not weighing myself for the entire 30 days. I’m not a scale fanatic and didn’t need to lose much weight. I’m happy where I’m at, and those 3 pounds were perfect (some people have tremendous weight loss on the Whole30, I think because their bodies need it).
Inches: Mostly the same but my hips are one inch smaller. (Maybe less bloating in my tummy would cause this?)

I had already lost 10 pounds in 2015, mostly due to my Fitbit and being super-motivated to walk every day. And I gave up sugar twice last year, once during the 40 days of Lent in the spring, and in November just because. I have never, ever in my life given up sugar for possibly even a day! I eat pretty well, I thought, but I grew up eating massive amounts of sugar and even as an adult have eaten sugar in some form or another constantly (cookies! Dove dark chocolates!). It’s almost impossible not to in America because sugar is in just about everything, even foods like meat from Whole Foods and the natural food co-op.

Non-scale victories on the Whole30:

Deep, refreshing sleep every night.
More, sustainable energy all day.
No blood sugar crashes and the ability to go 3-5 hours between meals without snacking.
My skin looks better with all those healthy fats I’m ingesting (though the lifelong keratosis pilaris still lurks).
I cooked 3 meals a day and/or did a lot more advance meal prepping and thinking about good food. I loved it all! (Surprising for someone who never liked to cook, would get overwhelmed by cooking, and never knew how to do it well.)
I found a lot of new foods I like to eat often and got used to eating more protein, healthy fats, and veggies at every meal.
More regular bowel movements (though with some issues, see below).
My tastebuds have been reset. I no longer need sugar in my black tea and fruit tastes like candy. Yay!

Some problems I had while on the Whole30:

Some explosive stomach issues, if you know what I mean. This occurred late in the second week, and was helped by varying my veggies away from daily broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (which I was eating a lot due to their being so convenient in frozen form).
Overall my usual abdominal bloating was down but I still experienced stomach pain and bloating at times, which actually got worse as the month went on. I was super-distressed about this because I had started out seeing improvements and then it got WORSE?! I was doing this to improve my digestion, after all.

I tried digestive enzymes, and I made sure I got probiotics in the form of Kombucha and fermented sauerkraut. Things still got worse. Then, I finally figured it out in the past week, AFTER my Whole30 officially ended: It was the nuts! I finally thought to give up eating almonds, cashews, walnuts, and almond butter every day. Oh, and my precious Larabars (which yes, I ate daily as an afternoon snack, a “treat” type of food which is Whole30 ingredient compliant, but my way of eating them as a treat-snack goes against Whole30 recommendations).

How I solved the problems:

Going lighter on those veggies, and eliminating nuts, has made all the difference. NOW I feel great! I tried limiting FODMAP foods but it was actually about those above-mentioned foods, and it was great to finally discover that.

Whole30 Alumni

My reintroduction phase started last Saturday.

I’m doing the reintroduction phase for 10 days. The wine on Saturday night had the effect of making me sleepy, which is normal for me. It’s a food/beverage that I rarely but sometimes find “worth it” because of that. This weekend with my husband, it was nice to go out for a glass of wine, but the sleepiness afterwards was probably not worth it.

Tomorrow I’ll try reintroducing legumes, a food I don’t care much about. Having been vegetarians for years, if I never eat another bean in my life I’ll be fine. 🙂 But I’m going to try a day of eating them and see what happens just because beans will happen. Then, three days after that, I’ll follow the plan and try non-gluten grains for a day, then dairy three days after that, and then on to the gluten grains. I’m pretty sure it’s grains that ruin my digestion and give me the worst bloating, but I would love to be able to eat oatmeal sometimes, as well as yogurt and good cheeses. If those foods work for me, I’ll choose gluten-free oats and cheeses better than the grocery store brand yellow cheddar (really, yuck!).

I recommend the Whole30 to anyone who’s thinking about doing it to benefit their health. If you have inflammation, digestive distress, or gallbladder, autoimmune, and other health issues, and even anxiety and depression, the success stories are amazing. As the first Whole30 book, It Starts with Food, says: better health starts with food.

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