The Almost Whole30

Sunday 11 December 2016

Day 26 – I sit here enjoying a creamy flat white. It seems crazy that I couldn’t hold out for a few more days right? 

Before I start, I would like to make the point clear that my opinion of Whole30 is a good one, and I would recommend it to anybody having struggles with food. However, like all lifestyle choices, not all of them work for everybody. This review covers the purpose of the Whole30, what I liked about it, and the reason why it didn’t work for ME – I am not speaking on behalf of anyone, these are simply my thoughts, and my thoughts shouldn’t stop you from giving Whole30 a go. After reading this, I hope you understand why I made the decision to cut this journey short. 

Whole30 – A 30 day period in which the participant clears the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups (sugar, grains, legumes, additives and preservatives, and dairy) from their ‘diet’ in an attempt to detox the body. Whole30 is a reccommended programme for anybody who has inconsistent or non-existent energy levels, unexplainable aches and pains, or difficulties loosing and maintaining weight. Whole30 is also commonly undertaken by those with medical conditions such as skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies and fertility issues – conditions that are often untreatable with medication. There is an emphasis on eating resl food; meat, vegetables, fruit, good fats and oils etc. NOT counting calories, NOT thinking about when meals will be consumed (eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full), and NOT weighing yourself regurlarly (it is reccommended to weigh yourself on day 1 and then not again until day 30). (Whole30.com).

Before starting the Whole30 I had just had a food intolerance blood test done and was eagerly awaiting for my results to come back from the United States (a 4 week process). The blood test was done by BioTek, a company who are pioneers in ELISA technology with over 30 years experience. ELISA IgG testing is known to be the gold standard in food intolerance testing in the world. 96 different foods are tested including the foods from the following groups of dairy, seafood, vegetables, fruits, condiments, meat and eggs etc. Allergic and other hypersensitivity reactions to foods and aeroallergens are characterized by elevated allergen-specific antibody levels in the affected individual’s blood (BioTek).

I made this decision as I have tried multiple food elimination diets, had applied kinesiology muscle testing done, undergone FODMAP breath testing and was still suffering severe symptoms. So what is a food intolerance exactly? A person with a food intolerance will feel unwell after eating something their body can’t digest. Typically, there is a delay between eating the food and feeling the negative symptoms. This delay is usually several hours but, in some cases, the delay between eating and experiencing symptoms can be up to a day or more. 

While my results were being processed, rather than sitting around waiting, I decided to be pro-active about how I was feeling. With the support of my absolutely amazing, handsome, smart, and funny fiancee, we embarked on a Whole30 journey (he may have edited this). 

It started off well, for a couple of weeks my symptoms were almost non-existent, with very few flair ups. It got me back on track by reducing sugar cravings, and I didn’t feel the need to eat comfort food when something was wrong or if I was in a stressful situation. The biggest change I felt was my ability to get through the day without the need for caffeine. I was in a very good space, physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Soon after week 2 had passed, I realised my eating was starting to have a negative impact on my quality of life and it threw me off balance. The extreme control I was placing over my eating was ruling my day to day life. Banishing foods completely from my diet led to a mindset of what is right or wrong. At the end of the day I’d reflect on everything I’d eaten, beating myself up for 3 pieces of fruit - because that was too much fructose. My relationship with food quickly got unhealthy. I was constantly thinking about what, when and how much I should be eating. I started to obsess and restrict my intake of even healthy foods. I think this obsession comes from my fear of putting the weight that I have lost back on. Funnily enough I actually gained weight whilst on the Whole30 – 4kg.

Attempting to find products that didn’t have preservatives or additives was almost impossible and this was making my situation of obssessiveness over food even worse. I was getting upset when I couldn’t find food products I wanted. 

I was still experiencing stomach cramps, bloating and discomfort. I couldn’t work out why this was happening. I had completely stripped all food of aything ‘bad’ from my body? Then came some answers. I learnt on day 23 of my intolerance test results, and it turned out that I was eating foods that I was very intolerant too. This included almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pineapple, eggs, all forms of dairy, tomato, and mushrooms. The results from this test were hard to come to terms with. I already eat so clean and have spent the last 3 years fine tuning my diet, eliminating one thing after another. And as a lot of you know, almonds and peanut butter make regular appearances in my recipes. I hit breaking point – I just wanted to feel normal for once, and to be able to eat whatever I wanted. 

On top of the continuous guilt, stress about what and when to eat, and the pain, I also felt pressure to share with you (my followers) the idea that I do eat “healthy” like this all the time. Running Embracing It began to feel like a chore, and I was doing it purely because I felt as though I had an image to uphold. I lost sight of what Embracing It is all about – my journey, the day-to-day challenges I face, and sharing these experiences with you all. I even lost interest in baking. 

At day 26, I decided I had completely lost control. This had gone so far out of proportion it was beyond ridiculous. The mental, physical and emotional stress I was under was tearing me a part. My stubbornness and the extreme desire to complete a started task wasn’t worth the pain I was going through. I gave myself a reality check and decided to put my health first, and pull the plug on Whole30. I remembered that being healthy is much more than what you eat. It’s your physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the intention of Whole30 and the benefits it holds for a wide range of people. The success stories of weight loss, disease control, and enhancement of life are mind blowing. With a big focus on eating the right foods, eliminating sugar and preservatives, and stripping everything ‘food orientated’ back to a natural state, thousands of people world-wide are successfully adopting a Whole30 lifestyle. Due to the restrictions I have because of food intolerances, Whole30 is not beneficial to my health. 

Going forward, I want to have a intuitive relationship with food. I want to adopt an 80/20 approach where I can enjoy food that is good for the soul, and not obsess over everything I’m putting in my mouth. My overall health, and the maitenance of my endometriosis is of more importance to me. Although I have food intolerances, I need to be flexible and I need to get back to enjoying food for what it is. Which is why I am now accepting that there are foods that will make me feel miserable and although this seems like it rules out everything – it doesn’t. 

I'm back in the kitchen and the passion I have for Embracing It is back and stronger than ever. My life, searching for ways to improve living with an incurable condition and a happy relationship with food continues. I am determined to live my life pain and guilt free. 

Damn that was a good flat white.