Last weekend in a moment of
brilliance stupidity and curiosity, I decided it would be a good idea to try out the Whole30 program. For those not familiar with the Whole30 program, it is a form of elimination diet in which the participant cuts all refined sugars, grains, wheats, legumes, alcohol (eeekk!) and dairy (what??) out of their diet. The premise of the diet is to cut foods that increase inflammation in the body for 30 days, and then to slowly introduce foods back into your diet rotation once the 30 days are up to see how your body reacts. Sounds interesting enough.
I read some reviews of the program and there were overwhelmingly positive reivews of the plan. Most people state that the plan is difficult, both physically and emotionally (supposedly sugar detox is rough), for the first couple of weeks, but after that participants experience “boundless energy”, “the best sleep they have ever had”, “relief of chronic inflammation symptoms”, and “feel like they have Tiger Blood running through their veins.” Tiger Blood, eh? I’m intrigued.
The diet plan didn’t look too disimilar to what I was already eating (or trying to eat), as I generally try to steer clear of grains and sugary foods. Admittedly, I’d been a lot more lax with my diet choices recently, which was part of the motivation to try a more extreme program to get back on track. Whole 30 focuses on meats, veggies, and fruits and is not considered low carbs, as they encourage plenty of carbs in the form of sweet potatoes, squash, and root vegetables. Sounds easy enough. Cutting dairy would be a new step for me, but it can’t be that hard, right? 30 days without cheese…. I can do that!
So I decided to go for it. No time like the present! I started earlier this week and am now on day 5. Here is my experience so far:
Day 1: Smooth sailing. I had a ham and veggie omelete for breakfast; tuna ,avacado and smoked salmon for lunch; and braised short ribs with veggies for dinner. I was eating like a queen! I felt great, I drank tons of water (with lemon), and I was having fun prepping more Whole meals for the week. I went for a jog with Pepper and did some yoga (so I can be hot AND bendy when this is all over). I was OWNING this diet!
Day 2: Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a restful night’s sleep. I had mashed sweet potato, eggs, and avocado for breakfast; left over short ribs for lunch, and seaweed salad with salmon for dinner. However, mid-morning I started to feel kind of “blah”. I had a headache, my brain was foggy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I chaulked this up to being residually tired from the weekend and a full day of work.
Day 3: Back at work for 12 hours and I’m dying. I’ve feel like I’ve been run over by a large vehicle and the only thing that will made things better is cheese. Cheddar cheese, brie, string cheese, blue cheese, cream cheese, velveta, I don’t care but I NEED cheese. It’s all I can think about, all I can focus on. I don’t even know what I ate that day, all I know is it was cheese-less and I was sad. I had a headache, fatigue, and I had body aches all over. I had read reports of “sugar withdrawl” but I assumed that was only for very unhealthy people, not someone like me who ate pretty well. I was wrong. It really made me realize how much refined sugar is hidden in seemingly healthy foods (read your labels, people, you’ll be shocked!). I really felt terrible. Finally, around 5 pm, I felt so bad that I drank my first cup of black coffee ever, and it helped a little bit. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I did go for a quick jog with Pepper after work and all in all felt better by the end of the day.
Day 4: Yesterday I flew to Houston to make an Ikea run and drove back to New Orleans from there with Mr. Big. I knew this would be a challenging day because finding foods that adhere to the Whole30 on the road isn’t easy. However, I managed with breakfast at home, a coconut milk latte at Starbucks, sauce-less meatballs and veggies at Ikea, and a salad from Subway. I determined that the girl at the Subway was a direct agent of the Devil as she tempted me with cheese on my salad no less than three times during the ordering process, but I suffered though. Mr. Big also opted for a Subway sandwich instead of walking over to Wendy’s, which I think was his way of showing solidarity (as he enjoyed his bread, cheese, and delicious mayo). I still had a headache and felt tired, and now I was coming out with some congestion (dairy withdrawl maybe?) and swollen lymph nodes. My body hates me.
So far, day 5 is much of the same. Headache, fatigue, and body ache. There is a slight chance that I might actually be fighting off some kind of sickness, but the timing of everything and the symptoms involved really make me think this is some kind of sugar detox. I’m sticking with everything, though, and hopefully I’ll turn the corner in a few days. Although I feel pretty crappy, I am finding this process very interesting. I am always interested to see how my body reacts to different situations (like training for an Ironman, for example), and this is definitely a new experience in that regard.
I will keep posting updates so you can follow me in my misery… and until then, I’ll continue to dream of cheese!