Waiting for Savasana

What I learned from my first Whole 30

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I’m not even sure where to begin with this.  I began Whole 30 on November 1st on a whim after reading this blog post a few days earlier.   She is one of my favorite bloggers and she really had me thinking about the junk I was putting in my mouth every day. I was intrigued and went to the Whole30 site to check it out.  “This is doable”, I thought to myself.

I set my intention to begin the program.  I signed up for the daily emails from WHole30.  It cost $14 but I knew I would need the help.

On Halloween night, I ate chocolate and drank a glass of wine.  I knew I wouldn’t see anymore for thirty days so I treated myself.

I started my first day with eggs and black coffee and I just went from there.

I noticed changes almost instantly.  First the weight around my middle that I had been holding onto for two years melted away in the first two weeks.  I had to go buy a belt  The first week was challenging because as I said before, I was dreaming of cupcakes.  It was maddening.  Strangely, at the height of these dreams, I received my daily email telling me that I was not alone.  It seems it is a common occurrence for many people doing Whole 30 to experience dessert dreams where you binge on sweet treats.  It was crazy.

And it went away.

The remaining 2 weeks brought even more changes.  For one my skin changed.  I have battled eczema since childhood but it disappeared in those thirty days.  And my pallor itself was just brighter.  I lost all the grey undertones which had crept in (I had assumed it was aging).  And my eyes just looked clearer and brighter.  I was amazed!

The real learning came at the end of my Whole30 when I began to reintroduce foods.  I started with rice.  No problem.  I was still happy and my tummy was happy.  It was nice to feel that fullness that rice can bring.

Then a few days later, I reintroduce dairy.  At first I felt ok.  But day 2 I awoke with body aches.  I thought I had the flu.  But I did some research and body aches can be a sign of a dairy allergy.  Uh oh.  So after yoga class that day I treated myself to my first delicious mocha in thirty -five days.  And within an hour I felt terrible.  I had stomach cramps and my mind felt just plain fuzzy.  And I began to swell.  Yes swell.  I blew up.

This had not been an uncommon occurrence in my life.  It started when I was about twenty-six.  I noticed my fingers would swell when I was hot.  I thought it was weird but mostly ignored it.  It became much worse during my pregnancies in my late twenties and early thirties.  My hands and feet often looked like big paws.  Sometimes I could barely move my fingers.  Everyone told me it was normal for pregnancy but the last trimester for both of my kids was tough. If I exerted myself in any way,  my hands would swell and turn bright red and start to itch.  No one could explain it.

My late thirties have been a bloat fest.  I am just always puffy.  Running seemed to make it worse.  Anything over 5 miles and my hands and face swell like balloons.  No one could really explain what was happening.

When I picked up my oldest son from school the day of the mocha, he immediately said, “What’s wrong with your face?  Why is it so fat?”

Dairy.

It was the only answer.

So I don’t eat it anymore.  No more cheese (glorious cheese), no more yogurt, no more delicious mochas.  It’s over.

And it has been difficult.  I’m not going to lie.  It has been tough to accept.  I have tried to eat it since the experiment and the results are always the same, only now we can also add stomach cramps to the list as well.  It’s not worth it.

The good news is that goat cheese does not seem to bother me so at least I have that.

The next food I tried was wheat.  I suspected I had a wheat allergy last year because of the swelling.  I also have struggled with some alopecia.  Yep, hair loss.  Lovely.  I have a huge mane of thick curly hair.  My hair is basically it’s own entity.  I usually don’t even consider it a part of me.  It has a mind of it’s own.  About a year ago I noticed a bald spot about the size of a nickel in the front of my head right behind my hairline.  I also was losing parts of my eyebrow.  Of course I panicked.  I went to the doctor, got some steroid cream and had a couple of blood tests.  They showed that I did not have celiac’s nor did I seem to have a high gluten intolerance.  Whew!  What a relief!

Eventually, the hair on my head grew back, the eyebrow dent was touch and go.  It seemed to disappear when life got stressful.  Thank goodness for eyebrow pencil, you know?

So I didn’t think i had a problem with gluten.  Until the day i reintroduced it.

My son and I went to Whole Foods after school.  I grabbed a container of angel hair pasta with a simple olive oil and lemon base.  I ate it rather quickly…it was delicious.  Anyway, my son and I were sitting there talking and I started scratching.  It took about five minutes from ingestion. “Gosh!  Why am I suddenly so ITCHY?!” I exclaimed.  And then I gasped…GLUTEN!  NO!!!!!!!!

I did not want to be allergic to gluten.  But it seems I am.  Stomach cramps ensued by the time we arrived home.  It was not a fun night.  I had a very unhappy tummy.

And my eczema returned.  And I got bumpy around my mouth. And I can’t eat gluten.  It’s a big bummer.

Have I rebelled?  Yes.

And I get the same result every time.

“Stop it!” my husband admonished.  “You’re an itching machine!”

And it’s true.  I am.  When I eat gluten.

It sucks.

I am so glad I tried the Whole30.  It opened my eyes to all of the problems that have plagued me for the last ten years or so.

Do I miss gluten?  Of course I do.  I miss it a lot.

Thank goodness there are alternatives available because I honestly can not imagine a life without bread or pasta or pancakes or cupcakes.

The good news is that as long as I avoid gluten and dairy, my tummy is happy, I’m not all puffy and my eyebrows have completely grown back.

The pay off is worth it to me.

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2 thoughts on “What I learned from my first Whole 30

  1. I am considering doing whole30; due to my alopecia areata and the lack of knowing where it comes from i have lots of fears about food. Remaining gluten and dairy free, did your alopecia come back?

    • Well, it turned out that gluten was not the problem. The big culprit for me was dairy. This post is pretty old. If you read further in my blog you will see that a few months after my Whole30, I discovered I had breast cancer. I went through treatment and was completely bald for a while. When everything grew back, I found that the alopecia was much better. I still have a spot on one eyebrow that is thin. It seems stress related in my case. But yes, cutting out dairy significantly reduced my alopecia issues. I also added a biotin supplement and took big doses of vitamin D3 on the advice of my acupuncturist. I also did the 23andme testing in 2013 shortly before the FDA banned health reports and was not surprised to learn that I have some genetic tendency toward alopecia. I am sorry you have to go through this. When I first discovered the patch on my head, I was really upset. Have you talked to your doctor?

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