Fighting Inflammation: My Whole30 Journey

Disclaimer: please consult with your health care provider before starting any program!

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Let me be perfectly clear: this is not a diet.

This is a science experiment, where I am trying to figure out what food makes my body feel good.

I have had to pay attention to what I eat since I was 18. Although I eventually lost the 40 pounds I gained in university, it was never by following a strict diet. I love food too much!

My approach to food has generally been the 80/20 principle…I make mostly healthy choices because I know I don’t have to be “good” all the time. I know what I like to indulge in and save up my treats for the things I love the most. Deprivation has never worked for me.

BUT…my body is telling me it’s not very happy over the past year or so: I have arthritis in my hip, lower back and neck. I have a lot of days with flu-like symptoms.

The more I research about inflammation, I realize that our diet can play a huge role in reducing inflammation in our body. I started to wonder if my body is reacting to certain categories of food.

I already eat a fairly low sugar diet. My sugar in a typical day comes from a small amount of organic jam on my sprouted grain toast, a tiny bit of coconut sugar in my afternoon iced coffee, one square of Lindt dark chocolate after dinner, and usually a glass of wine that I sip on for about 2 hours in the evening. Yes, I do consume sugar in other forms but since I removed a lot of it from my everyday diet, I truly have it as a treat and usually consume it with fat to keep my blood sugar levels stable.

I also don’t eat a ton of gluten: sprouted toast in the morning and sometimes pasta for dinner…but more often than not I cook with quinoa or rice or rice noodles. I do love pizza as a weekend treat, though.

So what else is there to look at…or do I need to be more strict about these two categories???

Enter the Whole30 program.

I came across this program on one of my favourite podcasts, Being Boss, where Melissa Hartwig, founder of Whole30, talked about this 30-day detox as an approach to reduce inflammation and test what your body doesn’t respond well to.

The foundation of this program is food that I KNOW my body responds well to: protein, healthy fats, and lots of veggies (and fruit too…but I get shaky when I consume high sugar fruit).

But here’s the kicker: there’s a lot of stuff that will be off limits for the next 30 days.

Exactly what foods, you may ask? Oh…let me tell you!!!

  • No sugar (not a problem…although I’m shocked at how many foods have sugar on their label)
  • No grains or pseudo-grains (not a problem for no bread…but no oats, corn, or quinoa!)
  • No legumes (no beans, chickpeas, soy or peanuts)
  • No dairy, including sheep or goat’s milk (not even in my coffee! no cheese!!!)
  • No alcohol (yup…no wine!!!)
  • No MSG, added sulfites or carrageenan (the bad additives)
  • No re-creating treats with approved foods (no potato chips, even though potatoes and olive oil are okay)

Although they emphasize that you cannot weigh or measure yourself during the 30 day program, this isn’t a big deal for me. I got rid of my scale 5 years ago because it was not healthy for me to obsess over the numbers. I use a pair of jeans to keep my weight in check (not jeggings…unfortunately). So I have no problem with staying off the scale, and to be honest if I simply wanted to lose a few pounds I would just stop drinking wine (and keep eating cheese and drinking cream in my coffee…and occasionally nachos…oh how I’m going to miss those things!).

My goal is to conduct a science experiment: detox my body for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce one food group at a time to see what my body likes/doesn’t like. Do I notice less pain and aches at the end of the detox? Can I still have my wine and cheese…WHAT IF MY BODY DOESN’T LIKE THOSE THINGS AFTER ALL?????!!!! Deep breath…

I thought I would blog daily about this so that you can track along and see if this is something you might want to try. Again, let me emphasize that I could never be this restrictive if it was for weight loss. But I can choose to ignore some food groups in order to find a way to feel better. It worked for me to minimize sugar in my diet–as soon as I realized how much better I felt with stable blood sugar levels I found it easy to say no.

Here is the book** I am using during this adventure (the recipes are drool-worthy, as you will notice during my daily food diary):

I don’t mind being a guinea pig for the sake of health, so I figured you might want to follow along and see what this is all about. I will be updating this post each day with a food diary and recap of how I’m feeling so far.

Day 1 (Sunday, January 24th, 2016)

I did feel a bit hungry today, but it was more the unusual meal timing than what I was eating. I met friends for a late brunch that was really lunch (2 pm) and I that’s a late lunch for me, which created a late dinner). I was worried about going to a restaurant on day one, but I looked at the menu ahead of time and found an option that was “Whole30 compliant.”

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Frittata with spinach and organic turkey sausage
  • Roasted veggie skillet with a poached egg, hollandaise and sautéed greens
  • Organic beef and veggie kabobs with chimichurri sauce; broccoli slaw with sunshine sauce
  • Snacks: half an organic turkey pepperoni stick; organic trail mix (about 1/4 cup)
  • Drinks: tons of water, rooibos tea, kombucha (my own homemade!), chai tea with coconut milk

How I felt today: Pretty good. If my meals had been closer to my regular meal times, I don’t think I would have needed the snacks.

Day 2

My meal times were more normal today and…no hunger…well maybe a tiny bit but nothing that sipping on water didn’t solve. Met up with another friend for lunch, and the trick of looking at the menu online ahead of time and knowing what I had to ask for to swap is truly the magic strategy. Make sure to be super gracious to your server, don’t claim it’s allergies when it’s not and tip well (you are welcome, my food industry peeps!).

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover organic beef kebobs and roasted veggies (from dinner last night…as breakfast next morning was so good!)
  • Two over-medium eggs, two links of chicken apple sausage and two strips of bacon (both organic), green side salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Spaghetti squash “noodles” with tomato and organic ground beef sauce and chopped roasted cashews on top
  • Snacks: broccoli slaw with a drizzle of sunshine sauce (in evening…I was supposed to have the extra veggies with dinner but I forgot)
  • To drink: lots of water, plain herbal chai tea, coffee with about 2 tbsp of coconut milk (I refuse to drink black coffee), kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water.

How I felt today: Pretty good. I am still feeling achy (flu-like…which is unfortunately the normal for me over the past year) but fairly good energy and barely hungry at all. After dinner I really missed my usual post-dinner ritual of a small square of dark chocolate…contemplating replacing this with a piece of dried fruit and a tiny bit of cashew butter? I know that sounds lame but I miss the tiny bit of sweet and the creamy of the dark chocolate. I held off today but I might break down tomorrow. Pretty sure this would not be breaking the rules by recreating a banned food with approved foods…a dried plum or apricot and a bit of cashew butter would not remotely pass as dessert in my world.

Day 3

According to the Whole30 program, today is the day you are supposed to feel like crap. The detox is kicking in. And guess what…I FEEL LIKE CRAP!!! A big qualifier though: I have come down with a cold and I split open the tips on two of my toes on the bathroom baseboard. So I’m pretty sure this is mostly not the detox effect. Dinner tonight was soooo good! Vincent had his first Whole30 meal (I’ve been adapting meals for him so far…like he got pasta last night instead of spaghetti squash) and he approves. It’s those yummy sauces that make all the difference. Sunshine sauce is cashew butter, coconut milk, lime juice and coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce but no soy) with some spices…it reminds me of the miso gravy from Naam that I usually drizzle over roasted veggies, but can’t have on this program because of the soy. I also discovered this great hot sauce from Choices Market (Uncle Dougie’s Micro Batch Hot Sauce…advertised as “no crap” on the label) that replaces the Sriracha sauce that I usually love. I didn’t realize how much crap Sriracha sauce actually has in it. This will be a permanent change for our household.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Two eggs, roasted veggies and salsa
  • Leftover spaghetti squash noodles and meat sauce from dinner last night
  • Pulled pork carnitas with roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed bok choy and sunshine sauce
  • Snacks: tiny bit of trail mix, two dried plums with cashew butter (I gave in to temptation today…this time after lunch but I swear it’s because I should have had more meat sauce on my noodles but I had to share the sauce with Vincent for lunch)
  • To drink: lots of water, hot lemon water, coffee with coconut milk (kinda liking it now), kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: Sick with a cold and throbbing, bloody toes. But otherwise okay…I guess?

Day 4

Dear Whole30 program: If you have banned me from honey (one of the best natural cold remedy ingredients), what am I supposed to use instead? Ginger and lemon by themselves aren’t quite cutting it and I can’t take regular cold medicine. Sincerely, Your Day 4 Student with a Cold.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Half of a roasted veggie frittata (equivalent of 3 eggs)
  • Leftover pulled pork carnitas with roasted sweet potato and spaghetti squash; drizzled with sunshine sauce
  • Chicken stir fry with tons of greens in it and sunshine sauce drizzled on it and topped with chopped roasted cashews (yes…I have an addiction with this sunshine sauce)
  • Snacks: tiny bit of trail mix and one dried plum with cashew butter (I’m not really eating fruit so far on this program…so I still stand by my dried fruit & cashew butter “dessert”!)
  • To drink: lots of water, hot lemon water, coffee with coconut milk, kombucha, chai tea with coconut mild and hot water

How I felt today: Same as yesterday but pretty sure it’s the cold and not the program…although the book says that I could be going through gluten/sugar withdrawal??? NOPE…it’s the cold. My stomach and digestive system is quite happy, despite the cold. Not really hungry and very stable blood sugar levels, which is nice!

Day 5

Dear Whole30 program: My cold and I forgive you as we have found relief in Theives’ Oil and Throat Coat tea. We have made do without honey. Just thought you would want to know.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover half of frittata from yesterday’s breakfast
  • Leftover chicken stir fry from yesterday’s dinner
  • Chicken Cacciatore with leftover spaghetti squash (I made a TON of spaghetti squash the other day!)
  • Snacks: a few dried apricots and a few roasted cashews
  • To drink: lots of water, hot lemon water, coffee with coconut milk, kombucha, Throat Coat tea

How I felt today: Besides the cold, I am already noticing how much happier my overall digestive system is. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m curious to see how much better I’m feeling once this cold is over. I used to be super careful about keeping my blood sugar levels stable, but for the past few days it’s a non-issue (duh…no gluten and no sugar…with extra fats). But it’s nice not having to worry about it. My snacks are motivated by “I want a tiny little something,” rather than “I’m starving.” Kinda nice!

Day 6

First day that I had a blood sugar crash but my day was a bit wonky with a 5 am wakeup (NOT my norm!) and a ton of walking before I ate breakfast. Did more walking after breakfast and then felt really shaky (low blood sugar) about 2 hours after eating…thus the extra snacks. I should have eaten breakfast earlier and had a bigger breakfast considering how much exercise I got this morning.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash (made the night before…and yes I ate it for breakfast)
  • Leftover chicken cacciatore
  • More shepherd’s pie for dinner (I was too tired to cook)
  • Snacks: Coconut cream Larabar (one of the few energy bars I can eat: dates, coconut, cashews, almonds and coconut oil), some trail mix and a turkey pepperoni stick
  • To drink: lots of water, Throat coat tea, kombucha, Americano (no cream, no sugar, no coconut milk…yuck!!! I do not like black coffee)

How I felt today: Tiredness was mostly from my cold and babysitting…and blood sugar dip in the morning. Tomorrow I am in Seattle all day. Bringing my own breakfast and lots of snacks as I will be in a workshop for most of the day (and my Day 7 update will not be until Sunday!).

Day 7

Left the house at 7 AM and didn’t get back until 9:30 PM today. Had a wonderful workshop in Seattle, but what a challenge to make sure food stayed on track for the day. I brought leftovers for breakfast on the road and then lots of snacks because I wasn’t 100% sure about lunch food options. There was a little market right across the street that I grabbed a chicken salad for lunch. We stopped at one of our favourite Mexican restaurants on the way home. I knew that I could have the fajita salad as long as they didn’t add the corn and beans into the salad. I find it so awkward asking for special requests at a restaurant…and our server’s English wasn’t very strong…I was grateful to Vincent for making a joke about my crazy new year’s resolution. When my salad arrived, it had no beans but it still had corn. I’m sorry Whole30 police, but there was no way I was going to send back a salad because it had corn in it and I don’t have a legitimate allergy. This goes against my values in dealing with customer service. I couldn’t do it. So I did my best to not eat the corn but I’m pretty sure I ended up eating a tiny bit of corn. I would rather be gracious and I will have to be okay with the program maybe only being 99.9% effective due to some stray corn kernels. I feel ridiculous that this is even a thing. I’m annoying myself now.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover shepherd’s pie
  • Chicken and arugula salad with vinaigrette dressing; turkey pepperoni, chia pod (banana, coconut milk and chia seed)
  • Fajita salad with steak and avocado salsa (and a few stray corn kernels…I’m over it)
  • Snacks: trail mix, fruit salad (no dressing)
  • To drink: lots of water, Throat coat tea, kombucha, black coffee (still not very good)

How I felt today: Totally crappy from this stupid cold that got worse from a very long day. But the workshop was totally worth it (I was learning how to write an opinion piece for major publications like the New York Times…courtesy of the OpEd Project).

Day 8

Spent pretty much the whole day on the couch, trying to recover from this cold. I literally was hugging the kleenex box as I slept last night…that’s how much I have been blowing my nose. My sinuses hate me right now. I feel like this blog post has turned into me whining about a cold…but with this program it’s a lot of food prep and planning…which is much more difficult to do when you are sick. I will admit, part of me wanted to quit today. Having to walk the one block to the veggie store this afternoon felt like way too much of an effort. Sad but true. But I’m stubborn and I don’t want to have to start again!!!

Here’s what I ate today (I kinda snacked my way up until dinner, as I didn’t have enough leftovers for a full lunch so I ad-libbed with extra snacks):

  • Frittata with farmers’ sausage from Choices Market and spinach
  • Small portion of leftover shepherd’s pie
  • Steak marinated in vinaigrette dressing (palm sized portion), brocoli & cauliflower mash (with coconut milk & ghee), spaghetti squash (mixed with a bit of my favourite sunshine sauce)
  • Snacks: cashews, dried pineapple (no sugar added), baked apple chips (no sugar added) and olives
  • To drink: lots of water, Throat coast tea, kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: Crappy. Exhausted. Wanted to quit program. Decided I was too invested. This next week will be better. Pretty sure this is mostly due to cold, but the book says that a lot of people want to quit around this time. Fair enough.

Day 9

The first day in almost a week that I can breathe and my head is somewhat clear. I’m on the mend!!! Today I had my lovely friend Sarah invite me over for dinner, knowing that I had major dietary restrictions to accommodate. She made a beef stir fry and dished my portion out before adding the sauce (I brought my own sunshine sauce to add…because if a friend is going to be kind enough to cook my meat and veggies for me, I will gladly bring my own sauce!). It was delicious and I was grateful for a friend who was so gracious. I truly hate how much this program feels like it affects my social life. I will probably end up using a lot of components of the Whole30 diet long after I’ve finished this month, but I will make exceptions for social stuff. It’s just too much of an inconvenience and I refuse to be anti-social for 30 days. I need my peeps :)

Here’s what I ate today (lunch and dinner were not quite full protein portions, so I ate more snacks than I otherwise would have):

  • Leftover frittata from yesterday
  • Leftover steak and veggies from yesterday
  • Stir fry with organic beef and tons of veggies…drenched in sunshine sauce…yum!
  • Snacks: cashews, two dried apricots with almond butter, olives, chia pod (coconut milk, mango and chia seeds…no added sugar)
  • To drink: lots of water, Throat coast tea, kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: Much better! It was one of those colds that I forgot what healthy feels like. Not 100% but good. Maybe it was easier being sick for the first week of this program, as according to the book, after Day 9 you are past the worst. At least I could blame it on the cold, instead of what food I was “giving up.” Truly the only thing I miss is wine now. I can watch people eat my favourite treats (chips, sushi, nachos) and I’m totally okay. It’s just nothing beats the taste of a bold, full-bodied Spanish red wine. Amen.

Day 10

Woot woot…no caffeine today and I had steady energy all day!!!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Frittata with tons of veggies in it
  • Soup made with chicken stock, pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, organic turkey sausage and coconut milk; served with chopped cashews for extra fat
  • Organic beef stew with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and onion. Coconut flour used to dredge the beef before browning and to create a slurry for thickening
  • Snacks: olives and a cup of fruit salad
  • To drink: lots of water, kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: So much better! Feeling more energetic and no food cravings. Vincent was eating nachos this evening and I totally was okay with it. Didn’t even wish I could eat one or two chips. Don’t want to jinx it but I think I’m actually enjoying this now!!!

Day 11

Totally loving this program now. My body is happy, blood sugar levels stable, and no snacks required today (correct amount of protein in each meal). I have now confirmed what I have always suspected…my digestive system and blood sugar levels are super happy when I’m getting my carbs from veggies. It will be interesting to see how I react to carbs from other sources when I start my reintroduction. We went out for dinner to our fav White Rock Restaurant, The Wooden Spoon, as Wednesdays they have a burger special. This is the easiest dinner to adapt in a restaurant. Even though I can eat potatoes, I’m pretty sure fries are cheating (as potato chips clearly are cheating) so I didn’t even sneak a fry off of Vincent’s plate…but weirdly I didn’t feel like I needed to, which is totally unlike me. Usually if there is a plate of fries in front of me, I will steal some because the craving is so strong. Not today!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover frittata
  • Leftover beef stew
  • Hamburger without the bun (no sauces) and side salad (vinegar and oil dressing) with veggie sticks and sunshine dip back at home after to add extra fat to the meal
  • Snacks: none
  • To drink: lots of water, coffee with coconut milk, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: Really good!!!

Day 12

Another great day. I’m in my groove…and I had my first big craving this evening. I was looking at Pinterest and one of the “suggested for you” posts was a picture of cookies that looked SO DELICIOUS. Damn you Pinterest!!! Half an hour later I was still thinking about that cookie (about 8 pm today), so I had two rings of dried unsweetened pineapple, a couple of cashews, and some yummy herbal tea. I survived intact. It wasn’t so bad.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Frittata with sautéed veggies
  • A bizarre, rushed, pre-meeting lunch: salmon sashimi that I picked up on the way home, avocado with lemon juice, leftover cauliflower/broccoli mash
  • Spanish chicken with roasted potatoes and onions and some olives to up the fat count.
  • Snacks: my two dried pineapple rings (unsweetened…pathetically tiny) and a few cashews
  • To drink: lots of water, kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water, herbal tea

How I felt today: Really good. Survived my first major craving since starting this program. Went to specialist about my arthritis and I got an A+ for doing everything within my control to reduce inflammation…which was great news!

Day 13

Nothing exciting to report…even managed to honour my ritual of eating Ruffles All Dressed Potato Chips with my sister tonight by munching on trail mix :)

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Two eggs over medium, 2 pieces of bacon, hash browns topped with some butter (IHOP breakfast with my inlaws)
  • Leftover soup from Wednesday with cashews
  • Leftover spanish chicken and veggies
  • Snacks: trail mix (loving this Machu Pichu trail mix by Prana…organic, no sugar…just need to keep an eye on portion size)
  • To drink: lots of water, kombucha, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water

How I felt today: Great!

Day 14

Was home really late for lunch…emergency Larabar in my purse came in handy. There is no “picking something up on the way home” with this program!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover frittata
  • Leftover soup (I made a lot!) with cashews
  • Braised pork shoulder with acorn squash and rainbow chard and some olives for extra fat
  • Snacks: Larabar
  • To drink: lots of water, chai tea with coconut milk and hot water, black tea with coconut milk

How I felt today: Great…again! I can’t believe how much less achy I feel.

Day 15

Navigated two tricky food situations today: family brunch and Super Bowl snacks! By hosting family brunch, I knew that I could eat the food I was making, but I lucked out that several of the other dishes were okay for me to eat also. As far as the potato chips that were staring at me everywhere I turned: trail mix to the rescue again!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Frittata and roast potatoes (my contribution to brunch), fruit salad, bacon and pulled pork. Yum!!!
  • Leftover braised pork with squash and olives
  • Braised shoulder blade organic steak with sweet potato mash (ghee and coconut milk added) and steamed broccoli
  • Snacks: trail mix (watching portions as usual!)
  • To drink: chai tea with coconut milk and hot water (twice), kombucha, lots of water

How I felt today: I needed a nap after my family left, but I usually feel tired after stuff like that. Still feeling good and feeling a tiny bit proud of avoiding the Super Bowl snacks…which shockingly didn’t require much willpower. Before this program, no amount of willpower would have kept me from the chip bowl :)

Day 16

Getting tired of frittata…must find another breakfast food! I was out for brunch with a friend this morning and it was the easiest thing to eat from their brunch menu (got them to hold the cheese). Is frittata fatigue a thing? I’m making it a thing. Have already planned for different breakfast tomorrow.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Frittata with mushrooms and garlic and side green salad with vinegarette dressing
  • Leftover braised steak, sweet potato mash and broccoli
  • Baked Thai chicken meatballs with coconut-almond butter sauce, roasted spaghetti squash, and sautéed kale
  • Snacks (trail mix…I am literally putting the trail mix in a tiny custard dish so I don’t accidentally overdo it)
  • To drink: black coffee, my usual chai tea, lots of water, herbal tea and kombucha

How I felt today: Great! The book says I shouldn’t need snacks anymore, but I get a bit hungry in the evening. A tiny bit of trail mix seems to be doing the trick. I don’t know if I need to be eating more at dinner, but I’m not going to stress about it. A quarter cup of trail mix with “compliant” ingredients is not going to make or break this program.

Day 17

I think I figured out my evening trail mix habit. Was leafing through the Whole30 book and I think I haven’t been eating enough fat for some of my meals. Didn’t realize this until this evening so I will experiment tomorrow.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover pork carnitas, squash, a fried egg, salsa and guacamole (no frittata!!!)
  • Leftover thai chicken meatballs and roasted potatoes with steamed broccoli
  • Grilled chicken thighs with a honey garlic marinade, sautéed kale, chia “pudding” (coconut milk, frozen raspberries and chia seeds)
  • Snacks: trail mix
  • To drink: lots of water, herbal tea, my usual chai tea

How I felt today: Another good day! Without going into too much detail, this is a day that should have required much Midol and I didn’t have to take a single painkiller. Will do more research to see if this is a possible (and pleasant!) benefit of the program and let you know tomorrow. On the other hand, maybe my body is so confused about all of these nutritional changes, it forgot to have the cramps kick in??? Either way, I’m loving it!

Day 18

So I did a bit more research regarding fat intake on this program and it turns out I’m not eating enough fat. What a lovely problem to have to address! Turns out the fat I consume each meal should be in addition to cooking fat. Adjusted this today and no more snacks! Also, I think the chia pudding I made yesterday was cheating (???) even though it does not taste like pudding and my brain most definitely did not think it was eating dessert. It felt like I was eating fruit and fat…which is what I was eating. The chia seed thickened it up. So I ate the rest as my fat for breakfast and won’t make it again until after the reintroduction phase. One more thing I learned: this program is totally supposed to help with PMS symptoms…who knew?

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover roasted potatoes, two fried eggs, sautéed mushrooms and kale—all in a bowl and topped with salsa. Also about a half cup of the raspberry chia pudding.
  • Chicken cacciatore, a small avocado and small bowl of frozen raspberries
  • Braised beef, roasted spaghetti squash, sunshine sauce and almonds (with a few unsweetened raisins snuck in from my trail mix)
  • Snacks: none
  • To drink: lots of water, herbal tea, my usual chai

How I felt today: Good! I just got a portable standing desk that sits on top of my normal desk. I couldn’t have done my work day standing up if it wasn’t for the fact that my energy levels feel so good now and I’m not feeling achy. Yay for better health!!!

Day 19

Added extra fat again today, but I felt really hungry when I got back from my afternoon walk. So I had some trail mix. All good. Today I was also using my standing desk a lot…that must burn more energy than sitting (as your two biggest muscle groups are engaged when you stand: glutes and quads…which is the reason I got the standing desk). Changed too many variables at once! Oh well. If I’m generally hungry I’m going to have a snack.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover chicken cacciatore, sautéed kale, 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • Leftover braised steak, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, steamed broccoli, small bowl of frozen raspberries, cashews
  • Egg casserole with sausage, sweet potato, onions and green pepper; 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • Snacks: trail mix
  • To drink: lots of water, herbal tea, my usual chai

How I felt today: Good! Had to go to the doctor today for Rx renewal and happened to ask about some recent blood work. I had markers for extra inflammation in my body (can’t remember what it was called, but I was just above the normal zone into the “high” zone). Explained I have recently changed my diet and doctor agreed that making changes in my diet to reduce inflammation was the best way to approach this. Woot woot!

Day 20

UGGGGGGGH!!!! Today was the day I wanted to quit. It occurred to me how many of my little pleasures I have denied myself over the past 20 days. Here are the things I miss: walking for a coffee (with cream…otherwise it’s no fun), buying the occasional cookie, sushi, and WINE. I literally need to make a new list of little treats for myself that do not involve these things. I really did use these things as occasional treats, but now I feel like there is nothing to treat myself with. But I am a problem solver and I will figure this out!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover braised steak, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, steamed broccoli, small bowl of frozen raspberries, 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • Leftover egg, veggie and sausage casserole, chai with lots of coconut milk for extra fat
  • Date night out at Brown’s Social House: Spa bowl with potato crusted halibut, sautéed cabbage, side salad with oil and vinegar dressing
  • Snacks: a few cashews
  • To drink: lots of water, herbal tea, my usual chai

How I felt today: I was feeling achy again today and all of the food prep felt like SO MUCH EFFORT. I hung in there….barely. Not sure why the aches have come back, but I will wait to see how tomorrow is.

Day 21

Better today. I am doing extra research on Pinterest for new recipes and I’m going to try prepping a few extra things to have in the fridge (like hard boiled eggs and chopped veggies). Tricky part of today was that I was out of the house over lunch (visiting my adorable nephew!). I had some cashew butter and a Lara bar before the visit, and an avocado and a tiny tin of oil packed tuna when I got back. That seemed to work well.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Leftover egg casserole (again…it made a lot and it was really good!, chai with lots of coconut milk for extra fat
  • Cashew butter, Lara bar, small avocado and small tin of tuna with lime juice (yum…avocado and tuna is really good)
  • Thai chicken coconut soup and some cashews
  • Snacks: none
  • To drink: lots of water, herbal tea, my usual chai

How I felt today: Much better. No aches…not sure what happened yesterday. Feeling able to make it straight through to Day 30.

Day 22 & 23

I am sooooo over this program. I really value my little treats: a glass of wine, the occasional cookie, a tiny piece of dark chocolate, cream in my coffee, and sometimes potato chips when watching a movie with my husband. I truly do use these things as treats…and I really miss them. I don’t want to go on a big binge when I’m through with the reintroduction, but I just want to be able to have a food treat. Nothing that I’m eating remotely resembles a yummy treat. NOTHING.

I can’t even be bothered to write down what I ate yesterday and today. No snacks and no cheating…but I actually think if I could just have one tiny little perfect dark chocolate it would make it so much easier. I actually have dreamt that I accidentally cheated (like I forgot I was on the program and took a bite of something and then remembered and freaked out in my dream). This is not normal.

I did some research in the book and it said during the last couple of days it’s totally common for your symptoms (my aches) to flare up again and then settle back down. So that explains my aches returning the other day. This is the week where you notice the weight loss. Not excited about this. My goal wasn’t to lose weight…I’ve always known that I would lose some muffin top if I quit wine so the other sacrifices don’t feel worth it right now. Wow I’m really selling this program aren’t I??? :)

Hanging in there for one more week: Tuesday I get my glass of wine for day 1 of my reintroduction…and then two days after that I get legumes (peanut butter and hummus!) for a day. So sad I am actually excited by that.

Blah.

Sigh.

Will check back in tomorrow.

Day 24 & 25

So I was calculating my reintroduction phase (the whole point is to be done my reintroduction before a girls’ weekend in March) and somehow I mis-counted! I am going to have to start my reintroduction phase this Friday (Day 27). I feel that there might be some Whole30 police that will come to my house now that I’ve admitted this???

The most important part of this process is the reintroduction phase for me…so I’m willing to shorten it by 3 days so that I can have a properly timed reintroduction. Knowing that it is only 2 more sleeps until I get a nice glass of wine makes a big difference (even though it will be almost 2 weeks before I can drink wine again!).

I am feeling good and have re-grouped to finish this strong. So close to the most exciting part of this experiment: finding out what foods my body will react poorly to when I try to reintroduce!

Day 26

Guess what? Visiting my colon hydrotherapist yesterday made such an amazing difference. It’s literally like the remaining toxins in my body got flushed away (sorry…so sorry…I know…TMI…couldn’t help it…had to share). One more sleep until I get a nice big glass of Spanish red wine with my dinner…possibly more excited than on Christmas Eve.

Day 27

Woooooo-hoooo! I got my (large) glass of wine. Wow did it hit me. I feel like I’ve had 3 glasses. Feeling great (obviously!) and will check back tomorrow to let you know if there were any negative side effects. I won’t get to drink again until the reintroduction is over (March 4th) but on Monday I get to try out legumes. Bring on the peanut butter and hummus after the weekend!!!

By the way, the reintroduction works by changing one variable at a time. So on Monday, I have some legumes with each meal (the rest of the meal is Whole30 compliant) and then I go back to the Whole30 diet for the next 2 days. After that I will try grains for a day…then dairy…then gluten. Notice that sugar is never reintroduced! Fair enough, I’m actually happy with the fruit I’ve been having sometimes after meals (frozen raspberries are my fav right now).

Full disclosure: I had to correct spelling errors on every second word when I was typing this…this is what happens when you have a glass of wine after abstaining for a month :)

Wine Reintroduction

Good news! Wine does not cause my symptoms to come back. Were you just as worried as I was???

I did have a friend recommend trying organic wine if I had problems, so I will keep this in mind for the future as it is probably a healthier choice all around.

Excited about getting to try out legumes tomorrow. Can you believe this is reason for excitement now? So sad.

Will be checking in the day after each re-introduction to report back how each category went. Wish me luck!

Legumes Reintroduction

So my body does not like peanut butter at all. Soy and black beans were fine…but peanut butter made me feel achy again. The Whole30 book recommends that you avoid peanuts even if you do not have any negative reaction to them, because of the proteins in peanuts that are resistant to digestion and cause inflammation in our body. Oh peanut butter, I will miss you.

Even though soy and black beans were fine, I’m going to save legumes for eating out or special occasions. The Whole30 book tells me that legumes contain phytates that can’t be completely “neutralized” by normal cooking preparation…taking minerals from our bodies and possibly provoking inflammation. Besides, compared to veggies and fruit they don’t have nearly as much nutrients.

Grains Reintroduction

Quinoa with breakfast this morning, brown rice with lunch and corn tortilla chips with dinner. No negative reaction like with peanut butter the other day, but I did notice not as much energy. I totally believe that for some of us, the energy that it takes our bodies to digest grains actually affects our overall energy levels. So I will occasionally eat these for dinner (as a post-dinner dip in energy is not so bad), but will try to avoid for breakfast and lunch.

Here’s my full confession for this week: part of me wonders what the point is to the reintroduction. I am now convinced that I want to follow the Whole30 diet for about 90% of my weekly nutritional plan. However, I do realize that it’s important to know how significant of a reaction I have to each food group. Like some foods will make me feel poorly (peanut butter…I’m looking at you!) and some will just prevent me from feeling as good as I could (adding rice to a meal will actually give me less energy than if I left it out). So that is important to be aware of.

I thought I would be so excited about dairy on Sunday but now…not so much. I’m not planning on making dairy a regular part of my diet so it doesn’t have the same thrill as it did a couple of weeks ago. I’m shocked at my change in perspective, but I guess that goes to show that when you experience a significant improvement it’s worth finding a way to sustain the change in eating habits.

Will let you know on Monday how dairy went :)

Dairy Reintroduction

I thought dairy was going to be a problem, but it wasn’t! I think this was partly because I wasn’t consuming huge quantities. I had my first coffee with real cream in it with my breakfast and it was pure heaven. I was at a family lunch and I lucked out with getting scalloped potatoes and a veggie gratin (if it wasn’t dairy day today I would have had to pass). For dinner I had swiss cheese grated on my turkey chili. I felt fine.

Except…today (the day after my dairy reintroduction) I did feel a bit achy.

I will be saving dairy for special treats…and the occasional cup of coffee (oh how I’ve missed that over the past 5 weeks).

Only gluten left to go now.

Gluten Reintroduction

Oh my body really doesn’t like gluten. I could barely bring myself to have gluten for dinner, I was feeling so sick after breakfast and lunch. What is really weird is that my doctor tested me (blood and breath test for gluten) and I was fine. But seriously my worst symptoms came right back.

Today is the day after I ate gluten (back on Whole30 diet now to let my body recover) and I still am feeling the effects.

The Final Verdict

Peanut butter and gluten will be avoided at all costs. I feel like crap when I eat those foods.

I am bringing back wine, but strangely I’m not wanting a glass of wine in the evening as I usually would crave. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling so full. But bring on the happy hour with my buddies!

I want to be able to have the other non-Whole30 food groups as treats, most notably the occasional cup of coffee with cream in it. I’m going to aim for eating Whole30 about 85-90% of the time.

I’ve found a bunch of recipes and I’m also going to use Whole30 approved ingredients to create a few healthy treats.

It’s been so wonderful feeling healthier that it has drastically changed my perspective on food. I don’t feel like I’m going without…I just want to feed my body what’s going to make it feel good.

I have been doing a lot more prep ahead of time, particularly having lots of chopped, roasted and frozen veggies ready to go. Even just having a few hard boiled eggs in the fridge for quick protein is a huge help. And have I mentioned that you can whip chilled coconut milk into whipped “cream”??? This is amazing on top of frozen berries for dessert.

I’m so glad that I did this. It wasn’t easy but I’m really happy that I stuck with it and figured out how to make it work for me.

 

 

 

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