(This post contains affiliate links.) The last week and a half have been hard. I keep hoping to see improvement with certain things – especially my energy level – and I’m about to start listening to my instincts (I am an INTJ, after all, and my instincts rarely lead me wrong), and come to the conclusion that the Whole 30 ‘lifestyle’ is not for me.
I have seen a grand total of three improvements:
The eczema issues I was starting to have are gone (and I haven’t had a random outbreak of hives since right before we started Whole 30, but I’ve gone months at a time without that happening before, so it’s only going to be something that time will tell). So the eczema is definitely something diet-triggered, and even if I go off Whole 30 early, I will still reintegrate foods one at a time so I can narrow down what the triggers might be.
I’ve lost some weight. I suspect most of it was ‘water’ weight. My clothes fit slightly better, but I look and feel slimmer, and my jeans are just a tad bit looser. Wearing a belt isn’t uncomfortable anymore, though. (Per ‘the rules’, I’m not weighing myself during Whole 30. I did weigh myself beforehand, though, so I will ultimately know if/how much I lost.)
I’ve seen slight improvement with the random aches and pains I was having, but only slight. My knees still hurt off and on, but my shoulder pain has definitely lessened, and I can tell sooner when my posture is going to make my muscles hurt later, so I shift around more and sit straighter. I’m still having weird movement/pressure-triggered pain in my hands, though.
What has not improved:
My energy level/fatigue. If anything, it’s been getting worse. It’s harder and harder to get up in the mornings, even when I’m in bed by 9 pm. (9pm – 5 am = 8 hours of sleep, ya’ll. Usually I function best on 7 hours, and these days I just plain old want at least twelve hours of sleep.)
How I feel about food. I’ve never struggled with anything remotely resembling a food disorder. I do have an insane sweet tooth, and I can tell that being off sugar has been good for me this month, but I’m struggling – greatly – with feeling satisfied about what I’m putting in my body. I’m not having any cravings necessarily, but I just… don’t feel like I’m getting sufficient food, even though I’m eating a lot.
I like vegetables. I like meat. I never skimped on consuming healthy fats before this. But I also like bread. And I’ve now hit the point where I’m past any sugar addiction, and I’m not really craving anything in general. (I don’t have to have anything. Since, at least this morning, I’m still mostly devoted to trying to finish this out, you could put a piece of fresh bread slathered in butter in front of me and I wouldn’t feel an urge to eat it.)
But I miss bread. A lot. I miss how satisfied I feel when I had bread to go with a meal. I miss feeling satisfied after a frigging meal. Even meals where I do consume what Whole 30 deems to be ‘enough’ fat, I don’t stay satisfied, I just get full faster which means I eat less food.
My mindset. Mr. Loper’s mindset. This has not helped anything, in that regard. He’s very depressed, and he’s already prone to depression/anxiety (and finally confessed to me the other day that he became very depressed right around the time of the layoff, and doesn’t feel like he’s come out of it yet) and I can understand why being told you literally cannot eat most of what you like might make that worse. If I’d understood how bad certain aspects of his depression was before we started Whole 30, I probably won’t have asked him to do it. (Yes, there are some communication issues, mainly being that he won’t talk to me about things that bother him. I cannot alleviate/fix problems that I’m not aware of, folks. This is a two-way street.)
Mr. Loper also says he doesn’t feel any different than before on Whole 30 so far (he didn’t even have the food hangover that I did at the start), and he’s just really hungry in addition to not feeling any better.
I’ve learned two major things about my eating doing this: I cannot eat large amounts of fats or vegetables first thing in the morning (but I can later in the day). It makes my stomach hurt. I also cannot eat the amount of food they recommend for a meal.
Their ‘logic’ is that if you get hungry before 4-5 hours have passed after eating, you need to eat larger meals (vs having a healthy ‘snack’). That isn’t physically possible for me. I’ve tried eating meals so large that I’m definitely OVER eating in a single sitting, and I’m still hungry 2-3 hours later. I decided to go with my comfort level instead – because overeating is painful. Supposedly, much of what you’re eating on this is ‘nutrient dense’ but my feels like its borderline malnourished. Not that it’s being deprived of things it shouldn’t have (like refined/processed sugar) but that it’s actually not getting what it needs to function.
I’ve officially had a ‘non-compliant’… item.
I found their reasoning against stevia to be mostly hogwash from the start.
I’ve been using stevia for years now, after a recommendation from a dentist that I needed to drastically reduce any sugary drinks in my diet to preserve my teeth. (I have weak enamel, and three years of braces in high school – while necessary for me to actually be able to chew properly – did not do my enamel any favors.)
Well, I’d mostly given up soda years ago at that point (I have maybe 5-10 a year, if even that many), but I love tea. And I was using sugar in my tea probably 4-5 times a day at that point. I switched to using mostly stevia in my tea (there’s just a few teas that really are complemented better by actual sugar, but I don’t drink them often), and my teeth have been happier ever since. (There are also some types of tea that I am more than happy to have without sugar – like lapsong souchong, jasmine tea, and Harney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice, and some varieties of herbal tea.)
Here’s the thing about stevia: it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels. It’s not sugar – it simply tastes sweet on your taste buds – so there’s no insulin reaction to it. (Here’s an actual, formal, scientific study about these findings.)
But still, Whole 30 says, “While it’s not highly processed like its liquid or powdery cousins, the only purpose of stevia leaf is to sweeten something that was not already sweet. This is something we want you to avoid during your Whole 30. Instead, learn to appreciate the natural flavors of your foods, and don’t rely on sweet tastes to prop up sugar cravings.” – See more at: http://whole30.com/2013/06/the-official-can-i-have-guide-to-the-whole30/#sthash.gFPXqmwO.dpuf
What’s wrong with making something sweet? By that logic, you shouldn’t alter anything from its original taste palate. No salt on your steak. No pepper! Learn to appreciate the natural flavors of your foods. BS. Some things need a little enhancement to truly make the natural flavors pop – any good cook knows this.
A lot of their rules are… inconsistent. No alcohol (not even in vanilla extract!), but you can have fermented foods like kombucha (which NATURALLY have a certain amount of alcohol in them.)
Well. I tried my favorite chai tea without sweetener several times over the course of the month. It had hardly any flavor, and I brew it strong to start with.
Today (Day 22), I rebelled, and I put two drops of my NOW Better Stevia (Amazon affiliate link) in my tea. I tried it with just one drop (did nothing), and two drops was the perfect lightly sweet level that I prefer when I don’t have cream in my tea (I miss cream too. Don’t even suggest coconut milk. Already tried it. It tastes like coconut in hot water and I don’t like coconut.)
So far, despite the ‘artificial sweetener’ Whole 30 aspect, and the 11% organic alcohol it contains, I feel no worse for wear.
The other reason we might stop early (IE: start reintegrating other foods early) is… the budget. I have a grand total of $11 left in the grocery budget (and that’s after padding as much as I could from other places in the budget), and while I have food on-hand already to make it through Day 27 (April 20)… I don’t know that I can sustain this through the end of the month without going drastically over budget, and payday doesn’t happen again until the 21st. So… yeah.
I’m still undecided about quitting early or not. If Mr. Loper wants something non-compliant, he will have to make/obtain it himself.
I’m ready for a nap. Again.
Jean Marie BauhausApril 15, 2016 - 1:15 pm ·
I totally agree that the ban on stevia (and the logic behind it) is pretty silly, especially when they go on to say that it’s okay to use dates as a sweetener (?!). So the thing that will have no effect on your blood sugar whatsoever is verboten, but a high-glycemic fruit is jim dandy? Oookay. I’m still avoiding it for the time being, though. I like coffee and most teas well enough without it, and the only other thing I used it for consistently was to sweeten my oatmeal, which is off-limits anyway.
I’m so sorry this has been a letdown for you. I’m on Day 5 and my energy’s a bit low and I’ve been a little moody and irritable the last couple days (but I’m also right on schedule for PMS, so who knows whether it’s the diet or hormones — probably both), but as far as hunger goes I’ve felt pretty satisfied. I’ve pretty much combined this with the Zone diet by following the Zone guidelines for portion size and protein/fat/carb ratios; based on meals people have posted on Instagram I think a lot of people on this diet simply aren’t getting enough protein, or enough filling carbs. My secret weapon has been sweet potatoes. I always feel fullest when I include one in my meal, and they have enough fiber to offset their high glycemic load.
Also, I’m having snacks. Boo on no snacks.
Rebekah LoperApril 15, 2016 - 1:51 pm ·
I avoided stevia for the first three weeks because I *did* want to break any sure cravings full force, and I could understand THAT reasoning that they gave. It is shown that if you eat sugar substitutes that are ‘zero calorie’ but don’t get the sugar high with it, you DO overeat other things to compensate, because your body is going “HEY. YOU GAVE ME FUEL BUT WHERE’S THE FUEL.”
But the study I linked to above? It specifically showed that those who consume stevia instead of sugar (sucrose) don’t overcompensate with other foods. So there must be something already built in, brain-wise or whatever, that recognizes that stevia is different.
I’m not quite giving up yet, I am feeling significantly more alert today than I have in weeks. Still tired, but more alert. We’ll see how the next few days pan out.
mariazanniniApril 15, 2016 - 3:39 pm ·
I’ve been around long enough to have seen these diet lifestyle changes before.
We gave up sugar and white flour for a while (years ago). I lost a lot of weight and had a lot more energy but I was only in my mid 30s so it wasn’t a great surprise.
I’m sure if I did it now I’d grumble a lot more and enjoy it a lot less.
Like you, the thing I missed most was bread. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but I do love a piece of bread at least a couple of times a week.
All you can do is adjust the parameters as you see fit. Don’t try to fit into their mold. Every body is different and what works for one person won’t work for another. If they give you a 100% guarantee that it works for everyone, they’re lying.
Patricia Lynne (@plynne_writes)April 15, 2016 - 5:31 pm ·
The fatigue and lack of energy would definitely have me dropping it. I had a while back when I had fatigue problems due to an inconsistent sleep schedule, so I know how that feels. I’d like to say maybe your body just needs to readjust, but it might be past that stage. I don’t know.