Today marks Day 15 of my Whole30 program, the halfway mark, and I’m still alive. I’ve learned a few things, been pleasantly surprised by a few things, and overall, found this a lot easier than I expected to. Here’s the breakdown:
Stuff I’ve learned:
1. All about the “carb flu.” This is essentially the withdrawal that your body goes through as it learns not to rely on quick sources of glucose, aka carbs, for fuel. You feel a little run-down, a little “off” for about a week, and then all of a sudden, everything levels out. Some people have far worse symptoms than I did, probably because I wasn’t eating a lot of carbs to begin with, but those intense cravings for enchiladas and popcorn I experienced? All part of it. I mentioned withdrawal, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Carbs, especially wheat, trigger addictive symptoms in your brain. When you have carb cravings, it’s not because your body actually needs them. It’s because it’s physically addicted and has gone too long without a “fix.”
2. Dairy spikes your insulin 3 times higher than any other nutrient source. Learning this pacified the zombie cheeses that were chasing me relentlessly and has made me re-think my dairy consumption post-Whole30. At this point, I doubt I’ll forgo it completely, but I will definitely be more moderate.
3. I hadn’t been eating enough. For the first week and a half, I would find myself feeling nauseated and my leg and arm muscles would feel very weak before I realized I needed to eat. Interestingly, I never had hunger pangs to cue me. I’m not sure why that is – maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can tell me – but I took to keeping a bag of snacks in my car with me (raw almonds/large flake coconut/dried cranberry mix, Larabars, pistachios, raw nut butter single-serve packs, nitrate/nitrite-free jerky, etc), and that has helped a lot. Also, as I had read would happen, the further I’ve gotten into this, the more self-regulated my eating has become. And I also have noted a correlation between a carb craving and the need to eat: if I find myself thinking about crackers or tortilla chips or whatever, I know I’ve waited too long.
1. Food tastes better than it ever has. Seriously. It’s like flavors have come alive; subtle nuances are screamingly obvious. I think this must be what it’s like when a smoker quits and can suddenly taste food, but on a deeper level. Today I bought a box of organic strawberries, and J walked in the kitchen to see me standing completely still, eyes closed, savoring one. I think it was the best strawberry I’ve ever eaten. It’s so nice to enjoy real foods, things we take for granted or pass up in lieu of sugar-laden confections. And I have found that I’m not a fan of finding paleo-friendly substitutes for most things. If it doesn’t taste as good as the thing it’s trying to mimic, I don’t want it. On the other hand, I’ve tried things I wouldn’t normally have tried before this and found that I like them. Spaghetti squash is really good! Organic coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the carton) is amazing in coffee. Coconut sap crystals are just sweet enough, chock-full of amino acids and vitamins, and very low on the glycemic index, not to mention they don’t pack a carb punch at all and are completely natural.
2. Stock – or as the paleo/primal community calls it, bone broth – is amazing at healing up gut issues and upset tummies. I have now joined the British in enjoying their cups of restorative “beef tea.” I can’t even explain this one, and I wouldn’t have ever thought (especially after making gallons upon gallons of the stuff in my culinary career) that I’d be excited about drinking a mug of warm stock with a sprinkling of Himalayan rose salt, but I am. For a really informative article about the benefits of bone broth, go here .
3. I need new clothes. I had lost a few pounds after going gluten-free a couple of months ago, but the Whole30 has kicked that into high gear. Well, maybe medium gear because it’s slow and steady, as opposed to a huge loss all at once, but I’m down at least 10lb. Frankly, I’m okay with slow and steady because it’s the healthier way to lose weight anyway, and also, this is not at all some fad diet, so what I lose won’t be coming back. This is a way of eating that our bodies were designed for, and just like putting the right fuel in your car’s tank improves overall performance, eating properly gets everything into alignment. I’ve decided I won’t buy clothes until my birthday in May because I figure by then, I’ll have leveled out at the weight I need to be. I’m not looking to be a size 2 – that’s not realistic for my body type. But I am looking to be at my correct set point, and I’m on my way there. (By the way, it’s a little uncomfortable but immensely gratifying when your husband scrutinizes you MOST clinically and says, “Your body has changed a LOT already. I can see your progress and I’m proud of you.” 🙂 ) In addition, my skin is healthier and my hair is growing like crazy. Must be all the protein and collagen in the bone broth. 😀
So, I have 15 more days to go. At the end of it, I have promised M I will make gf cinnamon rolls and eat them with him because we missed his Muffins With Mom day at school. So I will make them – from manioc flour, which is the gf basis for the amazing cheese rolls at Fogo de Chao, by the way, and also makes a phenomenal pizza crust and a reasonable flour tortilla substitute – and I will eat one with him. But I have almost none of the already little sweet tooth I possessed before, and I am not a fan of intestinal upheaval, so I don’t see sugar becoming a habit again. I will also slowly reintroduce some dairy and see if it halts my weight loss progress, and I may eat some french fries from Elevation Burger. I’ll write again at the end of the next 15 days and let y’all know how it all turns out.
PS – One of the best parts of this experience? A certain friend of mine wrote that she was going to make soooo much fun of me as I called her, bemoaning my lot in Whole30 life. I am delighted to report that no such call has taken place, and I actually feel great! 🙂