These things may happen to you when you start a Whole30 nutrition program (a.k.a. cutting out all gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol for 30 days):
- Tension neckache
- Feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck
Seriously, the first five days on Whole30 sucked. I felt horrible and tired. Like hungover times 10. It wasn’t the cravings (of which I’ve had remarkably few) that flattened me. It was the pure exhaustion and body aches. This, I’m told, is dubbed the “carb flu” — and it’s not unusual, according to this Whole30 timeline of how a typical Whole30 plays out. In sugar withdrawal, my body is basically getting used to using fat to burn energy instead of the sugar calories it’s had easy access to for years.
It’s a good thing I didn’t have to go to an office job in those first few days. Or do any sort of serious thinking. Or driving. I wanted a nap every day at 3pm (when I typically reach for something with sugar for a pick-me-up). Tip: If you decide to try Whole30, start on a Friday so you can have the weekend to sort out these symptoms before returning to work and/or carpooling mom duties on Monday.
In good news, my feeling like total crap only lasted five days. My headaches are totally gone now at day 10. However, see those two last bullet points above? I’m going to spare you the details, but I am struggling on the digestive front. I’m cutting out some items that may or may not cause gut problems, namely nuts and carbonated water, and hoping that I’ll be back to “normal” very soon. Everything I’ve read on the Whole30 website and forum points my belly issues being related to an abrupt change in diet, and my gut simply getting used to it. I’m game to ride it out, and I’m committed to 30 days of this program.
That all said, in better news, the sensation of wanting a hit of sugar after every lunch and dinner has subsided a bit, for sure. But I’m not convinced that if I had a handful of gumdrops right now the Sugar Dragon wouldn’t return in full force. In other words, I don’t think I’ve conquered processed-carb cravings (at all) but I am very pleased I can at least prove to myself I’m not going to die if I don’t have some Fig Newtons after lunch or a bowl of ice cream after dinner.
Here are some other high points:
- I now know how to make dairy-free coconut cream, clarified butter, and ghee (pictured above, prior to solidifying).
- My family is totally on board with eating Whole30-approved dinners. We’ve enjoyed meals like Grilled Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce with Cauliflower “Rice,” Grilled Steak and Sweet Potato Mash, and Citrus-Bison Meatball with Sweet Potato “Noodles.” Really, many of the protein- and vegetable-heavy meals I’ve been eating for the past 10 days have been great. I’ve found several online, while others have come from the Whole30 cookbook.
- I’ve become a nutrition-label reader extraordinaire.
- I found out I can live without my beloved Cheerios and skim milk in the morning, as well as a nightly glass of red wine at night. (Seriously I am most impressed I have stuck with no alcohol for 10 days; its’ been a looooooong time since I’ve gone such a stretch — the most recent may have been my 7-day stint at Fitness Ridge.)
- I discovered I like Kombucha, a natural probiotic that I’d never ever heard of before.
- I resisted (pretty easily, I might add) a pile of cookies, brownies and cupcakes my teen daughter made for a bake sale. Granted, I told her she needed to throw away the half-filled tub of leftover frosting, and hide the full tub and boxed cake mix in her room and not in our pantry, but still, I consider that a win.
I’m also pleased I was able to eat out at Chiptole for a Whole30 compliant meal: a bowl full of pork carnitas, guacamole, diced-tomato salsa and lettuce. I didn’t feel deprived bypassing the beans, rice and tortilla I’d typically get.
Again, I am very glad I have not made any travel plans this month; this, I believe, will help me stick to the Whole30 challenge, which includes not allowing one bit of non-compliant food crossing my lips. As a member of the travel media, I’d been invited to two local farm-to-table dinners this month, and said no to both. While I’m sure I could have found some “approved” food items, I didn’t want to be tempted in a convivial atmosphere, where I’m guessing the food would be plentiful and the wine flowing.
And I think it was smart to ease up on exercise in the first week or so. I’d been going to hour-long, intense group exercise classes at a local studio. I love these classes, but I don’t think I would have had the stamina for them during my fatigue stage. Doing half-hour 21 Day Fix videos at home (with my teens!) was plenty to start; now I’m following a video and making sure I get in my 10,000 steps through walking or mountain hiking. That feels good to me right now; I’ll consider adding in some group classes again later this month.
So…. so far so good. I’m glad I’m over the hump. For now, anyway. There are some other periods outlined in the timeline (which is really entertaining to read, in my opinion) that describe food boredom, an onslaught of junk-food dreams, and panic. Maybe I’ll experience those sensations, maybe I won’t. Will update again in another 10 days!
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