Ever heard of the Whole30?
We hadn’t. But when you’ve been gluten free for six months and still have lingering symptoms, you start scouring the internet and discover all kinds of food triggers that may crop up alongside celiac. Dairy. Oats (even certified gluten-free oats!). Xanthan gum. The list goes on…
I (Heidi) decided that I basically had two choices:
(1) To make lots of doctors visits and endure frequent lab work (with or without an answer for my problems!) with the many copays that entails.
(2) To try an elimination diet (and invest my money and time in buying and preparing good food) with the hope of discovering whether or not another food sensitivity or intolerance is contributing to my troubles.
I chose the latter, and it has been a roller coaster, let me tell you! (For full disclosure, I do plan to continue seeing a doctor periodically and having routine blood tests for celiac disease to monitor changes, with or without improvement from my diet.)
After reading about the Whole30, a (you guessed it!) thirty-day elimination diet that cuts out all dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar, Taft and I decided to take the plunge.
We chose a starting date and marked days 1 to 30 on our calendar in red. We shopped and cooked and daydreamed about feeling healthy! On day 1, I felt like a pro. I didn’t have my bowl of homemade yogurt in the morning or a bowl of chex drowned in milk and honey. I made it through the entire day without any of my favorites—gluten-free toast, cheese, ice cream, strawberry jam… I went to bed thinking, if I can do one day, I can do thirty. We’ve got this!
Enter day 2. Major wake-up call.
I slid out of bed, took a few steps, and felt a little funny. By the time I was washing my hands in the bathroom, I was telling myself over and over again, “You must not pass out, you must not pass out, you must not pass out.” The idea of eating ANYTHING Whole30 approved made me feel absolutely nauseated. I made it through the morning on willpower alone.
Halfway through the day, I discovered the Whole30 Timeline. Apparently, binging on homemade yogurt, chex drowned in milk and honey, gluten-free toast, cheese, ice cream, and strawberry jam two days ago was not such a bright idea.
We kept going, and after a few days, we decided to make one modification to the program, hence the “almost.” There’s a stipulation against making paleo baked goods. About a week into the program, we decided that said rule was making mealtime, especially breakfast, very difficult for us to handle. After cutting out so much by going gluten-free, including cutting back a TON on baked goods, we realized that for us, it was more unhealthy for food to become our enemy than to eat ingredient-compliant muffins. Our diet is about creating sustainable, healthy eating habits and not rebounding to comfort foods on day 31. Did we quit? Technically, yes. But now we’re having a healthy and HAPPY experience.
For us, an elimination diet isn’t so much about changing how we think about food (for now) but about discovering what foods help our bodies function well. Today we’re on day 21 and feeling great! Are my symptoms 100% resolved? No. Still, about 80% of my symptoms disappeared within the first week, and it’s been slow and steady progress since then. For example, in the last few days, I’ve made it through the entire day without feeling like I needed a nap just to get through the afternoon. That is a huge deal!
(Insert from Taft here: will we do another, “correct” Whole30 someday? Maybe. For now though, this is meeting our needs.)
Have you ever done the Whole30, or another elimination diet? How did it work out for you?