Those, who have followed my journey, know that I started Whole30 protocol on June, 1st this year, to improve my overall health. I talked about it here and here.
Recently, my health started deteriorating. I started suffering with fatigue so bad, that getting out of bed after 8-9 hour long sleep was a struggle. I’m someone who likes to be active and all of sudden, I was out of breath just walking a little bit faster. I had zero energy, felt a lot of apathy, had problems concentrating, experienced digestive problems as well painful stomach cramps. I felt like I was having a flu without actually having flu. Everything in my body ached.
I hope you are getting the picture. Experiencing symptoms like this all at once can be overwhelming, and if you have identified with some of them, please feel free to reach out. Sometimes knowing that someone else is going through something similar does give us hope to persist and can help as we could share our experience.
I believe in natural medicine and decided to address my symptoms via looking at my diet first to see if that would help.
Side note: I have the utmost respect for our modern medicine. I am extremely grateful that we have it and that it saves lives… but… I do have a slight issue with how some of these health symptoms get addressed. What personally bothers me a bit is that quite often, symptoms rather that root causes get treated. And I think that our lifestyle choices can sometimes be healing as well.
With that said, I am not a licensed doctor nor a medical professional. If you suffer with poor health, the best way is to talk to someone who is; please consider consulting your medical professional.
My first step on my journey to health was to address what I eat. I chose to do an elimination eating phase called Whole30.
What is the Whole30?
Paragraphs below are taken from Whole30 website: https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/ )
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food.
What do you eat whilst on Whole30?
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
Avoid for 30 days.
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients.
If you are considering giving this plan a go, I recommend checking this site out: https://whole30.com/pdf-downloads/
It has lots of useful information and those downloadable documents can be handy.
How did I do?
I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard.
I travel a bit with work and do spend a few days a week ‘on the road’. Carrying food with me is logistically OK for a day, but it did not work out for two consecutive days in this current heat. Eating out was challenging. Buying breakfast on the go usually meant trying to get some hard-boiled eggs with some salad on the side covered with olive oil. Lunch was usually some sort of steam veggies and oven cooked meat. Butter and margarine are in everything, so are vegetable oils – so checking labels, talking to people about their cooking processes… it was all needed and quite frankly, I felt exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was to talk to someone and having to think too much about it. But it was still do-able despite of me moaning about it. 😊
My thoughts during those five weeks were following:
Week 1 – I felt irritable. My patience levels were low, I felt like snapping at people and all I wanted to do was to dig a hole and hide there…
Week 2 – I felt really tired. Irritability persisted. During this week, I seriously felt like giving up. I was fed up with eating vegetables, eggs and meat and pretty much nothing else. I was cranky. I also realised I could be an emotional eater and really questioned why I was doing this to myself.
Week 3 – I felt even more tired than I was before I started this diet. This week is when I had to stop climbing and doing yoga as my energy levels got super low. My journey with food continued. I discovered how I would sometimes use food or alcohol to make myself feel better or to ‘unwind’.
End of week 3 – I started taking digestive enzymes as my digestion was still poor. I would feel bloated after most meals (clothes didn’t fit anymore) and I decided to use them to help me with digesting meals. I also started using collagen, l-glutamine and probiotics. It was right after I finished reading Eat Dirt by Dr Josh Axe. I will be reviewing it shortly.
In case you are interested in why I have been using these supplements, here are some useful articles by Dr Axe that explain how these may help:
Long story short – I identified with most of the of ‘leaky gut’ syndrome symptoms and I started using these supplements to heal my gut.
Week 4 – I was still not feeling much of a difference. Energy levels felt still low, digestion was mildly better but I had a few nasty digestive flare ups. I felt very discouraged at that point – everyone on Whole30 forums was celebrating their successes at that point and I felt like I was failing. Comparison is never a way forward, I know… 🙂
Week 5 – I started working on my mind management. I also managed to detach myself from food. I ate when I was hungry but mostly did not think about food at all. I also completed Whole30 during that week and I started feeling a little bit more energetic. It was enough to keep me going.
I am still following Whole30 protocol and my energy levels are slowly improving. I’ve noticed a difference in my concentration levels. It has improved significantly. I feel more alert and the brain fog is gone. My skin has improved a lot as well. Digestion is still not great, but I have accepted that this will be a long journey rather than a short sprint.
I have relaxed the last point (7) of things to avoid a bit. I do make myself ‘no porridge’ porridge with coconut flour, ground flax, water and an egg. I also make ice lollies out of coconut milk and cherries and raw cocoa. I baked banana redcurrant bread using eggs, coconut flour and chia seeds. My reasoning is that as long as it doesn’t hurt my gut, it’s ‘allowed’. 😊
My next step alongside managing my diet is following: I want to learn how to manage my stress levels better.
As much as it pains me, I am weaning myself off of coffee. It also makes me jittery and that’s something I want to avoid. I nowadays drink one coffee a day, which I am hoping to replace by matcha tea shortly.
I am slowing my eating process down as well. Concentrating on chewing food and not eating food on the go, is something I am embracing this month. 🙂
I have noticed that whenever I get anxious or I feel like I am failing at something (there goes the ‘recovering perfectionist’ again!), I start getting flare ups and my energy levels go down.
Because of this reason, I am reducing my time I spend online.
I love this blogging community and I appreciate all you lovely readers. I still want to carry on writing my blog. But I won’t be daily commenting or posting 3-4 posts a week. I need to slow down. Adding more to my day is currently not helping.
I am declaring July and Augusts my slow months full of deliberate choices and hopefully full of learning of how to say No.
I am saying No a lot these days and it does sometimes worry me. The fear of missing out is something I have to constantly keep at bay and sadly, me spending a lot of time online doesn’t help.
So this is not a goodbye, I’ll be still posting now and again. It’s probably just for me to manage my own expectations, nothing else. 😊
Hope you are all having a wonderful summer!🌞🌞🌞
Are you making any ‘deliberate’ choices this summer? As always, I’m dying to know. 😊