Life post-Whole30: Part II

Grocery shopping now sends me into a tailspin of anxiety. My choices feel unlimited once more, which is kind of terrifying after a month of eliminating lots of the foods I used to eat. Although I can now technically eat whatever I want, I don’t want to do that. Instead, I find myself still gravitating toward many of the foods I ate during my Whole30 (sweet potatoes, coconut oil, more fruit, kale) and not wanting some of the things I ate pre-Whole30 (granola bars, shredded cheese, fruit snacks, sparkling water containing artificial sweeteners, etc.).

Any kind of restrictive manner of eating is dangerous for someone recovering from an eating disorder. Someone like me. Last week, I did overindulge a bit: chocolate chip cookies and tortilla chips were the primary culprit. I definitely attribute at least some of the cause to being sick, but I know that part of it was due to that feeling of deprivation that is particularly problematic if you suffer from binge eating disorder like I do.

However…those urges have not come back at all. I’m a lot more focused on how food makes me feel physically instead of how it makes me feel emotionally. This focus is something I was never able to achieve through other diets I’ve tried: veganism, vegetarianism, the Atkins diet, and flat-out caloric restriction.

I suppose this change in mindset is due to the drastic nature of the Whole30 challenge. I cut out so many things from my diet, and now as I begin to reintroduce some of them, I am made acutely aware of how downright awful some foods make me feel. After a month of feeling on top of the world physically (and pretty damn good mentally, too), the awful indigestion I experience after eating dairy and fried foods doesn’t seem worth it. I want to continue eating in a way that makes me feel great, and when I want to eat something that won’t make me feel so great, I want to make a very informed and intentional decision to do so (That last statement is actually one of the goals the founders of Whole30 have for participants!)

I’m proud that through a lot of hard work, reflection, and change, I’ve moved one step closer to a balanced, healthy, and peaceful relationship with food. I never thought completing a month-long challenge that entailed eliminating many different foods from my diet would help my eating disorder in such a meaningful way– in fact, at times, I thought it would backfire and destroy some of the progress I’ve made this year. I’m so glad I proved myself wrong.

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Life post-Whole30: Part I

Last month, I completed the Whole30 challenge. I knew I had some food sensitivities but I wasn’t quite sure what specifically was causing my digestive issues. So, the Whole30 seemed like a good way to figure that out, and in general, it just seemed like an exciting thing to try for thirty days. Some bloggers I follow had done one or more Whole30s, and had mostly positive things to say about their experiences. I also imagined doing the Whole30 would really force me to stretch my culinary muscles and break out of my comfort zone, and it did- to a point, I guess.

So, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Whole30, it is basically thirty days of ultra-strict Paleo eating. No dairy. No added sweeteners of any kind- natural or artificial (this means no honey, agave, etc. as well). No grains (gluten-containing or non-gluten containing). No alcohol. No legumes, including peanuts. No white potatoes. No MSG, nitrates, nitrites, sulfites, carageenan (this weird additive that is in more foods than you would think). And no “Paleo-ifying” foods- so no Paleo desserts, junk foods, etc.

YIKES. So what did I eat? Fruits, veggies, sweet potatoes, chicken, eggs, ground turkey, ground beef, pulled pork, fish, shellfish, coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), almond and sunflower seed butters, minimal nuts and dried fruit. I learned how to make mashed cauliflower and cauliflower rice. I made zucchini noodles for the first time. I cooked sweet potatoes every which way! I ate close to 4 dozen eggs in the month of May. I fell in love with coconut oil.

My skin cleared up. I lost about 9-10 lbs. I had more energy. I no longer had a HUGE energy crash in the late afternoon. I did not experience light-headedness in the morning after consuming caffeine. (For my own sake, I cut out coffee as well- which is not part of the official Whole30 rules. Instead, I had a glass of homemade unsweetened iced tea every morning, made with a blend of black and herbal teas.) I felt amazing- more cheerful and less moody on a daily basis, for sure. I had fewer migraines–which may also be due to school ending for the semester.

Now, I am nearing the end of the reintroduction phase of Whole30. I have already reintroduced legumes (no issues), non-gluten containing grains (some issues? maybe?), added sugars (fine so far), and alcohol (YAY). Today is dairy reintroduction. I had a Siggi’s blueberry yogurt with lunch and BOOM- the stomach cramps and general ickiness started not long afterward. I suspected dairy was the main culprit in my digestive troubles and it looks like I was right. I had plans to get ice cream tonight and now I’m seriously questioning whether or not I should do so. I have a cold, and I don’t want to deal with stomach pain on top of those symptoms.