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Problematic First Whole30


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Hi everyone!


This is my first post to the forum, although I have been using it as a resource to help with my meal planning and food shopping (thanks for that) and found it really helpful.


So some background about me is that I'm a 23 year old University student in the UK and I started my first Whole30 on January 2nd.


I have had quite disordered eating for my entire life and I read about Whole30 and hoped that it would help me overcome some of the binge eating and obsessive weight loss cycles that I've been in since I was worryingly young.


So the beginning of my Whole30 was great. I didn't really get any of "the Hangover" or "Kill All the Things" and I felt really good by about Day 10. My skin cleared up including patches of chronically dry skin on my hands and my nails and eyes were all looking really good. I wasn't bloating and I was enjoying everything that I was eating so much that other people around me found it annoying. I slept really deeply and had buckets of energy.


BUT then it all seemed to flip. My digestion went haywire and I bloated massively. was oscillating between constipated and having quite bad diarrhoea (I hope you don't mind me posting this in Ladies Only, seemed most appropriate!).


My diet has become more varied so I've been eating more cruciferous veg (kale, brocolli, brussels sprouts) and I initially put it down to this and tried to cut down my portions. I've also probably eaten at least one sweet potato a day since I started.


Another factor that may have changed things was the fact that I had Uni exams starting on Day 13. I have a history of quite severe anxiety and so exams are quite an ordeal and I wanted to do the Whole30 while I was going through this as I thought it may help prevent the mood swings caused by study comfort eating. My sleep and routine became a bit disrupted despite my best efforts. What did happen was that although I managed to maintain the Whole30 that I was prescribed sleeping tablets and beta blockers to help with the anxiety problems.


So I thought that new medication was another factor that could have affected how my body was feeling. I didn't take it for too long (about a week, just to get through exams) and stopped as soon as they were over as I don't like taking medication and wanted to get through this by myself.


Day 23 was the last day of my exams AND my birthday so I was rushed off my feet and hadn't prepared food because I'd planned on (compliant) dinner out with some friends. This plan changed so I was without food and ended up eating dried fruit and nuts (sorry guys!) and went out for "drinks" instead. I didn't eat the cake my housemates made me (even though they knew I was doing the Whole30 and what it entailed) and I deflected the quite serious guilt tripping that was used to try and make me drink. But anyway, I did drink the "mocktail" made from fruit juice that someone bought me because of the ridiculous fuss and sparklers that went into it. If I'm honest, Whole30 has got me re-considering who my friends are.


So for a variety of reasons I decided to extend my Whole30 to a Whole42 so I could get more out of it, which puts me on Day 34. I have still been bloating and having tummy issues, the patches of eczema on my hands that had never been that much of a problem before seem to have gotten worse and my nails are flaking much more than they used to. A strange rash appeared on one of my legs yesterday which has been giving me grief. My sleep still doesn't seem to be as good as it was and since my birthday I've been battling sugar cravings and trying to resist eating fruit out of convenience now that my semester has begun again and I'm rushing around trying to balance a particularly heavy workload.


In summary, I'm just feeling really fed up. I considered stopping what I was doing yesterday and giving myself a few weeks off before trying again in March but I made a commitment to 42 days now and I don't want to give up. I just want to get back to how I did feel to begin with! If anyone has managed to read my entire post without losing interest, could any of you suggest as to why I'm having such a rough time?


I've genuinely been compliant apart from the juice, spending a lot of time (and money!) preparing meals and trying new things so I don't get bored. My desire to eat well seems to have dwindled though and yesterday I ate out with a friend which meant root vegetable chips cooked in vegetable oil and I realised I was at a low ebb and needed to get back on track.


Whole30 is amazing and I know that however much I do will benefit me all round but I'm feeling really demoralised! Any ideas that anybody can offer would be much appreciated!


Thanks in advance.

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Hi Amy! First of all, kudos to you for saying "no" to drinks on your birthday. Social outings are by far my biggest challenge. 


I'm not an expert, but based on my experiences doing a couple W30's and having really weird digestive issues, here's my two cents:


I know that most people have the hardest time in the beginning of their W30, but it's not the same for everyone. The days when you feel good/not so good do not follow a strict schedule, so it could just be that it took your body a little more time to notice the change in diet, etc. so you didn't experience symptoms until your 2nd/3rd week. Also, lots of veggies = lots of fiber, which could = unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. Are you eating red meat? I find that if I eat red meat (harder to digest for many) it sort of balances out all the extra vegetables. I also try to mix higher fat proteins with lean options (so I might have salmon for lunch but lean ground turkey or chicken breast for dinner) because the higher fat stuff seems to pass through my system more quickly, if ya know what I mean.


All that said, don't underestimate the power of stress to totally screw with your system. You had a lot of stressors in the last 30 days - exams, somewhat unsupportive friends, your birthday, etc. That's a lot to deal with on top of the inherent physiological and psychological "stress" of the W30 (body ridding itself of toxins, change in diet, desire to succeed/fear of failure). Stress has a big impact on all of your hormones, and anti-anxiety meds and sleep aids also (artificially) do the same thing. With everything you have had going on, it's not surprising you are experiencing the symptoms you are. In other words, don't be too hard on yourself or the program - the point is that it makes you realize the things in your life that are affecting your health, be it negatively or positively.


If you committed to 10 more days, finish it. Over these last few days, you might think about trying some new strategies to deal with stress - journaling, meditation, yoga, etc.? It kinda sounds like if you're able to manage your stress and anxiety, you will have more success with future W30's and that may be a big clue as to the cause of your symptoms. W30's are strange and mysterious - you never know what kinds of things will come to light that provide insight into your overall health :)


Hope this helps! Hang in there!

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Hi Kat!


Thanks for responding. I think even just the act of finally posting something on here and verbalising what I'm feeling has been cathartic and I've had a better day. Reading your warm and helpful response has helped me feel better still.


Before the start of my Whole30, I didn't really eat any meat. I spent a lot of years as a vegetarian and although I started eating some meat again (usually at my parents house), I thought the best diet would be mostly vegetables and "healthy" grains.


I have been eating a lot of red meat (for example, most of my meals for the last three days were either lamb or beef) and perhaps my body is still adjusting to idea of digesting these things again?


I've had quite a serious problem with anxiety for a long time (which seemed to go hand in hand with my problems with food) so I'm still learning how to cope but I'm definitely doing the best I ever have been. I'e been keeping a journal for a while now and I'm a keen fan of yoga and meditation so it's like you read my mind!


I know that it's a learning curve and this definitely gives me an insight into how the pressure I put on myself affects my body. I think what you said about learning what affects your health is so true!


I still intend to do another W30 in March and hopefully I will have a slightly easier time now I've had these experiences this time round. I feel a bit happier to get through the last 8 days of this one though!


Thanks again.

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I agree with everything Kat said about the stress and knowing that this is a lot more protein for you than what you are used to helps my recommendations. People starting where you are have found digestive enzymes to be helpful in getting their bodies to adjust. This article may help: http://whole9life.com/2013/02/eating-meat-a-primer-for-the-meat-challenged-2/


Aside from that if you would like additional feedback on your food for other possible tweeks you can post 3-4 days of your food log and we can try and help.


Edited to add this additional link that might help: http://whole9life.com/2012/09/digestive-enzymes-101/

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I don't have much to add beyond what Kat and Bethany said, but just wanted to say - I'm so impressed with your focus and the realizations you've come to through this process. It sounds like you've not had an easy road, and you're taking big steps here. Kudos to you.

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Physibeth - 

Hello and thanks for your input! That article has got me thinking and I think I have had a problem including more meat in my diet. The idea of eating meat at every meal still doesn't sit right with me. I don't particularly have trouble eating meat for breakfast but I would say that more than half of my breakfasts in January consisted of a pile of veg topped with a (just one) fried egg.


I don't really have a food log I'm afraid but I have to admit, I didn't follow too strictly to the meal template as I'm quite a serious cook and didn't want to feel so restricted in how I put my ingredients together. But having gone back to look at it more closely, I realise now that I have definitely not been getting enough protein in the mornings. I have only just read on the forum since posting this topic that if you are using eggs as a source of protein then you should be eating however many you can fit in your hand. For me that's four and I couldn't help but put one back and only have three.


I have long been a firm believer that we should be sparing and respectful with meat. I have long encouraged the people around me to have a day or two a week without meat (at least) but if I were to do this now I would be eating a best part of a dozen eggs on these days. This obviously isn't really possible and I'm finding it really hard to get my head around.


So I'm really grateful for your response because if you hadn't posted that I would have never stopped to think about it!



Thank you! I've felt really encouraged by the responses on here and I feel so much more focused as a result.

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