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Trying and failing and trying and failing....

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New to the community, but not to Whole 30. I'm hoping to troubleshoot some previous issues I've had so that I can successfully make it through the program.


My diet is fairly "clean" - lots of whole, unprocessed foods, but I do eat grains, legumes, and dairy. I've been trying to follow Weston A. Price/Nourishing Traditions principles, so I've not been eating SAD, for reference. However, every  time I attempt Whole 30, my blood sugar goes crazy.


I've had intermittent issues with hypoglycemic incidents in my life, but they almost disappeared when I switched to eating real food. Was never diagnosed with hypoglycemia, as it wasn't that constant of a problem, and again, went away with eating better. Usually, these incidents were related to the beginning of my menstrual period, so my doc thought it might have had somewhat to do with hormone levels, which might have stabilized by themselves once I cut a lot of crap out of my diet.


I rarely drink caffeine, as it gives me the shakes - the most I have is the occasional green tea or chocolate, so not a lot. However, whenever I attempt to do Whole 30, I'm nauseous, I'm shaking, sweating, and feel like I'm going to faint. I can hardly make it past the first day. My longest attempt was three days. I've made sure to really eat, following the template. I try to make sure I have some starch with every meal and I make sure to eat a ton of food. On the last round, when I made it three days, I did snack, but I made sure it was compliant foods, basically leftover meals, and that seemed to help a bit. But this just comes on without warning - no hunger cues, just completely bottoming out with little to no notice that my body needs more food.


What am I doing wrong? What can I do to make this better? Should I slowly attempt to step down my dairy and grain consumption in preparation of the Whole 30? I'm an attorney, so I can't really be passing out in court and I need to be able to focus when I'm at work. I could manage feeling weak or lethargic, but when my vision starts going dark and I'm nauseous and sweating, that's not something I can push through for days on end. I want to make this work, but I'm struggling to figure out what steps I need to do. Anyone else struggled with this? So far, the threads I've found with similar stories are women who are breastfeeding, which is not the case for me. TIA.

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Wow none of that sounds pleasant at all.
First of all you have not failed! You are here still trying to figure it out. Kuddos to you!


Could you perhaps post your food log from your last 3 day attempt including water, activity, and sleep? This might help us pinpoint what is going on. Also perhaps a few days of what your food looks like when you are feeling good.


From your symptoms my guess is that you need either more fat or more carbs and likely both but it is hard to tell for sure without knowing precisely what you are eating. I made a similar step when I went paleo from a mostly WAP style of eating. When I first made the transition I wasn't doing Whole30 and I was logging my food in a calorie counter and I realized quickly I needed to eat more than I thought I did without grains, beans, and dairy in my diet. But following the template and erring towards the higher side with lots of starchy vegetables should be enough.

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Okay.  Having reactions the first few days are normal.  However, that being said you seem to be affected by it in the extreme.


Now if you were doing a whole 30 what would be some typical meals for you?  I have some suspicions here but until we see what you are eating while on plan it is hard to troubleshoot. 


Based on what you mention your symptoms above I suspect you might need to go heavy on the starchy carbs.  I needed to do this too (I still do when it comes to pre-period) but now I am to a point where my hormones are more regulated so I can slowly walk away from relying on the starchy carbs so much.

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Guest WholeStanley

In order to get to the bottom of such an extreme reaction on day 1 I think it would be most helpful if you could share what you eat on the two days BEFORE you start a whole30 and then day 1 and 2 of your whole30

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Okay, here's some examples of how I usually eat:


Breakfast varies a lot, as I've never had much of an appetite in the mornings and a strong gag reflex (my mother has so many stories of struggling for me as a child to get me to eat). So, on non-hungry days, I usually make myself some sort of green smoothie. Usually, this is berries, greens, something like coconut milk or half an avocado for some fat or maybe chia seeds, Amazing Greens protein powder, maybe half a cucumber. I sip on this, and around 10am or so, I'll have some nuts if I'm hungry. Other times, I just have an early lunch around 11am. In the winter, I'm more likely to have oatmeal, sometimes with a side of eggs. If I'm a little hungry, but I don't have a ton of time, I grab these "power balls" that are made locally with protein powder and nuts and so forth. About 100 calories apiece, with 3g fat, some protein, etc. They're supposed to give you long lasting energy, and they do seem to do well without a crash. I usually eat two.


Other days, I wake up hungry, and so on those days, I'll have some leftover roasted/steamed/sauteed vegetables with 2-3 eggs. If I'm really hungry, I'll have a piece of Ezekiel toast as well. Sometimes a small glass of juice - green blend or grapefuit (usually only about 4 oz.)


For lunch, I eat a lot of Chipotle bowls, since they're across the street from work. Sometimes I have brown rice, other times a salad, depending on how hungry I am. I usually order meat, tomato and corn salsa, sometimes cheese and sour cream but other times not, and lettuce. I also get power bowls from Panera, or if I pack my own meal, it's often a salad with beans or canned tuna, a bunch of chopped veggies, and a homemade olive-oil based vinaigrette. In the winter, I eat a lot of soup/stews made with homemade bone broth. Usually, if I have a salad or soup, I have a bit of bread and butter on the side, sometimes a salad, but usually not. I try to eat some sort of fermented food too, like kombucha or sauerkraut. I'm not really big on sandwiches, and I'm picky about my burgers, so that eliminates a lot of fast food.


In the afternoon, if I need a snack, I'll have a Lara Bar and a cup of tea, but a lot of times, I'm usually not hungry for dinner until 5-6pm. Dinner is usually something like an organic rotisserie chicken from the market if I'm in a hurry, or fish. On the weekends, I tend to cook things that take longer like roasts or osso bucco or whatnot. Usually a starchy side like potatoes, peas, corn, polenta, grits, brown rice, sometimes pasta, or having whole grain bread with butter on the side. I usually sautee or roast some veggies in olive oil to go with it, and sometimes I'll have fruit with yogurt for dessert. Other times, I'll have some dark chocolate. I usually save desserts for when I go out to eat. I do have a glass of red wine a couple times a week with dinner, but I try to keep it reasonable. Most of the time, it's one 5oz. glass. I will ocassionaly pour myself a second glass, but I never exceed two alcoholic drinks, even when I'm out. I also try to remember some fermented foods, but I tend to forget at this meal more than I do at lunch.


I don't really count calories, as it's hard to do when you're prepping your own food and you don't have a scale. I'd guess I eat around 1,500-1,800? Maybe closer to 2,000 on the days when I wake up hungry, or if I've worked out. I'm intermittent with exercise - I go through phases where I jog, or do some strength training, but then other times, I get lazy and feel too tired. I do try and walk a lot though, especially in the evenings after work, to combat sitting too much during the day.


For the three day log from my last attempt, which was back in March, I didn't track sleep, but it was probably what I usually get, somewhere between 7.5-9 hours. I also didn't log water, but I make a concerted effort to drink around 1.5-2L a day, and I get that consistently, plus tea, so I would assume around that amount.


Day One:

Breakfast - two eggs fried over easy in ghee, 1/2 bag steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, clementine.

Lunch - leftover pot roast with squash, onions, and mushrooms, spinach salad with homemade dressing (I don't have specified what I made it with and I can't remember, probably olive oil and vinegar?)

Snack - Lara Bar and green tea

Dinner - rotisserie chicken with asparagus and homemade hollandaise

Snack - pear


Day Two:

Breakfast - two eggs scrambled with spinach in ghee. (I remember having a hard time choking this down. Trying to eat breakfast is so hard).

Snack - jerky and almonds

Lunch - big salad with spring mix, radish, cucumber, peppers, and rotisserie chicken with homemade dressing (again not specified)

Snack - jerky and almonds

Dinner - pan seared perch in ghee with leftover asparagus and hollandaise, side salad, apple


Day Three:

Breakfast - two eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, an apple

Snack - a pear and almonds

Lunch - big salad with spring mix, radish, cucumber, peppers, and rotisserie chicken with homemade dressing

Snack - apple, almonds, and jerky

Dinner - homemade soup with chicken broth, rotisserie chicken, carrots, onions, and squash, salad, clementine

Snack - Lara Bar


Basically, every time I had a snack, it was because I was feeling really faint. At the time, I wasn't exercising at all, and I have a job that requires a lot of sitting at my desk, so I think I was getting enough food. If I have too much fat, I end up having digestive issues, so maybe I wasn't giving myself enough - but I was using ghee, and making my own dressings with fat, and the meat had fat, of course. Perhaps it wasn't enough carbs? I was eating fruit, though. I do know that when I say big salad, I was using this huge tupperware container that holds a lot - it's a Glad big bowl that holds 6 cups.


Hope this helps to give you a better idea of suggestions for me. I really appreciate any/all help I can get!

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This does give me a better idea of what to suggest for you.


First off I don't think you are eating nearly enough protein and fat. A serving of eggs if they are your only protein source is as many whole eggs as you can hold in one hand without dropping them. I'm 5'4" with small hands and I can hold 4. You are also not eating enough carbs. Try to get those carbs from vegetables not fruit as it really is different. Your non-W30 meals have plentiful starch at pretty much every meal so you may need to do the same with your W30 meals for a while. Sweet potato, beets, parsnips, winter squash, etc. Lots of options to choose from.


It sounds like you might need to ease yourself into 3 meals a day as well, especially if you have food aversion in the morning. My suggestion would be to prepare template sized meals and eat as much as you can stomach hitting all the groups and save the leftovers to have a mini meal when you start feeling hungry/faint. Snacking on nuts and fruit and larabars can have a high impact on your blood sugar levels so try to keep nuts and fruit to part of your meals and nix the larabars completely except for emergencies. If you are having digestive issues I would suggest laying off the nuts for a while. They have anti-nutrients and cause bloating for many people and are generally not the best fat option. 


I hope these suggestions help you have more success! Another option for you might be to baby step into a Whole30 giving up just one group at a time until you are there. But I think you can go for it and have success if you make some of these tweeks.

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I agree 100% with Physibeth above.


What you might add to assist with breakfast is a warm cup of bone broth.  It may help with your diggestion first thing in the morning.


You clearly are not eating enough and that is why you need to snack.  If you cannot finish meal one because of issues - pack it away for later as a snack.  Your snacks should follow the template as a mini meal - so protein, fat, and veg.  Try not to depend on Larabars and fruit for your snack - they tend to make body sugars skyrocket and then crash later.  So when we suggest Larabars for an emergency meal - we do really mean and emergency.  You are better off with a can of tuna or a boiled egg for an emergency meal.


I also would encourage you for now to eat some starchy veg with each one of your meals to maintain even levels of bloodsugars.  You can play around with amounts later if you want.


Best of luck to you!

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Agreed with all the advice you've received.


When you do decide to take on a Whole30 again, choose carefully at Chipotle and Panera.


Here is Chipotle's ingredient statement. Currently the only Whole30 compliant options are the carnitas, guacamole and non-corn salsas. https://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/ingredients_statement/ingredients_statement.aspx


Panera's Power Menu has only a couple options available. Both you need to tweak to make Whole30 compliant.

- none of the chicken is compliant, as the seasoning includes sugar
- the power egg breakfast bowls contain wheat starch, making those two options not compliant

- the power steak lettuce wraps, ordered without the pesto (contains dairy), would work.  
- the power Mediterranean roasted turkey salad, ordered without the pepperoncini (contains sulfites), would work. 

Ask for olive oil and a lemon wedge for your dressing.

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