Third whole30, still having some stomach troubles


Emily T

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I've done the whole30 twice before (in Aug 2013 and Jan 2014). Around middle of last year I kind of lost sight of my health and slipped into poor eating habits, but have been back on track for a couple months and decided to do another whole30 just to reset and get back in the habit of clean eating and thinking more about what I eat.

 

The first two I suffered from terrible constipation that seemingly disappeared as soon as the whole30 ended. During the whole30, I was not helped by enzymes, probiotics, Natural Calm, exercise, more water, more sleep, or trying the AIP. This time is no different, unfortunately. I'm on day 10 right now.

 

From doing these before I know that I am not dairy intolerant so on Day 7 I tried adding in a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt (grass fed, organic, full fat) as a probiotic every morning. Yes, I know it's not compliant, but as I said I know I'm not intolerant...I've nicknamed it the wholeEmily plan. :P

 

Between that and drinking a caffeinated beverage in the morning (I never have before), I've gotten a bit better. But I hate to be reliant on caffeine (it makes me shaky), and also I'm still not "regular." Any suggestions? I know raw vegetables can cause issues, but I eat them all the time when not on whole30 and have no issues? 

 

On average my meals look like:

 

Breakfast: Skillet hash with sweet potato or white potato, chorizo or breakfast sausage, with tomatoes/onions/salsa/guacamole/etc

Lunch: Some sort of chopped salad or other raw veggies with cold protein (baked chicken or cooked hamburger) 

Dinner: I've done turkey burgers with salad and sweet potato "fries", Thai red curry, steak with cooked veggies (asparagus, sweet potatoes), tuna salad

Snacks: raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, strawberries, bananas

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I'm not enthusiastic about offering suggestions when you are not doing a Whole30. You are doing your own program when you add yogurt. You also do not specify the caffeinated beverage, so I wonder if it is soda??? However, I do have a few thoughts.

 

You report eating a lot of salad and raw veggies. Salad and raw veggies are harder to digest than cooked veggies. This might explain your reported problems. Sometimes a high volume of plant matter - especially raw - can provoke constipation too. You say you do not have problems with raw veggies when you are not doing a Whole30, but the relative volumes of what you are eating changes when doing a Whole30. You may be going over the threshold of your tolerance when you are not eating as you typically do.

 

You said taking probiotics did not help you before, but that consuming yogurt is helping now. Maybe you were not taking an effective probiotic supplement for you before. I tried several probiotics before I found one that worked for me. 

 

I recently stopped taking Natural Calm and started taking a magnesium aspartate supplement instead. This has made a huge difference to my digestion process. I had been using Natural Calm for 5 years and did not connect the dots about how it was effecting me. A functional medicine doctor directed me to make the change. :)

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Hmmmm.... I am a little bit confused. I thought that the whole30 was meant as a temporary elimination diet to see if our bodies have intolerances to certain foods. If, during the reintroduction phase, we don't experience any symptoms then does that not mean it's ok to introduce that food back into our diet just like Emily did???

 

If it was meant as a permanent solution then wouldn't it be called a WholeLifer?

 

A little off topic but I thought I'd get some clarification.

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Hmmmm.... I am a little bit confused. I thought that the whole30 was meant as a temporary elimination diet to see if our bodies have intolerances to certain foods. If, during the reintroduction phase, we don't experience any symptoms then does that not mean it's ok to introduce that food back into our diet just like Emily did???

 

If it was meant as a permanent solution then wouldn't it be called a WholeLifer?

 

A little off topic but I thought I'd get some clarification.

You betcha.  But the "Whole30" itself and what this forum supports in all of its threads besides "Life after" is doing an actual Whole30 proper.  People are, of course, free to do as they please at any time but unless you are actually doing a full Whole30, calling it that detracts from the actual program.

 

Check out Melissa's article about the things she learned in her various Whole30's.  There is definitely a benefit to doing the program in full regardless of whether you think/believe that you can tolerate certain things.  Humans are dynamic and what you believed was fine for you a year ago may not make you feel super fantastic now.  http://whole30.com/2014/09/five-things-melissa-hartwig-learned-whole30/ <---specifically Lesson #4 in this article applies to your question.  :)

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First, I apologize for not posting in the correct forum. To clarify, I posted in Troubleshooting Your Whole30 because I am trying to find an answer to why, during two full 100% compliant Whole30s and the first week of a third, I continue to struggle with this problem. My purpose is coming to the forum (and specifically to the troubleshooting forum) is that yogurt + caffeine have been the only things that have helped me deal with this problem, after three tries! (And only a little - it's still not "regular" even with that.) As I said, I would prefer NOT to have to rely on something to poop. I want to just poop. I would love to do another compliant whole30 and have it work for me. So my question still stands - what can I do differently?

 

So I guess what I am asking is to just assume I did not mention yogurt because my question pertains specifically to the 67 compliant days during which I have been in pain and constipated. 

 

A couple other quick notes:

-I have tried a few different probiotics and I hate them. They either don't work or give me diarrhea. I've experimented a lot with these - tried kimchi or kambucha tea too. I've had some bad reactions to these. Again the question comes back to - why can't I poop when I eat whole30?

-No, I am not drinking soda. Iced black tea, one cup in the morning. 

-Will try another magnesium supplement, but still frustrated that I need to take a supplement to accomplish this natural body process. Tom, do you have a brand you recommend? 

-I actually think I am consuming FEWER raw vegetables than normal - I cook more when eating whole30, where as when I am not on it, I do a lot of grab and go salads and carrot sticks, etc. 

 

Lastly, on the point that doing a fully compliant whole30 program several times is beneficial - I completely agree. It's always nice as a reset and to help ID what is going on inside of us. That said, constipation is PAINFUL and not normal. And frankly speaking, to me, it was not worth trying to remain compliant when I am in that kind of discomfort and pain. 

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All fair points.  Have you been to a doctor about the constipation? How much water are you drinking every day? How much leafy greens are you getting? How much fruit?  Are you using more of somethign you don't when not on Whole30? You said you cook more on Whole30 so does that leave you eating more onions/garlic than you normally do? Those can be disruptive.  What about more nuts and nut products than normal? More coconut products? Do you eat more cruciferous veggies than normal (brocoli, cauli, bsprouts etc) when on Whole30?

 

I would also encourage you to consider your elimination posture when you do go.  Feet up on tip toes, elbows on knees and leaned forward.  This aligns your bowels to a more natural posture.  You can also google the Squatty Potty..which sounds ridiculous but is effective and you can rig your own system up if you find you are interested.

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-Will try another magnesium supplement, but still frustrated that I need to take a supplement to accomplish this natural body process.

 

I understand this sentiment, but the sad reality is our modern soil is depleted of magnesium, so, while it would have been possible to get enough magnesium from vegetables in the past, it kind of isn't anymore. Most people need to supplement with magnesium. The unflavored natural calm is recommended a lot, but I personally take Magnesium Chelate in pill form. I have learned NOT to take a magnesium/calcium blend, because calcium supplements are constipating and can interfere with sleep. Magnesium is what your body needs to absorb the calcium you are already getting in foods like dark leafy greens and almonds, salmon, sardines, etc.

 

On the issue of riding your own bike, it sounded like you were saying that you were doing a whole30 and eating yogurt simultaneously, which isn't possible. Nothing wrong with riding your own bike, it just wasn't clear which stage you were in at the moment.

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Hmmmm.... I am a little bit confused. I thought that the whole30 was meant as a temporary elimination diet to see if our bodies have intolerances to certain foods. If, during the reintroduction phase, we don't experience any symptoms then does that not mean it's ok to introduce that food back into our diet just like Emily did???

 

If it was meant as a permanent solution then wouldn't it be called a WholeLifer?

 

A little off topic but I thought I'd get some clarification.

Thanks for this! Lesson 4 does explain it for me.  :)

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Thanks for the feedback, these are helpful questions. I don't eat a ton of coconut, as it makes me a bit nauseas for some reason (I do use it daily tho - as a shaving cream and moisturizer). I do not eat more nuts/seeds (food without brakes for me so I limit during w30). I use an app to track water intake and I'm between 3-4 liters a day. I def do not eat enough leafy greens (I can be a bit of a picky eater...) but will try to incorporate more of those. I definitely sleep more when I'm on whole30, and sleep better, so that is not it. 

 

Honestly thinking about it, the main changes between me on whole30 is that I am consuming more vegetables overall (probably less raw but a lot more in total), which does include onions/garlic, and that I am not drinking alcohol. I do drink quite a bit (more than I would like to, at least) and I wonder if that helps me stay regular in some way? In which case I am sure I will adjust, may just take more than 30 days. 

 

The other difference is, quite honestly I find eating clean in general a bit stressful because of the time, energy, and money it takes. I live alone, in an expensive city, and have a very demanding job that often requires me to work late into evening (but its never scheduled). I do think stress can contribute to constipation, so that may play a role. Hopefully I get married soon and then this might be a little easier (haha). 

 

THanks again for the feedback!

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SO, I did some googling and apparently quitting drinking can strongly affect your bowel movements, but this is mostly recorded for alcoholics in recovery, not casual drinkers who cut down. With that said, it is hard to know how to classify my alcohol consumption pre-W30. By some standards it was "casual", certainly not excessive compared with most people I know and many people in my generation. But definitely more than one "should" be drinking, and if it is something that my body came to depend on to go to the bathroom, then that is really frightening.

 

Interesting how the whole30 forces you to confront the lies you tell yourself - "other people eat [insert problem food/drink here] all the time and feel fine, so I can too!" 

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SO, I did some googling and apparently quitting drinking can strongly affect your bowel movements, but this is mostly recorded for alcoholics in recovery, not casual drinkers who cut down. With that said, it is hard to know how to classify my alcohol consumption pre-W30. By some standards it was "casual", certainly not excessive compared with most people I know and many people in my generation. But definitely more than one "should" be drinking, and if it is something that my body came to depend on to go to the bathroom, then that is really frightening.

 

Interesting how the whole30 forces you to confront the lies you tell yourself - "other people eat [insert problem food/drink here] all the time and feel fine, so I can too!" 

It can be darned hard to give the things we used to do.   Sugar withdrawal is miserable.  I have compassion for those who must give up alcohol like for real, for REAL giving it up.    I'm sure they feel the angst, internal struggle and urges toward rationalization, hair-pulling....while they imagine a life of no margaritas with nachos, no guinness with pizza and no wine with popcorn.   Embracing the concept of NEVER can be too huge to contemplate.   One day at a time, it gets easier. 

 

Doing a compliant Whole 30 gives you a true insight what that must be like for them. 

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Interesting how the whole30 forces you to confront the lies you tell yourself - "other people eat [insert problem food/drink here] all the time and feel fine, so I can too!" 

Hard to know if they are feeling alright though, right? Since we mostly don't discuss our emotional connection to alcohol or the fact that we can't sleep at night if there are treats in the house because they must be eaten immediately.  We generally don't discuss bowel movements (or lack of) in common company so it's hard to know if the cookies your coworker munches on all day actually give her diarrhea at 3am.  Whole30 forum notwithstanding, we discuss the pewps on a regular basis here!  ;)

 

In general, less healthy food makes you feel less than fantastic.  Glad you're making the connection!

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Still struggling with this issue, and it is getting worse. As I mentioned, I did the yogurt thing for three days (days 8, 9, and 10), but then stopped as it didn't seem to be making a huge impact (I replaced it with a probiotic, just in case). So now I am on day 15, and back to the fully compliant program. I've upped my leafy green intake but maybe I need to cook them, because it actually seems to be making the problem worse? Every time I eat a salad I get a terrible stomach ache and cramps afterward. I'm terribly bloated and really uncomfortable.

 

Just super discouraged. It just doesn't make any sense. How can eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods cause all of my IBS symptoms to get worse? Even if it is related to more vegetables, you'd think I'd be able to adjust, especially this being my third whole30. 

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Hi Emily,

Sorry you are having this very frustrating problem. Is there a way for you to reduce some of the more 'fibrous' fruits and veggies and replace them with more 'watery' produce? So, instead of white potatoes, onions, asparagus, and strawberries include zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, other types of squash, pumpkin and melons. Zucchini and summer squash have been a staple at our house during our Whole30s. It's easy to chop and fry, we feel like we are doing good for our bodies when we eat it and don't feel so bad when we eat mass quantities of it! Hope this helps you.

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Emily - I struggled with the same thing! Just for background, and to address some of the possible root causes you made in this thread:

1. I just finished my third Whole30

2. I have been in recovery from alcoholism for 6.5 years (so basically, it's not the booze)

3. I also struggled with huge digestive upset during my Whole30

 

It was worse this time than ever. The first few days were normal, then I had terrible diarrhea for like two weeks, then I just stopped pooping. It sucked! I had been really regular and had no problems prior to the program. However, I just hung in there and on Day 28 everything started to stabilize. I started going twice a day and it started normalizing. I just think my gut biome had been severely compromised. I had been really off the rails prior to starting this last Whole30, eating breakfast sandwiches and pancakes every weekend and pizza and ice cream at least once a week. I seriously just encourage you to try to ride out the program for a full 30 days - or maybe even extending to 45 or 60 - and see if it is just taking your system a long time to heal. You may have just done a number on yourself prior to the program (you mention IBS symptoms, and when there is a diagnosis, this is more common than you may realize). I thought the program was actually making everything worse until it finally kicked in. My husband actually experienced the exact same thing! I mean, I really was about to give up.

 

Alternatively, you could just be sensitive to a very specific food that you are eating on Whole30 that you might not eat otherwise - some people have problems with food that is otherwise great, like broccoli or red peppers or potatoes. But if you don't think there is anything new in your diet, then it really might just be that your gut is taking longer to heal than the average person.

 

ETA - the Tiger Blood now is strong and I do not regret hanging in there through the discomfort at all! :-) Best of luck to you, Emily - I completely know how you are feeling right now.

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Trying to stick it out, but I am just in utter misery right now. Every time I eat I feel sick, bloated, and uncomfortable. I am actually at a point where I have no desire to eat anything anymore. It's not that I am thinking of going off of the whole30 - I cannot imagine adding in processed foods or beans or bread or whatever would make me poop - but I am just at a loss on how to feel better. 

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Eat some baked potatoes without the skins.  Try GT Ginger Kombucha on ice.  I could guzzle bottles of it and it doesn't affect me but some say try 1/2 bottle at a time.   Baked potatoes with some clarified butter and Kombucha.  Eat your vege cooked or roasted on a pan.   

 

Add proteins back as your stomach is soothed.  I can't eat eggs when I have a stomach upset...some can.

Try some baked mild fish with lemon on top.

 

Black tea stops the trots.   That could be why you're having toity probs.  Too much black tea. Black tea is my Grandmaw's old remedy for the trots....with burnt toast.  

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I am still struggling, REALLY hard. I have not gone to the bathroom at all in three days. Before that, I was going a little (certainly not enough, and with a LOT of strain) every other day or so. 

 

I have avoided black tea since Friday, I have been cooking all of my veggies, I have been eating extra fat, I have been massively increasing my water intake, NOTHING is helping. Past experience tells me that more probiotics and kombucha only leads me to get massive diarrhea and then constipated again, so I am avoiding that. 

 

Other than the three days I noted above where I ate about 1/4 cup of yogurt, I have following the whole30 plan 100% compliant. I have had bouts of IBS symptoms in my life - typically when I eat very fattening or greasy foods I get stomach cramps and diarrhea - but I have never experienced constipation until each of my three whole30s. There is just something my body is not responding to on this plan. And I have to be frank. I'm not seeing a whole lot of incentive to stay on it. :( 

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If it's been this long, this might be a good time to find a gentle over the counter laxative. Normally for constipation it's not a good idea as your bowels can become too reliant on them and actually get worse at staying regular but you have hit a point where I think it might be worth it.

 

Unfortunately, I've never had constipation like you are describing here - just the occasional not going for a day or two - so I don't have any tips other than to echo what someone said above about trying different positions. I'm living in Korea right now and sometimes the squatting toilets are the easiest way for me to get things going again.

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I'm really sorry you're experiencing this, and that so far nothing is helping you.

 

Certainly if you're miserable, I understand wanting to quit. I do wonder what exactly is going to change when you quit though -- you mentioned you eat more raw vegetables when you're not on a W30 -- have you added raw vegetables back to see if it helps? Although they can cause digestive issues for some people, if they're what you're used to, maybe they're doing something for you that you need.

 

If you do quit, you might pay attention to what it is that makes you feel better, and then, before you attempt a W30 again (if you ever decide to), research W30 compliant ways to get that into your diet.

 

You say you've tried probiotics and kombucha and they lead to diarrhea and then back to constipation -- I do know that some people have reactions to fermented foods and probiotics that cause diarrhea and the advice is generally to start really slow with it -- for kombucha, maybe 4 oz a day, for sauerkraut or other foods, a small scoop -- and then be consistent, building up your intake over time, but having them most days. That may be what you tried, I don't know, I'm just throwing it out there, mostly because I don't really have anything else to offer.

 

You really might want to talk to a doctor, just to rule out anything random (and pretty unlikely) like some type of blockage -- although since this has happened on other W30s and then clears up, I will just reiterate, highly unlikely. But never hurts to ask, just in case (or maybe I'm just paranoid about such things).

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Sorry for sounding so dramatic, I just got so discouraged. I was able to go to the bathroom today with the help of hot water mixed with cayenne pepper. It was utterly foul, but worked for the day. 

 

I am not totally sure what to add back IN that will help. I cannot imagine sugar, dairy, or processed crap will help. I know alcohol would make me poop, but that is out of the question for me. I think I am starting with legumes (hummus, maybe some lentils, no soy though) for a few days, and then moving onto rice or quinoa. If that all fails, then I have no idea what to do haha. 

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I think you might need to see a doctor, Emily. If you are in as much distress as your posts indicate, it's probably just stressing you out more and more. The doctor can probably give you a gentle laxative or suppository and I wouldn't be remiss in suggesting it's worth further examination. There is obviously something that is stopping your bowels from moving waste through your system. It's worth getting checked out. THis level of discomfort and constipation that doesn't abate is not normal with the Whole30.

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