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Day 19 and feeling defeated. Please help!

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Hi everyone. This is my first Whole30 and has required some radical changes in my diet and way of thinking (like it does for many people). Prior to this experience I had been a vegetarian for 15 years and relied on 5-6 small meals a day (about 200-250 calories each) with tons of packaged foods (Luna bars, quest bars, Amy's frozen dinners). I have also been suffering from "IBS" with constipation for as much of my life that I can remember. Symptoms have involved constant bloating, early satiety, blood sugar volatility, and intermittent bouts of severe pain that were unpredictable and not alleviated or prevented by anything (although the tiny meals seemed to be a safer bet). Tired of constant cravings (baked goods, peanut butter, almond butter, jam) and all of the symptoms dominating my life I wanted to do something different. The first five days were like a war zone. I was eating meals that were uncomfortably large because there was no way for me to stay full for more than 2 hours previously. Eating meat for the first time (with the help of digestive enzymes), and cooking three meals a day for the first time ever. I haven't eaten a bite of packaged food since I started and, with the exception of two late-night binges with nuts (one night cashews, the other night almonds+figs) I have succeeded in not snacking and not eating anything that wakens my Sugar Dragon. For these reasons, I am proud of myself. I have always used food to deal with emotional issues (though I previously would binge at night and then go on a three day juice fast) I am slim and I feel most comfortable with my body when it is slim and lean. I do not want to become thicker and more solid. 

I haven't weighed myself but I do feel like I have gained weight. I was trying to have faith and be patient but when I realized that today was Day 19 and that the majority of people seem to feel better/slimmer and like they are finding a groove by this point I really don't. I know that some people need more time. I know that a lifetime of unhealthy psychological relationship with food probably won't be overcome in 19 days. But I was so optimistic. Any other time I have consciously controlled my caloric intake I have been very successful with losing weight and keeping it off. I was just tired of being in pain and being hyper-focused on food all the time. With the initial week I really did eat more than I ever thought I could. I was choking down a full can of tuna (plus mayo plus three bell peppers plus roasted vegetables) every day for lunch to try to stay full. It would take me nearly a full hour to do so and I was eating very mechanically. Then I began to enjoy the tuna but I still don't know how to recognize satiety. I feel "full" so soon but am terrified that since my next meal is 4-5 hours away that I need to eat a sufficient quantity to stay full. I had a few days in the beginning of being ravenous and desperate in the first week so now I am terrified of getting hungry and wanting to snack My new lunch (instead of a Quest bar) means that I don't get to take my usual 45 minute lunchtime walk. My activity level has dropped a lot, I guess, but mostly I just walked every day for 45 minutes and do some intense cardio/dance on sundays and pilates 1-2 times per week. Now I'm really just down to the cardio/dance and pilates. Also I am super constipated. I take so much magnesium and eat lots of veggies but without the insoluble fiber from grain it just doesn't feel right. However, apart from the constipation my IBS symptoms have improved quite a bit. But I still feel like my belly is bloated and huge, my thighs and butt have gotten larger, and my clothing feels tighter. I am a 5'3" female and I guess my weight ranges from 105-112. I have not weighed myself but it feels like I'm above that. I really really hope that you won't judge me for preferring the lower end of that range. I have a small body habitus and small hands (I'm a physician and wear a size extra small glove) and I have no idea how much protein to eat at each meal. I cannot measure things in palms and closed fists and open fists and "fill the rest of your plate." I think I might be eating too much protein in an effort to stay full. Should I measure things differently? Am I eating enough fat?

This is such a rambling post! I've never participated in a forum before. Please forgive the stream of consciousness. 

My main questions are: How much should I eat? Why is this happening (still) at Day 19? Why am I constipated and feeling like I've gained weight/flab? I'm feeling so discouraged. 

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Ok, BREATHE. :-)

I sense lots of snacking fear in your post. If you are genuinely hungry between meals (litmus test: you could eat the blandest food you can think of), it's totally ok to have a mini meal of protein, carb and fat. We just don't want people mindlessly snacking/grazing through the day.

Have you seen the meal template? That recommends 1-2 palms of protein, 1-3 cups of veggies and a compliant fat at each meal.http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-meal-planning.pdf For best results, have the first meal within a hour of waking.

We don't want you overstuffing yourself. Eat and chew slowly. When you feel pleasantly full/satiated, stop. It may take some experimenting to get to a place where your meals satiate you for 4-5 hours.

If you'd like to post a few days worth of your meals, including portion sizes, daily water consumption, and any exercise, we can give you more detailed feedback.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful response GFChris. You hit the nail on the head. I am very fearful of snacking. I was very accustomed to eating every two hours before whole30. My first week of whole30 I was delirious during those extra hours before my next meal. It was such a relief to me when my body started to figure out how to wait 3 or 4 hours before sending me hunger signals. To be able to leave my house or treat my patients without being chained to some kind of snack has been incredible. I still don't trust it. But even with very large meals I still don't stay full for 4-5 hours. And that's why I have been stuffing myself at mealtime. I would love to be the kind of person who eats three meals per day!!!

Right now, entering into my final week of whole30, a typical workday looks like this:

A big glass of warm water with magnesium plus a mug of green tea. Breakfast within 1 hour or waking at 8:00: 2 eggs, a quarter of a breakfast sausage patty, a cup of Swiss chard, half a red pepper, a bite of potato, mushrooms, and 1/4-1/2 an avocado and salsa.

Lunch is at 1:00. One to two cups of roasted veggies, 1 can of tuna, 1-2 sticks of celery, two tablespoons of mayo, 2 bell peppers. Maybe a couple of olives. Walk for 20-30 minutes.

Dinner is at 7:00. 1 chicken breast. 2 cups Grilled veggies with a tablespoon of coconut oil.

I commute about two hours per day during the week. I work in five different offices and it is very difficult to get into a routine. Sometimes on my drive home from work I will have a hard boiled egg and some olives. I feel like I'm failing every time I eat outside of mealtimes. Previously I was keeping nuts in my car but they are waaaaay too easy for me to overeat or to eat mindlessly. I've removed them from my home and my car.

I'm so afraid that giving myself the possibility of snacking will lead me back to eating throughout the day. I had such severe stomach pain and ibs and (apart from the constipation) I feel like that has improved my stomach pain. I thought maybe it was because I was letting my gut handle one meal at a time. Do you think that's possible? I'm

Afraid of being chained to snacks again.

Is it possible that I'm just not the kind of person who should try to fill myself for four hours? I really want to figure this out.

Hope that you had a happy Thanksgiving! To you and everyone on the forum.

Thank you again for your kind words and concern.

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From my end, it doesn't look like you're eating too much food. In a few cases, it looks like you're not eating enough.

Why only 1/4 of a sausage patty or a couple bites of potato at breakfast? Why only 1/4 an avocado?


That's a long time-stretch between lunch and dinner. We don't expect a single meal to satiate you for 6 hours. In that case, if you're hungry in between, again, have a mini meal of protein, carb and fat, or at least two of those components. A hard boiled egg and olives is a terrific example - nice job (it is a success, not a failure, to have a mini meal like that between meals if you're hungry). 

If you're still having stomach pain/IBS issues,  you might want to try cutting out the raw veggies and switching to all cooked veggies.

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It looks like your breakfast veggies are up to par but you are seriously shorting yourself on protein and fat.  A small breakfast is very hard (read: impossible) to come back from later in the day.  Try bumping your eggs up to at least 3 and eat the whole sausage patty.


As far as being afraid of snacking, think of it more as...er...well....eating.  It takes time for your body to go from expecting food every 2 hours to being able to use that nutrition for 4-5 hours.  If you can only make it 3 or 3.5 hours right now, then that's fine, it's a learning process for your body. You're totally right with the hardboiled egg and olives and you are completely right to remove nuts from your life.  


You'll get the hang of this, be gentle to yourself, you're a nice person, you deserve to be treated nicely by yourself.  :)

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