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Long! Sorry! Starting Whole 30 4/7 (I think)

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Hi everyone! I'm Tiffany, I keep a healthy lifestyle blog (mostly Weight Watchers related) at www.writingmysuccessstory.com and I just wrote this blog, but wanted to share it with all of you. 

This is my second round with Whole 30 but the first time I did it on my own without any support from forums here so I'm looking forward to doing it again with help this time and sticking to it! Last time I started off really strong but I allowed myself to be a little too flexible with the meal templates about 2 weeks in. So I guess I didn't actually do Whole 30 at all since it's pretty much all or nothing, right? I ate foods according to the compliant list only but some of my meals I ate didn't include fats and I allowed myself a snack after dinner pretty much every night. This time I want to do it RIGHT. I felt SO good by eating according the compliant list, I wonder how much better I'll feel if I follow all the rules!!

Anyways, below is a blog I wrote today about why I decided to do Whole 30 in the first place, what my experience was like, why I stopped and why I'm starting again-probably tomorrow! I look forward to feeling like myself again and I'm SO incredibly grateful that this program has done in 30 days what 4 "experts" over 3 years couldn't do. I didn't feel CURED on Whole 30 but I know if I hadn't stopped I probably would've. That's why this time I won't stop. 


So I've got stomach issues. IBS-C. I've seen 3 GI's including 1 in Boston; Boston is the creme da la creme...the bees knees, THE BEST...HA! Yeah, right. The doctor I saw in Boston was the worst. I felt like she didn't believe me and gave me a TON of meds that made me feel horrendous and sent me on my way. She didn't order any tests, she didn't suggest any dietary changes, just put me on 10 doses (DAILY!!) of Miralax (which she then told me is what she prescribes for patients who are prepping for a colonoscopy. So EVERY DAY I was "prepping for a colonoscopy"). UGH. I have to let go of my frustration and my anger for that particular doctor. It's over and done, she didn't help, it is what it is but it's SO frustrating.

I went to my PCP in tears (literally) and told her I didn't know how much more I could take. She suggested I go gluten free and sugar free. I didn't think that was going to work. I mean, I've seen 4 GI's including one in Boston (the best of the best!) and they couldn't fix me with all kinds of fancy meds, so was sugar free and gluten free REALLY going to help?

Here's my list of reasons I DIDN'T want to go gluten free:

~I believe that unnecessarily  eliminating foods is unhealthy for you.
Mentally: I LOVE Weight Watchers! It's the only program that has ever worked for me and I lost over 100 pounds by eating WHATEVER I wanted! There is no restriction which is why it's a livable "diet" or more appropriately a lifestyle. I would've quit WW a long time ago if they said "you can't eat ________" (fill in the blank). I am going to go to weddings, birthday parties, holiday dinners etc. and I'm going to eat indulgent foods on occasion. I can't commit to NEVER eating sugar EVER again. NEVER eating another carb EVER again. I can't say "I'm going to pack my own food everywhere I go. I'm never going to eat at someone else's house. I'm never going to go out to eat." that is not a lifestyle I can commit to because it's totally unrealistic!

Physically: Is it safe to eliminate food groups entirely if you don't have an actual allergy? What kind of nutrients are you depriving yourself of by NOT eating certain foods? Remember a while ago when VERY low fat or no fat was the diet fad? Turns out our bodies actually NEED fat, healthy fat of course. And remember when no carb was the fad (maybe it still is) and people started eating pounds and pounds of bacon cooked in butter and overloading their bodies with protein and making themselves sick! People were damaging their kidneys!!! In this quest for "health" we all became ridiculously unhealthy. 

~I don't have Celiac disease. I knew a girl in college who did and her life seemed really tough. I watched her buy special food, avoid the dining hall, read labels endlessly. It seemed like a lot of work and as much as I know she probably didn't want me to, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Her life must've been so tough. I feel like if she could see me now going gluten free she'd probably be offended. I thought she'd think "why in the world would you choose this lifestyle!?" I felt like a hypochondriac. It felt like I had a stomach flu and I was trying to empathize with someone going through chemo. "man, I know what it's like. I'm so green..." You have the stomach flu for a day, maybe 2. The effects of chemo can last months, years...forever...(my dad went through it and still suffers from the effects; but he's cancer free so it was worth it!) 

~Just because something is gluten free doesn't mean it's "healthy". Gluten free bread, gluten free pretzels, gluten free cake, gluten free EVERYTHING. Most often when they take out the gluten they take out the flavor so they have to replace that somehow...otherwise all these snacks and treats would taste like ass and no one is going to buy something that tastes like ass. I mean, maybe SOME people would, but a majority want their pretzels to taste like pretzels ;-) I feel like "gluten free" is a way for food companies to make more money. They take out the gluten, add a bunch of other chemicals and crap to make it taste good and then double the price because American's want to be "healthy" and we'll pay for health and convenience. Gluten free pretzels are a convenient snack. Cut up vegetables with some guacamole are gluten free but if I want crudites as a snack I have to wash them, cut them, store them...blech. That's so many steps. It's so much easier to open a bag of pretzels and pour them in my mouth.


And I didn't want to go sugar free because--Hi, I'm Tiffany and I'm addicted to sugar. AND SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING. And it tastes good! And what am I going to eat if I can't eat sugar!? AND HOW AM I GOING TO DRINK DUNKIN DONUTS COFFEE WITHOUT SPLENDA!? I can't. I can't do it!

BUT...I can.

I was so, so, SO sick of feeling awful. Sick of doctors treating me like I was faking it; sick of being prescribed medicine that made me incredibly sick and negatively affected my daily life. Some days I'd be so sick I'd miss classes at the gym, I'd have to skip workouts and I'd be late to work. I was miserable and missing out on a LOT because I was so sick from the medicine. When I didn't take the medicine I felt awful too, but at least I wasn't dealing with side effects of medication when I wasn't taking the medication...so I figured it was the lesser of 2 evils. I felt awful either way but with the medicine I was concerned that I might have long term side effects that would effect me for the rest of my life. Without the medicine I felt awful but I was assured that despite how awful I felt there was nothing causing damage to my insides. I do find that a little hard to believe, I think if you feel horrendous there's probably something damaged inside...but I also believe that medicine isn't the only way to heal from illness. In fact, I feel that natural remedies are the best way to treat ailments whenever possible. 

I asked my PCP for a referral to a dietitian but I was disappointed when I met her and she admitted to me "I just printed this diet off the internet before you got here". She told me to go Low FODMAP and gluten free and gave me some papers she printed off google. So I went home and started researching Whole 30. I had heard about it before but didn't know much about it aside from the fact that it was gluten free, dairy free and REALLY strict. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it and I had to accept the fact that it was an elimination diet and I had to come to terms with the fact that it went against EVERYTHING I thought I believed in.

I was SO set in my ways and I was (and still am!) such a die hard WW fan and felt like WW was the only way to successfully lose weight and maintain weight loss and I felt like I couldn't have WW AND Whole 30.  

Who am I if I'm not a Weight Watcher!? And am I offending people who are actually affected by Celiac disease by going gluten free? Am I jumping on the trendy bandwagon? Am I hurting myself by trying to help myself?


It may sound silly, but I felt like I was turning my back on everything I believed in but I realize that my rigid beliefs might actually be hurting me. If I was so desperate to feel better and I truly wanted to so I read It Starts With Food and then started Whole 30. 

And I felt so much better.

I ate lean protein, healthy fats and even carbs every single day. I eliminated alcohol (I live a sober life anyways so that was fine) sugar (and artificial sweeteners), dairy, grains, legumes, carageenan, MSG and sulfates. 

It wasn't all that difficult to be totally honest; it was an adjustment and some of the things I made sucked but I know with time I'll learn how to cook according to the program. When I first started WW and I had to learn how to cook things other than macaroni and cheese out of the box (because even though I knew I could eat it, it was a lot of points!). I ate according to the approved list for more than 30 days and planned to continue eating that way but right before we went on vaca I got a terrible migraine. I'd never had one before and it was a 3 days process. It started on Saturday with a slightly sour feeling in my stomach and head and I started to crave grains but I didn't give in. Sunday I was nauseous and really wanted popcorn and oatmeal but I didn't give in. Monday it was a full blown migraine. I was nauseous, dizzy, having trouble seeing and I felt like if I didn't eat grains I was going to die. So I popped a bag of microwave popcorn and inhaled it. Then I popped another. Then I stopped at Wendy's on my way to work and bought chili. I felt like my migraine was triggered by NOT eating grains, legumes, etc. Since I was craving them I figured that must be what was causing the migraine. I ended up having to leave work on Monday because my headache was so bad. We left for vacation on Wednesday and I didn't follow Whole 30 while in Costa Rica. 

Wednesday while we traveled I did my best to stay gluten and dairy free but it was tough. Once we arrived in Costa Rica I ate tons of fresh, locally grown, absolutely delicious food and I felt pretty darn amazing. I was eating rice and beans daily because that's what they eat down there, but I wasn't eating gluten or processed foods up until the day before we left. On Tuesday we went to an organic market and we bought a few snacks; coconut bread, pumpkin bread and carrot bread. They were all delicious and very small squares but it didn't matter. I felt like crap as soon as I ate them. My stomach felt like it was going to explode. I was nauseous, panicky (yes, panicky! WTF!?) I had sharp pains, indigestion and I was overall miserable

We left the country Wednesday, up at 4:30 a.m. (6:30 eastern time-which is the timezone I live in) and we didn't get home until about 3:30 a.m. (eastern time) on Thursday a.m. It was a very long day and I did my best to stay gluten and dairy free but again, I was traveling and I didn't do the best. 

I started weighing, measuring and tracking my food on Thursday a.m. I started eating some of my old favorites like eggs with spinach for breakfast, lean protein and a veggie for lunch...but I was also eating a lot of grains. I had oatmeal one day, and popcorn everyday. I was avoiding gluten but eating a lot of grains and not following the Whole 30. I haven't felt right since returning to grains but I thought that lack of grains and legumes was what triggered my migraine...

Then yesterday I started feeling a migraine creeping on. I took some Excedrin, drank a ton of water (as I always do) and laid low. Thankfully it's GONE today and never fully developed. As weird as it sounds I'm SO happy I started a migraine yesterday because I realized the cause of the migraine was NOT the Whole 30 style of eating and in fact it was probably exhaustion! It's the common link in the migraine before vaca and the one that started yesterday. I was going-going-going before we left for vaca. Sleeping very little, really just running myself into the ground. Then I came home from vaca and started going again. I went back to work the Thursday I landed back in the states and I've worked everyday since I've been home. 

I realize now the food cravings I was having pre-vaca-migraine were not actually physical, it was comfort food I was craving. A warm bowl of oatmeal always makes me feel good and pre-whole 30 popcorn was my nightly snack. It's weird I know but I was emotionally attached to those foods and when I started to not feel good I wanted to feel better. I wanted comfort and love and I wanted grains because I associated those foods with those feelings. Yesterday as we were walking around the grocery store I started looking at pretzels, ice cream and chocolate. I was feeling the migraine creeping up the back of my neck and I was looking to comfort myself...thankfully I realized that food was NOT the cure and I got out of the store without any comfort foods finding their way into my bag.

On our way home from the store my wife looked at me and said "why don't you do Whole 30 again? You felt so good when you did it." and she was right. So I'm going to.

Yesterday wasn't great; in fact it was really bad. I hadn't binged since starting Whole 30 and yesterday I ate all day. I'm not sure if was a combination of being tired, feeling headachey or getting ready to dive back into Whole 30 but I was out of control. I ate peanut butter out of the jar, tortilla chips (well, they're gluten free at least!) by the handful out of the bag, fruit, microwave popcorn...ugh. I'm so ashamed.

But I woke up this morning feeling inspired, strong and ready to get back to Whole 30! And this time, I'm not going to reintroduce grains because when I did, I felt like crap. I listened to the devil on my shoulder who disguised herself as an angel and said "eat grains! It's not good to restrict foods!" and it didn't work. After 30 days I might consider reintroducing some beans and rice because in CR they didn't bother me AT ALL...but I'm honestly not sure. I'm going to eliminate them for 30 days for sure and reevaluate when I I'm done with my 30 days. I'll also be sure to reintroduce the right way. Whole 30 gives you a guide to reintroducing and inhaling 2 bags of microwave popcorn and chasing it with a Wendy's chili is NOT what they recommend. The program didn't fail me, I failed the program.

There is SO much conflicting information out there about what is healthy that it can be totally overwhelming and confusing and I often listen to the "experts" instead of my own body. I do believe that we need fat, protein and carbs and I get all of the things that I believe I need with Whole 30. It's been argued that we need grains for our brains and it's been argued that grains eat our brains. I've heard people say without grains they can't function and I've heard people say that grains slow them down...

But it doesn't matter what people say. What matters is what I SAY.  What matters is how  I FEEL. I deserve to feel my best and I feel my best when I follow Whole 30. So my goal going forward will be to ignore the voices in my own head and ignore the "concern" or "advice" that others give me. 

I'm making this list so I can read it when I start to feel weak or I start letting others opinions affect me:

  • I am not damaging my body by eliminating foods that make me feel like crap.
  • The Whole 30 foods make me feel good. 
  • I am not slapping anyone with Celiac in the face by eating gluten free.
  • I do not need to live my life or eat to make others happy.
  • I feel my best when I eat according to the Whole 30 rules.
  • Everybody processes food differently; what works for me might not work for you and vice versa and THAT'S OK.
So, that's my plan. Whole 30 again, starting soon! Not sure of the exact date yet, but very soon...maybe even tomorrow. I've got some work to do for my job and then I'm going to go buy a notebook and start meal planning for the next 30 days. I felt ridiculously strong, lean and HEALTHY when I was doing Whole 30...since I stopped doing Whole 30 I've felt bloated, slow, uncomfortable and my digestion is not right. I've gained about 8 pounds in the past 2 weeks since stopping Whole 30. It's REALLY disappointing because I worked so hard and lost 10 pounds, I got VERY close to goal, I felt AMAZING and I let it all go because I got a migraine.

BUT, nothing is permanent and I've absolutely learned and grown from this experience and though I wish I felt strong and lean the way I did a few short weeks ago I know I'll feel that way as soon as I start Whole 30 again. 
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I loved reading your story!!  Food is so powerful and the non-clean foods certainly work a number on me and my mindset and attitude.  I am SO much happier and healthier when I'm eating clean, but it sure is hard sticking to it.  I've been waiting and waiting to get the oomph to start back up again and am thankful I have.  Good luck in the process of getting ready!  

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  • Moderators

  • Everybody processes food differently; what works for me might not work for you and vice versa and THAT'S OK.


I love this!  This is exactly the magic of Whole30.  You find out if rice and beans is okay FOR YOU... and I find out that they are not okay FOR ME... it's THE most tailored eating plan in the world because it makes YOU the subject of the experiment and in the end, you tailor your meal plan for unique you!


Welcome back!  I'm sure you'll do great!

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Hi Tiffany!  I am also new to Whole 30 but have tried elimination/paleo/clean-eating diets over the years to help with my severe stomach issues.  I have always exercised, running half marathons and have been regularly doing crossfit for 4-5 years now.  


I have a somewhat similar tummy story to yours, about three years ago I developed horrible stomach issues.  I went back and forth to tummy doctors where they ran multiple tests, endoscopy, stomach emptying, gallbladder test, etc. etc. etc. with a variety of pills prescribed for heartburn, ibs, etc. etc.  I even ended up having my gallbladder removed about 2 years ago and felt worse after that (including severe diarrhea that I hadn't had prior).  I too have missed work, missed workouts, confined myself to my bedroom and bathroom for days on end at times.  I was afraid to plan for any future, afraid to travel, and feared that I would end up eventually never leaving the house because my stomach problems were so severe.


I have found that elimination diets and clean healthy diets do help SIGNIFICANTLY, but have learned that it is not so much that I am allergic to certain foods, but rather stress and anxiety are the foundation of my stomach issues.  When my stomach flares up, it is extremely important to cut out any and all irritants (dairy, grains, sugars, chemicals, etc.) so my stomach can heal and I can get back to life.  Not only that, too many grains, dairy, sugar, etc. cause more mental stress and anxiety which causes the physical stomach pain.  I believe this is why sometimes if I am stressed, even a banana will give me re-flux and heartburn and other times I can eat candy and dairy with no issues.


I have stopped taking all stomach medicines and started seeing a psychiatrist who tried me on a very low dose of anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication.  I was always against taking pills and medicines to mask the issue instead of curing the issue and especially scared of anti-depressants but was so sick of feeling sick I would try anything!  Within three weeks my stomach issues became more manageable and after about 5 weeks they became mostly non-existent.


Whole30 for me is a way allow my body an entire month to heal both mentally and psychically and try to prevent the need for more medication.  Maybe even eliminate medication all together. 


This is just my story, but it was a real eye opener once I realized that stress and anxiety were triggering my physical illnesses.  I wish you the best in your Whole 30 journey!!!

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