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Fibromyalgia Whole30 for a vegetarian

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Hello everyone!


I'm new to this Whole30 experience, but am trying to make the most out of it, and am currently on Day 3.


A little about me: I've been a vegetarian for 3 years and really want to go vegan (except eggs, just need to know the chicken- ha!). However, I also have fibromyalgia and a pretty rough struggle with Binge Eating Disorder. So, as you can see, I wasn't really sure where to post this, and decided to make my own topic, in case there are others out there like me.


Finding a way to attack my sugar addiction and figure out if there are certain foods causing my fibromyalgia flare-ups was my main goal in starting this gig. However, I am struggling with what to eat. I've read all the various suggestions for vegetarians, but it seems like all of them could be the cause of my fibro (so many are ruled out in this diet because they are inflammatory in nature). Previous to this, I already know: I don't have a B-12 deficiency (my PCP tested it) and my Iron intake is pretty awesome. So, no worries about that.


So, the hard line for me is this: I am not going to eat meat, not even for 30 days. Its a moral issue for me, and just thinking about it causes me to feel extremely sad. Since the entire point of this was to feel better, doing something to make myself feel sad seems counterproductive.




I really want to make this work. I've known I need to do some type of an elimination diet for a long time now, but have never found one open to vegetarians (thanks for making one, btw!).


So, the biggest part why I'm posting this is for support and ideas. Any of either would be of great help!


Here are my biggest issues on Day 3:

-I'm eating eggs and soy (tofu and edamame) as my protein sources. I've already eaten 13 eggs... and its day 3. That's nuts! I mean, really, how am I going to get through this? (These are the questions going on in my brain)

-I read that soy can be an issue... well, that sucks. So, do I stop eating soy and go all egg? Crap! (See problem 1)

- On top of these issues, I'm really worried about the issue with nightshades. So, if I cut out soy, bell pepper, and onion... that is about 80% of what I'm eating right now! No, really... I'm wondering if this is something I should be doing- that's a lot of inflammatory stuff for someone with fibro, but its also pretty colors and makes things yummy.


So, I'm just confused by all of this and unsure what to do. I really want to make it work- I need to make it work for my heatlh. I'm 100 pounds over weight (had fibro at a healthy weight since age 10 and didn't become over weight until early 20's). I totally love the psychological part of this- I eat my feelings so much. I don't want to do that anymore, but I'm also worried about these other things.


Am I just trying to tackle too much at once? I've tried moderation for years... clearly, its not an option for me, as it hasn't worked yet.


Sorry if this was a bad place to post, but my issues are really for 2 medical conditions and for being a vegetarian. So, I got a little confused.


Looking forward to hearing other folks' ideas!



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I'm going to reply purely from the medical side of things, as I'm neither vegetarian nor vegan, so my context is certainly biased in that regard and my vegetarian advice potentially useless ;)


Purely from a focus point of view, it's good to pick a single thing to work on at once. A Whole30 is one thing, but you can really add in a lot of extra rules and end up on the Carrot Train to Crazytown (this isn't just applicable to vegetarians or vegans, sometimes we all need a few steps back and a look at the big picture, what do we want, what does our future success look like).


In your case, if you're seeing someone for support regarding your Binge Eating Disorder, it would be really good to talk about this with them, eating disorders are complex and so are people. If you haven't read this Dear Melissa, it's a must read for those with an ED background and something to talk about with a professional. Doctors orders trump Whole30 rules and ED is not an exception to this.


I also really like this article about When Healthy Habits Aren't, if I feel like I'm getting on the Carrot Train, I have a read through this and think about it. Sometimes I get off the train, sometimes I had already missed it but I'm still glad I stopped to think about it. Sometimes it can be a fine line between being compliant/healthy and pushing yourself too hard.


For myself, as I have MTHFR, my B12 tests as fine in standard testing, but my blood work overall doesn't make sense. You can be B12 deficient and test okay, depending on the kind of test (this is how I didn't know, as for a long time, I got the same wrong test over and over, it tests the one normal part of my blood!). I consume B12, it stays in my system, but I can't process it (my body can't use it). Just putting this here as I know it's painful to discover later a "medical fact" was a bit light on the fact part, more high on the assumptions and crappy quality tests. FM is one of the conditions I was considered for, before MTHFR was identified. MTHFR can be identified in blood work as malfunction within the methylation cycle, but it's difficult to find doctors who know it in enough detail to test properly. There's a genetic test, but it won't tell you if it's impacting you right now, only if you can be impacted (a test of limited value).


Stress is one of the factors linked to Fibro, including the HPA axis. This means things like avoiding stress and getting enough sleep are *really* important. If you don't know anything about the HPA axis, this is something you should talk to a doctor about. Sleep deprivation is linked to many parts of the HPA axis and also many symptoms of Fibro, as well as weight gain and memory issues.


Soy and nightshades can be really big triggers for some people, but it doesn't mean they are triggers for you, you'll only know by testing on yourself.

The trick is though, to test the reintroductions properly, from a clear baseline, so you know whether things impact you or not. Some things are clearer than others. I thought I was fine with dairy for a long time, because it's impact on me isn't immediate, it's slow, it takes weeks. When you get around to reintroductions, keep notes, if there's anything you're a bit hmmm about, put it on a list to maybe do another reintro on in the future.


When people use the word "moderation" it often really means calories, and the calories-in-calories-out approach is so outdated I feel like it's talking about Flat Earth or the Earth being the centre of the Universe, it really hurts my science brain to think through this logic, so apologies if this next bit comes across as harsh to anyone reading it, it's not meant to be, it's a word that causes a lot of pain and anguish and it doesn't deserve it's status to upset people so much and it makes me a little ranty when I think about it too much (too late, I already thought about it). If anyone is looking for excuses to eat garbage, moderation is a really good one. It doesn't mean it always is an excuse, but moderation is completely silly if it's about something that's very serious. Celiacs can't "moderately" eat gluten, those with severe nut allergies don't eat them "in moderation" and poisons or toxins might not kill you in moderation, but it also doesn't mean they're good for you either. Nutrition is also not best in moderation! (really, can you have an excess of nutrition?) "Moderation" is a term often used to support crazy logic and used as some kind of perfect yardstick to beat people with, which isn't real. Murders in moderation would never be okay, walking in moderation is not moderate to someone with a serious injury, speeding while driving in moderation isn't okay, moderation isn't really all that moderate about anything when it's in a weird context. It's supposed to be a word used for avoiding excess or extremes, but in the media I mostly see it used in an accusatory tone, blaming people for something, since they "lack moderation". *deep breath* okay, my moderation rant is over now, I've stopped thinking about it  :)


I find the Meal Template to be very soothing for my body, in general. Blood sugar, mood, appetite, sleep, cortisol, blood pressure. It has a whole magic of it's own that I try and replicate other ways, but the template always gets the best results (I have spreadsheets full of failed attempts to do it some other way). There's a good list about this in Rules vs Recommendations you may find more improvements are to be had from the Recommendations list, especially for those of us with medical conditions. We have a different baseline.


I know you were probably expecting something more specific about eggs and soy and being a vegetarian, so sorry if this response is disappointing, we do have some vegetarian moderators so they may have other things to add.


I love eggs, eggs are awesome, especially in mayo. I do eat organic, free range eggs, pastured if I can find them and I don't want to eat any eggs that don't come from a happy chicken, so I pay more for them and I do it happily, I find expensive eggs are still cheaper than cheap meat (where I live, in Australia. Food availability/cost is very location-based, even within a single state in a country, you can see very different costs and availability). Eggs have absolutely fantastic amounts of nutrition in them, especially the yolk. Eggs aren't however vegan, you can make substitutes for recipe texture or whatever, but there's no copy for the nutrition in any of the ones I've seen and it's a lot of nutrition to miss out on, if you don't need to (some people are allergic and have no choice). Personally I have found I can have a reaction to some eggs, which I think is caused by the chicken feed (possibly wheat/gluten), so I'm now a lot fussier about what eggs I buy and eat and I haven't had any more problems.


Edamame is actually a vegetable, rather than a product (like tofu), so it's a lot easier to know exactly what's in it and how it's made (note for non-vegetarians, this isn't compliant for us, vegetarians get a different Whole30 list). It's also green. I try to eat lots of green things as green veggies tend to have nutrients that non-green ones don't have. While not on Whole30 I eat very little soy, edamame is one of the few, but I really don't eat it in high volume. As someone who can't have gluten, I recommend reading tofu labels carefully (and be careful when eating out) as a lot of tofu where I live contains gluten (I never eat it out anymore as it has gone badly too many times).


I would try and expand your menu a bit, if soy, bell pepper and onion are really 80% of your menu, you need a bigger one, especially if you're vegetarian  :) I eat way more different veggies than you and I'm a meat eater! :o To be clear, this isn't a judgement, just an alternate perspective. Prior to learning about nightshades, I didn't realise I ate *loads* of them, when I say loads it really doesn't quite cover it. Apparently I like them a lot :wub: and managed to create many recipes that were almost entirely made out of nightshades and I was eating them every day, every day of the week, every week of the year (when I looked back over a food log, it was a little scary to see I had no meals without nightshades, I managed to stuff them in everywhere). I did a nightshade-free Whole30 once (I was too scared of the AIP and wasn't sure I really needed it - I've done quite a few Whole30s) and I felt much better, but I found when I reintroduced them I didn't feel any worse. However something had changed, I wasn't eating them in crazy amounts any more, my perspective and my taste buds changed, so, my eating did too. If I go too crazy, I do get some symptoms, but now I have a handle on where my acceptable load is.


I know this is a really long reply, but you have a complex history, so it's a complex response :)

It's not unusual to feel confused when you have a lot going on, so don't forget to pat yourself on the back sometimes, it's a lot of work looking after a medical condition and it can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. You're not alone :lol:

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Thank you so much for the detailed response! I have the same frustrations with "moderation," because of my frequent attempts and inability to accomplish that. Yes, it does seem that word is being used to punish me for having a lack of the magical thing called "will power" that apparently everyone but myself seems to have. I'd rather choose abstinance for a few of these things (like refined sugars, for sure), since I am definitely addicted.


The Carrot article was great. I really do feel like I get very black and white about this issue a lot. That, of course, is part of BED, but I really want to change my relationship with food and, yes, I am restricting quite a bit of stuff right now. So, maybe I should calm the hell down a little bit.  :)


The Dear Melissa article was helpful. I think I am one of the people who needs to do this sort of restricting to be able to come out the other end "sober." I work with substance abuse addicts for a living and I have so many "addict behaviors" around food that its not even funny. So, yeah, I think this is a good idea for me, and when I tried a very restrictive diet a decade ago, I remember having to quit because I was starting to head the other way of disordered eating, by obsessing over counting my carbs (I was doing Atkins). My obsessions over what I'm eating now isn't about restricting my intake to lose weight or to have control or anything like that. This feels different- I'm actually just really wanting to be scientific about the restrictions so I know if anything is affecting my fibro. So, I think I'm okay there. However, I do have several friends I have been talking with everyday about how I feel and what's going on in my head with this- so, I'm aware this could become an issue and have people watching me to make sure it doesn't. I do want to read the articles about Whole 30 for people with eating disorders, though. I think those could help me get even more insight.


The health equation is great! I am going to keep that article as a reminder for a week from now when I'm thinking about eating an entire pie after skipping lunch because I just had to get that paperwork done before I saw my next patient. Ha! That's what my life has been and that's exactly the problem. Food has been the one way for me to indulge when I choose to continue a habit of over-working myself for the benefit of others and at the expense of my own health. I realize how ridiculous this is and I'm working on changing it. This article will be a good reminder, indeed!


I'm glad you finally got your proper diagnosis! It took several years to get Fibromyalgia as a diagnosis and I had to hear several doctors suggest I was fine and that I was making it up. So, I get how much of a stress that is to go through! The B12 thing is new to me, though. So, I will have to have my dr check that out in a little more detail, since it sounds like something they may not have ruled out properly.


When you mentioned HPA axis, I was right with you on that. I have Fibromyalgia comorbid with PTSD from chronic childhood trauma (which, last I read was comorbid 70%) and sleep apnea (which, last I read pretty much everyone had a sleep disorder who had fibro). In fact, I asked my PCP to test my basal cortisol awhile back, but he said it was too expensive and that I could just assume it was high, because of my history and what I do now. I thought... yeah, fair enough! I'm sure it is high. lol


Also, I was exaggerating about the 80% of my diet- it just feels that way. I have kale, spinach, mushrooms, and several other veggies in my daily diet. I just really, really like bell pepper and I do tend to eat it in every meal. So, that's where I'm feeling frustrated. I suppose what I could do is this- after this week, I will stop soy and just eat a bazillion eggs (its only 3 weeks and I do love me some eggs). That way, I have 3 solid weeks clean from soy. The week after (so I don't feel so overwhelmed about the restricting part), I will cut out the nightshades. That way, I have 2 solid weeks clean from night shades.


At the reintroduction phase, I will choose to reintroduce vegetarian proteins before I try anything else, so that I can cut back down on the eggs and experience the healthy feeling of eating a full vegetarian diet again. I will definitely wait on tofu, though, because it sounds like that can have gluten-related issues, which I will want to know if I have a gluten-intolerance prior to trying the tofu.


In reality, this isn't a very long dietary change and I know I can do it. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a waste, like I had kept something in there that, at the end of Day 30, I'd still feel like crap and not realize what it was. I'm not expecting to feel 100% awesome, because I'm not eating a variety of protein sources, but I do hope to have a noticible difference that I can see and feel (acne, visceral fat, sleep and energy level, and the constant pain from the fibromyalgia. That would be awesome! Weight loss can come later- I'm mostly concerned about my stomach area, because its huge (and never was in the past) and that means my organs likely are covered in fat, which is deadly in the long run.


As far as eggs go- I love that you are eating eggs from a happy chicken, by the way! :) That's my perspective on the vegan thing- I will do everything vegan except that. I will bake vegan, even (using the flax eggs), but I am not giving up such a nutritious food that I love which causes no harm to the animal (as long as I know the chicken, as stated before- I really am looking forward to meeting her! I've pet one before... so soft!!) Anyway, I just wanted to say I love that you are doing that as a meat eater. I have no desire to convince anyone to do what I do, but when someone else is doing something I think is awesome, I like to say, "Thanks!" So, thanks for that and thanks for your extremely thought inducing and supportive response! :)





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MTHFR has some simple tests on the genetic side, but the methylation analysis was harder for me to get. I kept getting doctors tell me my blood results were "weird" but okay. I wasn't really okay with this as I had a number of symptoms with unknown cause. Since my first Whole30, it's really helped me narrow down symptoms, as the clean food removed a lot of "noise" and I can "hear" my body a lot better and some things weren't noticeable before, from when I was eaten gluten and dairy (they covered up other symptoms with their symptoms).


There's a lot of research going on into PTSD right now, so it's worth keeping an eye on the studies. Previous studies have been focused on military men, but that focus has shifted in research.


Do you have a CPAP machine for the apnea? I have had many sleep issues myself (insomnia, lack of REM, sleep deficit, but not apnea) A few good things I learned from all my sleep stuff: sleep hygiene (I was amazed how much of a difference this makes), no backlit devices in the evening (tv, monitors, phones) and if you miss enough sleep at the right times, you will become deficient in DHEA (it's only produced at certain times) and that's *really* hard to recover from.


If it's expensive to do it in the USA, you might be able to do a mailed test to Australia, we have spit tests for cortisol by mail and they're way cheaper than USA. My cortisol used to be "upside down", high when it was supposed to be low and low when it was supposed to be high. This messes with your metabolism and many kinds of internal functions. I was on a cortisone steroid for years and it's trashed my internal cortisol function.


I know what you mean about the 80% :) Just checking. It's worth preparing some recipes ideas for when you go nightshade free, as it's quite hard to get your head around. I found I couldn't modify any recipes, I just needed new ones. AIP recipes are great :D and since you're not doing a full AIP, you can add other stuff. When you add them back in, try a slow roll reintroduction, with portion sizes you want to keep eating. Nightshades can be more load-based than other items, but if you feel radically better without them, you may have something causing you trouble. Some people have issues only with one or two particular items, paprika seems to be one of those for quite a few people and some people struggle more with skins, tomato skins, eggplant skins, etc.


You can get gluten free tofu, so it might be a good thing to look for, so you know where to get it when you're ready to add it back in. Just be careful trusting it when you eat out, it depends a lot on local suppliers. Here, a lot of the catering supplies are in an unlabeled tub, so the restaurants just can't tell what's in it.


Health comes before weight loss, when your body feels safe and healthy, it'll come.


Quite a while back, I was talking to a farmer about what kind of changes will change the way they farm and he said some stuff about the market, but one particular thing stuck with me. "Vegans don't influence the market as they don't buy meat or dairy, when meat eaters buy better meat, it changes the market". I figured it applied to eggs too and they have (mostly) better labelling. But grass fed organic meat is also getting more popular. Locations vary, some places it's all grass as other stuff is too expensive. Sometimes the change isn't always visible, but there is a change going on.

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I will agree with you on the DHEA issue. I had very low DHEA, but what people don't understand is how DHEA is linked to thyroid function. My thyroid wasn't functioning properly which put a lot of stress on my adrenals and I was in complete adrenal fatigue when I finally when to a Hormone Replacement Specialist (HRS). 


The interesting thing about thyroid function is that it's very complex. My whole family has thyroid issues so I was always shocked when my tests came back "normal". The problem was that my PCP wasn't testing the right things (I love my PCP, it's not her fault she doesn't know these things.) My HRS ran very specialized tests and found out that my T3 was very low and my Reverse T3 was very high, meaning they cancelled each other out and I basically had no T3 at all. What happens is when the T4 is converted it's converted to either T3 or Reverse T3 (this is my understanding). My thyroid was converting it to Revers which the body can't actually use. Without this test I would still be struggling. She put me on very low doses of thyroid meds and a lozenge of DHEA with testosterone and within 3 months I was feeling much better. We did have to increase my thyroid to 2 - 3 pills a day (I always take 2 but if I'm feeling really fatigued in the afternoon I can take another pill). 


Fast forward another 3 months and my DHEA is off the charts. I am no longer taking this supplement at all, and my thyroid function is back to normal. So, since my thyroid is working properly with the help of meds my adrenals were able to heal and I am no longer in adrenal fatigue. My HRS also cites doing a W30 as helping out all of my blood work. She said it probably really helped my adrenals when they didn't have to fight inflammation caused by food.

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