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Looking for advice on my reintroduction


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Hi everyone,

Today is Day 31 of my very first Whole30. I am very proud of myself for making it this far with NO CHEATS! I've dabbled in Paleo in the past, sometimes being quite dedicated for months at a time, only to fall back into old habits and comfort myself with junk. I had a particularly junky few months October through the end of the holidays and decided it was time to snap out of it by (finally) doing a Whole30 starting January 6.

The Whole30 did not go as well as I expected... I was underwhelmed by results. I am 27 years old, female, overweight but otherwise fairly healthy (no illnesses). I did lose 13 lbs, which is fantastic, but:

  • I never got that "Tiger Blood" feeling.
  • I have more stable energy overall but I still crash somewhat in the afternoon.
  • My skin (moderate acne) is looking a little better but hasn't cleared up.
  • Up until about two days ago I was SALIVATING for cookies, cakes, breads, ice cream. The idea of these things made me swoon and seeing other people eat them was torture.
  • I've been constipated almost the entire time, going about twice a week if lucky.
  • I was very bloated for the first couple of weeks, and quite gassy (really horrible smelling stuff) all the way throughout.
  • I have a chronic cough that I thought might go away with quitting dairy but lingers still.

Today I've been compliant and I can't really figure out how to proceed. It seems obvious that I haven't slayed the Sugar Dragon. Only a few days before the end did I realize that the digestive problems might have to do with tomatoes (a lightbulb moment linking the incidents and their accompanying meals). I've avoided them since then and the gas has all but gone away, though not completely (yesterday I had broccoli... could this also be a contender?).

Here's a typical Whole30 day for me:

  • Breakfast: eggs (2) with a veggie (leeks, peppers, or other), scrambled in clarified butter. Handful of blueberries.
  • Lunch: mixed baby greens with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, assorted veggies (cucumber, carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes, etc), and protein (salmon, steak, shrimp, or other). 2 mini tangerines.
  • Dinner: meat (pastured pork, grassfed beef, fish, or other) with veggies (steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, sauteed greens, mushrooms, or other) and side salad (just greens, vinegar, oil). Occasionally a dish like chocolate chili, beef stew, etc.

I'm proud of what I accomplished but confused as to why I'm not feeling like the energetic, non-sugar-craving, gas-free powerhouse that I've felt in the past doing even LESS restrictive (meaning including dairy and not worrying about little slips) versions of paleo. How did I end up with less dramatic results on what is supposed to be the be-all end-all elimination diet?

If you were me, how would you proceed with reintroduction? To be honest I'm ready to have a drink or two a week (for social reasons) and considering trying some cheese... but I'm feeling clueless.

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Congrats on getting to day 31!

Have you looked into trying a strict paleo or Whole30 and going low on FODMAPs? (obviously avoid the things about grain in this chart, but it points out which foods are ok on a low FODMAP diet and which ones you should eliminate - http://www.ibsgroup.org/brochures/fodmap-intolerances.pdf ) There's a little more info here - http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2012/08/28/ibs-could-be-the-fodmaps

I know I have issues with broccoli and tomatoes and bell peppers. The recipes in Practical Paleo have little notes on what to change/take out re: FODMAPs (super helpful!)

Maybe you could "off road" a little bit if you want to, then try another Whole30 low on FODMAPs?

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I've toyed with the idea. I don't think I really conveyed that before this I've had zero digestive issues... I'm not a person with IBS or even a sensitive tummy. I was mostly interested in the skin/energy/slim down results, not at all concerned with digestive issues. It's like the Whole30 brought them on, which makes me confused and frustrated. Is that possible?

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Well, I wouldn't call the W30 the "be all end all" of anything, it's just a really good place to start.

Losing 13lbs is awesome, btw...but I think you're expecting too much out of the 30 days. 30 days is NOT a very long time. Some things, like chronic coughs or persistent acne can take longer to resolve.

Personally, I would still reintroduce, since you seem to be skeptical of the effect that foods have on you...then reevaluate.

Maybe consider a consult with either the Whole9 team or a naturopath about your other stuff as well

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It's like the Whole30 brought them on, which makes me confused and frustrated. Is that possible?

I think it is, if you substantially increased the amount of something that you were only eating occasionally before.

Could be fibrous vegetables, FODMAPS, protein, fat... A big increase in any of those could upset things I imagine...

If I was you, and I had noticed an improvement in several areas, but not to the extent that I had hoped, I would extend. (In fact, it's exactly what I'm doing, being on day 36 or 37, I lost count.)

But I am not you and I am not craving drinks or cheese or anything, so it's easy for me to say...

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30 days may not have been long enough to start to remedy three "junky" months. I do think there's value in the reintrouction, like Renee mentioned, especially if you're questioning how removing those foods really affected your body. But if you think that dipping your toe back into a SAD diet might send you face first into a pile of cake and doughnuts I'd hold off, tweak your veggies, add some digestive enzymes and see if pushing just a little longer might not give you the results you want. Slaying the sugar dragon takes time! I haven't read much on the whole FODMAPS thing but I looked at the Practical Paleo cookbook and it had tons of great tips and tricks for fine tuning your diet.

As far as the tiger blood and afternoon slump, how was your caffeine intake? I know throughout my W30 I drank too much coffee and would get a slump from that as it wore off. I'm planning to....it's so hard to say....quit coffee on my next go round to really see how I feel, yes, I am a coffee addict, I know I have a problem ;)

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