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mary-t

Riding my own bike is harder than I thought...

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Today is Day 72 since I started the Whole 30 program, and great progress in healing has been made. But three weeks into riding my own bike (I finished my Whole 50 on February 15), I recognize the "ridiculousness of my situation". Here it is: I'm currently AIP-compliant *except* for eating Real Life chocolate (dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, but loads of sugar). I can't quite wrap my head around how I can easily follow the AIP protocol and yet be unable to give up allergen-free chocolate.

I thought I had banished the sugar dragon as my Whole50 really became effortless towards the end. But several events coincided: I tested eggs and then walnuts, with which I didn't seem to have problems (but I think caused a combined reaction). Then I started to get sick (flu) and missed a couple of days of work (very bored) with very little appetite. I started reacting to lots of foods, and my body craved sugar for a quick energy fix. And so I discovered Real Life chocolate (and obscene amounts of it).

Now here I am after 22 days of "chocolate off-roading" and this is the hardest habit to break. My body reacts to the chocolate/sugar--it affects my mood, my energy levels, my skin, etc. So, why can't I turn it down like I turn down the 63,000 other foods I can't eat??? Craziness.... So, I'm starting this log to try and get back to my effortless chocolate-free eating. Any comments or suggestions are welcome!!

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I'm on Day 5 of recovering from a sugar bender. Like you, I eat completely compliant food otherwise (including giving up fruit and nuts entirely for Lent), but I was "supplementing" with some of the worst foods you could put into your mouth.

My problem was I hadn't addressed a very old issue of associating high-pressure work deadlines with eating junk food. So when I saw what I was doing, I had to try again and start reaching for food that I could eat while I work. (I know, you're supposed to slowly savor your meals, but this is a disaster recovery effort and I will deal with the method after curing some of the madness).

What I'm eating a lot of are winter squashes: butternut, acorn, spaghetti... with either meat sauce or just plain with some spices. Also sweet potato slices and carrot/sweet potato soup. These are all high-carb foods, but they get me off the chocolate/junk merry-go-round.

The first 2 days of this were difficult, with my brain screaming for all the things I was not feeding it. After 5 days now, the junk food cravings are diminishing and I'm able to dial back the squash overload and make some more balanced meals. I even planned an off-road for myself last night and did not use it. So that's how I know it's getting better.

It really does take days and weeks to slay this thing, but you have to get back to the mindset that if it's not on the list, then it's not on your plate. And then plan your own bike-riding so you set your limits ahead of time, if you even want to try tasting some of those trigger foods again.

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Krista and Xandra, thanks for chiming in. It's nice to know other people are struggling with the same thing. Today is my official start to my second Whole 30; I took time yesterday to cook and prep healthy food for this week. And I woke up this morning with more determination than I've had in a while. It helps that my TOM started today, so my moodiness and apathy have lifted some.

Xandra, I need to think more about what you've said about work-pressure deadlines and eating sweets. I'm definitely guilty of this and need to get a plan in place. Your strategy makes good sense. I hope that you're doing well with it. It is amazing how the routines we develop with foods are harder to get rid of than the foods themselves.

Okay, just finished a lovely breakfast. And have managed to go about 16 hours without chocolate, so that's some small progress. :) This evening will be the tricky part.

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I have a theory that it's that first gut disrupting food that sets off a cascade of addictive behaviors- for you it was either the eggs or nuts. But once the gut health has been compromised all hell breaks loose. It wasn't the chocolate that sent you on a bender- it was the nuts or eggs that opened the gate for the chocolate to come back in. You are the guardian at the gate- tighten up the security sister!

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And Krista- I remember reading about your "bender" a while back and thinking to myself "it was the wheat in the beer" that set you off.

Just food for thought.

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amazing how the fog lifts when the time starts!

Krista, I agree completely, but I have to admit: I've never quite had the fog lift so clearly and strongly as it did this month. It was so obvious to me that I can almost identify the exact time (and I remember thinking "I'm getting my period in the next 12 hours"). I almost felt like the cartoon character who gets hit over the head and sees stars. For over two weeks, the apathy and cravings were so strong and today I'm able to fight both off. All of this which tells me I need a better plan for next month....

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I have a theory that it's that first gut disrupting food that sets off a cascade of addictive behaviors- for you it was either the eggs or nuts. But once the gut health has been compromised all hell breaks loose. It wasn't the chocolate that sent you on a bender- it was the nuts or eggs that opened the gate for the chocolate to come back in. You are the guardian at the gate- tighten up the security sister!

I totally agree, Moluv, with your theory. An odd part of this whole "allergen-free chocolate bender" is that I now know I don't react to chocolate (although my body doesn't like the sugar) as everything returned to normal halfway through the bender (except for not being able to stop eating the chocolate). So, now I just have to figure out which food caused the disruption. My gut is very sensitive to any change (very damaged from Celiac) and takes a long time to recover, so I won't be testing either for a while (I'm starting a second Whole 30 AIP today). And I have to admit that having this type of reaction makes me leery of stepping back into the testing of foods for a while. I need to sit down and scrutinize my food log to see what caused the wheels to really come off. BTW, have enjoyed reading your posts across the forum and appreciate the wisdom that you bring--you've made me think quite a bit. :)

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Great words of wisdom all for the gut impaired! Re introing corn via corn chips was a "gate" food for me. Luckily I realized it almost immediately and started a whole100... Took 12 days for me to recover though. I am up to day80 now and I have just had an awful 8 day heavy period and severe cravings for the two weeks before which made me overeat nuts and fruit and coffee and cocoa! Also gate foods for me I think! I will be watching out for this next time for sure. My cycle is just regulating after stopping years of BC so I didn't see it coming, was like being 17 again. Still it would have been hugely worse if I hadn't been eating whole9 style.

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Great words of wisdom all for the gut impaired! Re introing corn via corn chips was a "gate" food for me. Luckily I realized it almost immediately and started a whole100... Took 12 days for me to recover though. I am up to day80 now and I have just had an awful 8 day heavy period and severe cravings for the two weeks before which made me overeat nuts and fruit and coffee and cocoa! Also gate foods for me I think! I will be watching out for this next time for sure. My cycle is just regulating after stopping years of BC so I didn't see it coming, was like being 17 again. Still it would have been hugely worse if I hadn't been eating whole9 style.

Love the term "gut impaired". Long before I started the Whole30, I tried re-introducing corn (I've been grain-free for some time due to the Celiac) with tortilla chips. BIG mistake for me too! My body wanted them 24/7 for days. You would think I would have learned from that experience....

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Clearly for all of us gut impaired- the regular w30 list has things that are known gut disruptors for us- I'm looking at you nuts, seeds and coffee. But it seems many of us still try to "test" our boundaries with these foods and it never ends well- usually in a bender of some sort. For me, a gut flair up leads me straight to my vaporizer for some pain relief and mental vacation from the tenderness in my body. Then there are a host of side effects from medicating. It is my goal to get off all medications- natural calm and melatonin and occasional Tylenol and marijuana for pain releif. I know it can be done by dialing down the variety in the diet. I encourage everyone to re-read the IBS section of iswf and consider a 6 month stretch as the book recommends.

And thank you everyone for engaging in conversations with me- I am learning so much from all of you.

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Clearly for all of us gut impaired- the regular w30 list has things that are known gut disruptors for us- I'm looking at you nuts, seeds and coffee. But it seems many of us still try to "test" our boundaries with these foods and it never ends well- usually in a bender of some sort. For me, a gut flair up leads me straight to my vaporizer for some pain relief and mental vacation from the tenderness in my body. Then there are a host of side effects from medicating. It is my goal to get off all medications- natural calm and melatonin and occasional Tylenol and marijuana for pain releif. I know it can be done by dialing down the variety in the diet. I encourage everyone to re-read the IBS section of iswf and consider a 6 month stretch as the book recommends.

And thank you everyone for engaging in conversations with me- I am learning so much from all of you.

It is getting easier for me to contemplate a long-term commitment to the AIP protocol, although six months... When I started the Whole30, I knew it would be a long journey, but psychologically it was easier to think of it in 30-day chunks. I made it 49 days the first time. This time, I'm taking it one day at a time again. I would dearly love to be able to stop taking some of the supplements I'm currently prescribed. It is getting better as I recently had iron taken off the list (no longer anemic!!). I've also found meditation to help, although I'm just a beginner, helps me leave work stress behind. But the journey is very much on-going.

I wish you much luck with your pain relief and being able to leave medications behind. Living with pain is just draining, and I think your description of wanting to escape the tenderness in your body is very accurate. I feel like there were months that I "slept" through; sleep was such an escape for me (and probably needed to some extent).

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Well, Day 1 of this Whole30 is "in the books". Yesterday went well, I feel like I'm getting back on track after my chocolate bender. Followed the AIP protocol with no problem, and the cravings were bearable.

I did quite a bit of research over the last couple of days and determined that I need to supplement with magnesium. I've been taking supplemental D and calcium/mag/D for a long time, but still test as deficient in calcium. I've been experiencing muscle cramps, fatigue, mental fog, etc., so Natural Calm seems to be the next step. Am going to work toward more of 1:1 ratio. I took 3/4 tsp. last night and 1/2 tsp. this morning. I had a very wakeful night (unusual for me), but when I did sleep, it was strangely restful. My muscles feel a bit more relaxed (my workout was easier). So I'm hopeful that this can only improve.

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Days 2 and 3 successfully completed. I feel like I'm back in the groove of the AIP protocol. Cooking on the weekend saved me--cooked enough protein for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the work week. That way, I always have a quick meal waiting. I do need to work on varying my protein choices more. I've been relying on chicken and lean beef, need to get back to eating fish more. But this week my goal was just getting back on the plan. Have to say I'm feeling better.

Have been reading quite a bit about magnesium and its work in the body (along with other vitamins and minerals). It's so easy to see how one (repeated) false step foodwise can set off a cascade of results. And it's amazing how everything works together and is interdependent, although it makes figuring problems out much more difficult. After reading a bit more about peri-menopause, hormones, and nutrition, started supplementing zinc and B6 along with the magnesium (and my normal pills). I feel a bit like a 95-year-old lady with my supplements 3 x a day, but if 6 months of taking them can get things balanced out, I'm in. :)

For today: felt much more clear-headed (particularly late morning-evening), and way less irritable. It was a good day to be me!

P.S. If you haven't read about peri-menopause and are in your late 30s or early 40s, it's worth reading about. I learned a ton!!

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Days 4-6 show some mixed improvement, but I stuck with the plan completely.

Good: The Natural Calm has really helped with my fatigue, lack of focus/interest, and muscle cramps.

Bad: However, it seems to give me diarrhea, especially when combined with my veggie-heavy diet. Am going to remove broccoli and cauliflower for a couple of days and see if that helps (as they seem to make things worse). Am also going to look for magnesium glycinate as it is supposed to be easier on your digestive system.

Good: The epsom salt baths are fantastic. Found these epsom salts that have rosemary and mint essential oil added to them. It's like a spa event now when I take a bath!! LOVE them. Plus I feel like I get a good dose of magnesium.

Good: Have had three days without a muscle cramp! And could actually focus on work things Thursday and Friday.

So, all in all, a fairly positive step forward. Nothing interesting foodwise as I'm just following the AIP protocol. Need to get a bit more creative with my ingredients, as I'm eating a lot of repeat meals. But at the same time, I'm not bored with them yet.

Am a bit nervous as I'm hosting two friends for the next several days (they arrive this evening). I'll be cooking AIP for all three of us! Hopefully, they're game for some limited choices as far as food goes. :)

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Had a great time hosting my friends. We watched movies, did a bit of shopping for some projects around my house (it's a fixer-upper), and chatted. We also ate AIP compliant the whole time. The last night they were here I broiled salmon and brussel sprouts and served them with spaghetti squash and homemade pesto. It was delish and I was rather proud of myself. We all joked about how I NEVER used to be a cook and now I completely am. Life can change in unexpected ways.

In supplement-land, I had to change from Natural Calm to magnesium glycinate (it's more easily absorbed in the gut) as the grumbling and diarrhea were starting to weigh on me. Now that I'm absorbing more of the magnesium, the muscle cramps (which had started up again) have stopped. Such a relief. This is also my first cycle using progesterone cream to control my PMS. I think I might just love it! It's early days yet, but so far no symptoms and only very weak, non-specific "sweet" cravings that I've been able to ignore. My mood is sooooo much better. And my sleep (which I thought was already good) has reached a new level of deep and restful. I've woken up before my alarm several days. All in all, I've had four "really good" days in a row (which is just about a record). So, I'm going to stick with this supplement routine for a couple of months (probably until semester ends).

Tomorrow I need to shop and cook as I'm running low on prepared protein for quick meals. That is not good as I tend to eat off of the template when that happens. I have to say that the template has really changed how I put together a meal. It's made making choices so much easier and automatic.

Since I seem to be on the right track again, I'm considering when to take off the training wheels again and ride my own bike. Am going to think about that this weekend. I think my failure last time was driven by too much estrogen (due to an anovulatory cycle), testing foods at that time of the month, and a lot of stress at work. Looking at that now I see it was really poor timing, but I've taken some steps to at least get the hormones under control. So, my idea is to look at riding my own bike and make a plan for test runs of food before I take the training wheels off. I have a long trip planned for June, and it'd be good to know what foods I can possibly add back in so that I have more choices than the AIP protocol allows (I'm looking at you, nuts and eggs).

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So, I'm riding my own bike without the training wheels. Formally made the decision Saturday as this was my birthday weekend and I was stuck indoors due to snowy weather and feeling grumpy about a spring break with temps in the 30s. Didn't feel like cooking, so for one meal on Saturday I had gluten-free toast (rice flour as the primary grain). I hadn't had any bread-like food for over 6 months. And the great thing was I had NO reaction to it, where last year I would have been sick for days. Now, I don't plan on eating grains regularly because I know my body doesn't care for them and the cumulative effect just builds. But it effectively stopped my Whole30 on Day 14. Then I had some chocolate to celebrate my birthday on Sunday.

Since I off-roaded a bit, I am now going to return to the protocol and testing of AIP foods. I actually started this last Monday (since I was on spring break and off work) by introducing almond butter. In the past, I've had trouble digesting nuts, but not necessarily an auto-immune response to them. I've had almond butter everyday since and no reaction! :) This, to me, shows real progress as three months ago I couldn't eat them without bloating and an angry intesting. I plan on taking it slowly and testing one type of nuts each week as some nuts cross-react with peanut and coconut intolerances (two of my problems). And I'll focus on eating "butter" forms of them first (as I'm assuming they're a bit easier to digest since they come "chewed up"). But I'm cautiously optimistic that I may just be able to include them.

During my weekend planning of my re-introduction schedule, I realized that I'm weary of thinking so much about the food I eat, and I mean bone-deep weariness. After two years of different elimination diets and countless "food tests," I'm beyond burned-out. Being ever-vigilant about your food and cooking every single meal you eat is like having a very persistent part-time job with an employer that doesn't always pay you. I can count on one hand the number of meals I've eaten out in the last two years. At family dinners it's me and my cooler. So, I'm taking a break as much as I can. I'll still be cooking all of my own food because it's just a bit too hard to eat out with food intolerances where I live. But I'm re-introducing nuts and nightshades before my vacation this June. On vacation, I'll try my best to stick with safe foods and ride out any reactions that occur. I'm also going to relax my vigilance on some of the other Whole30 rules (e.g. eating at the dinner table, making sure every single meal adheres to the template, no snacking, no sugar/SWYPO) and just try to do my best. The end of the semester is not the time for me to try to be too rigid about anything as it's just crazy-making and adds to my burnt-out feeling. When I come back in July (refreshed from my vacation), I'll do another Whole 30 (and, hopefully, NOT the AIP protocol this time).

I'll report on my re-intro efforts over the next month or so. I can't say enough about the AIP protocol and how helpful it's been for me and my healing. For the first time in two years, I'm taking steps forward instead of staying in place. :)

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Thought I'd post an update since I haven't done so for a while. I spent March and April testing AIP foods and trying to figure out how any treats (namely allergen-free chocolate) might fit in. Although I can't say that I enjoyed those months, I was able to test each food in isolation over an extended period.

What I found out

  • I have to really slow down re-introduction of foods. My body sometimes doesn't react in a noticeable way until the fourth or fifth exposure. This may be because I'm so used to feeling unwell that I don't pick up on the signs, but I also think the first reactions are there, but so slight, I'm able to "excuse them". So, I'd end up having a cumulative reaction to something, but not being able to figure out what it was. Once I figured this out, I tested one food every 7-10 days and ate it like crazy for 4-5 days and then waited to see what happened.
  • In isolation (on an otherwise strict AIP regimen), the reactions I experience are more immediate for some foods.
  • The allergen-free (dairy, nut, peanut, gluten, soy-free) chocolate is a no-go. I gave it quite a few tries (as I really wanted to keep it). When I finally tested it in isolation (see first bullet point), the reaction was swift and fierce. Can't say I'm looking to try chocolate again anytime soon.
  • Nuts are a cumulative exposure food for me. I don't seem to react to them if I eat them once, but if I have them on consecutive days, I get really sick. My body moves from "seemingly no reaction" to "WHY ARE YOU POISONING US?" with no warning. Big-time systemic inflammation. So, nuts are out.
  • Ditto for seeds.
  • Nightshades gave me a much weaker reaction, and were purely digestive in nature. They're on my "Eat in a pinch" list, but not on subsequent days. For now, I'm avoiding them.
  • I may now be able to tolerate coconut (my present test). Preliminary results are positive. :) This would be nice as it would give me another source of fat (besides my standby avocado and olive oil).
  • When I live on the AIP, I feel fantastic (yea, tiger blood!). The problem is that it's hard to live on the AIP long-term.

What is left to discover

  • I'm going to test eggs next week. I'm going to be traveling a lot this summer and I'd like to know what reaction (if any) I have to them before that starts.
  • I'd also like to test pork again (I was diagnosed with a "pork intolerance" two years ago). Basically, I'd just like to have more protein options.
  • How much healing has occurred. I have my annual bloodwork for Celiac coming up, am hopeful that my tTG antibodies are finally in the normal range. I've been gluten-free for over two years, and they're still not there, but my doc said it would take time....

So, that's my update. For now, I'm back on the AIP protocol. I have three weeks before I start to travel, so my plan is to test eggs and pork, then try to get through the traveling with minimal harm done. Once things settle down again, I'll try another Whole30.

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This may be something worth considering for your pork re-intro, we always soak ours in lime juice first.

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/how-does-pork-prepared-in-various-ways-affect-the-blood?qh=YToxOntpOjA7czo0OiJwb3JrIjt9

And also, were the nuts you were reacting to soaked or sprouted or just fresh/raw/roasted? I refuse to eat unsoaked nuts anymore, they wreck me, but soaking and dehydrating them first has made them much more digestible. If I am reacting to them, I can't notice it. Here is what WAPF has to say about soaking nuts also:

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid?qh=YToyOntpOjA7czo0OiJudXRzIjtpOjE7czozOiJudXQiO30%3D

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Since it's been 6 months since I started the Whole30, I thought I'd pop in with an update.  I have to say that these six months have been such a gift to myself.  I haven't done Whole30 rules all of the time (since beginning with a Whole49), but my eating is 90% Whole30 (and AIP most of the time).  For the first time since I received my Celiac diagnosis two years ago, I feel like real healing is taking place.  

 

Improvements (as long as I eat Whole30 and, preferably, AIP)

  • My joints are pain-free and my muscles are more relaxed.  I started supplementing magnesium glycinate and taking epsom salt baths in mid-March and that has been a game-changer.  For the first time in years, I'm making gains in my weight workouts and I enjoy my workouts again.  So, this has been huge!!  :)
  • My tTG antibodies (a marker for Celiac activity) are in the "normal" range now.  It took two years, but I finally got there!
  • My skin is happily in balance, no breakouts, no eczema, no dryness, no irritation.  I no longer need moisturizer, lotion, etc. My morning and evening routines are crazy quick now. 
  • My digestion is smooth, no crazy veering between extremes, no bloating, no water retention.  I had forgotten what "thin days" felt like and now I have them all the time.   
  • Sleep is actually restful now, and I feel like my body actively does recovery now.  As a result, life is just easier and more fun!  It took a while, but I have good energy everyday (the tiger blood arrived at the end of April!).  
  • My immune system is actually able to fight off colds now.  I was just on a trip where everyone I was traveling with got a cold and I was the only person who did not.  This would not have been the case a year ago.  I was a chronic bronchitis and pneumonia patient (at least 3 times/year).  
  • My mood and mindset have also improved.  My temper is so even that people think I don't have one.  I'm happy and positive (as I always used to be before I got sick).  My mind is clear and sharp, no more foggy thinking.  I'm so much quicker and productive at work, and I have a better attitude.
  • I have the energy to do cardio exercise again.  I'm not doing anything intense, just walking everyday.  But I'm back to enjoying it, and I no longer feel wiped out after exercise.  In June, I walked over 130 miles while on vacation.  
  • I've lost about 20 pounds, and am wearing the smallest size I own in everything.  I still have more to lose, but I'm not in a hurry.  For the first time, I'm confident that it will come off in its own time, and weight loss (while a good thing in my case) is not my primary goal.  Restoring my health is, and I'm finally starting to feel healthy.
  • For the first time in two years, I've added foods back into my diet instead of taking more out.  I'm now able to eat coconut, eggs, and pork with no reaction.   
  • I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  Whole30 is changing my life!

 

What I've Found Out:

  • Finally committing to the AIP and testing those foods one at a time in isolation (along with other suspects) has permitted me to identify what my current problem foods are:  cocoa (the protein, not the butter), nuts (still!), nightshades (although this situation seems to be improving).  I think I may eventually be able to eat some of these, but not now.  
  • There are some foods I can eat in a pinch once and be okay (nightshades, rice), but several days in a row doesn't work.  That's okay, as I have no intention of returning to eating rice and potatoes on a regular basis.  But knowing I can eat them once in a while makes restaurant dining less stressful and opens up more options.
  • The initial reaction I seem to have to a food my body doesn't like is sugar/carb cravings.  I'm still learning to pick up on that signal and find a good way to deal with it, but it's progress.  It also helps me prepare for the later stages of the reaction because I know they'll be coming.  
  • My sugar dragon isn't dead, far from it.  I was struggling with it in May, and then I thoroughly re-awoke it in June while on vacation.  
  • When I have a reaction, it's hard to climb back on the horse immediately.  The fatigue, the ickiness just make it hard to avoid the sugar and the AIP foods (I crave spice!).  So, I have to figure out a good strategy for this as I can't lose focus each time I test a food and it goes badly.  

All of this to say, I'm going to try another Whole30 starting tomorrow.  If I've learned this much in six months, there's no reason not to start the next six months off with a bang!

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