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Any tips for fine-tuning a Whole30 around religious dietary restrictions?

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A little background: I am 32 and I have fibromyalgia with the regular associated problems (joint pain, headaches, low-level IBS symptoms) that I am REALLY hoping will be alleviated by the Whole30 since my rheumatologist's only other suggestion is a medication that I don't want to take. I stay home with two small children and still breastfeed the youngest 2x daily. I am guessing that most people with fibromyalgia try the AIP, but I can't begin that right away for reasons I'll explain in a minute and wanted to start doing *something* immediately because I've been feeling lousy.

The problem I am facing right now is that I am Eastern Orthodox and our Lent continues until May 5. Typically, Orthodox are vegans during this time but I have gotten permission to eat fish and eggs. This has been helpful, but I know that I eat too many nuts and nut butters because I am just not satiated at the end of every meal. I also eat too much fruit, which is due to a lingering sweet tooth and (usually) to go with cashew or almond butter.

A typical day for me goes something like this:

breakfast /// 3 farm eggs over wilted greens or sauteed veggies

lunch /// tuna salad (1/2 avocado + 1/2 can tuna in EVOO + apple + celery), veggies

dinner /// baked or grilled tilapia with roasted veggies (sweet potato, carrots, etc)

snacks /// celery or apple with nut butter, blueberries with coconut milk

(I also take 2 mL of fermented cod liver oil, a probiotic, and 200 mg of a magnesium aspartat/lactae/citrate blend each day. I added the magnesium recently because I saw it suggested in the forums and I have been SO. SO tired.)

Again, it is obvious to me that there's definitely too much sweet stuff in my diet. I just don't know what else to eat, especially for protein.

I should also mention that I am on day 21 and it has been rough going. I have really struggled with energy and had some pretty dramatic blood sugar crashes during the first two weeks. My IBS has gotten a little better but definitely not gone away. Aches & pains are a little better but definitely still there. This might be due to some small slips (I eat a very small piece of communion bread 2x weekly, I found out that some of my cashews had peanut oil on them) or it might be because I need to cut out nuts and eggs, but I just cannot imagine eating (or affording) fish 3x daily.

Any suggestions?

Also, are there any other Orthodox Whole30ers out there??

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I think it is a good idea to start with a regular Whole30 and move on to the AIP protocol only after you figure out that you are experiencing continuing food sensitivities. And resolving aches, pains, and IBS symptoms can take months, even if you are doing a full AIP protocol. The fact that you are experiencing some improvements is encouraging. As long as you are experiencing some progress, you might want to stay with the base Whole30 protocol.

Your food looks pretty good. If you want to reduce fruit and nuts, you might want to move to 4 meals per day, especially since you are breastfeeding, or even 5. Basically, replacing snack time with a meal. There are a lot of ways to prepare eggs and fish, so you can still have variety. One of my favorite fish preparations is to cook broccoli and/or cauliflower in coconut milk with spices like curry, salt, garlic powder, ginger with fish. And I eat a lot of salmon salad in place of tuna salad.

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I would suggest that you start adding in sweet potatoes right away, with every meal. It will satisfy your sweet tooth, is compliant, and will help you to feel full. Fasting is a problem time, and I don't think many people have a clear idea of just how rigorous the Orthodox fast is (I'm not, and have never attempted such a strict fast). I do have fibromyalgia, and have had a great deal of relief since cutting out nuts and nut butters, and legumes. I would say eat the maximum you can of allowed fats, and have several at each meal, including coconut and avocado. I realize that this might not seem to be in the spirit of fasting, but you're also nursing, you have a chronic systemic inflammatory condition, and apart from taking care of yourself, you need to be there for your children and family. I am not aware of a single religious tradition that does not make allowances for this kind of life circumstance (in my tradition, we are not allowed to fast during Lent if there is a health concern). Maybe talk to your priest again?

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Oh, thank you so much for responding! Both of your replies are very helpful. I think that when my jar of almond butter runs out I am not going to replace it and try more coconut products instead -- too much coconut gives me a tummy ache but if I eat enough else with it I think I will be okay.

Tom, I really appreciate all the recipes on your blog. My tuna salad idea came from you because before then I couldn't imagine how to eat it often and enjoy it. :)

ScoutFinch, eggs and fish are pretty big concessions for now. I probably just need to suck it up and do the best I can until May, after which I'm going to eat TONS of meat and phase out eggs and nuts. I forgot to mention that I also took out nightshades already, so maybe that will help some in the long run.

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