Elimination Diet – Whole 30

by Sarah Bartle

Sarah BartleOn November 1st I started a new career and a new diet. Health conscious people might call it a new lifestyle, but I don’t consider myself a health conscious person yet. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years completing my Masters degree in Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. During that time my life consisted of going to class, studying, interning and working multiple part-time jobs. The energy needed for so much focus left little else for self-care.

Despite studying a holistic field and knowing full well the importance of self-care, my exhaustion let it fall by the way side. In 3 1/2 years I gained 30 pounds. I was fully aware that I was gaining weight, but could not make it stop. There was simply not enough energy left in my reserves after my schoolwork was completed. This was my personal excuse, and anyone who struggles with weight issues knows what I mean by that. I may get further into the emotional component in a later post, but this blog is not going to get that deep. What a relief! This is about what I’m eating and what I’m not eating.

Cooking Whole 30

I’m not sure how I first heard of Whole 30. It’s an anti-inflammatory, elimination diet that isn’t branded for weight loss diet, but many people do lose weight. For 30 days participants do not eat grains, legumes, sugar, soy or dairy. What I liked about this diet is that it is not low carb since potatoes and squashes are allowed. I felt stressed enough giving up dairy and grains, don’t take away my potatoes; forget about giving up carbs too!

I thought starting a new job would be the perfect time, energetically, to start 30 days of a lifestyle focused on meat, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. In full disclosure, I’m not following Whole 30 completely, but using it as a template and cooking Whole 30 recipes. Today is day 15 so I am exactly half way through 30 days of not eating grains, legumes, sugar, soy or dairy.

To add one more wrinkle, I’m cooking all my meals at home. No carry out! It’s too difficult to make sure restaurant food isn’t cooked in butter so I’m eliminating carry out all together.

What has surprised me the most about eating this diet is how easy it has been. I haven’t had any withdrawal symptoms to speak of: no headaches, no sugar cravings, no mood swings or feelings of “I can’t do this!” I am shocked! I had been eating a diet of pizza, tacos and beer mixed with the occasional healthy meal. I thought this would be harder.

Knowing When to Eat

One trick that has helped me is not allowing myself to get too hungry. When I am hungry, I eat. I don’t want to starve myself. Starvation isn’t the point but rather learning a healthier relationship with food. I want to listen to my body and give it what it is asking for. Emotional eating has been an issue for me most of my life. I know I said I wasn’t going to get into the emotional stuff but I guess it can’t be separated. When I feel a pang of wanting food I ask myself what I am feeling. Am I thirsty? Am I bored? Am I sad? Am I overwhelmed? Am I hungry? If the answer is that I am hungry, I eat. If I answer with another feeling, I explore that feeling. It is surprisingly easy to stay in touch with my feelings while eating anti-inflammatory foods. My blood sugar is staying stable so it is easier to keep my emotions stable.

The most difficult part for me has been not eating carry out. Cooking every meal I eat meant spending A LOT of time in the kitchen and going to the grocery store. After the first week I almost cried with the thought of all the cooking, dishes and planning that was needed for 30 days of no carry out. Luckily I have two things in my favor. I have a very supportive boyfriend who helps with the grocery shopping, cooking and dishes. Secondly, I have the time to spend in the kitchen. When I cook I try to make enough food to last 2-3 days. Having support has kept me focused on making good food choices. I also joined a support group on Facebook that reminds me why I am doing what I’m doing.

I never thought I would have made it through 15 days of no grains, legumes, dairy, soy or sugar but I’m going strong and have 15 more days to go.

Published on November 16th, 2017