I originally wrote this in 2017, but never felt confident enough to publish. I felt like an imposter because I struggled then - and have continued to struggle - with consistently making healthy choices. Rereading my words from six years ago, many of my “whys” are still true, and it was a good reminder to stick with my progress as I’m halfway through this Whole30. I'm also going to write a Part II to fill in the six years between when I first started my website and now. If you relate to any of my story below, welcome!
Once upon a time I ate all the pizza I wanted, laughed about how I "grew out" of my childhood wheat allergy, and drank heavily with friends two, three or even four nights a week and never felt hungover.
And then I turned 28 and everything came to a screeching halt.
I should back up and say there were more signs before this. As a kid my allergies were horrible (pollen, dogs, wheat, were just a few ), but my adult coping strategy was to pop Zytrec daily and carry on. It had become so normal to me that I just suffered through increasingly debilitating symptoms as if nothing could be done: unexplained stomach cramps that left me curled up in a ball for 12 hours at a time, stubborn acne, random hives and itchy skin. Not to mention my blood type was basically 90% coffee in the five years post college yet I could barely get out of bed, even after a full night’s sleep.
Somehow, despite dealing with these issues for years, none of my doctors ever suggested changing my diet could help - so I convinced myself these health problems were “normal” or maybe caused by my stressful work environment.
Finally, enough was enough. I stumbled on an article about a Whole30 experience and couldn’t believe my eyes. The twenty-something author described her intimate relationship with Tums and how she didn’t realize she had a dairy intolerance until after she gave it up on the Whole30, in addition to experiencing a bunch of other amazing health benefits.
I immediately wondered if doing a Whole30 would help alleviate my issues and bought Melissa Urban’s book It Starts With Food. I was intrigued by the challenge and thought at best it might improve my allergies, and maybe lose a few pounds.
I never could have imagined that just changing a few things I ate would have such an incredible impact on my health, energy and mindset.
When I started reading the book, the Whole30 testimonials from folks who were able to stop taking their daily allergy meds caught my interest, but it was the chapter on a typical day eating too many carbs that gave me the motivation to try it out: energy spikes and drops, zero appetite followed by insane hunger, unexplained weight gain that refused to budge even with diet and exercise. My eyes were practically popping out of my head as I read this, because it described the last five years of my life PERFECTLY.
I gave it a shot and like so many Whole30-ers, my first experience was incredible. Life changing. Surreal. I realized how different my body felt when I wasn’t bloated (I didn’t even know I WAS bloated), lost 11 lbs and just felt so GOOD overall. I was literally radiating energy and bouncing out of bed every morning.
But – my misguided hypothesis was that by giving my body time to heal from the inflammation, my allergies would disappear overnight and I could continue to indulge in pizza and cake when it was over. I just needed to give it 30 days, right?
Um, no. I wish I could say it was all sunshine and rainbows and I ate happily ever after, but the reality is changing your habits long term is HARD. The sense of accomplishment you have after 30 days is a great starting point, but making the right choices for your body day after day can be exhausting and frustrating when you’re traveling or in a social situation (often involving alcohol and well intentioned friends). I hated the idea of life without pizza, but every time I indulged I felt worse and worse to the point it wasn’t even enjoyable. I came to accept that choosing to follow a Whole30 guideline isn’t just a diet for me: it’s vital to feeling good.
Slowly but surely, I made better choices and went for longer and longer periods without having any triggering foods. After about six months, I realized I didn’t need to take a daily allergy medication, and my doctor was thrilled to see my allergy and asthma tests at their best ever. She even promised to look into Whole30 to help alleviate symptoms for other patients!
I know there are critics who say Whole30 is founded on “junk science,” but having personally experienced night and day improvements after cutting out a few food groups, it doesn’t feel like junk. Not to mention there are thousands of others have had similar life altering results. You wouldn’t put bleach in your gas tank and expect your car to run efficiently, so why are we so reluctant to accept that eating chemical-ridden artificial “food” is not going to support our bodies?
Over the past year I’ve realized nothing makes me happier than chatting about the Whole30 with curious friends and family who are seeking to make changes but don’t know where to start. Welcome! I’d love to hear about your Whole30 concerns and answer any questions you may have. Please comment below or send me a message directly on the Home page.