Whole30 1 & 2
It’s the eve of my 3rd round of Whole30, I'm feeling puffy from too much summer fun. I thought it might be fun to reflect a little on Whole30 Rounds 1 and 2. I might even get crazy and take a before picture.
My first Whole30 was in February 2014, I was living in San Diego with my friend James, and still working in restaurants. James was the perfect Whole30 buddy. We were obsessed with breaking down the Why’s behind the rules of Whole30 and cooking up all the compliant foods. We’d found the bloggers for reference –Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo and Mel Joulwan. We were constantly in the kitchen, making salads, and had some veggie fermentation experiments going. We dry-cured salmon. Fun times.
I remember being super anxious for the start date, not so much about the food, but more about not drinking for 30 days. I’d never done anything like that in my adult life. I remember going to a wine tasting and for the first time ever, not tasting wine.
I had wicked low carb flu and was completely jet-lagged for the first week (goodbye rice bowls and nightly Gruner Veltliner) Somewhere in the 2nd week, I realized that the hand pain that had been bothering me for the last 5 years or so was gone. That was a huge wine for me. When that particular pain returns, it’s a good barometer for my inflammation levels.
Maybe the most dramatic incident of that Whole30 (besides me not consuming wine for 30 days) wasn’t with me but with my then boyfriend, now husband, Tim. He was living in Los Angeles and we were commuting to see each other every week and like a totally good sport, he was participating.
Mid-way through the program he called me from work, he was laying on top of a desk in total pain. He went to the ER and had a kidney stone. Whole30 wasn’t the cause of his kidney stone, they take months to build up. I hypothesize that the sudden change in diet and all those high-oxalate sweet potatoes and spinach salads helped to bring it to a head. The night before the incident, he was making some sort of homemade date / nut / coconut oil concoction in the food processor. He still will not go near a Larabar.
While it took me longer than thirty days and increasingly severe symptoms to completely kick the grains out of my diet, the foundation skills I built for a paleo eating plan were on this first Whole30.
I dabbled in some Whole30 re-sets over the next couple years, and leading up to our wedding, used the rules of the program for a shorter amount of time to feel awesome. Problem being, I didn’t feel good at all. I was having a lot of trouble with fatigue and brain fog, and bursts of more intense symptoms of nausea, vomiting and migraine headaches. I took a Cyrex allergy test around that time suspecting gluten cross reaction and pretty much all grains came back as a positive which was a huge bummer. This was late 2015, and I’ve been on a grain free diet since.
My most recent Whole30 was in January of this year, I slipped into it at the beginning of the year without too much fanfare. I was in a new job during the busiest time of the year, and the program was really grounding. I added in a meditation practice in the mornings using the Headspace app, and found that to be super effective, especially dealing with work relationships. Midway through the program, even cutting out grains, sugar, legumes, dairy and alcohol, I was still getting really, really sick.
I remember the meal that actually helped me pinpoint the problem, I’d made a zucchini noodle pasta with a can of sardines and tomato sauce and brought that to eat on our break from meetings. Within minutes a could feel a headache coming on, and by the end of the day I was so nauseous and dizzy I went home and straight to the toilet / bed. I'd been searching for a clue for a long time as to what might be causing the problem. I think it was finally that Dr. Google combo “tomato” “sardines” “headache” “nausea” where I hit on the idea of a histamine intolerance.
I’d been having these mystery reactions for the past few years, the most notable being when I did my best to ruin our honeymoon. While Tim was sleeping on the train from Barcelona to Paris, I tackled an entire package of Jamon Iberico de Bellota that we bought at the Boqueria market. I spent the first 3 days of the Paris leg of our honeymoon in bed. Every time I thought I could leave the house I would just get ill and we’d have to turn back. Wine sounded awful. I think back to the histamine party that I’d created in Spain, countless plates of cured meat, aged cheeses, glass after glass of slow-fermented Cava, and no wonder my histamine bucket overflowed.
I really credit that 2nd Whole30 with being able to pinpoint the histamine intolerance. I was trying to rock the best Whole30 I could, eating daily portions of fermented veggies, canned fish and cured meat and drinking tons of bone broth and kombucha. I was already keeping a food diary and I can look back at it now with some shock at those food combos that I thought were so healthy. Within a week of suspecting the histamine issue and shifting my diet to include more fresh foods, I was feeling way better. It's been the better part of a year now that I've been working on this, a low histamine diet and lifestyle is a total process and I’m still finding my footing.
Over the course of this past year, I’ve really missed the Whole30, kind of like you miss a good friend. I want to feel the way I do when I’m on it, all the time. But I also know I have to learn to live life and not be completely bound up by a strict set of rules, because how stressful is that. I had another histamine induced incident a couple weeks ago, coming off a fun vacation, after a really long stretch of good. I’m looking forward to cleaning things up during my next round of Whole30 this September; I’ll also be taking my good friend Kelly through the program for her first round.