How Whole30 Got Me Out of a Funk (and Led to New Family Photos)
My husband has wanted family photos for a very long time. Honestly, I have too. It's been 4 years and 2 kids since our last family photo. As a scrapbooker, a good family photo is a must. So why has it been so long since we got a photo? Well, mostly because I haven't felt all that great over the last few years. I haven't been sick or anything. But I haven't slept all night through in years. My energy has been lagging, and so has my confidence. And who wants to pay for a photo shoot when you're feeling like you have all the energy and attractiveness of a slug? If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that our family has been on a journey to eliminate food dyes from our diets and products we use around the home. Once we settled into this new normal, I started realizing that I really wanted to do more. I was tired of the slump!
While researching many different diets, supplements, and eating plans, it became pretty clear that everyone has their own idea of what is healthy, what is best, yada yada. We narrowed in on two goals- making healthy changes to our overall diets, and figuring out how food was affecting us, our energy levels, and our kids behaviors.
What I read on Whole30's website made the most sense to me. Take 30 days, eliminate anything likely to be causing any type of reaction (dairy, grains, sugar and legumes), and unhealthy foods, then make a case-by-case determination of what to allow back in.
The Planning Began.
I went shopping, did lots of Pinterest research, and made a menu. Everything I had read said that pre-planning was critical (they were right), so I tried to plan out every meal and snack for a week.
It was a little more complicated then I imagined. I would think of something I could make, and try to think of substitutes for the ingredients not allowed on Whole30. I would think "I could substitute X... Nope. Hey, how about Y... Uh-huh. Hmmm... Maybe Z with a pinch of A... wait! Oh, nope again." My initial idea of modifying our favorite recipes didn't work at all, for the most part. So, I cycled back around to the Pinterest board I created and stuck as much as possible to "whole" foods, like fresh fruits, veggies, and meats. I made mayo, and from that I made salad dressing. I made sort-of-ketchup. Then, we dove in.
Then, We Did It.
From what I understand, some people struggle with Whole30 more then others. The thought is that the amount of junk you eat in a normal week directly corresponds to the strength of your body's reaction to the new way of eating. while this might be true to a certain extent, my husband had a much more difficult adjustment then I did, and we eat largely the same things.
It took about a week for everything to "settle." The first week, I seemed to be constantly putting real milk in my coffee (then dumping it out), or putting butter in the pan to cook eggs, then having to wipe it out. I also seemed to notice everything I couldn't have that much more. But after that, it became a new routine, and it was easier. I noticed changes, but not super dramatic ones. In fact, most of the changes I didn't really become aware of until we were finished.
But there was one HUGE change that everyone noticed. My son (the same one that has significant reactions to food dyes) was completely changed. He was actually calm. And rational. And focused.
We had seen positive changes in those areas after eliminating food dyes, but this... this was amazing. He was so much calmer. My husband and I would look at each other in amazement every day.
We Made It 30 Days. But...
Here's the catch- we didn't come off Whole30 properly. We came off all at once, not gradually reintroducing foods that we hadn't been eating. Within a week, all the anger and inability to focus came back. My husband and I noticed changes too. We were sleeping better on Whole30. His frequent headaches were gone. My back didn't hurt every morning. When we went off Whole30, all those things gradually came back.
But, I did lose 16lbs on my first Whole30, and I haven't gained those back, so that's good!
So, as I am writing this post we are on Day 2 of another Whole30. This time, we will take more time and come off gradually, introducing one thing at a time over the course of a few weeks. We have a trip in the middle that might trip us up a little, but we're determined to get to the bottom of what foods are having these dramatic effects on our bodies.
Oh, and by the way... besides sleeping better, and having more energy, I lost 20lbs on Whole30. I feel so much better. We're having family photos taken in a few days (and my husband is happy!).
In my next post, I share some more specifics of Whole30, what worked for us, where I found ingredients, and recipes we loved. Then, in a week or so, I hope to post about the kids and their Whole30. It's tougher with kids, admittedly, but SO VERY worth it.
Here is my Pinterest board of Whole30 Ideas. (Follow me to get more ideas as I update! Also, I have not tried all these recipes yet, so for recipes I personally recommend, check back on Friday).
Here is where you can find my series on Food Dyes and more about that journey.