Last January (2018), my partner Andrew and I were settling in to what we thought “aging” meant. We both had migraines or headaches regularly. I had recurrent aches and pains in my left hip, right knee (on which I’d had surgery years ago), right ankle (which I’d sprained multiple times), right heel (which hurt with every step I took). I hated the idea that chronic pain was going to be a way of life for us to manage. Over Christmas, we’d spoken with Andrew’s daughter Tiffany who was using the Whole30 eating plan. (I don’t call it a diet for reasons that will become clear.) She indicated that her migraines had significantly reduced in frequency and that she felt better than she had in a long time.
We were curious, so we started to read. The idea behind Whole30 was that many people have food sensitivities that they are unaware of. Some of these sensitivities cause inflammation. The invitation is the dedicate 30 days. During that time, you eat no grains, no sugar, no dairy and you avoid processed foods, eating as naturally as possible. This means checking ingredient lists and becoming aware of what is actually in the food you eat. Then after 30 days, once your body has had a chance to eliminate all toxins and remnants of food to which you might be sensitive, you can begin to slowly, one by one, add foods back in again, remaining aware of your body’s response. When you find something that your body is sensitive to, you eliminate it from your diet permanently. If you’re not sensitive, you can add it back in.
This sounded grueling (What?! NO CHOCOLATE?! NO WINE?! NO RICE?! NO BUTTER?! Then what will we EAT?!!!) Then again, it was ONLY FOR 30 DAYS! I could do anything for that long. To be honest, for us the first 30 days were hard, but we’ve learned a lot since them and plan to share our insights with you to make things easier.
Here’s the real deal! Now, 10 months later (and this has been true for some months now), both of us have fewer headaches, less severe seasonal allergies, and for me, NOTHING HURTS ANY MORE. Not my hip, not my knee, not my ankle, not my foot, and I typically walk at least an hour or two a day as part of my commitment to my mental and physical health. Walking is my processing time, my creative time, my grounding time. I feel healthier than I have in years and I hesitate to mention this, but as an interesting side effect, I’m 3 sizes smaller than I was last January. I need to be clear. My goal was not to lose weight. I have no idea how much I actually weigh as I don’t have (or want) a scale. Losing weight just happened. I think that when we get all the crap out of our food, our bodies are healthier. We feel better. Our bodies function better. I think health comes in a variety of sizes. I was just surprised to have lost weight without prioritizing doing so. The only reason I know I’ve lost 3 sizes is that I got to the point this last weekend when the skinniest of my skinny pants hung off my hips and I could pull them on and off without unfastening them. I hadn’t allowed myself to buy any new clothes, but I thought it might be time. I bought 2 pairs of jeans, a shirt, and 2 pairs of boots (No my feet didn’t shrink. I was just celebrating how great I felt and that I could wear shoes other than the Brooks and Chacos I’d been relegated to all spring and summer because everything else hurt my foot).
I should note that I also have issues with all the manipulation the food and agricultural industries do to our food. GMOs, additives, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, all impact our bodies. While I cannot live, as some of my friends do, on food I grow myself, I do try to eat fresh, organic, non-processed foods as much as possible and I try to shop locally. (I love local farmers’ markets.)
After 30 days, we decided to do a second 30 days. We were seeing improvement in inflammation, digestion, a decrease in headaches, and we were feeling better than we had before we started. If you’re interested in this journey and seeing what Whole30 can do for you, follow along and I’ll lead you through our experience, making things as straightforward and easy for you as I can.
Onward! To our health!