Can Whole 30 help me sort out my stomach?

I'm trying the Whole30 program to see if I can figure out why I keep having vitamin deficiencies, bloating and generally not feeling well.

I’ll be eating a lot of these in October. Photo credit: wuestenigel Fresh vegetable slices via photopin (license)

In my recent update, I told you how I’d cleaned up my diet and lost 12 pounds (15 now!) I also talked about finding out I have multiple vitamin deficiencies, and it’s not the first time. What I didn’t mention was that despite my cleaned-up diet, I’m still finding myself bloated and sluggish at least a few nights per week.

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor to deal with tense, tight muscles in my neck that are sort of locking it into a bad position. My chiropractor is part of an integrative health clinic, so he’s very knowledgeable about diet and supplements. He suggested tightening up my diet even further, mentioning the SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth) diet as a good option. There are a few varieties of these (low FODMAPS is one) but the basic premise is to deprive the bad gut bacteria of the carbohydrates they need to survive. These diets eliminate grains, sugars, most dairy, most legumes and some fruits and vegetables.

I talked to my regular doctor (nurse practitioner) who generally agreed that trying something like this might be helpful in identifying the cause of my bloating, and could help me with the vitamin absorption problem too. (I need to eliminate whatever is upsetting my system so it will work right.) She warned that highly restrictive diets like SIBO were only intended to be short term, and that following them long term tended to lead to more vitamin deficiencies. So, whatever I choose, I know I need to keep it short-term.

I’ve seen quite a lot of people try the Whole30 program, which is pretty similar to SIBO and low FODMAPS but not quite so restrictive with fruits and vegetables. The basic idea: eat whole foods, avoid added sugar, grains, dairy, beans and legumes and alcohol. Since I suspect my problem is either dairy or grains (or both!) I think this will get me to where I need to go, so I’m starting October 1!

In some sense, Whole30 is an elimination diet. After the 30 days, I plan to keep a food journal as I reintroduce certain foods (dairy & corn in particular) to see if I can identify the problem after my system’s had a month to calm down.

What I’m most worried about – in order

 

Coffee

I'm trying the Whole30 program to see if I can figure out why I keep having vitamin deficiencies, bloating and generally not feeling well.

Time for a swap. Photo credit: Helen.Yang afternoon coffee via photopin (license)

Coffee is allowed on Whole30, but added sugar and milk are not. I’ve tried to drink black coffee before and I can’t do it. I normally drink flavored coffee and I still can’t do it. So, for October, I will be switching to breakfast tea. Tea has roughly a third as much caffeine so I’m hoping I don’t end up with headaches – I may be subbing multiple cups of tea for my usual one cup of coffee each morning. I bought some English breakfast tea and some green tea. Living in Scotland for two years definitely helped prepare me for this switch!

Breakfast

My breakfast is normally Greek yogurt and some fruit. Yogurt is out, but I don’t think just fruit is going to be enough. I don’t have a whole lot of extra time in my morning routine to make an elaborate breakfast, so I am going to try prepping ahead of time so that I can grab and go in the morning.

In preparation for this, I’m testing some recipes now. This week, I’m eating this Sweet Potato Apple Bake. It smells just like apple pie but isn’t nearly as sweet. I made it Sunday night, and I’ve got it portioned out to last the week. Today is my first day eating it. It reheated well, but we’ll see if I’m starving by lunchtime.

A lot of people doing Whole30 just go big with eggs and/or meat for breakfast. As I’m used to a much lighter breakfast, this just doesn’t appeal to me. I do think I’d enjoy something savory, like a breakfast hash, and if a little bacon found it’s way in there, it would be okay I suppose!

Convenience

I'm trying the Whole30 program to see if I can figure out why I keep having vitamin deficiencies, bloating and generally not feeling well.

Gonna be eating lot of this… Photo credit: Planked Scallops & Lamp Shoulder Chops via photopin (license)

Because this diet relies on whole foods, with specific preparations (i.e. which fats and oils you can use), going out is going to be a real pain in the butt. I really don’t want to get stuck eating salads with meat for the whole month, so I’m going to need to do some serious Sunday cooking and probably one night during the workweek to stock back up. I’m planning to put my Crock-pot to good use, and will probably be roasting all the things in the oven too. Hopefully by October our temperatures will be a little more Fall-like; it’s still been in the mid- to upper 80s every day!

No alcohol

I’ve gone 30 days without alcohol plenty of times before, but it’s hard in social situations, especially with dining out also on the hard-to-near-impossible list. Hope my friends are cool with drinking tea and getting active, because I’m going to be no fun in restaurants and pubs.

Preparation

To get ready for this, I’m giving myself a couple weeks to stock up on needed supplies and to test recipes while I can still bail and add sugar/dairy if something is terrible. Yesterday I picked up coconut oil, ghee, and coconut aminos (first two are cooking fats, last is a substitute for soy sauce, kind of.) I went through my pantry and moved all the no-no foods like rice and pasta up to the top shelf, with everything else down to the bottom. Between now and the 1st, I’m going to try to use up some of this, but there’s really no benefit to going carb-crazy, especially when it will all keep for a month at least.

I’ve also been reading blogs from people who have completed the Whole30 – I’ve been following Jessica at What I Wore for 10+ years, and she just recently completed her second Whole30. I’m working through this list from Self of 11 Whole30 Blogs with loads of recipes.

Have you ever tried Whole30 or a similar diet? How did you feel? Was it difficult to stick to? Tell me in the comments!


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