I LOVE the Whole 30 program as a tool for figuring out emotional and physical issues caused by food. In fact I run Whole 30 Support Groups and I have witnessed people absolutely transform their lives simply by eliminating the foods that cause them inflammation and trigger overeating. But what if the Whole 30 doesn’t work for you or you don’t want to have to do an elimination diet to figure out your health issues? Are you destined for belly aches, creaky joints, headaches, weight gain and mysterious physical symptoms for the rest of your life?
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The Short Answer is “No”
Phew right!? The Whole 30 program is designed to eliminate the foods that most commonly trigger inflammation, and works for most people, most of the time. Once the most common triggers are gone, inflammation decreases and joints move more freely, bellies feel better, and energy can skyrocket. What are the most common triggers? Sugar, soy, dairy, grains and legumes. And while I have seen miraculous success, it seems in each Whole 30 support group I run there are one or two people that never experience relief from symptoms or the energy boost often described as ‘tiger blood’. Those people follow the rules, they give it their all and yet they are stumped after reintroduction. After 30 days of hard work this can be very discouraging. But before you hang your head and decide your fate is to never feel good, there are a few things to consider, let’s start with the most likely culprits and work our way down.
- Eggs: Yup. Eggs are allowed on Whole 30 as they are a great source of protein and fat and most people tolerate them just fine. That said some people are sensitive or actually allergic to eggs and make it to adulthood without ever knowing. If you still experience fatigue and inflammation after 30 days on W30 it may be time to look at eggs.
- Nightshades: nightshades are a species of plant that blossom at night. Nightshades include bell peppers, chili peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and more. Nightshades often trigger inflammation, especially in those with autoimmune dieseases. So again, if you stuck to the W30 plan and couldn’t figure out your issues, nightshades are something to look in to.
- For some it’s about quantity. After a successful W30 reintroduction, I learned that dairy gives me a sinus headache. I am fine with a little Parmesan on my salad, or a yogurt sauce in a lettuce wrap, but drink a milkshake or have a ton of cheese and I have instant sinus pressure and headache! What does this mean? Quantity matters. So, sometimes when you go through reintroduction you can feel fine, but two weeks after resuming a “normal” diet all of your ‘pre-whole 30″ symptoms return, and you wonder WTH??? If this was your experience, it’s time to consider how many times a week (or day) you are consuming the top offenders (grains, dairy, soy, legumes and sweeteners) and cut back. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of ‘a spoonful doesn’t bother me, but a bowlful does.’
- Stress: Stress is a killer. No matter how stellar your diet is, if you are under a lot of stress and don’t learn how to deal with it you will not feel your best and your energy will never be top notch. Stress increases the hormone cortisol, cortisol causes inflammation resulting in a host of physical problems. So eliminate stress where you can and add calming practices like morning walks, yoga and meditation to your daily routine. Diet alone can’t make up for the inflammation that stress causes.
- Chronic illness cannot be overlooked when it comes to thwarting your W30 progress! If you have a chronic illness and did W30 and your symptoms have not improved, be patient. It may take more than 30 days to see big gains if you have had arthritis or lupus for 30 years. As long as you see some improvements, no matter how small, slow, or incremental they might be, you are heading in the right direction.
- Last BUT NOT LEAST, test for food sensitivities at home: If you have done the W30 program and followed the rules to the letter and are still left mystified by what is causing your issues, or if you simply want to cut to the chase and find out exactly what foods trigger your issues without doing a 30 day elimination diet, I recommend using the EverlyWell food sensitivity kit to find out what foods trigger your physical symptoms. It’s very simple, you order the kit, administer at home, send it to a lab and they screen you for 96 food sensitivities. We used it had very surprising results! Take a look here. EverlyWell also has home tests for thyroid, testosterone and more. My followers can Get 12% off EverlyWell’s At-Home Health Tests using code EVERLY
MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR?
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Such helpful tips! I can basically do whole30 except for the potato part…
Yes. It’s very similar to Paleo, but allows for white potatoes and doesn’t allow for any sweeteners, even natural ones.