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Author Topic: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself  (Read 2342 times)

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Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« on: April 10, 2017, 11:47:19 PM »

I'm Irish and Italian.  Needless to say, I grew up tough.  With an Irish temper and an Italian mouth, there aren't many people who choose to get in your way.  That being said, I think it's important to note that any time I ever got detention for brawling as a teenager, it was typically due to an incident in which I was defending a friend.  I rarely found myself involved in conflict personally; I lacked the time or patience for it.  But when it came to my friends, they were my family and I would walk through fire for them.

I think I'll always be that way.  Maybe that's why I chose the career path that I did.  Social work is difficult.  If I had a quarter for every time someone told me that they couldn't do what I do, or that it takes a special kind of person to work in this field... maybe I'd pay off my student loans by the time I'm 99 instead of 100.  I've always been the defender of the weak and the voice of the mute.  It's in my blood.

... Maybe too much so.  In September, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (I know, right?  Quasimodo's?  Sofia's got a humpback?  Gross.).  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is a fancy way to say that my body has decided that my thyroid is the enemy and it's gotta go.  All in all, I'm not quite sure why I was surprised when I found out that I had an autoimmune disease.

Have I not lived my life as the tough girl?  Have I not spent the past twenty-six years standing up for others?  I should have known.  Evidently, the only thing tough enough to kick my ass is me. 

This blog will have a lot of entries and I intend on touching on a lot of subjects.  Originally, I had asked for a blog to chronicle my foray into the Whole30 Challenge - which I'll be starting one week from today.  But I didn't want this to be a thirty-day thing, and I didn't want it to just be me rambling for thirty days about being hangry and missing macaroni and cheese.  My diagnosis did not come easily and even now that I carry the diagnosis I'm aware that most doctors do not know how to deal with autoimmune disorders involving the thyroid.  I want to use this blog to talk about the long road to diagnosis and what the next steps are for me - to process the diagnosis and what it means, as well as to really process why I'm choosing to do the Whole30 Challenge.  I want to use this as something to hold me accountable for the month that I'm participating in the challenge as well as to spread awareness and start a dialogue regarding why the foods we put into our body contribute to autoimmune disorders and other health conditions.  I'll speak through my own experiences and of course, input and additional dialogue and questions will always be welcomed (and encouraged!).  I know there's quite a large population of members on Elliquiy with autoimmune disorders, so I'm hoping this blog will be well received.   :-)  Below is a table of contents which I will update as I add posts.

« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 11:50:14 PM by Sofia Grace »

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 10:59:34 PM »

The mascot for thyroid disorders is a blue butterfly.  While I'm not entirely sure why blue is the color used (though I know thyroid cancer ribbons are blue), I'm not complaining.  Blue is my favorite color.  When I was in nursing school, the thyroid was introduced to us as 'the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck'.  I assume this is why our mascot is a butterfly.  Each wing of the butterfly represents a lobe of the thyroid gland - left and right.  For those who are unaware, the thyroid is kind of a big deal when it comes to your body... you know, doing all of the crap it's supposed to be doing at any given moment.

If you type 'thyroid' into Google and poke around for information on what the gland does, you'll pretty much read that it's responsible for secreting thyroid hormones, which control our metabolism (which directly impact energy levels and weight).  A few more minutes of reading and you might come up with information which points to the thyroid as one of the master glands of the body - as in, this little gland cranks out hormones that affect the function of just about every single organ in your body.  Badass, right?  Talk about being small but mighty.  The thyroid gland is great until your body decides it's the devil and that it must be destroyed. 

While there are a lot of things that can go wrong when it comes to your thyroid, there are two major things I'm going to focus on in this spiel:  what happens when your thyroid needs to chill the eff out and what happens when your thyroid needs to wake the eff up. 

A person develops hyperthyroidism when their thyroid gland is putting in overtime and cranking out way too much thyroid hormone.  There are a lot of causes for hyperthyroidism but the leading cause is said to be an autoimmune disorder known as Graves' Disease.  When someone develops Graves' Disease, their body produces a hormone called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) which causes the thyroid gland to be under the impression that quittin' time is a thing of the past.  This is no bueno.  When our little buddy goes hyper, your body freaks out - literally.  Symptoms include eye bulging (usually the hallmark sign), rapid heartbeat, mood swings, anxiety, weight loss, sweating, insomnia, hand tremors, a whole lotta poopin' and irregular or missed periods (if you've got the equipment for such a thing).  Something called 'goiter' can also develop, which is when the thyroid gland swells and causes a lump to form on the throat.  There are other symptoms, of course - but I can't speak to those as I haven't been in that situation personally.

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when your thyroid is sleepy as a mofo and isn't pulling its weight in producing hormones.  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.  This autoimmune disorder differs from the last in that while Graves' Disease causes the thyroid to produce too much of the good stuff, Hashimoto's causes your body to attack your thyroid cells under the impression that your healthy thyroid cells are invaders from outer space.  Your body sets out on a mission to destroy those healthy thyroid cells and in the process, the thyroid is like 'guys, what the hell?!' and even though it's doing everything in its power to crank out enough hormones (which is usually seen on lab tests as a spike in thyroid stimulating hormone), it just isn't able to due to the stress and inflammation (shown as low T3/T4).  The biggest red flag for a doctor in diagnosing Hashimoto's is the level of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (the troops ordered to attack your thyroid cells).  The higher the number, the more likely you are to have Hashimoto's. 

... For reference, a normal level of thyroid peroxidase antibodies would be anything >9 IU/mL.  When I was first tested back in August, my thyroid peroxidase antibodies were at 543 IU/mL.  Insert upside-down smiley emoji here.

Anyway, Hashimoto's comes with its own slew of symptoms (besides the crappy lab numbers).  Intense fatigue, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin/hair/nails, constipation, muscle soreness and increased menstrual flow are all signs of Hashi's. 
Thankfully, I've never had much of an issue with dry hair, but I can pretty much check off all of the others as 'yup'.  In the long term, if left untreated my body will completely destroy my thyroid and I'll cease to have any thyroid hormones circulating in my body.  Obviously, I'm not going to let that happen - but the fact that it's even a possibility freaks me out.  The diagnosis of Hashimoto's has also explained why I drive the struggle bus every morning when getting out of bed and why the only way I've ever been able to lose a substantial amount of weight was to go to the gym twice a day and survive on lettuce and chicken (no exaggeration).  Hashimoto's comes with a caveat not shared by Graves' in that when someone has Hashi's they can fluctuate between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.  As the thyroid is attacked, thyroid hormone can be released and enter the bloodstream - which, in some cases causes people with Hashimoto's to fluctuate between hyper and hypo.  Having a flare of hyper does not cancel out your Hashi's diagnosis - it simply means that your thyroid is under attack and that thyroid hormone has nowhere else to go. 

Another thing that scares the stuffing out of me is the fact that Hashimoto's also comes with heightened risk of infertility and miscarriage.  During the first trimester of pregnancy, babies depend on their mother's thyroid hormone supply to help them grow and develop.  Even if a fetus makes it past the first trimester, it still needs iodine from its mother - which is produced via thyroid hormone.  Fast forward to after the baby is born and there's still the risk that women with underactive thyroid may not even be able to breastfeed if their thyroid isn't doing what it needs to do.  Awesome!  Wonderful.  Ideal.  Exactly what an only child hellbent on having a bunch of kids/girl with a lactation fetish wants to hear. 

All of this can be treated, which I should be thankful for.  I am.  I'm also thankful that I was diagnosed before my thyroid was severely damaged.  My thyroid is actually not even underactive at this point according to lab tests (not that it even matters, as I'll eventually explain) - it's still functioning well.  But it's inflamed and is on the road to failing and shit will hit the fan unless I do something about it. 



Speaking of lab tests, I did say that I would discuss how I even got diagnosed.  I went to my gynecologist back in June of last year because every time I got my period, I felt like I was dying/miscarrying.  It was not fun.  She suggested I get labwork done, and when the labs came back it showed that my insulin was slightly elevated.  Not out of normal range, but toward the high end of normal.  She suggested I go to an endocrinologist, which she gave me a referral to.  That first endocrinologist was atrocious.  While I'm not morbidly obese, I've always carried extra weight - for as long as I can remember.  Without even running labs, the endocrinologist waved me off and said if I lost weight, I'd be fine.

She sent me for labs anyway.  Those came back and she found that yes, my insulin was in the same place - and on top of that, my TPA levels were off the charts (as I said before).  She gave me the diagnosis of Hashimoto's over the phone and didn't have much to say about it.  She suggested I go on diabetes medication even though I'm not even near prediabetic - and it wasn't until she suggested Metformin that I agreed.  I had heard good things about Metformin helping people lose weight due to lowered insulin levels/curbed hunger.  I was excited - maybe this was the point where my life changed.  Before I took the meds, I decided to get a second opinion.  The new endocrinologist has been wonderful and I love her to death.  She prescribed the Metformin and I was hopeful that I'd be on my way to better health and a smaller dress size.

... Nope.  All Metformin did for me is cause three months of misery and momentarily kill my sex life due to constant nausea and gastrointestinal issues.  I lost a pound, gained a pound, lost a pound, etc.  I went off of the medication and my endocrinologist was fine with it.  She said that while I did have Hashimoto's, my body hadn't done any damage to the gland yet - it had only caused a shit ton of inflammation and crappy symptoms (I know, right?  'Only'?).  With the option of trying thyroid meds or doing nothing, I figured trying thyroid meds was better than doing nothing.  I opted for the natural dessicated thyroid hormone (NatureThroid) over the widely prescribed Levothyroxine (Synthroid) because I'd heard horror stories about Levothyroxine. 

Nothing really happened.  Three months later, my endocrinologist ran labs and found that the medication had made me slightly hyperthyroid and told me to stop taking it.  At that point, she also suggested I stop taking my birth control as well, which I'd been on for nearly ten years.  Heightened insulin is a warning sign for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - and since my gynecologist had seen small cysts on my ovaries during a routine ultrasound, she wanted to run labs to see what my hormones would do if I went off of the birth control.  For all of you men out there, understand that birth control pumps us full of synthetic hormones.  This means that if my doctor had done bloodwork while I was on the birth control, everything would appear normal because I was taking medication to make my reproductive hormones normal. 

So, I went off of the birth control - which scared the life out of me at first, but I've come to love being off of the pill (sure, it means no spontaneous sex in crazy places... but no mess!!!).  I went to see her on Monday and she said my hormones are right where they should be (which is good, I guess) but that she can't diagnose PCOS from one lab panel and to stay off of the birth control. 



As far as the Hashi's, I find it to be a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it's terrifying and upsetting and makes me feel somewhat hopeless.  It makes me angry.  I'd be lying if I said I hadn't cried over it.  But on the other hand... the diagnosis has been a weight lifted off of my shoulders.  I'm not crazy (well, I am, but that's for a different blog).  I'm not lazy.  There is a reason for all of the symptoms I've dealt with my entire life.  A couple of weeks ago, I connected with a roommate of one of my friends from college.  She's the only other person I've met with Hashimoto's and the same is true for her.  She suggested I read a book by Izabella Wentz entitled 'Hashimoto's Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back'.  She also suggested I try the Whole30 Challenge.  I'd seen people in the Weight Watchers community talking about it, but it always seemed way too intense for me - and outside of my comfort zone. 

... But this isn't just about losing weight anymore.  This is about quality of life.  This is about ensuring a future for myself.

I bought the book 'It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways' by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  Though I'd started the first book (by Wentz), it was quickly put on the back burner after talking more with my friend.  She'd completed the Whole30 and after continuously gaining weight for the past three years, she'd lost 8 pounds in a month (mind you, she's about 5'0" and 100 pounds soaking wet, so 8 pounds on her frame is a lot).  By the end of the first week, she said she had more energy than she'd had in college when she was in the best shape of her life.  She was getting up early without an alarm and she felt better.

So, here I am.  In the next post, I'll give an in-depth explanation of what the Whole30 is all about and why I think it's going to be the answer I've been looking for since long before my diagnosis.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 04:54:57 PM by Sofia Grace »

Online Blythe

Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 11:12:59 PM »
Bookmarking. This is probably one of the most informative and interesting blogs I've read in a good long time on the web. I didn't even know about Hashimoto's--I only heard it referenced once on an episode of House (at least, I think so). I feel like I learned things from this blog--I didn't know how the disorder got detected, and I certainly did not know that the blue butterfly is the symbol for thyroid issues!

I don't have this sort of disorder myself, and you've made the subject really approachable to read about. I've heard of the Whole30 challenge before and that it can be super tough since it doesn't allow cheat days! Keeping my fingers crossed and sending positive thoughts your way as you learn how to manage the Hashimoto's and as you go into the Whole30 challenge!

Looking forward to reading more in the future. ^^
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 11:14:25 PM by Blythe »

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 11:21:22 PM »
Thank you!  I've seen every episode of House and to be honest, I never even realized it was referenced on the show.  I'll have to look it up, because I'd be curious to see how it's depicted/what is said about it.  I didn't know what it was until I was diagnosed - and I honestly was offended, because I thought she said 'Quasimodo' and she'd already had one strike for saying being fat was the root cause of my life's problems.  I was about to choke homegirl through the phone.

Whole30 is definitely going to be a challenge and while in the past I would have shied away from it for that exact reason (or done it and been counting the seconds until I could bury my face into a bowl of macaroni and cheese), I'm finding myself so excited to get started.  I even bought a bullet journal to track everything from food to my moods.  I'll be sharing that info here, as well.   ;D  Thank you again for commenting and hopefully the future posts are just as informative for you! 


Offline Ryven

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 06:32:13 AM »
Hi Sofia! ;D

I've completed whole30 before.  It was around September of last year.  I can remember it being the most non-diet diet I've ever been on.  The first two weeks were tough.  Day 1 and 2 went fine, but on day 3 some of the cravings came.  For me it was mostly sugar because that is my go to food.  However, I was able to resist and go for things like fruit.  I was lucky enough to find some pre-made foods that were within the whole30 rules.  There are about 10 kinds of Larabars that are whole30 compliant, and they made up my snacks at work most days.  You're going to feel tired at times during the first couple of weeks because your body is adjusting.  That makes it doubly hard to comply when all you want is something to perk you up, most of which isn't compliant with the rules.  I learned to take my coffee black until I found coconut/almond milk creamer.

Whole30, if you're strict, discourages snacking, but when you have a work schedule like mine (I work in pharmacy retail), I don't have the luxury of eating whole meals at a time.  I stuck to the rules and watched my portioning.  With the Larabars it was easy.  I'd have 2 of those for my snack at work and then eat a compliant lunch.  I also found some potato chips cooked in olive oil.  Not the best snack, but they were compliant with the rules, I watched my portions, and chips weren't one of my 'go to' foods that I craved.

By week 3, I found my energy returning, and I was no longer craving much.  When I did, it was easier to resist.  I found myself with a taste for fruits and vegetables more.  Week 4 was the best.

Now, I continued for a while longer after.  I introduced a few foods that weren't on the list to eat like dairy products.  The holidays popped up and by that point, I had to say eff it because I would be miserable the entire time if I didn't allow myself to participate in the holiday gatherings that involved foods I couldn't have.  I'm picking back up on it now though I'm taking a slightly different approach this time.  I've decided to hybrid whole30 with a whole foods plant based diet where I'm cutting out animal products and introducing healthy grains.  I will essentially be vegan most of the time.  I'm still staying away from processed carbohydrates (sugar, wheat flour, etc), but I will allow myself to have grains (other than corn) and legumes.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your journey with it!  If you have any questions (what you can find at the store or things like that), don't hesitate to ask!

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 05:05:59 PM »
I'm so glad you poked your head in because I remember you answering a question a few months ago regarding the difference between Whole30 and paleo.   ;D  One of the things that attracted me to Whole30 was exactly what you're saying - it doesn't sound like a diet, it doesn't look like a diet because in reality, it's a lifestyle change.  I dig that.

I've heard that Larabars are a big help, so I'll have to look into those.  I'm thinking that once I finish the 30 days I'll segue into full-time paleo instead of doing a full-on reintroduction of everything.  The main offenders I need to stay away from for my purposes are dairy, sugar, and grains (as well as all of the other processed garbage).

My next post (which will probably be tomorrow, but we'll see) will be a pretty in-depth look at Whole30 and I'll include a lot of the information I learned from the book I purchased.  I think the thing that really sold me on committing to this was reading the book and being able to have everything broken down for me - 'yes, I know this food is bad for me but what happens when I eat it?'.  All of those questions are answered and I will do my best to summarize.   :-)

Offline Ryven

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2017, 05:55:27 AM »
I look forward to it!  Good luck with it as well!

As a side note, this may be something interesting to read: https://kellytoups.com/2015/05/25/whole30-a-wholly-misguided-approach-to-healthy-eating/

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2017, 09:20:38 PM »

Copypasta-ed from the Whole30 website, because I'm lazy.

What is the Whole30? From Co-Creator Melissa Hartwig

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food. The most important reason to keep reading?

This will change your life.

I cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food. It will change your tastes. It will change your habits and your cravings. It will restore a healthy emotional relationship with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. I know this because I did it, and millions people have done it since, and it changed my life (and their lives) in a dramatic and permanent fashion.

The Whole30 Program Rules

Yes: Eat real food.
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

No: Avoid for 30 days.
Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.

Some specific foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pizza crust, cereal, or ice cream. No commercially-prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.) or French fries either. However, this list is not limited strictly to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings. Our mantra: When in doubt, leave it out. It’s only 30 days.

One last and final rule:

Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days. The Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and to focus only on body composition means you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat, or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)

The Fine Print

These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30.

- Ghee or clarified butter. These are the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program.
- Fruit juice. Some products or recipes will include fruit juice as a stand-alone ingredient or natural sweetener, which is fine for the purposes of the Whole30. (We have to draw the line somewhere.)
- Certain legumes. Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are allowed. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
- Vinegar. Nearly all forms of vinegar, including white, red wine, balsamic, apple cider, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. (The only exception is malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.)
- Coconut aminos. All brands of coconut aminos (a brewed and naturally fermented soy sauce substitute) are acceptable, even if you see the word “coconut nectar” in the ingredient list.
- Salt. Did you know that all iodized table salt contains sugar? Sugar (often in the form of dextrose) is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from oxidizing and being lost. Because all restaurants and pre-packaged foods contain salt, we’re making salt an exception to our “no added sugar” rule.

Give Us Thirty Days
Your only job during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to purchase everything organic, grass-fed, pastured, or local. Just figure out how to stick to the Whole30 rules in any setting, around every special circumstance, under any amount of stress… for 30 straight days. Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.

The only way this works is if you give it the full thirty days: no cheats, slips, or “special occasions.” This isn’t a hazing, a boot camp, or us playing the tough guy. This is a fact, born of science and experience. The Whole30 is, at its heart, an elimination diet. Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and (most important) firing up the immune system. One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.

You must commit to the full program, exactly as written, 100% for the full 30 days. Anything less and you won’t experience the full benefits the program has to offer. Anything less and you are selling yourself—and your life-changing results—short.

It’s only 30 days.

It’s For Your Own Good
Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip”. Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a pizza, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail before you’ve even begun.

You never, ever, ever have to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no, or make your mom proud and say, “No, thank you.” Learn to stick up for yourself. Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything. It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.

This does require effort. Grocery shopping, meal planning, dining out, explaining the program to friends and family, and dealing with stress will all prove challenging at some point during your program. We’ve given you a huge number of tools, advice, and resources, but take responsibility for your own plan. Improved health, fitness, and quality of life doesn’t happen automatically just because you’re now taking a pass on bread.

You can do this. You’ve come too far to back out now. You want to do this. You need to do this. And we know that you CAN do this. So stop thinking about it, and start doing. Right now, this very minute, tell someone that you are starting the Whole30.


In Conclusion…
We want you to be a part of our community. We want you to take this seriously, and see amazing results in unexpected areas. We want you to look, feel, and live better than you have in years—or maybe ever. We want you to find lasting food freedom. Even if you don’t believe this will actually change your life, if you’re willing to give it 30 short days, DO IT. It is that important. We believe in it that much. It changed our lives, and we want it to change yours too.

Welcome to the Whole30.



Below is a calendar that outlines that typical 'stages' of Whole30, and I'll coincide my daily posts with each stage.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 10:35:42 PM by Sofia Grace »

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2017, 04:04:36 PM »

Day 1:  What's the Big Deal?

So, the first day of Whole30 was somewhat... underwhelming, which I expected.  Here's the blurb from the book regarding day 1:

Quote
Day 1: So what’s the big deal?

It’s 3 p.m. on day 1. You had a guilt-free plate of steak and eggs for breakfast, breezed through the morning with coffee and coconut cream by your side, and had a nice big salad for lunch. Your body is telling you it’s snack time, so you grab a handful of almonds and an apple and head back to your desk to finish out your day. You’ve got a slow cooker full of chili infusing your kitchen with a heavenly smell, and right now you can’t see why anyone thinks this is hard.

This delusion is somewhat akin to the first episode of any given reality show on which the contestants are herded together and forced to live in one house. At the end of the first episode, everyone can just tell they are going to be best friends for life. Those of us on the other side of the screen know better, though, don’t we? No one really believes this mess to be true, but everyone humors it… because how long can it last, really?

  Breakfast was good, as was lunch, but I found myself not having as much of an appetite as I thought I would.  I ate all of my food anyway.  All day on Monday I felt pretty bloated, which I attribute to the ridiculous amount of food I ate at my mom's house the day before when we were celebrating Easter.  Side note:  one of the suggestions is that you do not binge before starting Whole30.

... Oh, well. 

Anyway, I went to Whole Foods after work on Monday to pick up some compliant spicy Italian sausage for the dinner I made that night.  I found a Whole30 approved chili recipe and it actually came out delicious - though, next time I'll likely sub the Italian sausage for something with no seeds in it (I have a weird thing about seeds unless they're in yogurt or something; don't ask me).  I added some guacamole to the top, as I usually take my chili with an obscene amount of cheese and sour cream - I found that made up for the lack of both.  I was also a bit nervous because typically I bring fruit to work to snack on during the day - which has been fine, but Whole30 stresses that you should only be having two servings of fruits per day (if I remember correctly).  I wanted to be able to incorporate more veggies into my diet (on top of the vegetables added to meals).  I found a line of dressings and marinades that are Whole30 compliant - dairy-free, soy-free, preservative-free, and sugar-free.  I found this out after I had already left the store, but when I did learn of them I was actually excited to try them - because if I liked them, not only did it mean that I could bring vegetables to work and dip them in compliant ranch, but I could have a mock caesar salad if I felt inclined to (which was on my mind anyway, thanks to Formless). 

Now, I considered lying through my teeth and saying that I made it through the day without any slip-ups.  I decided to be honest, because this blog is about being transparent about my experience, my thought process, and my overall feelings throughout the next thirty days and afterward.  The month ahead is not going to be filled with sunshine and puppies - it's going to be challenging both mentally and emotionally, but it's nothing I can't handle and be honest about.  The way I see it, if I can be honest I might help someone reading this.  So here are the two times I screwed up:  when making coffee on Monday morning, I used the almond milk I had bought and left in the refrigerator at work.  I had been moving toward eliminating dairy in my coffee anyway and had gotten the almond milk before I had decided to do the Whole30.  Well, the almond milk was 'original' flavor, which meant it contained sugar.  Complete mistake and I dumped out half of my coffee once I realized it.  Second, screw up was when I got home, and this was not a mistake at all (but there is some form of logic behind it, be it crappy/irrational).  A routine in our house is grocery shopping on Sundays.  I've only found one brand of ice cream that didn't make my stomach hurt (because I've known for a while I'm lactose intolerant but have been in denial), and we buy a small carton of it each week to split between Evan and I.  On Sunday night when we got home (mind you, we didn't buy a new carton when grocery shopping the day before as that was our 'prep' shopping trip) we had meant to finish off the last two servings in the carton so that it would be out of the house by Monday when we started Whole30.  I refused to throw it out (it's really, really good and I'm also cheap and don't like wasting stuff), but when we got home on Sunday night we were so stuffed/bloated from Easter dinner that I'd completely forgotten about wanting to finish the ice cream off. 

... Long story short, I destroyed a small cup of it at 10pm on Day 1 and enjoyed every last drop.

If I was holding myself to the book, I would have felt like garbage and restarted back at Day 1 the next morning.  But I've got 26 years of bad habits I'm dragging along with me - hard-wired habits that I completely resisted all day on Monday.  The closest I've ever gotten to being that clean with my eating was a few years ago when I resolved to 'eat clean' but never eliminated sugar.  Even then, I was cheating constantly.  But on Monday I went all day making phenomenal choices and I felt good.  I don't see eating the ice cream as a setback because when I woke up on Tuesday morning, it was completely out of my mind - and it didn't come to mind last night, either.  Yes, I should have just thrown it out but I didn't - I made the conscience choice to eat it knowing that once I did, the urge would be out of my system and more importantly, the ice cream would be out of the house.  I gave myself two options:  leave it there until the 30 days were over or throw it out.  Obviously I didn't want to throw it out, and in all honesty, I'll give you the more 'rational' side of why I ate it instead:

If I had left the ice cream in the freezer until after the 30 days were over, it would have been an option immediately for me to binge on once the challenge was over.  It would be on my mind each and every day, each time I opened the freezer, and I know that I'm terrible with impulse control when it comes to food I really enjoy.  If it was in the house, I was going to eat it (which is one of the main reasons why they suggest you completely clear all non-compliant foods out of the house prior to beginning your 30 days).  If I had left it in the freezer, I saw one of two things happening:  either I ate it the day the challenge ended when I was supposed to be easing myself into reintroduction of eliminated foods (and research tells me that people who dive right back in regret it big time because their stomachs pretty much freak out if overwhelmed that quickly), OR the more likely and way worse (in my opinion) option, which was me cracking halfway through the month and then having to actually start over.  Eating it on day one and just moving on with the challenge seemed like less of a big deal to me than setting myself up to cave down the line.

Do I know that these thinking patterns are unhealthy?  Absolutely.  Part of the reason Whole30 was created was to allow people to change their relationship with food and to alter unhealthy thinking patterns that have developed over years of bad habits.  I'll be completely transparent in saying that the thought process described above is faulty and unhealthy - and not at all logical.  It's self-enabling.  But a week ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you that.  A week ago, I wouldn't have been able to say 'yeah, I did it, and no, the reason I gave does not make sense'.  In my eyes, being able to make the distinction that at that moment I was not in control and rationalized my actions is a big step.  It's also a big step to say 'I love myself enough to continue this challenge and not beat myself up over screwing up the first day'.  If I had screwed up halfway through the month?  I would have forced myself to start over.  I'm not only using these next 30 days to clean up the way I eat and improve my hormone levels, and it's not just about losing weight and feeling better physically.  I'm using the next 30 days to learn about myself - to teach myself how to not be an 'all or nothing' thinker.  'All or nothing' thinking in the past has derailed me off of so many healthy eating regimes.

I kicked ass that first day, regardless of whether or not I screwed up - and despite the stumble, I decided to continue the walk instead of going back to the 'start' line... and I feel good about that.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 04:12:43 PM by Sofia Grace »

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2017, 06:59:35 PM »

Days 2 & 3:  The Hangover

Pre-challenge binging is discouraged because the creators of the challenge have found that those who binge prior to the start have the most difficult time dealing with The Hangover stage.  The site states the following:

Quote
Days 2-3: The Hangover

The alarm rings on day 2 and you pop out of bed expecting the same kind of Charlie Sheen winning feeling you had yesterday. Instead, you get the other side of Charlie…you know – the pounding-head-cross-eyed-can’t-see-straight side. You know you didn’t down a fifth of tequila in your sleep, so what the heck happened?!

Remember the pre Whole30 bender you went on? Pizza, cookies, Jim Beam, jelly beans (oh, the jelly beans)? Yeah. This is when it comes back to bite you in the butt. (And the head.) And it is definitely true that the amount of suck you experience in this phase is directly proportional to the amount of crap you consumed before you began the program. Especially if you consumed it consistently. This phase is especially hard for the habitual Diet Coke (and Diet Dr. Pepper here in my part of the world) drinkers. You know who you are.

Many Whole30ers report headaches, fatigue, and general malaise during this part of the program. This, my friends, is completely normal. Your body is working its way through a whole host of junk it stored from the foods (or food-like-products) you used to eat. This process lasts a day for some folks, but for others it can take a few days longer. Relax, drink a lot of water, and keep making good choices. And do your best to earn sympathy and support from friends and family, because…
[continues to Day 4 description]

I woke up on Day 2 feeling okay.  I was definitely groggy and sluggish but I didn't think too much of it - and I knew I also hadn't gotten a lot of sleep the night before because I took my Adderall late on Monday morning and it kept me up until about 3am.  I powered through the morning and forced down a cup of coffee with compliant unsweetened almond milk.  I made scrambled eggs with guacamole for breakfast, which was super tasty.  I wasn't entirely hungry for leftover chili for lunch but I made a point to stop and eat when I felt hungry enough to do so.  While they discourage snacking, I know that my body works best when I eat small meals throughout the day instead of bigger meals less frequently (and that my biggest issue has always been not eating all day and then eating the entire house come night time).  If I stick to three meals a day I end up making bad choices. 

While I didn't wake up with a headache on Day 2, I did experience my first cravings.  That was fun.  I felt like I was going to crack (see: Googling whether or not people have followed Whole30 and had sugar while doing it, which is ridiculous), and I sent a text to a girl who is doing Whole30 at the same time I am.  She's done it before and she's proven to be a great resource.  I whined and complained to her and said that I'd totally keep the dark, sad coffee with almond milk (I usually use half and half in my coffee, so almond milk does not cut it for me when it comes to lightness) if I could just have something to make it less bitter.  Honey.  Agave.  I'd take Sweet'N'Low, and I hate artificial sweeteners.  She pointed me to these things called NutPods, which are available on Amazon.  They're portable flavored(!!!) creamers that are Whole30 compliant and apparently absolutely outstanding.  I'll be ordering them when I get paid on Friday, so I'm sure I'll write about them once I try them.  It offered just enough hope that I felt better.

I went to Whole Foods and picked up Califia BetterHalf unsweetened/dairy free half and half - which is made of half cocount cream and half almond milk, as apparently the coconut cream is better for those who prefer the creamier consistency.  I also picked up Califia unsweetened Black and White cold brew to try and a glass bottle of Grady's unsweetened black cold brew coffee concentrate.  When I got home, I tried the half and half in a cup of hot coffee and was still 'eh', but was happy that at least I got the creamy consistency (still not as light as I'd like it, but it was an improvement).  I added cinnamon to it, and it was a half-step better.  Still not as good as it would have been with some sweet stuff in it.  I also picked up some sugar free bacon (which took me half an hour to find, because every bacon known to man has freaking sugar added).  The bacon was SO GOOD.

Made spaghetti squash for the first time, and it was slammin' - though, I made this coconut cream sauce with it and I was 'eh' about that.  The recipe for the cream sauce was basically coconut milk, eggs, garlic powder and black pepper.  It looked good when it was liquid, but once it thickened it looked a bit too much like throwup for my tastes.  Granted, it tasted great - especially with the added bacon and broccoli.  But I probably won't make it again.

Anyway, around 10pm I got a craving for something sweet.  It was a passing thought, and instead of acting on it I filled up my bottle of water and continued what I was doing.  An hour later, I was hit with a throbbing headache, which I went to bed with.  It didn't occur to me until today (which I'll explain in a moment) why that headache happened.

This morning I woke up feeling less groggy than I had yesterday.  I got ready for work, packed my lunch/snacks and I decided to take the Black and White cold brew with me.  It was a small bottle, and since I'd had a couple of sips last night there was enough room for me to add some of the BetterHalf to it, which made it actually kind of tasty.  At 10am on Wednesdays I sit down with one of my employees for supervision, which usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half.  I had a banana around 10:30am and was feeling pretty good - still nursing that cold brew coffee.

I was fine at 11am.

... I was fine at 11:29am.

At 11:30, I got hit with a raging headache.  Raging.  Not quite a migraine, though I do get those from time to time, but enough for me to notice.  Worse than last night by far.  It wasn't until I got to the car around noon to head back to the office (the employee I was meeting with is at another one of our sites) that I realized what had just happened.

For the past several months, I've settled into a routine:  I make my morning commute, get some paperwork done, and then around 11am I run to Dunkin' Donuts and I pick up a large iced caramel latte with whole (lately almond) milk and an extra shot of espresso.  On Monday, I didn't do that and I was fine.  On Tuesday, I didn't do it either and I was also fine - and honestly, both days I didn't even really miss it.  I hadn't even thought about it this morning, but evidently, I've conditioned my body enough that it's grown to expect a rush of sugar and caffeine each morning at 11am.  I guess my body gave me the benefit of the doubt on Monday and Tuesday, but wasn't playing games this morning.  I got half an hour of slack before my body decided that since I wasn't going to give it what it was asking for, I'd suffer.  And the kicker?  The headache went away within a couple of hours.  Talk about your body throwing a hissy fit.

I think that's what happened last night, too.  Around 10pm, we usually have ice cream (that ice cream I tore up on Monday night).  I got the craving at 10pm, ignored it and an hour after I refused my body the sugar rush, I got a headache.  I'm fascinated.  Genuinely.  Having a headache sucks, but the human body is so amazing.  It also makes me feel powerful, to be honest.  Twice I've denied myself - once actively and once passively.  I know I'll have to do so plenty of times down the road, but I find it so interesting that I didn't even think about the sugar this morning and right when my body realized it wasn't getting it, the headache kicked in.  I'm actually quite glad that I've lessened my sugar intake in the past few years - the only sweet things I usually indulge in are my coffee in the morning and ice cream at night.  I'm not much of a soda drinker - but I wasn't always that way.  I used to be one of those people who hated drinking water - I wouldn't do it.  I'd drink iced tea, soda, Snapple, juice... anything but water.  Now, I've always got a bottle of water on hand (I recently bought a liter CamelBak which I'm obsessed with) and I love water.  I suppose I'd feel a lot worse if I were the type to drink a lot of soft drinks before taking on Whole30.

I've also noticed that while I'm eating more frequently, I'm also eating less.  I guess it makes sense when you think about it, but it's odd for me.  I packed the breakfast hash I made on Sunday (with some bacon from last night added) and ate half of it, and didn't touch the leftovers from last night that I brought for lunch (which is day two of me not feeling my lunch).  I did eat, though - I sliced up a whole bell pepper and dipped it in the Tessemae's ranch (which was actually better than regular ranch), and I had some fruit later in the afternoon.  One of the messages they preach is that oftentimes we eat not because we're hungry, but because of an emotional response.  If you aren't hungry enough to eat the blandest of bland foods - steamed broccoli, for example - you aren't really hungry.  I've been reminding myself of that every time I feel like I might be hungry, and if steamed broccoli doesn't sound appetizing I just don't eat and I drink some water instead.  I think that's also why I felt okay not having the lunch I packed, since it wasn't like I just didn't want that food - I didn't want any food.  Plus, it isn't going to waste because I stuck the chili in the freezer for a night when there aren't enough leftovers for both of us to have lunch the next day, and I'll probably do the same with the spaghetti squash. 

Another rule of the program is that you're not supposed to weigh yourself at all.  They instruct you to weigh yourself on Day 1 and then put the scale away until the day after you finish.  That's mainly because this isn't supposed to be about weight loss, and because it's common for weight to fluctuate throughout the thirty days (apparently people typically feel bloated and gross around Day 8/9). 


I'm down six pounds after two full days of Whole30, which I'm assuming is water weight - but I'm not going to question it, since overall?  I feel amazing and in control... headaches, fatigue and all. 

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2017, 10:36:20 PM »
Edited the 'Why Whole30?' post to finally include the rules!

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2017, 07:45:14 PM »
Eventually I'll write up a post for the past few days but holy fuck, guys.  All I want is a coffee with some sort of sweetness to it.  I'm trying to remind myself why I'm doing this and even after doing so for the past several hours, my brain keeps going 'don't care, sorry'.

I hate this.  I haaate this.

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2017, 08:18:32 PM »
Just posting here today to cheer you on! You can do it, Sofia! <3

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2017, 11:06:29 PM »
Just posting here today to cheer you on! You can do it, Sofia! <3

Aw, thank you Bly!  I needed this.   :-[

I feel so lame.  It's only the end of Day 6 and I already spent like 30 minutes looking through Google for 'modified Whole30' or confessions from people who have cheated.  Not good.  While I haven't done so, I came seriously close to saying 'screw it' and just deciding to move forward with a modified version which allowed sugar.  In the book when they discuss cravings they have a rule that says you should distract yourself for fifteen minutes to see if it's an emotional thing... distracted myself plenty throughout the day, and it keeps coming back. 

Sugar is a mother.

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2017, 11:49:05 PM »

Days 4 & 5:  Kill All The Things!

I took Thursday (day 4) off of work because when I was driving home on Wednesday I was nodding off and just not having it.  I haven't had a day off from work in a while and I really wanted to catch up on some cleaning (and sleep).  I was actually in a pretty great mood all day.  I had an amazing brunch of scrambled eggs and bacon with hash browns.  It was super filling and I actually think it was the majority of the reason I felt so good all day. 

Friday wasn't entirely terrible, but it was the first time I came dangerously close to screwing up - unintentionally.  I went to the dentist in the morning and got my teeth cleaned, and on the way to work I wanted to grab a black iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts (compliant) and add some of my compliant half and half to it.  I had read somewhere that the flavor shots at Dunkin' are sugar-free, and so I ordered a black hazelnut iced coffee.  The first red flag was the fact that I could smell the sweetness of the hazelnut from the minute I took it from the drive-thru attendant.  By the time I got to my office, I was not feeling great about it.  After spending ten minutes Googling information on the flavor shots, I figured that if I had to look that hard to find out whether or not I could have it, chances are that I couldn't have it. 

... That isn't to say that I didn't almost say 'screw it' and have it anyway.

I ended up giving the coffee to my boss, instead.  Meh.  I spent the rest of the afternoon bummed about it, but I got over it eventually.  For dinner on Friday night I made steak and decided to experiment with mashed potatoes.  I used coconut cream instead of my regular heavy cream and I used ghee instead of butter - and they came out absolutely amazing.  I also used ghee to pan-fry the steaks and those came out amazing, too.  I steamed some broccoli and the entire meal was stupid good.

All in all, Days 4 & 5 went by with minimal desire to Kill All The Things - if anything, Day 4 I felt great and Day 5 I was more lethargic and just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep.  I can't say the same about Day 6 - today, I definitely want to Kill All The Things, as evidenced by my last post.  >_>

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2017, 03:08:28 AM »
I know the temptation can be a mother.  But keep it up, Sofia!  Just think of how good you'll feel at the end of the month!  Just think of how much energy you'll have once your body is "detoxed"!

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2017, 01:58:32 PM »
Eventually I'll write up a post for the past few days but holy fuck, guys.  All I want is a coffee with some sort of sweetness to it.  I'm trying to remind myself why I'm doing this and even after doing so for the past several hours, my brain keeps going 'don't care, sorry'.

I hate this.  I haaate this.

Coconut milk.  Get coconut milk.  Not the stuff in the carton, not the stuff in the refrigerated section, get real canned coconut milk.  Shake it up, open it, add it to your coffee.  This got me to where I am now.  Coconut has enough natural sweetness to take the edge off.  It got me through the first couple of weeks until my tastes changed to where I now can do coffee with just regular creamer (dairy or non-dairy).  The non-dairy creamer I use now which has whole30 compliant ingredients is: https://www.califiafarms.com/unsweetened-creamer#/INGREDIENTS2  If you can find it, get it.  It is worth the $5 price tag.

As a note about the regular coconut milk: You may find very small 'chunks' in your coffee after mixing the regular coconut in.  That's just the nature of coconut milk.  You wont notice them when drinking.  I'm talking very small, so don't be horrified by reading this description.  I'm telling you though, it will help!

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2017, 09:28:31 PM »
Looked a bit deeper into Whole30 and your edited post and Jesus Christ, I am wishing you all the luck because that program would murder-face murder-face murder-face murder-face me. I find it curious that of all the grains and starches you are not permitted to have, potatoes are still okay. Those are one of the things I'm trying to avoid these days.

I wish you all the best. Just think of it this way, though: you're already about 1/5th of the way through it.

Offline Sofia GraceTopic starter

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2017, 10:01:05 PM »
So, this blog has been on my mind lately and I figured it was in good taste to poke my head in and at least give those who were following an update on what happened/what is happening.

The reason why I neglected to continue writing daily entries is because I made the decision to adapt the Whole30 into a Whole7 instead.  It's common for people to do a Whole7, Whole14, Whole30, Whole60, etc. as the plan can be tailored to fit your needs.  Those who choose to do only one or two weeks of the plan are typically those looking to reset and feel better or those unsure if they can fully commit to an entire month of the plan's crazy restrictions.

That being said, I had originally decided to try the Whole30 as a way to get more in-tune with my body and challenge myself to break eating habits I'd had my entire life.  Prior to my Whole7 I was eating an obscene amount of processed foods - American cheese was a staple in nearly every meal I ate, I loved pasta and had way too much bread for my own good.  I ate sugar like it was going out of style and I often went all day without eating only to pig out once I got home.  I knew that what I was doing was unhealthy and I knew that it wasn't conducive to being able to achieve not only the goals I have set for myself in my career but also my goal to one day have a big family.

I'll start with what I learned from my week away from the bad and the ugly. 

I learned that sugar addiction is a real thing and that I do fall into that category, even though I would have sworn prior to taking the Whole7 on that I did not have a problem with sugar.  The fact of the matter is, while I don't take six sugars in my coffee and snack on sweets all day I do like sugar in my coffee and being without that for a week really fucked me up in the head.  I won't lie.  And that's how you know you have a problem.  One of the suggestions the creators of the plan have is that if you have a craving to distract yourself for fifteen minutes and typically it will go away.  Yeah, that didn't work for me - all I wanted was sugar - or agave, or anything to sweeten my coffee, which I had mentioned in this blog.  That only got worse by day 7 and when I was able to have a regular latte with sweetener in it on that eighth day... the heavens opened up and all was right in the world.  I will say, though, that I've continued to pretty much avoid added sugar as much as possible.  I have sweetener in my latte in the morning and pretty much go without sugar for the rest of the day - the only time I do have sugar at night is when I decide to have a serving of Ben and Jerry's Dairy-Free ice cream, which I've grown to absolutely love.

I also learned that I felt really, really good without gluten in my diet.  Not good enough to jump out of bed and jog a mile in the morning, but I no longer walking around feeling heavy or like I have a brick in my abdomen.  My digestive issues have lessened considerably and I think the main factor in keeping me on this track is that I'm proud of myself for having gone this long without it.  Not only that, but I did spend a night researching a bit more and found that with Hashimoto's if you're going to give up anything it has to be gluten.  No exceptions.  Most choose to give up dairy and sugar as well, but the vast majority see a significant improvement by just going gluten-free.  I expect this is due to the thyroid-gluten similarity at the molecular level and how the body assumes gluten is thyroid tissue and in turn puffs up and freaks out at the sight of it.  Either way, I've continued to avoid gluten, save for the nights we go to ball games and finding gluten-free alternatives is like pulling teeth.  Those nights, I either eat before we go to the game or I have chicken tenders.  Thankfully, I don't get sick from the breading which is the only reason I allow myself to have them.

I learned that the Whole7/14/30/whatever plan is not for everyone and that people react to it differently.  For some people, it allows them to simply change their outlook on food and it has all of the intended psychological outcomes.  For others, it becomes something else entirely and I noticed that's what happened to me.  I consider myself to be an emotionally and mentally strong person and I know I could have finished the entire 30 days if I wanted to.  The fact is, I didn't want to.  By the sixth day I realized what was supposed to be an exercise in healthy eating and a challenge for me had quickly escalated into an obsession - and not the kind they talk about on the Whole30 forums.  People on the Whole30 forums suggest making the lifestyle into an 'obsession' in order to immerse yourself and turn it into something you're passionate about.  The friend I have with Hashimoto's used the same language - "make it an obsession - make it all you think about or talk about".  Obviously, this is extreme but you get the idea.  Now, for some people doing this might work.  By really immersing yourself in everything Whole30 - following all kinds of Instagram accounts related to the program, creating Pinterest boards dedicated to recipes, etc. - it's easy to stay motivated.  And I did that.  But I also spent a lot of time worrying.

I was constantly stressed out.  I was constantly second-guessing everything I ate, even if I read labels twice or three times.  I was feeling good when standing on the scale because I saw the number going down, but I didn't feel good any other time.  I know that the majority of this was probably sugar withdrawal in one form or another - I know that it probably would have passed.  But the fact is, but day six I had achieved the goals I was really concerned about achieving.  I was preoccupied with the concept of 'failing' if I shortened the month to a week or two weeks.  I didn't want to fail, and I felt like anything less than the full 30 days was failing.  But in the midst of a mental breakdown, I realized that I hadn't failed.  I'd been successful in what I'd set out to do overall.

I had broken the twenty-six year addiction I'd had to processed cheese.  I had zero cravings for cheese, which I found to be absolutely miraculous.  I had zero cravings for bread or pasta, which was also miraculous for a girl raised in an Italian family.  I craved vegetables and I craved water, which was a great feeling.  I felt less bloated, I wasn't waking up in the middle of the night and I was sleeping better than I ever had.

... And since reintroducing sugar and additives, those things have all continued.  I've yet to have processed cheese and I don't have much interest in doing so.  I've found gluten-free alternatives to anything I've wanted.  I was expecting gluten-free bagels to be gross, but Udi's gluten free cinnamon raising bagels are actually delicious.

I will say that I attempted cream cheese on one of them and I was quite certain I was going to die/my intestines were going to disintegrate and/or fall out of my body.  I haven't been in that much pain in a long time.  No cream cheese for me.  I'm still not sure if it's due to some sort of additive in cream cheese that isn't in shredded mozzarella/sour cream or if cream cheese is just too much dairy for my body to handle but either way, I'm not having it again to find out.  Screw that.

Oh, and side note:  the Nutpods I had mentioned in a previous post (non-dairy, sugar free flavored coffee creamers) are slammin'.  So, so, so slammin'. 

I'm going to keep this blog going, because I recently had bloodwork done and I'm interested in what turned up.  More to follow.

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Re: Dear Diary: My Body Is Attacking Itself
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2017, 07:45:17 AM »
Major diet adjustments are always a struggle, but I do find the advice of a lot of people is that it must become an obsession. The thing is, I feel like this is easier for people whose hobby is pretty much Netflix and Chill. Where you come home from work and don't have anything to really be obsessed about.

Sadly, that doesn't work for me because I am obsessed with way too many other things already, and as a result the diet struggles for brain space. However, that doesn't mean it cannot be a priority. It's just harder to make it into an obsession when you're already driven enough to pursue other ambitions (even if those ambitions are crafting stories on an adult role-playing site).

It's good to hear things are on a generally positive swing.