Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Whole30 Challenge (or: You'll Eat it & You'll Like it)

This month, I'm doing the Whole30 Challenge (or journey/quest/torture), partly as a New Years resolution sort of thing, and partly because... well, I just need it!

I can do this!
(photo from: Whole9Life)

During the summer (of last year... still getting used to the fact that it's 2012!) I was on a very strict Paleo Diet & Anti-Candida diet, and I didn't eat ANY grains or sugar at all -- not even from fruit! I even stopped chewing gum. I literally ate only meats and vegetables, and mostly bland. I had to. I wanted to heal my body, and I knew even a small "cheat" would severely jeopardize the healing process and put me right back into square one. For the sake of healing Candida overgrowth, I shunned away any sugar, all grains and carbs and starches, condiments (no vinegar for ACD), pre-ground seasonings (another no-no for ACD), and anything that would promote their growth. I was really strong during this time and after a while lost the taste for sweet, over-flavored food anyway. I googled more recipes, cooked more, and ate hearty, real food.

However, the more I researched and googled and tried recipes, the more flavor came back into my life... I didn't think seasonings were a problem, after-all. Then came the completely sugar-less, alternative pastries, which were absolutely not bad at all in and of themselves, but because I was still a fledgling paleo-eater, even faux-desserts were enough to open a gateway of long-missed tastes...

Not the real thing, but don't you think the psychological response is similar?
(photo from: BakerGal)

And then of course, as we all know, I ended up relapsing into old eating habits.. and then did it yet again (and this one, I don't really count -- but I probably should).

I obviously had a problem.

Since my last issue with gluten/grains, I have been grain-free and gluten-free, save for two incidents of eating out -- one with sushi, and one with Mongolian BBQ -- in which I had small quantities of rice, and soy sauce, because I forgot to bring my  Bragg's Liquid Aminos (it's made from soy though, so once it runs out, I'm going to get the even better alternative, coconut aminos, if I can find it in the store). In the Paleo community, these two cheats don't warrant a panic, but for a Candida cleanse, they certainly do.

I also noticed that, to compensate for the lack of grains (and maybe rewarding myself for being a "good girl"), I ate more sugar than I should have. The amounts of sugar (mostly non-refined sugar in the form of honey, fruit, and molasses) that I ate would be fine in a healthy, 80/20 Paleo-eater... but I'm not that gal. Instead, I'm an unhealthy, pre-diabetic, overweight & obese Paleo-eater with metabolic syndrome, Candida overgrowth, insomnia, chronic high cortisol levels, and a host of other issues (like scalp psoriasis and unhealthy skin). Read: I SHOULD NOT BE CHEATING.

What my body SHOULD have said to my wandering mind-brain.

Until my blood sugar retains a completely healthy balance, and my gut heals, and I truly turn into a fat-burning beauty rather than a sugar-burning monster... I should be eating a clean, sugar-free paleo diet of 100%.

And so... Whole30. I'm doing it. I need it. I was supposed to start on January 1, 2012. I sprinkled a bit of cheese on my taco-less taco salad that day. I told my BFF, T, that I would start on January 2, 2012. I ate some ice cream. It's now January 3, 2012 (OMG why am I still awake?!) and I absolutely will NOT let myself give in this time!

As I commence on my Whole30 journey, not only will I be using The Whole30 Success Guide, by Whole9, but I will also be reading the next book in my reading queue, The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf, and Melissa Joulwan's new Paleo cookbook Well Fed... which just so happens to have a FREE 30-page ebook sample on her site, and all of the recipes in it are Whole30 approved (I'm especially excited about that! I've been wanting to take an extensive peek at the insides of this cookbook since before it was even published!)

So excited! :D

And so, I will be treating the Whole30 challenge not only as its own thing, but also as a way of re-entering the Candida cleanse. I need to heal my gut, and restore the correct balance of flora & fauna. I want to get rid of my sugar cravings (this time, however, I will allow very small amounts of fruit sugar via lemon/lime juice, and berries, and I'm not going to sweat stuff like mushrooms, vinegar, or pre-ground seasonings).

I feel like I have more to say, but I will leave it at that for now.

I know when I first started the Candida cleansing and went cold-turkey on what seemed like EVERYthing I ever ate, I cried myself to sleep at night. I was hungry, tired, had little energy, and was trying to figure everything out on my own. The more I learned, the more I tweaked... and the more I read other people's blogs, the more I felt I could relate to them, and learned from their experiences. And the more I learned, the more I was able to widen my menus and eat healthier and get fuller (thank you FAT!). I want to gain that momentum again (BEFORE the retched gateway ripped wide open), and really and truly start taking care of myself again.

What I shall tell myself when I start to complain -- minus the milk.
(photo from: Zazzle)

Oddly enough, I kind of miss that weird taste of ketosis in my mouth...




  1. Hey, Esther.  Loved this post.  I needed the reminder, that's for sure.

    It took me a loooooong time to belive that I had to avoid gluten.  I still have dives into the stuff when I convince myself that this whole gluten-free thing is just a fad or that a little won't matter.  It's just so hard to believe.

    But everytime...I mean, EVERY time, I eat gluten, significant symptoms return. (See latest post, as a matter of fact).  One of the symptoms is that I get sores on my scalp.  Itchy, scabby things that do resemble psoriasis.  (I know TMI)  I also get them everywhere else.  On my skin, they look like shingles.  And itch.  Once scratched, they end up looking like little cigarette burns.

    Anyway, I said that to say that your scalp psoriasis may be from the gluten.  The actual name for my skin thing is, dermatitis herpetiformus, which means a skin condition that looks lie shingles. :} 

    I thought I had shingles for SEVEN years.  Went to many doctors because it was torture.  At first the MDs also thought it was shingles.  It would go away for a few weeks, then come back for months.  After about the third recurrence, the MDs said--not shingles.  But they didin't know what it was.

    The problem was that it WOULD go away now and again for a few weeks. No one knew why.  I now know.  :)

    Every so often, I would get on a low-carb kick to lose weight.  I would usually last about 3 months.  Low-carb is naturally also low or no--gluten.  It would take about two weeks or so for the "rash" to go away.  AND it would take a couple weeks for the rash to come back after I began eating gluten, so I didint' put it together.  Until someone actually suggested the gluten connection.  (I was doubtful. Didn't only children and very thing people have Celiacs?  Apparently, not.)

    At anyrate, Esther, I did go to a GI MD and he confirmed the atypical case of Celiacs or gluten-intoleerance, if you prefer.  Not eating gluten for me is magic.

    Sigh.  I just have such a hard time believing in magic....

    All of that to say, the gluten may be your major issue along with the concentrated sweets.  so, this Whole30 sounds like an excellent jump start to better health. :D


  2. Thanks Deb for sharing! Not TMI at all... I can relate to the scalp scabbies. They have been a huge problem for me for years, and I found a great way to reduce them externally, by avoiding sulfates and silicones in commercial haircare products. Instead, I use all-natural shampoo soaps from Chagrin Valley Soaps, sometimes do a vinegar wash, and condition with Aubrey Organics silicone-free conditioner (except I just recently found out that they have wheat protein, so I'll need to find a substitute)...

    But it only just BARELY makes my scalp problems manageable... and not for very long. It wasn't until I went on a strict Anti-Candida Diet and Paleo Diet that my scalp problems actually cleared up... I was really starting to heal!

    But because of past cheats, and my inability to stay away from ALL sugar, including fruit... I'm struggling again, because sugar feeds Candida, and Candida overgrowth is linked to skin and scalp problems among other things (brain fog, chronic fatigue, mood swings... hmm, sounds just like gluten!)

    So I'm really excited (in a begrudged sort of way, lol) to stay strong this month, eat completely clean, avoid all dairy, grains, and sugar... and let my body heal. :)

    Good luck with your own gluten avoidance! I hope someday gluten-free will become the standard norm.


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