I did it! I finished the Whole30. I caved and started the Whole 30 about 32 days ago. I told myself I was strictly doing it for research purposes, but to be honest I think I’m in love. Before I get into the whole 30 and how it compares to the way Chinese Medicine says you should eat, here is a list of the rules to be followed during the whole 30 straight from their website:
- 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.
As you can see the cleanse is extremely restrictive, but it is for a good reason. The Whole30 is based on eliminating everything from your diet that isn’t primal, or what our great ancestors would have eaten from the earth. Most meals contain mostly meat and veggies and you can throw some occasional nuts in there. The reason it does this is to reset your digestion. After 30 days you are supposed to slowly re-introduce all these foods into your diet one at a time. By doing this it makes it easier to see if you have any sensitivities to certain foods. If you haven’t had dairy in a month and then you have it and get sick, it’s a red flag that your body might not be able to tolerate that as well.
When I started this cleanse I didn’t expect much to happen. I’ve always been on the slimmer side, so I wasn’t expecting to lose weight. I figured at most it would be a challenge and then after a few weeks I would go back to eating the way I was eating without batting an eye lash. Since I started this cleanse I have lost 13lbs, gotten rid of bloat completely and I haven’t had a stomach ache since before I began the plan. I feel physically lighter, my clothes fit better and I don’t feel as foggy, heavy and forgetful as I was before I started. The best part is that I have been 10x more productive and better able to take care of my patients because I have been more alert and I have more energy. I have also completely gotten rid of my craving for sweets after every meal.
This cleanse is very anti-inflammatory in nature as well. With reducing things such as sugar, alcohol and dairy, the body functions at a higher and more productive rate. When this happens and you are not consuming all these “inflammatory foods” your body will actually heal itself faster. Many people find great relief from injuries, pain and illness while doing this cleanse.
The other great thing about this cleanse is that I was able to learn a lot about my habits. For example, I ate dessert every night after dinner because I was craving it and I assumed it was ok. I also learned that I treat food as a reward. If I had a long day or started something new and almost finished it I immediately wanted a Starbucks Chai Latte to make me feel good. My boyfriend had a long day at work or was not feeling well I wanted to go buy him something to make him smile, but since he is nice enough to go through this journey with me neither of us could indulge in these cravings. It was a challenge for me to learn that food isn’t the reward I should be giving myself, but I’m happy now to see that habit so I can better learn from it.
Like everything else, there are some down sides to this cleanse. The biggest one for me is that there’s not enough “fun food.” I know I can look up recipes and spice foods up, but when you go out for someone’s birthday and the menu looks amazing it’s difficult to sit and have grilled chicken and broccoli. Another down side is the headache the first few days. Since you are detoxing your body from sugar and dairy (which are both extremely addictive) you get what the book calls a “detox headache.” This headache lasted for me for about 3 days and while it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, it was annoying.
I have to make a confession: the first week without sugar was so challenging for me I actually told myself I had heart burn and ate expired tums just to have some flavor! It’s embarrassing, but I started cooking more food the next day to make sure I got some flavor in there.
Sugar and dairy products can negatively affect the immune system. I have treated numerous patients with the flu this year and I have not gotten sick because my immune system Is strong and now this diet has helped make it even stronger.
Now that I have told you all about my awesome experience I thought I would shed some light on why this cleanse works so well for me and compare it to the Chinese Medicine Diet.
In Chinese Medicine I am considered to be “damp.” Well Caitlin, what the heck does that mean? Dampness can show different signs and symptoms in each person. Some of these include but are not limited to: foggy thinking, overthinking, heaviness, loose stools, craving sweets, fatigue, weight gain mostly around the center, congestion and edema. Many times dampness is caused by things in our diet such as dairy, sugar, alcohol or excessively spicy foods. Dampness can also manifest because the spleen qi isn’t functioning properly and this is often caused by overthinking, worry and stress. Most people I have met have a little dampness. It’s part of our environment. This diet does not have many damp producing foods, so the dampness in my body has significantly decreased giving me more energy, clearer thinking and a lightness I haven’t experienced in years.
The other great thing about this diet is that it requires you to eat lots of cooked vegetables. If you look through the book it recommends cooking vegetables, lots of bone broth and soups. Bone broth, as you know, is one of the most nutritious things you can do for your body. It is packed with so many nutrients that it’s almost a complete meal in itself.
What this cleanse contradicts in Chinese medicine is the legumes. In Chinese Medicine like can treat like, so something like kidney beans (which look like they are shaped like little kidneys) can actually boost your kidney qi. By eliminating these from your diet, someone that might need to boost their kidney qi could be missing out.
Lastly, the most important thing in Chinese Medicine is taking each person into consideration, which is why this is just a cleanse and not a diet I recommend people follow for the rest of their lives. This works for me because of my dampness, but if you go into a desert where people tend not to be as damp, this might make someone feel sluggish. As mentioned earlier, there are certain foods that people need to eat to help boost different aspects of their body. This cleanse is good to reset digestion if needed for 30 days, but I never recommend further than that. If anything, take what you have learned from this cleanse and try to apply it moving forward! I know I’m going to try to reduce my dairy, sugar and alcohol intake after this and try even harder not to reward myself with food.
If you’ve had a positive or negative experience with the Whole30, email me! I would love to hear about it!
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