Whole30 – It Starts With Food (Book Summary)

Healthy mind and body are my priorities, but sometimes it feels like one can get sacrificed for the other. Enter Whole30: the idea is to eat whole foods and avoid the eating that can make you unhealthy, body AND mind. Or, in their words, improve your “relationship with food.”

I’ve mostly avoided sugar for 4 weeks (exceptions being one restaurant meal and a few servings of dairy) and I wouldn’t say my life has changed, but my cravings are definitely more manageable, I haven’t had a breakout the whole time, and I haven’t had a migraine in that time either (just the regular constant headache). So I’m kinda already on the bandwagon, but the Whole30 deal is no compromises for 30 days straight, meaning no experimenting with dairy and no nightly ounce of dark chocolate until AFTER the 30 days. It’s like a reset button that allows you to tell the difference when you try adding foods like dairy and chocolate back in.

One thing the authors concede in It Starts With Food is that there’s still a lot the scientific community doesn’t know about food so there’s a lot of contradicting “evidence” out there. That’s why they balance science with clinical experience, adding in self-experimentation to the program. I’m going to focus more on the practical direction here, but a lot of reason behind Whole30 are well explained in It Starts With Food. The gist IMHO: food that is designed to stimulate pleasure centres with huge hits of sweetness, fat, and salt, meanwhile void of nutrition, is a recipe for overeating and undernutrition. And the more we make eating this food a habit, particularly in response to emotions, the harder it is to overcome. Gut and hormone imbalance makes it even harder.

So what are considered healthy foods? Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats like avocado, macadamia nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, olive oil, coconut oil/meat/milk, and ghee. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds should actually be limited because of their polyunsaturated fats.

A note about fruits: they are nutritious, but not as nutritious as vegetables and their fructose (sugar) is sent straight to the liver like alcohol and contributes to metabolic syndrome – so keep fruit to a few (~2) servings per day. Great fruit choices are berries and plums. Also beware the sweetness of fruit may trigger an unhealthy psychological response for people still struggling with sugar addiction. Replacing candy with fruit won’t help you break free from that unhelpful habit.

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Sugar-Free! Day 1

I’m tired after about 7 hours of decent sleep but was able to get up at 6am on Day 1 because I’m committed to Dr. Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution plan. I did 30 minutes of yoga (with Adrienne on Youtube) and felt good, though surprised how limited I was in twisting. By the end of the day, as usual, I was too tired with too much of a headache to concentrate at work. It’s hard not to get depressed when I feel like this so often.

The meals were good: smoothie, soup, veggies and dip, curried tempeh, and a lot of nuts (mmm nuts). The portions are large enough, I’m not hungry, but I do want more just because the act of eating and tasting is such a comforting habit. There were many times when I had to resist cookies, ice cream, even strawberries – and just as much, I had to confront my impulse to rationalize short term relief over long term vitality. I’ve read that if I weren’t addicted to sugar, caffeine, and flour, I wouldn’t think this much about eating. I’m excited to see if this no-sugar diet finally facilitates taking control of my health.

Eating Away Migraines

I’ve had a headache pretty much non-stop since puberty. It’s in the background of everything I think or do. My only respite is the perfect combination of ibuprofen, candy, a movie, and a good hug. My triggers for a higher level of headache include florescent lights, computer screens, noise, even just having to concentrate for too long. In those cases, my vision blurs and I get so irritated I need to curl up in a dark quiet room for hours. It takes a lot out of me, too, so I’m exhausted for the rest of the day.

I tell every health professional about my headaches. They recommend I drink more water even though I already drink so much friends tease me about it (and no, I don’t have diabetes). My search for an underlying cause has led me down a lot of paths and to a lot of bloodwork. Now I’m hoping I may have found my answer in Migraine Miracle by Josh Turknett MD.

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