A dear friend, who honors me greatly by talking with me about this blog, asked me to post about my Post Whole30 experience. She was most interested in my experience of reintroducing the foods that I had abstained from for 30 days.
In case you missed my post on the Whole30 experience, or are unsure what the Whole30 is, please click here.
It’s been almost exactly 30 days since I have ended my Whole30 diet. Here’s my honest assessment of life post Whole30: The Post Whole30 month was much more difficult than the Whole30 month.
The first week after the Whole30 was filled with euphoria. Wine and dark chocolate were back in my life. I reintroduced dairy and had no problems. I was actually expecting to find out that I was lactose intolerant. When I learned that was not the case, I was ecstatic. I had to resist the urge to add cheese back to every meal – just. because. I. can.
At the end of the first week, I reintroduced gluten. Within hours of eating something with gluten in it, I had a headache. Of course, that could have just been from life so I didn’t think much of it right away. I did not immediately make the association. I added non-gluten breads and chips back into my diet. I added the legumes back into my diet. No major reactions. However, I woke up more mornings this month with a headache than without.
I spent most of the month trying to adjust my diet to make the headaches go away. The headaches are not life threatening, nor are they that painful (maybe a level 3 on the pain scale). However, they are annoying. At this point, though a system of trial and error, I’m 99.9% sure that I have a sensitivity to gluten.
The hardest thing is that I keep forgetting that I have the sensitivity. I love cinnamon rolls, cookies and bread. This means that when bread is served with my meal, I eat the bread forgetting that it may have gluten in it. I ate a cookie the other day, of course it had gluten in it. Did I think of that before I ate the cookie? Nope. Did the headache later remind me? Yup.
Needless to say, a month of headaches has been a bit of a downer. Now that I think about it, and when I review some old journals, I did often get headaches before the Whole30. It never occurred to me that they headaches could be food related. I wonder if my common low level headaches were related to gluten. The headaches were so minor that I had essentially chosen to ignore and forget about them.
It’s a testament to the Whole30 diet and the book “It Starts With Food” that I have been able to pinpoint this sensitivity.
Here’s what I wish someone had told me before this experience: because you feel so great at the end of the Whole30, when you reintroduce foods, if you do have an allergy or a sensitivity, the next month will be worse than before. It won’t just be “going back” to life pre-Whole30. You’ll be wiser and that will make ignoring things you used to ignore next to impossible.
For me, this also means the following: headaches are worse than cravings.
I don’t always feel like headaches are worse than cravings, because when the craving hits it’s such a strong emotion. However, if the Whole30 month was a month of cravings and the post Whole30 month was a month of headaches AND Whole30 month was better than post Whole30 month, then it’s simple logic that cravings are better than headaches or headaches are worse than cravings. I hope that I can use this to help me remember that it is better to eat gluten free (and thus crave the cinnamon roll) than to eat the cinnamon roll and have a headache.