Okay, so it’s only day three of the Whole30, but I want to share some of what’s happening so far. Although we haven’t been following the 7-day meal plan exactly, nor are we really supposed to, we’ve been very compliant with what we should and we are not allowed to eat. No dairy, no grains, no processed food of any kind, no alcohol, no sugar…does this seem harsh? Really, it’s not. There is so much real, whole food available, if you just take the time to look. For example, this morning I had a mug of bone broth, which I made myself (!), and an omelet cooked in ghee (this is butter with the milk part removed) with chicken and spinach. I had an orange and strawberries on the side. It was yummy and filling. If anything, I cannot really eat all the food they recommend in a day, but that’s another story.
One of my reasons for doing this ‘diet’* is I am in a lot of physical pain from inflammation. I never understood what this meant before now. And I still do not totally understand it, but I know I have it all over my body. Enough is enough. To me physical pain is far worse than emotional pain. Once the emotional part of my healing from my sexual assault was complete, my back went completely out. I spent 96 hours not moving at all. When I was finally able to get out of bed and start the process of moving my body again, the pain was, at times, overwhelming. I remember thinking at the time that as difficult as it was to go through, I’d rather spend another 14 months in intense (mental) therapy than to spend another 96 hours in physical pain. And while my physical pain these days is not acute to the degree it was then, I am still in a lot of pain.
Several years ago, I suffered an injury at the gym to my elbow, and ever since, I’ve had pain in it. Your elbow is not exactly a part of your body that can be easily rested. You kind of use it every day, no matter what you are doing. And my hips, boy, do my hips ache. My legs, too. The weird part is they do not hurt when I am using them, like walking or playing tennis, but at night, I wake up in pain more nights than not. I try not to take ibuprofen all the time, for obvious reasons, but sometimes the pain is just too much and I have to take it. When I was listening to IT STARTS WITH FOOD (by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig), it suddenly occurred to me that my body is full of inflammation, and that;s when I made the decision to do something about it. I do not have to live like this and have no intention of living this way for the rest of my life. Enter the Whole30 program.
According to WebMD, “Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.” It goes on to say, “When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may stimulate nerves and cause pain. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint cause irritation, swelling of the joint lining and, eventually, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones).”
So what have I observed so far? Because my body is healing and detoxing itself, I need a lot more sleep than normal. I’ve been sleeping 10 hours a night, which is so unlike me. I normally need just about 7 hours to feel good and be well-rested. I am honoring and listening to what my body wants, though, and it is saying sleep more. So more sleeping it is. I’ve noticed I am crabby, too, with an underlying headache. This is due to my withdrawal from sugar. As I’ve said before, according to experts, getting off sugar is harder than getting off heroin. I believe it. And it is just as hard not to relapse, which I’ve done more times than I like to admit. Just to be clear here, I am addicted to sugar, not heroin. But just as being addicted to an illicit, illegal drug can rule and ruin your life, sugar, in its own way is just as destructive. Some of the problems with sugar are: it increases insulin and contributes to obesity and diabetes, it can deplete essential minerals from the body, it can lead to food allergies, it can weaken your immune system and it can increase your risk of cancer. Do any of these possible effects of sugar sound like a good thing? I don’t think so. The time has come to break this habit once and for all.
Yes, it is still very early in this process, but I am very hopeful that, once I get over the hump, the benefits of eating clean and not putting poison into my body will override any desire I have to slip again.