All right. I finally read the book behind Whole30. I’ve always scoffed at Whole30 before, but after having most of my gluten-related symptoms come back after 4-5 months gluten-free, I know I need to do some sort of elimination diet to figure out what else is going on. I also know I have a lot of issues with sugar and that my defenses against it have become useless, and that I struggle with fatigue, depression, insomnia, skin issues, and carb cravings. I suppose, in a way, I always knew it would come to this. At the same time, Whole30 scares me – it’s SO restrictive! But that’s the way an elimination diet goes. At least it’s not just eating rice the whole time.
In the end, I decided to check this book out because many of the smartest people I know are eating this way. Paleo-eating, while not proven yet, has become the bedrock for many athletes and body-builders and holistic practitioners. Even my regular family doctor said I was likely to do better if I ate a lot fewer carbs. I already know I have carb sensitivities, and my diet has always been more stable when I eat fewer of them. I also know that when I cut out grains and such, though, I tend to get really, really sick, and that’s the big reason I’ve stayed away. In reading this book, however, I learned that the sort of sick I get is apparently a normal reaction to cutting out grains, and that unfortunately, it’ll likely last for 1-2 weeks before it gets better, along with a host of other nasty issues.
The book itself was a bit asinine. I really don’t like when these sorts of issues are “dumbed down” for the general population. I prefer to be respected as a person. So, in terms of writing, and really, in terms of science, this isn’t the best book I’ve ever read. Most of the issues discussed were ones I’ve already learned about. But there were a few places that resonated with me:
And if that [bedtime] snack is sugar or rich in refined carbs, it pushes insulin levels up, which may lead to a blood sugar crash in the middle of the night. This affects melatonin secretion, which governs our sleep patterns, and means you could wake up at 2 a.m., unable to get back to sleep.
Experience has shown us that most people with an imbalanced hunger mechanism fall into one of two camps: hungry all the time, or not really hungry at all.
Sounds like Jason (the not really hungry bit)…
Simply limiting added sugar (“I’m going to have one sweet treat per day”) leads to incessant battles of willpower, continued cravings, and small sugar hits, which keep your brain focused on sugar.
Yeah, don’t I know it.
There’s a lot of discussion of hormones and how they work, including a bunch about hunger levels in the morning. I remember a time when the first thing I did upon waking was have breakfast. That’s how I grew up, and that was what was natural for me. Then slowly, over my weight-loss journey, I started eating later. Then, over time, I just stopped being hungry first thing in the morning. I’m usually hungry about 2-2.5 hours after I wake up now. And apparently, that’s a hormonal imbalance. That makes sense, given that by the time you wake up, you haven’t eaten anything in roughly 10-12 hours. The fact that I’m not hungry in the morning, but AM hungry an hour or two after a big dinner is wrong. I always thought that was habit – one I acquired in college, which, coincidentally (or not), coincided with when my insomnia started – and I could break it if I tried, but maybe it’s more than that.
We’ll see. I’m reserving judgement on Whole30. Perhaps I will try it out in the near future and then reintroduce foods slowly – slower, even, than the book says to – to find out exactly what I’m reacting to. And if this makes me feel good longterm, and feels sustainable, I might just keep on it.