Overall, unfortunately it was not a good experience for me. Deric didn't really enjoy it either, for some of the same reasons as me (I'll get to that in a sec). He's pretty sure he lost around ten pounds and I can tell. I actually noticed before he did so the other day at one of my doctor appointments, he snuck on the scale after I did to confirm my suspicions. Ha!
As for my experience, I didn't reap any of the benefits that originally motivated me to try Whole30 in the first place: increased energy and relief from chronic constipation (I know that's TMI, but if you've been pregnant you know how it goes..). (I'll also refer to it as 'digestion' from here on out so as not to be totally gross.) To be fair to Whole30 however, I only completed the first six days without dairy. On day six I talked to my doctor and she asked me to keep some dairy in my diet for the calcium. So I added milk and cheese back in, as those two are the only dairy items without added sugar. For the next two weeks, my digestion actually got much worse. Dairy and bread are the two main culprits for slow digestion so I assumed that the one week without dairy allowed my system to heal at least a little and then adding dairy back in sent it a little crazy again. It was a miserable few weeks, whatever the reasoning. I stuck to Whole30's guidelines in every other way during this time and did experience more stable energy levels throughout the day, most noticeably during the afternoon. More often than not, I would nap while Jake napped but I went a week or so without needing to nap at this point.
Twelve days into Whole30, I had to take the glucose tolerance test because I was 28 weeks along. There was no way around it and so I did the test, experienced a sugar headache the next day and erratic sleep for two nights, and was back to normal a day or so later. And then the doctor called and told me I failed the test, so on day 15 I had to take the three hour glucose test. I just hoped that the major influxes of sugar wouldn't totally set back my hard-earned progress, as halfway through the program is when the 'tiger blood' phase begins: when your energy is up, your system is functioning at its highest capability, and you're feeling great. I never really felt like I could take on the world at this point (and neither did Deric), but I'll blame it on pregnancy for myself.
Around the third week of Whole30, my previously stable energy levels totally dropped off. I'd sit on the couch and feel like I couldn't even lift my arms. I woke up in the morning feeling like I'd been run over, even after going to bed earlier than normal. I figured it must be a growth spurt for the baby or something, but then the doctor called and said I'd failed the three hour glucose test. I was therefore diagnosed with gestational diabetes and this past Wednesday, we went to the doctor for a crash course in treating diabetes. Turns out, that was definitely the cause of my low, low energy. Maintaining a consistent amount of carbohydrates in your system is crucial for stabilizing blood sugar and on Whole30, I ate very little carbs: only those in potatoes (which I had maybe 4-5 times each week) and in fruit. I also realized around this time that eggs and meat can also contribute to slow digestion (yep, still dealing with that at this point) and because of Whole30, I'd had eggs and meat every single morning for breakfast--something I had maybe once a week for breakfast prior to this. So the upswing in iron from eggs and meat weren't helping my digestion, and the lack of carbs was killing my blood sugar.
At this point, I quit Whole30. With gestational diabetes, it was no longer safe to eliminate so many carbs. I didn't reintroduce dairy, grains or gluten according to the Whole30 guidelines (which are structured so that you can really pay attention to how each food group affects your system), but rather I watched my portions and ate what I needed to to maintain blood sugar. And so far, I've been fine on that front. My digestion has actually improved in the last few days as well. I attribute that improvement to the reintroduction of oatmeal (good source of fiber) and Greek yogurt (good for probiotics) and elimination of eggs for breakfast, at least for a week or so. Since my appointment on Wednesday, I've been keeping a food journal and testing blood sugar four times a day and am well within the parameters set for gestational diabetes. Things are looking up.
All of my wonderful pregnancy issues aside: towards the third week of Whole30 (before we knew about the diabetes) Deric and I both were so mentally exhausted from Whole30. While we appreciated the discipline of the program, it had become too obsessive for us. Whole30 is supposed to help eliminate cravings for junk food, but Deric and I both started to obsess over the foods we couldn't wait to have when we were finished. (Salty snacks and Reese's for him; anything bread related for me). Whole30 definitely got in the way of our social life for two reasons: 1) we had to be pretty picky about restaurants (as mentioned in my last post about all this) and 2) we were spending so much on groceries that it wasn't worth it to spend money on eating out when all we could eat at restaurants was grilled chicken on salad. (I realize there are plenty of other things to do with friends but in our area, eating out is the most popular option. It is what it is.) While we felt like we were becoming obsessive about the foods we couldn't have, we were also becoming obsessive about food in general. I was at the grocery store probably every other day, plus I spent so much more time in the kitchen for meal prep that these major time sucks started to really interfere with our daily routine. And the cherry on top: I just tallied up our grocery bill for the last thirty days. An average monthly grocery bill (which includes household items like toilet paper, etc.) for us is just under $400, but this month we spent $656. Ouchhhhhhh. That's an expensive experiment.
So in closing of a very lengthy post, Deric is still finishing out the reintroduction phase right now so he can see how his system handles each food group. I'm now eating a diabetic diet in an attempt to control blood sugar without insulin. Maybe the best part of all of this is that while the diabetic diet is pretty strict, its nowhere near Whole30! So I actually feel like I've got a good amount of freedom even as I watch my carbs closely.
Even though our experience with Whole30 wasn't overwhelmingly positive, I do still respect the program and support the creators' vision to help people detox their systems and understand their bodies better. We can all use more fruits, veggies and protein!