Last week, I decided to do a Whole30. (A strict elimination diet: no sugar of any kind, no grains of any kind, no dairy and no alcohol.) I convinced my husband to do it, too, and then decided – what the heck – the whole family should do it together.
I have some skin issues, and certain sectors of the internet loudly proclaim that adherence to a strict diet can heal them, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Other goals: for Wayne to break his Monster drink habit (something he got hooked on when he worked all kinds of crazy hours in GA), for the girls to go to sleep more easily (they both say they have a hard time falling asleep every night, although I think that has a lot to do with the fact that they whisper and giggle after lights out!), and for me to stop eating sweets as an emotional pick-me-up (I totally do that).
Day 1 was okay, despite the skull-in-a-vise headache I had. The one that persisted all day until I decided to go to bed at 8:30 to escape it. One of the previous times I tried to give up Diet Coke (only partially successful! ha!), I switched to Crystal Light Energy. So…still aspartame and still caffeine. My body mourned much.
Day 2 was terrible. The children complained and I had the exact same complaints running through my head, though I tried not to show it. I had to cook breakfast — no more quick and easy cereal or toast or bagels or oatmeal or waffles or basically ANYTHING that the children could make themselves. Lunch came with the same problems and on top of that, we were all starving. I convinced everyone to make salads; I think one or two of us had leftover sweet potatoes as well. Again, it’s either salad or I have to cook. And not our usual easy stuff like Ramen (they like the spicy Korean kind) or grilled cheese or pizza rolls. The kids kept asking, “Are we allowed to have _____?” and the answer always seemed to be no. They ate a ton of fruit, at least that was easy, but other than that, we just felt sooo limited. On Mondays, of course, we are gone for hours, and there was nothing easy to take for a snack. I ate a couple of boiled eggs before we left. I felt terrible about taking them to swim practice when they hadn’t had much to eat all day.
By late afternoon, I remembered something important: I hate restrictive diets.
And I knew it wasn’t going to last. I started Googling “Whole30 fail” so I could read about the failures of others and let myself off the hook. (Stories abound, btw.)
Over dinner (Wayne had caught a 26 inch fish the day before and cooked it up for dinner!) we discussed the situation. The kids, of course, were desperately hungry – even after multiple servings of fish and vegetables. By the time they went to bed, Wayne and I called it. Whole30 is not for us. It’s just too limiting. We decided that we’d continue to fast from desserts for the rest of the 30 days – excepting Thanksgiving. (We’re giving ourselves a free pass for that day.) We can definitely manage that, and taking a break from sugar is obviously a good and reasonable choice. But grains and dairy had to come back.
This morning, as it happens, I had a dermatologist appointment. I ended up talking to three doctors – the dermatologist had 2 residents working with her. I asked the question I’ve asked other dermatologists before: Does diet play a role in these skin issues? Is there something I should eliminate from my diet that might help?
And guess what? They, like every doctor I’ve ever asked, said no. Nothing has ever been proven to support those theories. So there, internet.
Also interesting – this doctor gave me a different diagnosis: seborrheic dermatitis instead of psoriasis. Internet proponents of elimination diets actually never mention that – though psoriasis usually comes up, with other autoimmune things. So I got a new treatment to try for the problems on my face and a refill (and some reassurances) for the problems on my scalp.
And best of all? Diet doesn’t have to be the focus of my day. I can spend my time and energy doing the things that matter most to me – and obsessing about food doesn’t make the list.