Alternate Title: The Week it All Fell Apart
This week was really tough. It started with vertigo so bad I couldn’t stand up or keep anything down and a debilitating migraine, just 24 hours before I had to head out on my first of a few weeks of consecutive travel.
How I felt: Stressed. Sick. Incredible amounts of shame. I had a bad migraine and vertigo, like I said, for about 24 hours starting on Sunday night, and the headache finally broke around 1 am Tuesday morning. I had no appetite on Monday, couldn’t keep any food down, and finally managed to eat some soup and crackers at 5 am on Tuesday after drinking a bottle of Gatorade overnight. I could tell I was dehydrated but there was only so much I could do to stay hydrated with how horrible I felt.
Part of why I started the Whole30 was to try to address my migraines. I desperately hoped that this would be a solution for the headaches that have ruled my life for the last five years…but right now, at this point in time, it wasn’t. This is incredibly frustrating for me. I feel intense shame for letting my migraines control me. I feel like I should have control over them, and like there’s something wrong with me for not being able to function or fix my migraines. I want to know what’s wrong with me and how I can fix it, but for now, I need to accept that maybe the answer isn’t quite so black and white.
What I learned:
- It’s hard to stick to Whole30 when traveling, but doable when you plan ahead! On Tuesday I let my body tell me what it wanted so I could recover. The rest of the week I tried to eat as much protein, fruits, and veggies as I possibly could, and I learned that eating healthy while traveling is an accomplishment in and of itself.
- Listen to your body. This entire week I really didn’t have an appetite, and I ate because I knew I needed to but the food wasn’t satisfying me. That was tough. This weekend I think I’ve finally regained my appetite, but things are still a little amiss. When a migraine hits, I need to focus on resting and recovering, not stressing about eating the right or wrong foods.
- You shouldn’t eat because you’re stressed, but eating shouldn’t stress you out, either. When you spend your days living out of a car and moving from hotel room to hotel room, it’s all you can do to eat breakfast and dinner, and you’re lucky if you get more than a granola bar for lunch. I needed to give myself a bit of leeway to eat good food, and real food, but trust that I was doing the best I could for myself this week. This article really helped me come to terms with the shame I felt in admitting that I needed to modify the Whole30, and realizing that now isn’t the time for me to fully embrace the strict elimination portion of the program.
- I don’t need to eat refined grains and sugary foods every meal – or every day. My skin definitely got clearer after just 1 week of this program, and I realized very quickly how much processed food had been in my diet before. Moving forward, I’m embracing the concept of eating whole foods, minimizing sugar, and not using food as an emotional treat.
Would I try the Whole30 again? Maybe, as long as I did it during a time of year where I had more control over my schedule, and as long as I felt okay about bowing out like I did this time. My migraines are my first priority, and while this didn’t help this time, who knows what might help in the future. I do find it interesting that the Whole30 incorporates many foods that were off-limits on my “headache diet” which is essentially a low-tyramine diet. These foods include avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, all nuts, dates, figs, in addition to caffeine, wine/beer/dark liquor, dairy, and any fermented foods. I think there has to be a happy medium between the two where I can eat some beans, some whole grains (especially rice), and a cookie here and there. So no, I’m not the Whole30 success story I desperately hoped I would be, but I learned some valuable lessons and will be incorporating them into my travels as the season progresses.