I did a post similar to this after January’s Whole30, which I did not complete in its entirety. This time I stuck it out for the entire 30 days – yay me! – and I have some things to say about it.
It was an interesting experiment – not at all what I expected.
Going without any kind of sweetener for 30 days was much easier than I expected. Giving up alcohol completely was much easier than I expected. Exercising daily was much easier than I expected. Going completely without dairy of any kind, even goat and sheep, was not only easier than I expected, but turned out to be completely necessary (bye-bye, lingering sinus problems!). Going without grains or legumes was a complete non-issue, since I don’t eat gluten-bearing grains at all and rarely eat rice, corn or beans of any sort. Ditto soy. Ditto industrial seed oils.
However, coming up with different, interesting recipes that fit within the guidelines of the diet was more difficult than I expected, especially towards the end. Frankly, I got bored – not that that was a problem with the plan itself, but it happened. I had other expectations, too, especially when it came to weight loss. I thought that such a strict regimen of diet and exercise would surely bring significant weight loss.
I lost a grand total of 2 1/2 pounds for the entire 30 days. To say that this is something of a disappointment is an understatement, especially when you consider I’ve lost that much in the 6 days since returning to my “normal” diet. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I had expectations that I would have much more energy and more relief in regards to my hormonally-driven mood swings. Again, to my great disappointment, neither happened. In fact, that viciously edgy feeling – the one where you want to burst into tears at the drop of a hat and everyone and everything around you is a constant source of irritation (I’m sure my perimenopausal readers are quite familiar with that one) – not only wasn’t relieved, but seemed to become worse. Until I ate my first post-Whole30 white potato, that is, when it all just seemed to melt away (for awhile, anyway). I’m not sure if that was physiological or psychological – it has occurred to me there was some subconscious resentment at not being able to eat whatever I wanted – but if anyone has an physical explanation for this, I’d love to hear it. At first it seemed as if my dry skin was clearing up, especially on my elbows, but it came back with a vengeance the last days of the program, and I’m at a loss of how to explain this.
Now having said that, I don’t think any of this is necessarily the fault of the diet. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the authors of the Whole30 program, are quite young and seem to have little, if any, experience with the problems of a woman going through menopause. They simply don’t need that experience (yet). Also, all of the information in their motivational emails, especially in regards of what to expect, seemed to be directed at people who had been eating the Standard American Diet before participating in the Whole30.
I imagine if you’re going to go from a diet replete with sugar-loaded refined grains and vegetable oils, the strict protocol demanded by the Whole30 will produce absolutely amazing results. In fact, I KNOW it will, because I saw those amazing results myself over 2 years ago when we changed our diet. What I’d hoped for was a measure of relief from the more troubling and persistent symptoms of menopause. I didn’t see the results I’d expected, but again – I don’t think it’s the fault of the Whole30 program. It’s just not what it was designed for.
I’m still hopeful that I’ll find find the relief I so desperately want without HRT; questions of safety aside, you’re going to have to ditch the hormones sooner or later anyway, so why not make it sooner? I’d joked earlier that I want a I Just Want To Be Healthy and Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet, but it sounds less and less like a joke every day, and if reader response – here, on my Facebook page and in private communications – is any indication, I am NOT alone.
As middle-aged women, we’re mostly ignored as a demographic, which is surprising since we’re the people with the buying power; we care for, clothe, feed and make most of the day-to-day money decisions not only ourselves and our partners, but often our adult children and aging parents as well – some of us are parenting our own grandchildren. As a whole we’re over-worked, over-scheduled and over-stressed. Instead of being encouraged to age gracefully and naturally, we’re constantly bombarded with ads for products that will “cure” our wrinkles, our grey hair, our flab, reinforcing the impression that we’re not desirable, vibrant women unless we’re young – or at least appear to be. There are numerous drugs on the market for aging men suffering from loss of libido and/or sexual performance, but not ONE for women – it’s barely acknowledged as an issue.
Information on how to be healthy and get through menopause with your sanity intact is wildly varied and much of it sparse indeed, unless you’re willing to pay for it – and buy a bucketload of supplements in the bargain. Many of us won’t see the full transition from perimenopause to postmenopause until our mid-50s; the average age for the end of your menses is 53, and it can take as long a ten years to make that transition. Why is there not more information on how to get through all of this other than the standard “erp-a-derp – just cut out teh alcoholz, get more of teh exersize and buy teh lube”? I mean, really. Aaaaargh.
At any rate, I’ve been talking it over with Beloved and I’m dead serious: research for the I Just Want To Be Healthy And Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet And Lifestyle has begun. If you’re interested, stick around. If you’re not interested, stick around anyway because the recipes will keep coming and a good measure of them will still be Whole30 complaint, or easily modified to make them so.
What say you, ladies? Are you with me?