My Whole30 Detox Month – Day 10

I’m a Whole30 experimenter. If you haven’t heard of Whole30, you will, eventually. It’s a paleo regime aimed at detoxing your body and switching over your carb and sugar-burning engine to a fat burning one. I have to say, I was a little skeptical at first, especially since I’m doing this with likely less grease than most, but here I am on day 10 and it’s been an eye-opener.


My go-to breakfast: Poached eggs over garlic kale saute with ghee sauteed crimini mushrooms and marjoram. (Recipe in upcoming post!) ©Liesl Clark

Do Without. Let’s get the restrictions over with: Whole30 requires that you give up, for 30 days, all forms of sugar (except fruit), dairy, grains, and legumes (this last one kills me, because that’s been our major source of protein for years.) They also prohibit you from jumping on a scale. I figured that wasn’t going to be enough of a boot camp for me, so I threw caffeine onto the contraband pile. Day 3 was the biggest migraine I’ve had in years. My daughter’s grumpy face when I try to take her picture is how my head-in-a-vice-grip felt all day. Truth be told, Pete had to give me a dexamethasone, to prevent me from heading to the hospital for an i.v.


©Liesl Clark

The thing is, it’s all it’s cracked up to be. How do I feel day 10? Pretty damn great. I’m sleeping better than I have in years, my aches (which likely comes from inflammation) in my joints has disappeared, and a knee and hip injury that I’ve been dealing with for 2 years is feeling a bit better. I’m likely losing weight, but who knows? There’s a lot of fat in this diet, more than I’ve ever eaten on a daily basis, so I could be the only person to have ever gained weight on a Whole30 month-long experiment. But this isn’t necessarily about weight. I decided to do this to address my insomnia, pain in my right knee and hip, and my migraines.

Whole30 meals: So, what do Whole30 peeps eat, you ask? Protein (eggs, fish, meat of all kinds), veggies, nuts and fruits. There’s no snacking. So, at each meal you can eat as much as you want. After a few days, you lose the desire to snack as the meals are very satisfying, high in fat. Coconut in every form is used as much as possible. Avocados, too.


Prosciutto with oven baked sweet potato fries (amazingly delicious at Nomnom Paleo), slices of avocado, radish and celery and a few macadamia nuts. ©Liesl Clark

But here’s the thing: It ain’t really paleo. Full disclosure here, I haven’t actually bought the book (part of my ethic of buying no commercial propaganda when trying out a lifestyle change. Luckily, everything you need is available online. If it seems to resonate with me as a generally worth-while change in my world-view, I’ll buy the book!) So, I don’t know the extent of their paleo claims. But, if you watch my friend, Tina’s TED talk, you’ll come to learn that Paleolithic peoples didn’t really eat as much meat as these paleo diets propose.


Meat and potato gut bomb? Well, it was good. Baked potato on a bed of baby spinach with caramelized onions and mushrooms with chicken apple sausages. ©Liesl Clark

In our nearly 10 years of archaeological climbing expeditions in Nepal, we recover the bones of ancient people out of high cliff caves and then the teeth go to Tina’s lab where she not only extracts DNA from them so we can learn much about the people’s origins and genetic makeup, but she also studies their dental calculus (the plaque) and determines much about their diet.


Tina Warinner is able to discern so much about ancient diets from studying the dental calculus (plaque) of early people. This is a human skull recovered from the caves of Mebrak, Nepal, dating back 2,300 years. ©Liesl Clark

Tina has looked closely at the dental plaque of early peoples and she can state as fact that meat was not a huge part of most paleo diets. It would have been a big protein source on occasion for humans who had access to meat, but nuts, berries, and wild vegetative matter, fruit, and especially legumes primarily made up their diet.

Maybe a Tad Too Much Meat: I’m fascinated by what is involved in taking dairy and grains and sugar out of my diet. So far, my sense is that the elimination of all sugars is probably the best thing I’ve done in years. (And, I think removing the caffeine has been great for me, too.) But as a mostly vegetarian, I’m struggling with the meat equation in this diet, because I know any meat Paleolithic peoples would’ve eaten was extremely lean. Today’s market meat is bred for fat. (Eat local chicken in Nepal and it tastes like wild pheasant.) I know what a toll meat production takes on our environment, and I also believe that plant-based diets are the most healthy diets we can have. I look forward to introducing beans and lentils back into my diet as my main source of protein while being restrictive on the wheat, especially GMO grains and flours.


Curried Egg Frittata from My Heart Beets ©Liesl Clark

These are the debates going on in my head, knowing what the archaeological and sustainability communities have to say about “paleo” diets. I’m a forager at heart and my sense is that if we eat what’s abundant around us, growing in the very ecosystem and climate where we live, than those are the organic foods that are going to be best for us. But, for now, I’m letting eggs and mostly white meat enter my digestive tract to see if the protein and high fats can help me with my lack of wheat, sugar, and dairy. So far, it is. I have no hunger between meals. And the physical changes are mostly for the better.



Homemade almond butter (recipe coming soon!) sliced bananas and blueberries. 

Over the course of this month, I’ll be posting my thoughts on this diet, my own experience, and some of my own recipes that I’ve cobbled and know will be staples on our simplefoods menu in the future.

Have you tried Whole30? How was your experience and have you incorporated much of what you’ve learned about your body’s reaction to dairy, wheat, sugar and legumes into your everyday life?

21 thoughts on “My Whole30 Detox Month – Day 10

    • Thanks for this, Jo! I was curious about the changes that might happen if I took out dairy altogether. And, so far it’s been really enlightening. Dairy might be the culprit. But, I won’t know until I reintroduce these things back into my diet. I’ll try to post the recipe for eggs and kale tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

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  1. I haven’t tried it, but your story is interesting as I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. I do not dare take out coffee, so you have my admiration. I don’t drink a vast amount, but my body is clearly addicted to the amount I do have.

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      • Liesl, kudos for this food clean up! Occasionally, I also give up coffee, not for long, but it helps me to get my hot caffeine beverage love under control and to switch to lovely herbal teas. I cut down to a few tablespoons of coffee a day as I go off to stop headaches which I never get otherwise. Dairy now makes me itch everywhere if I do it after being off of it for months, a sure sign of an allergy, makes more mucous, and my knees start aching, positive proof of inflammation from it and I avoid it like the plague. Grains repulse me and I keep spinach and kale on hand for replacements under sauces. I do also miss legumes, but unless I sprout them first (helping to change their enzymes into more of an easy to digest (more) protein entity, easier to digest) it helps, also to add sea weed like kombu to cook them. My favorite fill up protein and healthy fat food is Hemp hearts! Lots of protein, perfect combination of omega 3 to omega 6 ration and delicious! I grind them in my coffee grinder, then add favorite spices, raw garlic, lemon, dill, basil (turmeric in everything), thin it to desired consistency and use it as a raw veggie dip, thinner for salad dressing and add apple cider vinegar. I use coconut oil as my main fat. Good luck to you and we could have a Whole 30 Support Group. I am here. A good apple is manna from heaven, eh? I must send you a great, grain free bread, naan, easy to make flatbread with great source of fiber. It is a goddess sent when off grains. Good luck!


        • Correction: Omega 3 to 6 ration, not ration. Also, absolutely no sugar anything. I do little fruit but apples and blueberries. Recently, as a huge treat while under home reconstruction and living on one burner, I have added raw cacao and a wee bit of raw honey which is such a treat to my turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, melted coconut oil, hemp milk drink which normally does have some organic coffee for flavor, blended so it froths. It is a giant pleasure in an otherwise quite basic diet. Quinoa flakes are actually a seed and take one minute to cook if in a hurry for a breakfast cereal or non-grain side dish. Are you allowed quinoa?


          • Ooooo! That drink sounds amazing. Can you please share the recipe? I’d have to use dates as a sweetener rather than honey. Well, after 30 days I may reintroduce honey because, well, I keep bees and honey is one of the most natural sugars out there. Used occasionally, like dates, I think it’ll be ok. Quinoa are not allowed in the 30 day detox, I believe, just to get people off of even eating grain-like meals. At least, that’s my understanding. Thanks again for this info! I’ll put quinoa on my first list of grains to reintroduce! I look forward to learning from you what you think the best way of introducing legumes like black beans will be.


        • Wow, Karen! I love these thoughts and I’d love to pick your brain more as time progresses. I had never heard of hemp hearts. Assuming I can get them at T&C or Willows? And, your words about your knees hurting after having dairy are so helpful!! So, did they hurt on the inside? I have one knee that has caused so much pain for me over the past 2 years, and it’s somewhere inside, right at the inner joint. This correlates to the hip above, too, somewhere at the joint. I had thought it was sciatica for years but I think it’s inflammation. This is residing, with this diet, but I don’t know what causes it. If you get it from dairy, maybe I do, too. What an incredible journey of self-discovery this is. For someone who is very physical, to have this debilitation, it’s been quite devastating overall to my ability to do things I’ve normally done for years, like sit crosslegged on the floor, go on long runs. Play soccer with my kids. The pain is still there, in spades, but is definitely diminishing. Thank you for your insights.


  2. My family tried the primal version (adding sweet potatoes) of whole 30 last year and did hit the detox lows around days 4-10☹️ It wasn’t fun, but I did feel better for the rest of the month. I think leaving out dairy, sugar and grains were the main reasons I felt so good…definitely not because of the meat. By day 22 I was SO OVER meat and if I had to eat another version of eggs I felt like I might hurl!😝 We all did lose around 12+ pounds. My husband and son lost more, around 15 pounds, compared to myself and our 2 daughters. It was a good experience though and we now choose only “clean” grass fed animal proteins when we do have meat dishes, but we are now back to primarily vegetarian diets.


      • 😂😂😂 I’d like to say we stayed sugar free, but we did not. I gained the weight I lost back quickly once carbs and sugar, albeit natural sugars like maple syrup and honey were added back to our diet. We ate less with high fiber vegetables and fat than we do with vegetables, low fat and carbs. You never feel full…
        New year resolution is to cut back on our natural sugar intake and to cut WAY BACK on our gluten carbs. We’re also adding more plant fats as well as clean animal fats this year…still experimenting.


        • I forgot to mention, my gouty arthritis flared up toward the end of the month…possibly due to the higher amounts in uric acid when eating high amounts of animal protein? I don’t have any arthritic pain with less meat. Also I noticed that my acid indigestion was non existent while on whole 30, but if I eat animal protein with carbs it comes back sometimes, so proper food combining is important. I try to make it a point now to only eat vegetables with animal protein and never a starch with it.


  3. This is interesting as I’ve suffered from insomnia my whole life, and arthritis is beginning to make its presence felt. However, though I’m not vegetarian, I eat little meat though I know I have too much cheese. Some years ago I cut out caffeine for a whole year to try to eliminate migraines. It didn’t work (though I no longer suffer frrom migraines following the menopause) but I remember the misery of going coffee-less with real horror. I also had a period of eliminating wheat, and found it made no difference, though at that point, it was the only change I made. Luckily I eat little sugar. So I think I’m going to wait and see what your longer-term conclusions are. Thanks. Fascinating stuff.


    • Thanks Margaret! Ok, so I didn’t think I had much sugar in my diet, but it’s the hidden things (and not so hidden, like wine.) There’s sugar in so many things. My surprises have been fish sauce and dijon mustard, among others. This is what needs to be cut out if your body is to be fully detoxed from sugar. And, well, the dairy, wheat, grains, and legumes were staples for me. So, this journey was much needed and the insomnia and joint pain in my hip and knee are being addressed head-on. The fact that I can now sleep on my side is a huge thing for me, as I was unable to, even 2 days ago! These changes are so surprising, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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  4. Pingback: Use Your Bean Water! | Pioneering The Simple Life

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