Whole30 and Being Sick: A Survival Guide

Last week, I was riding the Whole30 train hard. I hit the sleepy days and survived, the cravings subsided, I could look at chocolate without shuddering, my meal prepping was on point, and I felt like I was on top of the world.

And then I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to swallow, swollen glands and feeling like death, after a couple of weeks of minor sinus infection symptoms I was trying to self-treat.

It had happened. Everyone’s worst Whole30 nightmare. I was sick. I was faced with a decision: do I stick with my Whole30 or do I reschedule this round?

If you’re anything like me, you crave carbs while you’re sick and there’s good reason – our energy levels are depleted from fighting whatever makes us sick, so your body is screaming, “Give me bread! Give me all the crackers! Give me chicken noodle soup!” But what it really is saying is, “Give me energy!” So five days in, I had to decide how to deal with this. I decided to not throw away the last five days of hard work and see if I could survive, and so far, so good!

Confession, I’m still sick but after a long weekend of figuring out how to survive one step at a time (and finally going to the doctor today), I feel like it’s time to share. Disclaimer, as always, I am not a doctor – this is just what works for me.

  • BONE BROTH: Make your own, or buy some Whole30 compliant broth, and sip it. (Watch out, most broths have added sugar! Gross!). The vitamins and minerals are great to help heal your body and they can hit that chicken noodle soup craving.
  • JUICE AND FRUIT: While it’s a Whole30 pillar that eating fruit to meet your Sugar Dragon’s demands are bad, if your body is energy depleted and you’re dreaming of pasta, some fruit can go a long way. I mixed a little bit of carrot mango juice with water for hydration and am snacking on pineapple. What it comes down to is knowing your body and what it needs.
  • COMFORT FOODS: Pasta and noodles and toast are out of the question, but there’s other ways to feel comforted and still be Whole30. I made a beef pot roast in the Instant Pot (new obsession, by the way) and ate it over kale with potatoes and it hit the spot. It’s all about reframing your cravings and feeding your body with as many nutrients as possible.
  • IF YOU’RE ON ANTIBIOTICS, TAKE PROBIOTICS: As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I’m working on healing my gut, since those with autoimmune disorders often have a leaky gut, so I’ll admit, I avoided going to the doctor for a couple weeks, because antibiotics can wreak havoc on your gut. But alas, I was too sick to be stubborn anymore, so I’m taking antibiotics. To try to stave off losing good bacteria, I’m taking a probiotic supplement and sipping on kombucha.
  • SLEEP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: During the first week of Whole30, you can feel exhausted as your body loses its sugar stores. Pair that with the exhaustion of being sick, and you’re basically a zombie. Just give in to it. It sounds obvious, but sometimes you just need someone to tell you to go to bed and give your body what it needs. So go to bed.
  • SOMETIMES PERFECTION ISN’T POSSIBLE: I’ll admit, there’s been one area in which I have not been compliant. I was unable to find a cough drop that didn’t have some sort of artificial or real sweetener. My throat was killing me and I was hacking up a lung so I made the call that a few cough drops were necessary. They didn’t kick off any sugar cravings, I didn’t eat dozens of them and they saved me when I was at work and couldn’t take a sick day. I made a judgment call and while it might not have been the perfect one, it worked for me and I don’t feel that my Whole30 has been compromised.

I hope some of these tricks help you out. I’m not an expert, but this is what helped me. At the end of the day, sticking with your Whole30 is the best thing you can do to help you heal – nutrient dense foods are what your body needs. This, of course, does not apply if you’re too sick to be compliant – for example, you have the stomach flu and the only thing you can sip on is ginger ale. Sometimes a Whole30 round just needs to be rescheduled. Bottom line: know your body and make the call.

5 Replies to “Whole30 and Being Sick: A Survival Guide”

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