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Sixty days ago, I started something called the Whole30. No grains, no sugar, no alcohol, no dairy, no legumes for 30 days. 61 days ago, I was depressed, anxious, and still a mess, less of a mess than years ago but a mess nonetheless. I was also at the end of my rope; a lot of medication for my depression & anxiety years ago resulted in the reduction of my stomach’s healthy bacteria. Those good bacteria that they talk about in all those yogurt commercials - IT WAS DEAD! So I was left with an easily aggravated stomach and just as much (if not more) mental issues than before I started taking the medication.

Sometime a couple years back, someone mentioned that gluten has a terrible effect on people who struggle with depression and anxiety so I decided to try to stop eating it. I did pretty well…for a couple weeks but it was incredibly hard. Gluten is in EVERYTHING! Cakes, cookies, cereals, gravy, salad dressings, and pasta - the list goes on. My eating habits were being turned upside down but within days, I noticed a significant difference. My head felt lighter and clearer, my stomach wasn’t bloated and best of all, that consistent anxious feeling, that pressing on my chest, was gone.

Then I saw a Twix and without thinking of it, I had ingested gluten. Next day I woke up with a stomachache and instant anxiety attack for no good reason. I stopped ingesting gluten but I messed up often. No, I succumb to temptation often. I knew better but when you are sitting at East Side Mario’s and everyone is scarfing down some delicious warm garlic bread, it’s hard to say no. At least that is what I thought at the time and then I read “It Starts with Food”…

'It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this […]'

Damn. They were right. I was comparing how difficult not stuffing my face full of delicious glutinous cake slather in creamy sugar & milk (also known as icing) to beating cancer or having a baby. I felt ridiculous. I was stronger than this so I decided Jan 1st, 2015 was to be my first day of my first Whole30.

I knew it was going to be difficult so I prepared myself as best as I could and each step I took felt like I was healing both my body and mind. I cleaned my whole house and removed every item that I couldn’t have. I felt clean. I felt like I was being offered a new beginning and that felt amazing. I thought I would be scared but all the work I put into this, all the positive emphasis I had now placed on keeping myself healthy gave me a huge boost in self-confidence and moving forward, I knew everything I did, every effort I took would be worth it.

For 30 days, I took time for myself; I planned meals, woke up early to make them and ensured I had enough time to enjoy the food I put into my mouth. I told myself that me feeling healthy and understand the effects food can have on my body would be worth every bite of alfredo I didn’t have. After 15 days, my stomach felt magical but it wasn’t until almost 30 days in that my partner mentioned to me that he hadn’t seen me have an anxiety attack or feel depressed. I had felt so great that I did not even realize I had not felt terrible. Years of anxiety, years of depression. I thought this would have been the first change I noticed but instead, I was acting in a healthy mental fashion, focusing on the good!

You know, sometimes it is still hard for me to believe that food can have such a huge effect on our mental health but then I remember my 30 days without anxiety and depression. I can’t explain how amazing it feels to not feel those things. How amazing it feels to live without something you were convinced was going to be a part of you for the rest of your life. 

I would take this feeling over a million brownies any day.

For more information, please read the book “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig creators of the Whole30.