I was introduced to The Virgin Diet about three months ago when I started working as the office manager for Dr. Daniel Miller (if you don’t know what
that is, keep reading! I’ll explain in below!) I have struggled with fibromyalgia, severe reflux, daily chronic migraines, IBS, and other auto-immune issues in some capacity or another for as long as I can remember. I reacted to everything I ate in some fashion, so I had kind of given up; I ate what I wanted and learned to tolerate my punishment.
When I consulted with Dr. Miller about my health issues, he was convinced that my diet was playing a huge role in my symptoms. To be honest, this wasn’t the first time I was told this. I frequently received solicited, and sometimes unsolicited, advice about going gluten and dairy free and reducing my sugar intake. I had even gone as far as taken some of the advice, however one experience in particular haunts me to this day. I was about three weeks into my gluten- and sugar-free diet. I was feeling pretty proud of myself because each day was a struggle and I was persevering. In the late afternoon one Thursday, I was rushing around trying to ensure that my oldest got to his track meet on time and noticed some numbness in my right thumb. Within 30 minutes, my entire right side was numb and unusable; in addition, I had aphasia (incoherent speech), and tunnel vision in my right eye. By the grace of God, I managed to drive myself to a family member’s house so they could get me to the ER. The episode lasted about 5 hours in total. An MRI and blood work revealed nothing but a magnesium deficiency. All I knew is that I had made drastic changes in my diet, and I had zero interest in ever doing it again!
Dr. Miller urged me to get The Virgin Diet book, by JJ Virgin, and at least read it. He was my new boss and I wanted to keep my job, so of course I ordered the book! As I read through the book, something\ crazy happened; I started to realize that my chronic pain had a source and it was within my control to change it. Crap! Before, I had resigned myself to the fact that my chronic pain and migraines were just part of my body’s chemistry and thus out of my control; this book ruined all of that! The power to change resided with me and that meant the blame and responsibility shifted to me as well (naivety is a beautiful gift).
The Virgin Diet has three cycles:
Cycle 1: Elimination
Remove the seven foods Virgin identifies as “high-FI foods” which are responsible for inflammation and intolerance:
Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Eggs, Corn, Peanuts, Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.
Cycle 2: Reintroduction
Each week, introduce the one “high-Fi food” for 4 days, then return to Cycle 1 diet. Record any adverse reactions.
Cycle 3: The Virgin Diet for Life
Use the information obtained in Cycle 2 to determine which foods to add back in, however 95% of the diet should consist of foods from Cycle 1. If tolerated in Cycle 2, rotate eggs and dairy in every other day.
Sounds easy right?? Yeah, not to me either!
- Here’s the skinny (pun intended) on what I’ve learned these past six days of being on the diet:
It’s as easy as it sounds! (In case sarcasm isn’t your second language, you should interpret that as “It’s really hard!”)
However, each time you resist the overwhelming urge to cheat (like seriously, there will be a monster inside your head by the fourth day demanding you put sugar in your mouth!), you feel a little stronger and your confidence builds!
- Have an accountability partner! I cannot stress this enough!! Quitting sugar is like quitting a drug!
There will be moments of intense craving and you need a friend you can text to save you from jumping off the edge! Knowing that someone is paying attention and waiting for updates is a great motivator (think of it as public shaming on a smaller scale!).
- Learn to change your internal dialogue. Instead of saying, “I can’t have that,” say, “I’ve decided not to eat that because it may make me sick.” This changes you from a victim to a fighter and reminds you that you are in control. The worst thing you could say to me is you can’t; my inner
rebel immediately says, “Oh yeah, watch me!” Reminding myself why I’ve decided to do this helps to curve the craving beast.
- Experiment with the foods you can have. Twenty-one days is a long time to eat the same meal over and over. Pinterest has a lot of recipes for The Virgin Diet but be sure to check the ingredients list carefully; lots of extra pins pull that have “hi-Fi foods” on the list.
- Plan ahead! Do as much meal prep as you can at the start of the week. During this first week, I have found myself spending a whole lot time at the grocery store and in the kitchen. I’m not a great meal planner so I know this is something I need to master. The first night I tried to be proactive. I put a couple chicken breasts in the slow cooker with some homemade Mexican seasoning and let it cook on low while I slept (The episode of This Is Us still haunts me). It smelled amazing when I woke up and I felt so accomplished! That feeling quickly to turned to frustration when I opened the lid and saw that the chicken was burnt! FAIL!
Bottom line – I’m encouraged! I’m almost a third of the way through Cycle 1 and am seeing some results. For over 10 years I have been on some form of PPI (acid blocker). If I missed it in the morning, by afternoon I would be very uncomfortable and have acid in my chest. I haven’t taken one the past two mornings and have not experienced heart burn at all! Success! I have to monitor this closely due to a history of an esophageal ulcer, but so far so good! My GI doctor told me I would be on this medication for the rest of my life – not encouraging considering I have to get my stomach scraped nearly every year due to it causing polyps in my stomach lining. The thought of not having to worry about that in the
future is fantastic!
I’m also noticing that my sugar cravings are reduced, I’m craving a lot more fruits and veggies, and thirsty for water!! Although my weight has not dropped much, my friends have commented that I look thinner. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be 40 and learning how to feed myself! But, I have a great support group and so far, I haven’t cheated – those are great results for a recovering sugar addict!
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