Emma did the Whole30 at HealthCreators
“I AM gezellig, I do not need to proof that by eating or drinking anything”
Emma Smillie has tried before to change her health by
changing what she eats. But she fell back into old habits. That is why she did
Whole30 with Brenda as her coach… and she achieved great results: “My bloodwork
improved and most importantly: I gained insight into my relationship with food.
And that I am gezellig* without alcohol or eating cake”.
*(Dutch for ‘fun, jovial, amicable, sociable’)
Why did you do a Whole30?
“I heard of Whole30 years ago when a friend from Edinburgh (Emma is Scottish) did the program. But I thought it was just another diet and she wanted to lose weight. Never looked at it again.
Then I started a company, FloLab, in which we create co-working for entrepreneurs in the wellness sector. So I hear about a lot of things. My business partner Zhana was doing a Whole30 at HealthCreators, she talked about it so enthusiastically. It was the support aspect that pulled me in.
I am dealing with a health problem for a few years now: I have been diagnosed with Hashimotos, an autoimmune disease of my thyroid gland. And that really flaring up at that time. I had brain fog, low energy, sadness, dread, doubt. Physically, I was very bloated and I was gaining weight. I felt out of control. That’s how I ended up at Whole30 with Brenda as a coach ”.
Had you tried something like this before?
“Yes, after my diagnosis with Hashimoto’s I did an Auto-Immune-Protocol (AIP) elimination diet. I bought a book and just started. That was very hard: we just moved here, to The Netherlands, so many things I couldn’t eat and I had no idea where to get the foods that I could have on this diet. I lasted 3 months and when I quit, I just started to eat everything again. Didn’t do the recommended careful reintroduction. So, in the end, I still didn’t know which foods affected me and which foods were fine.
When you are diagnosed with an illness like Hashimoto’s, the regular medical system cannot do much for you. When I asked questions about how what I eat impacts my Hashimoto’s, they really don’t know much. I have an excellent physician now, with a background in orthomolecular therapy, like Brenda. My doctor also checked out Whole30 before I started it and said it looks really great. Her only criticism was that in my situation 30 days was too short. But I decided that for the first round, it was fine for me”.
“When I was emotional, I would treat myself with something to eat… to numb the feeling”
And… how was your Whole30?
“Good, and sometimes it was really hard! We worked hard on my mindset, my relationship with food. For me that was all about taking control of my behavior and choices, become empowered again. It is so easy to slip into a victim mindset and say: stuff it… and eat all the things. That just sounds easy, but the result was that I felt miserable… and that is not easy at all.
One of my biggest No Scale Victories (NSV) was becoming aware that I was struggling with fear, whenever I (thought I) experienced hunger. And how I would numb myself right through that. I ate to prevent to go hungry because the thought of being hungry triggered a fear that I would not be able to function if I was even a little bit hungry. Brenda suggested testing that story I told myself, to make it into an experiment. And boy, did the emotion come! But it was also a breakthrough because I got through it. That is something I would not have accomplished on my own.
I also had my bloodwork done, halfway through the Whole30… and they got worse. That was also hard because it is not the result you want. But I hung in there and after 6 weeks of Whole30 I retested and it was really balanced. Just my antibodies were still high, so now I am considering doing a Whole30 AIP next year”.
Why did you choose to do Whole30 with a coach?
“It was the support aspect that pulled me in. And I was blown away by all the resources and pictures Brenda send me. Like the practical information, where to buy food and order meat online, was so helpful. I am so buying a freezer to stock up. That was the reason I quit the AIP-diet, but Brenda had me covered.
She is also disciplined and intentional. In some people that can be a bit intimidating but she balanced it with empathy. She was been there and she doesn’t pretend she has everything all figured out now. When somebody is telling bullshit you can smell it. Brenda is no bullshit.
She also was very clear that I could really send her a WhatsApp at any time because she explained she has really good boundaries about her phone. Her taking that responsibility really helped me. And I got all my questions answered. When communication is this clear, it is very easy to be coachable”.
What are the most important things you learned in your Whole30, about your health, habits, and relationship with food?
“That I AM gezellig, that typical Dutch word meaning fun, jovial,
amicable, sociable. And I can be that without alcohol. Or eating cake. Without
behaviors that impact my health. During my Whole30 I went to a BBQ with my
party friend in Scotland. Brenda helped me navigate that. I went. I had a great
time. I didn’t drink. People got over that.
Drew, my husband, and I still laugh about how good that chocolate birthday cake smelled and yet we didn’t touch it”.
Another insight I got was that when I work on me when I am doing some digging, that induces cravings. And I am always digging. So I decided to take a step back in that. And when I do do therapy or work, I now know I need to be organized with my food. So I can choose well for me.
To get to know even more which foods work for me, I am planning another round of Whole30. During my reintroduction I got a virus, so I really couldn’t test how some foods impact me. And I was on a deadline because I had a holiday coming up.
In this second round of Whole30 I will be more open to the physical side because the fog of emotions around food has cleared”.