I was hit with a few interesting moments with my Whole30 journey but overall I'm proud for having made it through the program without giving in to temptation or giving up when the going got tough.
I think most of this advice can be applied to any diet modification program you might want to attempt but this is some stuff I learned along my Whole30 way!
Here are my 22 tips to helping you do the Whole30:
- Read the Whole 30 book "It Starts With Food." You can get by I guess if you just peruse the Whole30 website and forums or if you connect with other people doing Whole30 on social media but truthfully there is power in the book. Not only do you get a good grasp on the program but you begin to understand why we are doing this and why the foods that have been eliminated have been eliminated. It's worth reading.
- Clean out the cabinets. I know, I know. You might have kids or a spouse that will protest so then do your best to designate "Whole30 areas" just for your food and avoid the household areas. I would stress, however, if possible get rid of any and all non-compliant foods that might cause unnecessary temptation.
- Recipes. Start stock-piling recipes because trust me if you eat the same things every day you will get bored. Look to bloggers like The Clothes Make The Girl and Nom Nom Paleo - I also found tons of ideas and suggestions by searching #Whole30 on Pinterest and by finding Facebook Whole30 groups. The above-mentioned bloggers also have fantastic cookbooks available.
Greek Feast night RECIPES
- Shop. Go get your stuff. A grocery list of Whole30 items can be found HERE. You might have to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joes or even on line to find items like Ghee, Coconut Amino Acid (tastes like soy sauce for Asian meals), compliant coconut milk and compliant bacon. If you like butter than you'll likely think ghee is awesome. It's worth finding.
- Adjust your attitude. Do not go into this program feeling like you're going to jail. Instead go into this program excited to change your life. This program can do great things for you like break addictions to sugar and chemicals, help aid weight loss and get you on a healthy path. These are great things. Do not let your addictions talk you into thinking this is painful.
- Adjust your attitude PART 2. And stop worrying about what you can't have to eat and start getting excited about what you can! Eggs with sweet potatoes, and prosciutto for breakfast is delicious! Chicken salad with homemade mayo on top of salad greens with pecans, grapes and a drizzle of olive oil tastes decadent and a dinner of a grass-fed steak, whipped butternut squash and braised kale is a wonderful thing. (At least for me - find and focus on the YUM meals for you.)
- Connect. There are several ways to connect with others - such as: you can find a buddy to do the program with, you can connect with a Facebook Whole30 group, you can google Whole30 blogs and find bloggers who are doing the program, you can go here and become a part of the Whole30 community and forum. Doing this program with someone else or having a place to go for support is so helpful for success.
- Read EVERY label. I'm telling you, you'll pick up some organic chicken broth or a can of coconut milk or even a bag of 'natural' cashews only to get them home and then read the back and realize that there is something not Whole30 kosher in it.
- Map out your 30 days and look ahead. There will be unforeseen events that come up but make a plan of action for the foreseeable events. Going to lunch with a friend? Find a restaurant that you can eat at easily. Going to a baby shower and have no control of the menu? Eat before you go and bring food with you. Flying across country? Pack some hardboiled eggs, (compliant) lara bars, cashew nuts, baby carrots, bananas and other portable items to help keep you going.
- Skip it. If possible skip and avoid situations that will do nothing but make you miserable. I recently was invited to a wine and chocolate party and decided to skip that because I was craving chocolate and missing wine that particular day. My friends understood and I will see them another time.
- Exercise. Keep moving. Always good advice.
- Weigh yourself and measure yourself on day 1 to gauge weight loss progress by the end but until then…
- Forget the scale. Remember this is for your health first and weight loss could happen as a result of eating right. The scale didn't move as much as I wanted to but I feel good and glad I went on the journey. (PS: I admit that I weighed myself a few times and if I had to do it again I would try not to.)
- Food on hand. Always have something available to eat. Make hardboiled eggs, slice up some cucumbers, whip up some Whole30 mayo, Make a crockpot of chili or this delicious (huge batch) of Butternut Squash soup - having food to eat can prevent a tailspin into something not on plan.
- Snack if you need to/exercise. The plan and book encourages 3 meals and not much snacking but if you work out you might need to eat a little something before and/or after. I would have a handful of cashews or a hardboiled egg.
- Don't be afraid of healthy fats. If you are getting too hungry between meals make sure you're having enough protein and healthy fats at your meals. Both make a world of difference in keeping you satisfied.
- Don't use a blip as an excuse to give up. Suspect that the steak your server at the restaurant swore was dry and plain had some questionable seasonings? Had to pop an OTC medicine to help fight a cold? Accidentally and mindlessly licked the spoon to something you were whipping up for your kid? Not good reasons to give up in my opinion. I mean if you want to be hardcore and start from day 1 and think you'll do it, then great but better to keep going forward than letting the blip completely derail you and get you off plan all together. But...
- Don't fool yourself. The above is not meant to say it's ok for intentional slips or blips. No you can't just have a sip of wine, or a taste of the pizza or just a lick of something. This is an all or nothing plan and doing it half assed will get you half-assed results. You deserve the best so do your best for you. A blip is a tiny thing but if you "accidentally" ate a bowl of something not on plan you're probably best off starting again.
- Be proactive. YOU have the power to make this a priority but others won't if you don't let them know. I had to bring my own dinner to a relative's house party to stay on track. I felt odd for a second until I realized that no one else really cared all that much what I was eating. You don't have to be a victim and throw your hands up in defeat but you have to be proactive and on the offense with this plan. You must take responsibility for yourself. Always assume they might not have something for you and plan accordingly. No one can make you eat something against your will.
- Get over the sticker shock. Organic meat, ghee, coconut milk, organic produce. Yes. These items can be pricey. But let's put it in perspective - (For me anyway) I gave up at least a bottle of wine a week, I didn't buy any typical treats (chips, sweets, etc) or the Amy's organic soups, frozen meals I often bought. I also didn't order food out or dine out as much. At the end of the day I probably didn't spend much more than I usually do overall. And even if I did. I would remind myself that there is nothing more important than my health. My food should be expensive because what we put in our bodies matter. I would rather cut out other expenses like cable than cut out healthy food.
- Make an exit plan. At the end of the Whole30 you will begin to reintroduce foods. Do not just declare the "diet" over and resume eating the way you did. To truly benefit from the plan you'll want to reintroduce one food at a time about every 2 or 3 days. This way you can find out what foods really affect you. Don't blow the hard work by skipping this important step.
- Consider a Whole45 or Whole60 - this plan isn't one size fits all and some might need more time.
If you've done or are doing Whole30 what would be your tips?