I am FINALLY sitting down to share our Whole 30 experience! It was our second time doing it and we definitely had more success this time, part of it was not having health issues (I got pregnant which triggered a thyroid condition during our first Whole 30) and part of it was that we were starting over in a lot of ways – new state, new house, new lifestyle, etc… So a new diet worked in pretty well with all the other NEW stuff!
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Here are my 5 steps to a successful Whole 30!
If you don’t know what Whole 30 is, here are the basics. For 30 days you focus on eating REAL food, the website says “Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.” A lot of focus gets put on what you CAN’T eat, and at first it is really important to be hyper-aware of the no-no’s, but once you get in a groove try to focus on every you can eat!!!
So real quick, here is the NO list:
Those are the basics: sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy. There are two more “rules” to be aware of though.
Having just moved across the country and into a new house we had pretty bare cupboards which worked in our favor. I tucked the flour and sugar canisters away with the booze and got rid of a few snacks and things that weren’t compliant and that our kids wouldn’t eat (or be too much of a temptation to us). We have young kids and while we did have them eat the same dinners as us most of the time, we kept all their breakfast, lunch and snack staples easily accessible. I recommend either throwing away, donating, or boxing up anything that might be a trigger for you!
The first week your grocery bill will probably be double or triple what it normally is, but for us the following weeks were less than normal so it balanced out. Here’s are the things I bought that first week that we used throughout the 30 days.
Not must-haves but things that helped get me through.
There are plenty of other things like chicken thighs, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, green onions, mango, etc… that I needed for specific recipes, but the above is what I used virtually every single week.
I can get overwhelmed at this step, and initially I thought the meal planning system that Whole 30 offers (for a fee) would be helpful, but after clicking around in it a little I realized I didn’t like the interface, and I wanted more freedom, so I canceled it and went my merry way on Pinterest. I found a free weekly meal planner printable and sat down on Sunday’s to meal plan for the next week and schedule a Walmart pickup. I’d also usually have a short list of things I needed at Costco and Trader Joe’s (or Sprouts).
Breakfast: I could never get on board with a lot of the Whole 30 breakfast ideas there are on Pinterest so I kept it simple with sausage or bacon and eggs most mornings, and occasionally a sweeter option like a sweet potato bowls (I’d add banana, coconut butter, coconut flakes, raisins, cinnamon, etc…).
Lunch: I almost always either had leftovers or chicken salad with some veggies and mixed nuts. Oh, and I also had peaches and prosciutto for lunch several times which is totally not a great choice and doesn’t follow the “meal template” of protein plus veggies with a little fat and occasional fruit.
Dinner: this is where I actually busted out the cutting boards and pots and pans and did some cooking. I tried to stick to relatively easy recipes and ones that didn’t involve me buying a ton of ingredients that would sit unused after cooking one recipe. See all the recipes we loved in this blog post.
Snacks: I brainstormed a bunch of snacks (with Pinterest’s help) and pretty much just rewrote the same list of snacks on my meal plan sheet every week and made sure I had them all on hand.
One more thing I tried to do that is not the norm for me is to actually drink enough water! Drinking water is NOT my favorite so I did lots of La Croix and also made some fruit/mint ice cubes that would keep my water flavorful all day long through many refills.
Being prepared for every meal and snack is half the battle.
I recommend not eating out and if you must your best bet is a vegan restaurant or ordering a salad (and bringing your own salad dressing).
Doing my meal planning and my Walmart grocery pickup order at the same time was a lifesaver.
Don’t stress about the little things, do your best and move on. I didn’t freak out if there was a tiny bit of sugar in my bacon or some corn in a salad.
Sticking with mostly veggies I know I like and simple meals made a big difference.
Drink lots of water!
Stay off the scale and focus on how you feel (just weigh yourself before the 30 days and after). You might have a week or two of “detox” where you feel crummy but almost everyone feels awesome halfway through or sooner. Mental clarity, sleeping better, clothes starting to fit better, etc… Despite my crappy eating and diet coke addiction prior to Whole 30 I didn’t have much of a detox.
It’s only 30 days!!! Push yourself to stay committed and finish strong! You might be surprised at how good you feel once you’re in the groove, and you might be surprised at how many of the healthy habits stick around after the 30 days!
I lost almost 10lbs which is great, but the biggest change for me was a huge reset in eating habits. Whole 30 is 100% something I recommend doing and plan on doing once a year.