What is the Whole30 and why do I complete a Whole30?
The Whole30 is a 30-day nutritional reset program that helps your body heal from all the foods that may be negatively affecting your health. These foods may be the culprit of why you’re constantly feeling fatigued, having restless nights, are easily agitated, have gut issues, and so much more. It helps to develop healthy habits, a healthy relationship with food, and to figure out what the actual culprit is to all the issues you are experiencing. The Whole30 has helped me develop a healthy relationship with food and has taught me so much about food freedom. I used to feel so guilty if I ate fries, had one too many potatoes, or enjoyed a dessert once in a while. I would punish myself by over exercising, decreasing my calorie intake the next few days, or by drinking lots of green juices. I learned that it is okay to enjoy the foods that I want as long as I feel that it is worth it. I don’t have to feel guilt or punish myself just because I wanted to enjoy myself. Nowadays, I eat what I feel is worth it to me and continue moving on with my life. It is such a great feeling to develop a healthy relationship with food!
For the past two years, I have been completing a Whole30 every January. It is the best month for me because I have no social events and it helps get my year off to a great start! I usually don’t start the first week of January because I’m still out of town enjoying family time. I always start the second week of January and end in the beginning of February. The reset has helped keep my energy levels in check, has helped my digestion get back on track, and has helped with my overall health. There are an abundance of resources on the Whole30 website and I encourage you to take a look at those resources!
What can and can’t you eat during a Whole30?
Yes to these:
- Healthy fats
- Compliant seasonings
No to these:
- Sugar of any form, even natural sugars.
- Processed additives
- Junk food and baked goods with Whole30 approved ingredients
Here are some tips to successfully complete a Whole30!
- Read all of the Whole30 books that you can before you start.
When I completed my first Whole30 two years ago, I made it a point to read the The Whole30 book. That book has all the information you need to know about what the Whole30 is, how it works, foods that are allowed and not allowed during your Whole30, what to expect during and after your Whole30, how to maneuver through your reintroduction once your Whole30 is over, and so much more. This is such a helpful resource to have on hand even during your Whole30. It is extremely informative and even has some recipes in the book, which is really helpful! I had also purchased the Whole30 Cookbook that way I could be set with a bunch of Whole30 compliant recipes and not have to freak out about which recipes are and aren’t! At the time, they did not have their Whole30 Day by Day book out yet. This is a book I would HIGHLY recommend if you are new to Whole30! This book allows you to document and track your journey through your Whole30 and is as if Melissa Hartwig is coaching you through it. There are plenty more books written by Melissa Hartwig related to the Whole30, and I personally believe that the more you read about the Whole30, the better prepared you’ll be!
2. Choose a month where you have a minimal amount of social events.
For me, January seems to be the perfect month to complete my Whole30 because I don’t have any important gatherings to attend. For some people, it can be challenging to stick to their Whole30 when they are at social events because the non-compliant food can be tempting or because all they’re serving is non-compliant food. Every holiday, I like to go visit my family in Laredo, TX and like to enjoy the food we have. I honestly still tend to eat clean when I’m with my family, but if they happen to season some food with seasoning that has non-compliant ingredients or if the brand of bacon they buy has minimal amounts of cane sugar, I will usually still eat it. In San Antonio, I have access to lots of clean ingredient Whole30 compliant foods and condiments, but in Laredo there’s not much. Luckily, Thrive Market makes it easier for people to get access to Whole30 compliant condiments. There are also meat delivery services, like Butcher Box, that allow people to get good quality meat delivered to their doorstep, including Whole30 compliant sausage and bacon! I only go to Laredo a few times a year, so I really don’t need to get a subscription like that since I have access to lots of Whole30 compliant stuff in San Antonio.
3. If you do have social events, it’ll be helpful to plan accordingly.
Being aware of any upcoming social events is such a plus during a Whole30. If you know that you have something coming up, one way to set you up for success and avoid the non-compliant foods is to actually eat before you get to your event. Usually when you go to an event feeling satiated, you tend to steer away from being tempted to eat the food there. If your social event is a potluck, you can volunteer to make and take a couple of Whole30 compliant dishes, like compliant chicken wings, a tray of fresh veggies with compliant ranch, and some roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes. This will ensure that you have a full meal that you can eat at the event and not have to rely on emergency snacks! If you’re someone who loves to host, you can offer to have an event at your home, serve compliant meals, and even have some yummy mocktails on hand for everyone to enjoy!
4. Read the ingredient labels of products when purchasing groceries during your Whole30.
When you are on your Whole30, you will start to realize how many products at the grocery store have sugar or unnecessary ingredients in them. The main ingredient you will see in lots of products is sugar. You’ll find sugar in tomato sauce, bacon, sausage links, any kind of broth, almond milk, coconut milk, sauces, tea, and so much more. Reading the ingredient labels is absolutely important during your Whole30! You always want to make sure that the foods you eat are all Whole30 compliant and reading your labels will help to keep you in check. If you are ever unsure if an ingredient listed on the product is Whole30 compliant, you can always refer back to the Whole30 book to see what is and isn’t allowed. If you’re not home and are actually out doing your grocery shopping and don’t have access to your book, you can also google, for example, something like “Is yeast Whole30 compliant?” and Whole30 forums will pop up discussing whether or not it is compliant. This definitely came in handy for me during my first Whole30, and honestly still comes in handy when I come across something that I’m unsure of!
5. Plan your meals ahead of time.
This is such a huge help when you’re on a Whole30, especially when completing your first Whole30! You will feel much less stressed about what to eat during the week when you plan your meals ahead of time. I like to have a calendar on hand where I can write down my meals for the week. This really helps me out because I don’t spend too much time thinking and stressing about what to make on each day. After I write out what I’ll be eating for the week, I put together a list of groceries that I’ll be needing for the week. It really helps my Whole30 go by smoothly.
6. Meal prepping is a huge help if you’re usually busy during the week.
If you are someone who is busy during the week, works long hours, or don’t have time to fix something during the day (maybe even night too), meal prepping on the weekend is the way to go! It makes your Whole30 much easier and less stressful when you have meals ready for you. I like to roast up a bunch of different veggies, cook up different types of protein, prepare sauces, and from there I’ll pick and choose from what I have to pack myself a yummy meal. For those who don’t have time to fix up a quick breakfast in the morning, making a couple of frittata’s during the weekend to have on hand for the weekend is a life saver! All you need to do is cut up the frittata, store it in your favorite container, and heat it up the next morning. I promise you that meal prepping ahead of time will make your Whole30 experience a great one!
7. Pack up your meals to take with you to work.
Packing up your own meals to take to work is the way to go during your Whole30. Sometimes, people forget to pack their own meals and either give-in to the foods available wherever they’re at or rely on emergency snacks. When you start to rely on emergency snacks, you never really stay satiated the way you would when eating a whole, balanced meal. When I pack up my meals, I always make sure that I have a healthy source of protein, fat, and veggies. Nutrient-dense meals is what I am always aiming for, even when I’m not on a Whole30!
8. Always have compliant emergency snacks on hand just in case.
I don’t typically snack when I’m no a Whole30, but I do always have emergency snacks on hand just in case. These come in handy when you’re flight is delayed, if you’re stuck at work for longer than expected, or if something unexpected, like an emergency, pops up. I like to have some compliant meat bars and jerky, unsweetened almond butter or cashew butter, unsweetened coconut butter, nuts, and RX bars on hand as my emergency snacks. Usually, I’ll have my emergency snack and when I am finally home I will eat a full meal. I know a snack won’t keep me satiated for the rest of the day, so eating a full meal is important.
9. Experiment with your meals and work on figuring out how much food your body needs to feel satiated until your next meal.
Since it is not recommended to snack during your Whole30, figuring out how much food your body needs to feel satiated is key. As long as I’m eating nutritionally dense foods, I don’t worry about how many calories I’m intaking. I’m really not a calorie counter because I truly believe that as long as you are consuming quality, nutritious foods, you don’t need to worry about how many calories you are eating. I know that there are pre-packaged foods available now that are Whole30 compliant, but whenever I see those meals I know that the meal will not keep me feeling full until my next meal. This is why I typically don’t purchase pre-made compliant meals, but if you give it a try and it works for you, then go for it! Buying the pre-packaged meals is great for those who don’t have to worry about planning your meals ahead of time. The meals are already ready to go and ready to enjoy!
10. When going out to eat, it’s best to look up the menu ahead of time or recommend a place that you know of that serves Whole30 compliant meals.
I think that this is one part of the Whole30 that people sometimes overlook. They’ll go out to a restaurant, but will not ask what oils, marinades, and seasonings are used. To make navigating through your Whole30 easier, you can look over the menu and call the restaurant ahead of time to ask about their oils, seasonings, and marinades. If they don’t have compliant options, don’t be afraid to pack and take your own meal with you! Another way to go about deciding where to go out to eat with your friends or family is to actually recommend a certain place that you are sure serves Whole30 compliant dishes. When I was completing my first and second Whole30, my go-to place was Chipotle. Not everything on the menu is compliant, so make sure to go to their website and check out their ingredient list for their products! At the time, Zoe’s Kitchen did not have a Whole30 compliant menu, but luckily they do now! That is definitely going to be another go-to place of mine during my upcoming January Whole30 if I just don’t feel like cooking that day.
11. Focus on the foods you can have and not on the foods you can’t have.
People can sometimes get fixated on how they can’t have certain types of food. I feel that this ends up discouraging someone to continue or to participate in a Whole30. Instead of focusing on the foods you can’t have, focus on the foods you CAN have! There are a variety of foods that you can having during your Whole30! I know there are people who don’t like the feeling of restriction, but it’s important to remember that this is a Whole30 and not a Whole365. After your Whole30 is over, you get to decide what you want to continue to eat on a daily basis. If you love beans and your reintroduction is a success with beans, then continue having beans!
12. Don’t focus on negative physical body image.
There is a misconception that the Whole30 diet is a weight loss program. As I mentioned above, this is not what it is! You are not supposed to weigh yourself during your Whole30 and there is a reason for that. Sometimes people get discouraged to continue through the program because their pants are not fitting loose or because they feel that they are not shedding the pounds. Don’t become so focused on that! It’ll just bring you down and will discourage you from continuing. This program is a nutritional reset. It is true that some people will experience weight loss, but that is not necessarily what the program is for. I encourage you to focus on the non-scale victories. Examples of non-scale victories are better sleep, increased energy, improved memory, and better management of stress. The Whole30 website has a non-scale victory resource that I’ll link here!
I wish you all the good luck and good vibes to you during your Whole30 journey and I hope these tips are of help to you!