If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed from time to time I put myself through absolute hell set out to do something really healthy for my body and mind, and partake in the Whole30 Challenge. In a nutshell (yes, you can eats nuts), the Whole30 is a 30-day reset where you replace sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and booze with whole foods like vegetables, fruit, meat and seafood. Did I lose you at no booze? I get it, and yep, no wine, beer or liquor for 30 days. You will live, I promise. Is it hard? Yes. Is it totally doable and will you feel like a champion afterwards? Oh hellllll yes. Check out my tips and let me know if you have some of your own to share in the comments below!
Get yourself a big ‘ol calendar. And use this lifesaver timeline to mark the days you can expect to feel great and the days you can expect to feel murderous a bit grumpy. Note that your mood may not exactly match the timeline, but it’ll be pretty darn close. The best part of the calendar is crossing the day off and being that much closer to your goal. Go you! P.S. If you love the timeline above, you’ll also love these other helpful official Whole30 downloads.
Hide all the things. Go through your pantry and fridge before you start. Toss or donate any no-no’s, or put any that will still be good on day 31 in a paper bag (like one from Target or Trader Joe’s) and push it to the back of the fridge. Ignore it for the next 30 days. This way when you open the fridge, you’ll know anything in there is fair game.
Food prep your little heart out. This might be the most important tip. It’s super frustrating when you get home from an unexpected long and hard day and you have no idea what to eat/don’t want to cook dinner. Set yourself up for success by spending a little time over the weekend cooking and prepping as many meals as possible. I wasn’t much of a chef pre-Whole30, but I now have more than a few favorite recipes (keep scrolling), and I really look forward to my Sunday evening time in the kitchen.
On office life. If you work in an awesome office like mine, there are always amazing treats out for the taking—donuts, cupcakes, chicken & waffles, pizza, beer. I’ve been taking pictures of all the treats that magically appear, which in a weird way, makes me feel like I’m consuming them. I sat close to a tray of donuts in a meeting once just so I could smell them. On that note, you will do really weird things on the Whole30. Just be prepared with your lunch and know there will be treats next month!
The first weekend was super hard for me. Get yourself some La Croix or Topo Chico with lemon or lime and watch a good movie or Netflix season. Scott and I have done the Whole30 three times now, and on the first two tries, we always found some reason to talk ourselves into cheating. “Welllll, maybe we can have red wine on weekends. It’s good for your heart!” I’m proud to say we didn’t cheat at all during our most recent Whole30 in September. I tell you this because you will think of hilarious reasons you can just have a little of this or that. But don’t. When you’re having a huge craving, make yourself busy and let it pass. When you wake up the next day without cheating, you’ll feel so much stronger. It’s totally a brain game. So weird! So fun!
No but really, load up on fun water. Okay, so part of the challenge is that you’re not supposed to swap out bad stuff for fake bad stuff. For example, you shouldn’t drink Topo Chico from a wine glass. But I mean… if it’s going to keep you from falling off the wagon, do it! Perhaps give it the old college try first though and reserve the mocktail for when you just. can’t. take. it. anymore.
For my sweet tooth sisters. Okay, same point here. You’re not supposed to eat fake dessert because Whole30 is all about breaking those bad habits. But if you’re really hurting, keep some dates in the freezer and treat yo self TO ONE when you’re about to fall off the ledge. I swear after not eating sugar for a while, it’ll taste like chocolate.
Don’t go crazy on fruit or nuts. Scott and I did that during our first go and I think it messed with our results. We treated ourselves to a few grapes and strawberries at breakfast and lunch on our recent Whole30 and it was totally fine.
When days are rough. Remember why you’re doing this. “Remember that you are the CEO of your body and you should be boss about that sh*t.” Also, talk to a friend or head to Instagram to see how others are staying strong. Whole30’s official Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest definitely help too. It’s such an interesting science experiment you’re doing on your body, so when days are hard, just think of it that way. It’s pretty amazing what you learn about your habits and brain. I promise by the end of the 30 days, you’ll feel in charge, rather than your body/sugar being the boss. Neat.
Okay cool story, but what the hell do we eat?? The hardest part of Whole30 is not knowing what the heck you can eat. Huzzah! Check out my favorite recipes below.
- My Whole30 Pinterest board, duh.
- Make this breakfast casserole on Sunday night and it will last you through Friday morning. Trust me, it will save you on busy mornings. I trick it out with 2-3 chopped sweet potatoes, half of an onion (chopped), a bag of frozen spinach and 11 eggs instead of 10. We fancy.
- On weekends, we get down with bacon (check the label for sugar-gah), avocado, eggs made with coconut milk and a small amount of fruit. Oh, and coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon is delightful!
- My Whole30 Pinterest board, duh.
- Roasted veggies and sausages make for an easy and quick meal you can make at work for lunch or dinner if you get home late. I love Trader Joe’s already cooked sausages. Be sure to read the package though—they’re not all Whole30 approved. We love the chicken apple, jalapeno, garlic herb and sun-dried tomato flavors. Roast two pans of veggies on Sunday and they should last you through the work week.
- I make this turkey kale soup every Sunday night and it lasts us 2-3 dinners.
- It’s always good to keep a ton of tuna fish in your pantry. I mix mine with Just Mayo, chopped black olives, chopped cucumbers and Dijon mustard. I eat it with carrots or plop a big spoonful in romaine lettuce cups. Side note: I tried to make my own mayo and it was a huge fail. Just Mayo is approved and does the trick.
- Tuna patties with Just Mayo for dipping, sweet potato fries and grapes. I LOVE this recipe. It’s so dang good and easy. Instead of breadcrumbs, use almond or coconut flour and allow the patties to hang out in the fridge for about 15 minutes before cooking so they stay together in the skillet.
- Slow cooker chicken with roasted veggies and grapes. The grapes feel like a treat. I make the chicken on Sunday and it lasts for a few meals. It’s super easy and sets you up for success. This chicken recipe is a favorite. And so is this one.
- Butternut squash, sweet potato or zucchini zoodles. You can use a spiralizer like this one if you have time to cook. OR, buy the zoodles already zoodled. We found this brand at our local grocery store. Just throw them on the stove with garlic, onions and a little bit of clarified butter, then toss in some protein like grilled chicken or shrimp. (Keeping cooked, deveined & peeled shrimp in the freezer is a lifesaver on late work nights.)
- Meatballs, y’all! They’re great with zoodles, clarified butter, garlic and diced tomatoes or a no sugar added tomato sauce. I like this recipe, but often use turkey instead of pork.
- Fried okra with avocado cream is such a good side.
- I could eat a pan of prosciutto wrapped asparagus for dinner.
- Sweet potato, kale and shrimp skillet. So easy and delicious. Make more than you think you need for easy lunch leftovers.
- Jalapeño turkey burgers with sweet potato fries, diced red onion and Wholly guacamole.
- Moroccan spiced roasted sweet potatoes and carrots with Balsamic steak rolls.
Great Links From Others – I’ll keep these updated as I come across new ones!
- Here’s What You Can and Can’t Eat on Whole30
- Whole30 Meal Plan and Grocery List
- 21 Easy and Delicious Whole30 Dinner Recipes
Have you done the Whole30? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below! xo, Mel