Welcome to Whole30: You Can Totally Do This!
Updated: Jan 3, 2018
First of all, congratulations on deciding to do a Whole30. Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride!
When I led my first group Whole30 in September, I sent the overview and tips below to get everyone acquainted with the program. I highly recommend investing in the official Whole30 books to learn more about the program specifics - there is just too much to cover in one article!
For those of you (or your partners) who are not super familiar with the Whole30, think of it like pushing the reset button with your health, habits and relationship with food. Don’t think of it as a diet – it’s more like a 30 day experiment designed to test which food(s) have a negative impact on your body, health and quality of life. If you're not sure if Whole30 is for you, here are some great questions to ask yourself:
Are your energy levels inconsistent/nonexistent?
Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by overuse or injury?
Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try?
Do you have some sort of condition (skin issues, digestive problems, seasonal allergies, fatigue) that medication hasn’t helped?
There is no way to tell if these symptoms are directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff – than by doing a 30 day elimination diet, allowing your gut and body to heal itself, and then slowly reintroducing the foods below separately to see how your body reacts. Even if you discover you don’t have any sensitivities, your relationship with food will be forever changed.
So, to dive into the most important part – what do you eat?
This is what you will NOT be eating:
Grains of any kind (including corn, quinoa, rice and oats)
Legumes (including soy, beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas and peanuts)
Alcohol (boo, I know)
Dirty oils (canola or soybean)
Additives like Carrageenan, MSG, sulfites or any other weird preservatives… if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it!
Any baked goods, junk foods or treats with “approved” ingredients (ex, Paleo brownies, sweet potato chips, French fries)
You will be eating TONS of:
Meat and fish, including sugar free bacon
Organic fruits and veggies including potatoes
Healthy fats and oils: olive, avocado, coconut, ghee, nuts (in moderation)
Accomplishing this will require you to:
Shop mindfully and read the labels on everything
Make time for meal prep once or twice a week so you don't have to spend time cooking 3x a day
Plan to eat before social events so you're not tempted by non-compliant food and drink
Remember that you have me, the Whole30 forums and ChopFizzClink resources when you need encouragement or answers to "Can I eat ___?" questions
Go to Whole30.com for tons and tons more info
To sum it up with the most famous Whole30-ism:
Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. Drinking your coffee black IS. NOT. HARD. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth: the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
I promise - you can totally do this!
Now that we've covered the basics... what’s cookin’?
I put some of my favorite recipes together on this Pinterest board for you to browse photos. Please note some of these recipes have to be adapted to be compliant - don't worry, I'll share them separately!
Here is a sample list of my all time faves:
Crispy Kale and Sausage Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
BLT Breakfast salad
Salsa chicken with eggs
Chicken zucchini avocado pesto salad
Chipotle tuna salad (eat with seaweed sheets as “sushi”)
Garlic Greek Chicken Salad
Bruschetta Chicken (tossed with salad or with veggies side)
Perfect 10 Green Salad + protein
Green chile chicken with fajita peppers and zoodles
Homemade Caesar dressing with salmon and roasted parsnip “croutons” (from the Whole30 Cookbook)
Italian Meatballs with zoodles and marinara
Paleo Cashew Chicken
Lettuce wrapped tacos or burgers
Tons of easy soups (butternut squash, turnip leek, potato cauliflower – so much yum!)
Fruit “cereal”: berries with almond or coconut milk, topped with shaved almonds and coconut shavings
Hard boiled eggs
Apple or celery + almond butter
Lettuce wrapped anything (leftover meat with sauces, taco meat, etc)
On the go: RxBars, Epic jerky bars, Larabars, Kind Pressed fruit bars
Hopefully you’re drooling a little, right?
Lastly, here are a few products/resources I recommend you invest in before we get going. If you don’t feel like reading or buying any gadgets you’re not sure you’ll use, there are plenty of free resources or alternate items in your kitchen that will do just fine.
These are the things that saved my Whole30, three times and counting:
Reading the original Whole30 book, It Starts With Food: this book deep dives into the nutritional science behind the program and really breaks down why each food group is excluded. Understanding how wheat, dairy and sugar were wreaking slow havoc on my body by messing with hormone levels, destroying my gut health and causing chronic inflammation was the only thing that kept me going when I just wanted a cookie SO.DAMN.BAD. If you are interested in the Whole30 as a reset you probably don’t need this much info, but if you have a hunch you might have some undiagnosed (or in my case, simply ignored) issues, this is a must read for motivation.
Silicon baking sheets: HELLO, ROASTED VEGGIES! These liners make clean up a breeze and make veggies deliciously caramelized on the bottom. They work great for meatballs and salmon too (crispy skin FTW!). Make sure you buy the size that fits the cookie sheets you already own (or get a new set of those too), it needs to be completely flat when it’s laying in the bottom of the sheet to roast food evenly.
Mandolin slicer: Yes, you can just use a knife or veggie peeler/grater, but for time consuming veggies this is so worth it.
A mini food chopper/blender for sauces and more – just makes life easier than dragging out the big blender.
Mini spiralizer: I got this as a white elephant gift 3 years ago and it’s still in rotation (hah- get it?). The portability is a plus if you want to make fresh zoodles for lunch at the office!
Travel salad dressing holders – also works great for lemon juice and small quantities of leftover sauces.
I know this is a LOT to digest – I hope you’re still with me!
If there’s anything else I can do or anything you can share with me about why Whole30 or diet attempts failed in the past, I’d love to hear more! Feel free to send me a message on Instagram or email with any questions/hesitations/needs/suggestions/etc.