Tackling the Whole30? Here are 10 real-life tips to help you get through it.
January and the Whole30 go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least on Instagram, they do. The Whole30 is a dietary reset that is increasing in popularity year after year. The Whole30 is a 30-day protocol that excludes grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, alcohol, and processed foods from one’s diet. For a full rundown of the program and what it entails, read this.
Personally, I’ve completed it twice, and had one failed attempt. The first time I completed it was in May 2013 (so ahead of the times, I know 💁🏾). It felt challenging, but I got through it. To be honest, this felt like it was so long ago, the whole thing was kind of a blur. I remember discovering Nom Nom Paleo and making a lot of Michelle’s recipes.
The second time I tried it was in January of 2014. I lasted for about a Whole10, but this was at the height of my protein powder addiction and it was going take more than a Whole30 to pry the protein powder out of my cold hands. But gut problems from excess protein powder did the trick by the end of that year.
My most recent experience with the Whole30 was in October 2017, and this time thanks to Instagram, I had a lot of folks asking for tips on how to get through it. My most recent experience with the Whole30 was by far the most positive, and I attribute this to having completely different attitudes about food than I did when I tried it previously.
During my most recent Whole30, I ultimately went on it for two reasons, 1) I was a raging sugar monster and 2) I was spending way too much time thinking about food, mainly because I started working a very food-oriented job shortly before starting the program. I was using food as an outlet when I felt overwhelmed, confused, or bored. By simplifying my food choices, it actually helped me deal with these feelings without turning to food.
I know what you’re thinking – “Didn’t eliminate all of those foods cause you to think about food more?” Surprisingly, no. But I think that had a lot to do with my mindset and approach. Instead of telling myself I “couldn’t” have certain foods for a month, I told myself I was taking a break from certain foods to give my body a break, and to simplify my food choices. Everyone is different, but this mindset really worked for me.
Without further adieu, here are my 10 tips for surviving the Whole30.
Have a good “why”
Why do you want to do the Whole30? While I had a positive experience the last time I completed the program, I definitely don’t think it is for everyone. If you are the kind of person who only wants something more after being told no, you may want to reconsider this program. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
But if you have a solid “why” i.e. – you want to improve your relationship with food, you want more energy, you know certain foods make you feel crappy, etc. make sure you have this “why” at the forefront of your mind to support you when you want to quit. And tell your loved ones your “why” too so they can support you.
Rotisserie chicken is your friend
Uh yeah. Rotisserie chicken is where it’s AT. Each week I would buy a rotisserie chicken, shred it up and would find different creative ways to incorporate it into my meals. It can take on any flavor or seasonings and is a huge time-saver. Shred it up and add it to soups, make chicken salad, make collard green wraps…the possibilities are endless.
However, make sure your rotisserie chicken doesn’t have any funky ingredients. Costco has delicious rotisserie chickens, however, they have carrageenan on them which is a no-go for the Whole30. While brings me to my next point…
Pay close attention to food labels
No really, I mean it. Part of being on the Whole30 is being really aware of what you’re putting in your body, so get in the habit of reading your labels. Ingredients like sugar, corn, and wheat can pop up in sneaky places you wouldn’t expect.
Keep your meals super simple
This one is HUGE. To save yourself frustration and brain-power just keep your meals super simple. The Whole30 is not the time to get really fancy, especially because you will probably be making more of your own food than ever before. Keep it, simple sweetie.
Make simple swaps to keep your favorite meals compliant
Doing the Whole30 doesn’t HAVE to mean you miss out on all your favorite foods. Love tacos? Find a sugar-free taco seasoning and serve the filling in lettuce wraps sans cheese. Love pasta? Cook up some meat and marinara and serve over zoodles. Love pizza? Cook up your favorite pizza toppings (like veggies) with a protein like crumbled sausage in a sugar-free pizza sauce and serve over greens. You can totally make simple swaps to still enjoy your favorite flavors.
Breakfast salads are the real MVP
I promise I eat things besides breakfast salads. Just not when it’s light enough outside to take a pic 🤷🏾♀️ (reason number 3758382 why I love summer – daylight 😎). But this combo of chicken sausage, sauerkraut, leftover Brussels and roasted butternut squash over a bed of arugula rocked my world after my @studio45seattle class today. . Things in my world have been really hectic lately so I’m taking some time to slow down, focus on a little self-care 💆🏾💅🏾💇🏾 and get some #TBBHolidaySLAY work done. Hope you have an amazing week! #balancedberry
If you followed me on Instagram while I was doing my Whole30 you KNOW I was all about breakfast salads. I’m not a huge fan of eggs, so eating eggs for breakfast every day just wasn’t going to happen. My go-to combo was cooked breakfast sausage and sauteed potatoes over arugula with lemon juice and olive oil. So simple. So good.
Prep approved meal components for easy meals
This goes along with keeping meals super simple. Prep meal components instead of entire meals. I recommend having a few prepped proteins on hand (like rotisserie chicken, boiled eggs, cooked sausage, etc.), roast some vegetables, have some greens washed and ready to go into salads, and have sauces and flavor boosters ready to go. Then you can just put the components together to mix and match meals quickly and easily.
Load up on condiments
There are a TON of Whole30 approved sauces and condiments nowadays (there definitely weren’t in 2013!). Have some on hand to quickly and easily add flavor to your meals. I loved Tessamae’s ketchup and BBQ sauce, Primal Kitchen Dressings and Primal Kitchen Mayo. You can also make your own dressings too! Chrissa from Physical Kitchness and Alex from The Defined Dish have some awesome Whole30 sauce recipes (and awesome Whole30 recipes in general).
PS – The Herby Ranch in this post is also Whole30 compliant and is to die for.
Journal. A lot.
This one is huge, especially depending on the reasons why you decided to do the Whole30. If you’re struggling, write about it! What are you craving? How are you feeling? Can you draw any associations from those feelings? Getting your thoughts down on paper and addressing how you’re feeling can really help you sort out your feelings, and will help prevent you from going overboard when you reintroduce foods back in. Also, documenting any benefits you’re experiencing from the program can be good motivation to stick with it.
Take it one day at a time
If you really want to stick with it, take it one day at a time, and one food choice at a time. Don’t stress out about how much time you have left. Do what you can each day.
And there you have it – my 10 best tips for surviving the Whole30. I would love to hear your thoughts below!
- Have you ever done a Whole30?
- What are your favorite tips for getting through it?
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