The third time really is the charm! I completed the Whole30 during January 2018, checking off my first resolution for the year.
I learned a lot of things on the Whole30 – about cooking, my own will power, and how crabby I get when chocolate is withheld for 30 days (just ask my husband!). The Whole30 is a very strict, short-term elimination "experiment" where you give up added sugar, grains, soy, dairy, alcohol, and legumes. I say "experiment" because words like diet or cleanse don't quite fit the bill. At the end of the 30 days, you reintroduce these groups one-by-one to see how they affect your body and evaluate things like skin issues, digestion, and energy.
People had a lot to say about the Whole30 while I was doing it. Mostly, "So, what do you eat?" The answer is meat and vegetables. Potatoes. Lots of potatoes. Steak dinners happened a few times.
I had tried the Whole30 two times before, once before my wedding and once in 2017. For my first attempt, I made it about 12 days. The second attempt? I don't even think I made it to day three. When I set out to do the Whole30 again, I was determined. I don't like failing. The key to my eventual success? Let's go through a few tips.
Before I started the program, I planned out four and a half weeks of meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Tons of new, mouth-watering recipes with beautiful photos from Pinterest. Do you know how exhausting trying a new recipe every night is? I had completely forgotten about normal meals like lettuce tacos (literally tacos with lettuce for shells) and things like roasted chicken and veggies.
After a couple nights of failed Whole30 recipes like gross gooey Mongolian beef and weirdly roasted (read: dry) green beans, I was through. I rehauled my meal plan and added revolutionary things in like Taco Tuesday and a Friday night steak and potatoes dinner. I decided that I don't mind eating the same thing for lunch as I ate for dinner the night before, or eating the same thing for lunch five days in a row. So, my piece of advice is this: don't overcomplicate! Nothing is wrong with eating chicken, potatoes, and green beans for dinner. Oh, and spices don't have calories.
GROCERY SHOPPING + PREPPING
We went way over our food budget in January. Why? Meat is expensive. Eating organic is expensive. But, this wasn't an excuse I was willing to accept as a reason to quit the program. I tried to grocery shop for main ingredients over the weekend, then get fresh ingredients on the day of. Since I work in a grocery store, I've grown accustomed to eating fresh (not frozen) chicken and having the opportunity to pick up forgotten items on my way home.
Plus, it's never a bad idea to have a container of cleaned and sliced strawberries for a quick snack.
JUST GET THROUGH THE NEXT MEAL
When you start thinking about going 30 days without added sugar, grains, soy, dairy, alcohol, and legumes, you may freak out. Don't. If I can do it, you can do it. And the only way how is to literally just focus on making your next meal – the next thing you put into your mouth – Whole30 compliant. That's it. Meal plan your heart out, but don't let your mind start to look at that daunting calendar. Day 30 seems years away when you're fighting a sugar-starved migraine on day 4.
At the end of the program, I'd secured some pretty serious non-scale victories (NSVs) – and scale victories, too. I lost a total of 15 pounds, my skin was clear, digestion was on point, my almost-like-clockwork weekly migraines were subsiding, minimal sugar cravings, and I was saying "No, thanks!" to non-Whole30 compliant things like it was no big deal.
Are you planning to try the Whole30? Here are some of my favorite products to get you through the program.
- Compliant plantain chips with homemade guacamole (with LOTS of cumin)
- Chicken and Apple sausages from Aidell's with sweet potato chips
- Nutpods nut milk creamer
- Whole30-approved bacon from Whole Foods (breakfast game changer!)
- Garlic salt