Well, you’ve asked for it. Here’s the start of a summer Whole30 series.
Friends have approached me over the past year to ask how to be successful with Whole30 — and other versions of clean eating (Paleo, GF/DF, etc.). I’ll be following Whole30 guidelines in June & July, and thought it would be a great time to help anyone who is interested in how I make it happen.
The Ugly Truth
First of all, I have to be honest. Completing Whole30 isn’t easy. It takes a ton of discipline, planning and time in the kitchen. But it’s also worth it and attainable.
If you’ve never heard of Whole30 before, or if you’re pretty new to it, I highly recommend checking out the program’s website, whole30.com. Melissa and her team have done an incredible job creating a resource that answers all your questions and provides the best tools (shopping lists, dining guide, etc.).
Here’s the deal (see the full run-down of the rules here):
- No added sugar (including honey, agave, maple syrup, Splenda, and other replacements)
- No alcohol
- No grains
- No legumes or soy (exceptions: green beans, snap peas)
- No dairy
- No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
- No baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients (i.e. pancakes, tortillas, chips, fries, cookies, ice cream)
This means a lot of meal prep and a lot of meals at home (and, in turn, a lot of dishes to wash). You can keep it simple with one-skillet or sheet pan meals, or go more extravagant — I try to give myself a variety of options for the week so I can choose depending on my mood that day.
A Few Starter Tips
- Write out your why. Why do you want to do this? Come back to this on the days you are struggling, and it will help you make a healthy choice.
- Get your family on board. While it’s AWESOME to have someone who goes through Whole30 with you (especially for your first Whole30), that’s not always possible. Zach doesn’t do Whole30 with me, but he does support me throughout the process. Whenever I’m really battling a craving or see something that looks delicious, Zach is good about asking me, “Is it worth it?” and that keeps me from making a decision that I will definitely regret later.
- Give yourself a solid 1-2 weeks lead time before your start date. Whole30 naturally lends itself to going through it during a set month (June 1-30), but you don’t have to start on the first of the month. Make sure you have time to prep, have recipes in your queue, etc.
- In case you haven’t read this in the rules linked above, there are no cheat days. Some programs allow 1 cheat day a week or every other week, but I always found myself binging on those days in a way that ruined my progress (and made me feel like crap!), so I’m actually really grateful for this structure.
- Check out the resources and partnerships that Melissa’s team has to offer on Whole30.com. If you have a crazy schedule and need help organizing meals, Real Plans or these meal delivery programs might be helpful for you.
- If you’re in a pinch, know where you can stop for food on the go. For example, Zoe’s Kitchen has Whole30-compliant menu items (labeled on their menus for easy decisions!).
- Keep compliant Lara Bars or jerky in your bag so that you don’t get stuck without food when you need it — this keeps you from cheating because there “weren’t compliant options”.
- Don’t rely too much on fruit and potatoes. Otherwise they just become a replacement for the foods we can’t have (like sugar and junk food).
- Find a few recipes you really like so that you can look forward to them each week. (See below for some of my very favorites!)
- Pinterest is helpful for recipe hunting, but be sure to 1) not go too far down the rabbit hole without making progress in planning and 2) double check recipes for compliance. (Here’s a link to my Whole30 board if you’re interested!)
My Favorite Recipes
Here is a quick preview of my favorite recipes while on Whole30. You’ll probably see a trend in websites I rely on, and you’ll find that you’ll do the same once you find someone you like!
- Crock-Pot meatballs — YUMMY on their own, or with zucchini noodles, carrot spirals, etc. (I make regular noodles on the side for Zach.)
- Roasted Lemon Chicken with potatoes & rosemary
- Dump Ranch (saves my life… and delicious with the chicken above)
- Chicken, Spinach & Artichoke Dip — great with vegetables
- Chicken Salad with bacon and scallions — perfect to prep on the weekend for lunches
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes — also good with regular potatoes!
- Crock-Pot Balsamic Beef Roast
- Sheet Pan Steak with Potatoes & Broccoli
- Turkey & Egg Breakfast casserole — another great recipe to prep for the week
My Favorite Snacks
- Fruit and vegetables I prepped during the weekend (cucumbers, carrots, apples, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, olives)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
- Compliant Lara Bars, in moderation (apple pie is a good one!)
- Hard boiled eggs (most grocery stores offer these already prepared if you don’t want to make them yourself)
- Chicken apple sausage or compliant hot dog
Here’s a post I found on Pinterest with a few other snack recipes.
Until the next post…
As we go, I’m hoping to hit on more detailed topics like meal prep, where I get groceries, who I follow on social media for inspiration, and more.
What else would you like to know?