This past September, Jon and I did our SECOND round of Whole30. For those who don’t know the Whole30 is a program founded by Melissa Hartwig, and it basically entails 30 days of no added sugar, no legumes, no dairy, no soy, no alcohol and no grains. It is NOT easy, so don’t go into it thinking it will be. But with a little preparation and mental stamina, you can do it! The Whole30 has benefitted me in ways I didn’t know were possible. It taught me what my body truly thrives off of, and what it is a-okay without.
I’m going to do my VERY best to walk you through the few things I wish I knew/had before starting. And here’s a great source for where to go to find out more about the program before diving in! Whole 30 Q&A, Whole 30 Recipes– also, I find it an absolute MUST to know, the founder is the most OPEN person ever, and she is always answering personal messages on her PERSONAL instagram account if you ever have any questions and can’t reach the designated Whole30 team! When doing a program so strict, I find this an absolute lifesaver if you have a question.
1. Read the original book, Whole30. NO REALLY. If you commit, read the WHOLE DANG BOOK. You will know what to expect, there are then no surprises. You’ve already committed 30 days of your life you may as well commit to reading the book, too. This book goes through EVERY SINGLE day and tells you what to expect. Your results may vary, but I found that I can relate to a bunch of this, if nothing more, a day or two off from what was specified. Same for Jon, pretty much spot-on. If you’re here, you’re a reader anyway, hop aboard. It also has simple, great, recipes in the back – and they will be VERY helpful when beginning. Get the book- right here.
2. Stock your fridge with: eggs, grass-fed meat, frozen vegetables, and every kind of potato known to man. These will be your everything. Next up, get yourself some: ghee, coconut oil, nuts [NOT peanuts, no no!] and compliant nut butters [NO ADDED SUGARS] Compliant: Trader Joes, Simply Balanced, 365, Justin’s Original – Want to go the extra mile, but not make things like your own mayo? SAME HERE. These next items cost a bit more, but save your lunch so, worth it? I think so: Primal Kitchens Mayo, Compliant Ketchup, Compliant Tessemae’s Dressings.
3. Schedule an off-day. No, not from the program. But from cooking crazy meals. You will be overwhelmed at the prep-work for a Whole30. You have to make sure your dinners are carefully planned, and of course, adhering to all the guidelines. It is a LOT. SO, by this I mean, let yourself have a pre-made turkey burger with sweet potato for dinner. Trader Joe’s and manyyyy other brands have compliant burgers you can literally heat on a skillet in no time. And baked potato/sweet potato, whatever, have that and some steam-fresh broccoli, dinner is DONE in 10 mins flat, and all you did was hit a few buttons on the microwave and flip a burger. And guess what? STILL delicious 😉
4. GRAB SOMEONE TO JOIN YOU. In my case, I had my husband, but even a friend who you know was looking into the program, maybe you can be that FINAL push for him/her! It is GREAT to have someone to vent to, plan with, and go on this little mini-journey with! I mean it, if you need to vent, do it. As I said, this can be hard! You can’t have a glass of wine to chill out, so you can surely join in on a Whole30 thread where everyone is losing their mind on day 9.
1. Get some sources ready. I had the Whole30 Cookbook for my first round, and I ADORE that thing, but, it is NOT the only source! I found SO MANY amazing food blogs this time around that have Whole30 recipes! Just to get you started here are a few: 40 Aprons, Paleo Running Mama, PaleoCupboard. These are just the tip of the iceberg! There truly are SO many wonderful resources out there! Also, it is SUPER helpful to follow @whole30recipes and @whole30 on Instagram. They have daily recipes, and stories that feature totally compliant recipes!
2. LOVE your Slow Cooker and one-pot meals. I use my slow cooker ALL the time, as we know, but for the Whole30, my favorite reason to break it out was to take skinless chicken breasts and put a few pounds in on low for six to eight hours and then shred them for chicken salad throughout the week. Quick, easy lunches! Just add some celery, approved mayo, and seasoning, and done! You can of course add whatever you like to chicken salad, make it your own!
3. Use a planner/meal planning tool. I didn’t even KNOW what Plan to Eat was the first time I did the Whole30, but now that I do, I can’t imagine the extra time I would have spent planning our 2nd Whole30 without it! You can see my thoughts on Plan to Eat right here, but just know that by adding recipes into it, and scheduling them, it creates your shopping list, saving you time, effort, and in the long run, MONEY! If you don’t want to use this service, put the time in and use a planner to schedule your meals. Without planning, your Whole30 will most certainly fail. As I have said, it is a time investment, but it is well worth it!
4. If you can, consider grocery delivery. I know, I know, I probably sound like I’m making you spend a buttload of money on a service you don’t need. But here is the truth, ROAMING THE GROCERY AISLES ON THE WHOLE30 IS DANGEROUS. Everything is tempting, even things you didn’t like before. You are craving sugar, you want it ALL. Using a a grocery delivery service helps you avoid ALL the temptation, and in the end, it will save your Whole30, and your wallet. I have found that I save A LOT of money using grocery delivery simply because I can’t do the typical “Oh this looks good! or Yeah we can use that!”
- From the Whole30 Cookbook– Braised Short Rib with Porcini Mushroom Sauce– we have made this MANY times, including when not on the Whole30, it is TRULY amazing, and LUCKILY you can find it for free right here!
- From 40 Aprons– Egg Roll in a Bowl – OMG was this amazing! I was literally SHOCKED by how much it tastes like an egg roll! Hint: I did amp up the seasoning a LITTLE bit, but it was PURE LOVE.
- From Taste of Lizzy T–Sweet Potato Chili– this is actually in my crock pot RIGHT now, and I love it! It is hearty and delicious, you almost forget there’s no beans in there 😉
- From Paleo Cupboard– Butternut Squash Soup– BETTER THAN PANERA’S. That is all I will say. This is on my repeat list- FOR-EV-ER.
- From Paleo Running Mama–Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Onions & Apples – truly a delight, and tasted like a thanksgiving dish through and through with the fresh herbs and sweetness. Loved this, and definitely recommend to those looking for something a bit different!
To wrap up, the Whole30 is NOT a diet. It is more of a reset. You are eliminating foods commonly known to cause issues in the body. At the end, you slowly add each food group back into your diet. In my case, I have found what does not work well for me is dairy and many grains. Due to this, I will be eating a MOSTLY paleo-based diet starting Monday [yeah, tomorrow]. My lunches and dinners are actually Whole30 compliant in their entirety, but I will be allowing myself to have things such as beans and the occasional added sugar. This doesn’t hurt my body, and I know that thanks to the Whole30.
The Whole 30 team has built a wonderful community and a wonderful program, and if you EVER have any questions or need advice on it, send me an email or a message here and I will gladly get back to you! And OF COURSE, let me know if you’re planning a Whole 30!
Also on Instagram I frequently chat Whole 30 and showcase my meals and planning process!