I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, and certainly not one for diets—but after hearing what a difference the Whole30 made for several of my friends, I decided to do some digging and find out what the program was all about. If you have undiagnosed food sensitivities or allergies, want to feel more energized, or just want to feel good about the types of foods you’re putting into your body, I’d recommend seeing what the Whole30 can do for you.
I started the Whole30 last year in January (it’s a 30 day program, plus the food reintroduction period), and almost a year later, I’m seriously reconsidering going on the 30-day program again given the positive effect it had on my health. During the month that I was on the Whole30, I not only reaped the benefits of feeling better, but discovered what foods I was sensitive to, providing me with valuable knowledge that I could carry into the future.
So what is the Whole30?
The 30-day (+reintroduction period) program starts by cutting out certain food groups and common ingredients, like added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, MSG and sulfites, and loading up on things like fruits, veggies and protein. Doing this provides your body with good, wholesome foods that have more nutrients than the processed or junk foods that are so easily accessible. To learn more about the Whole30 and to get started, visit: http://whole30.com/step-one and http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules.
The official Whole30 book is great. All of the recipes are delicious. Since a lot of food groups are cut out that also means many of the dishes are easy to make! The book also includes sample meal plans, a day-by-day breakdown of the Whole30 experience and more.
You can buy the official Whole30 book –> here <–
My husband says this blog should be called “The Whole30: The Sufferings of the Husband” (he doesn’t like vegetables very much). But I would have to disagree! I won’t say that the Whole 30 was easy—far from it. But I would definitely say it’s worthwhile. I learned so much from doing this. You would not believe how many “healthy” items in the store have added sugar, even things like chicken broth and lunchmeat. I didn’t think a program like this could make that big of a difference in my energy level. And you can still have coffee, so that’s a definite plus!
Here are my top 8 Whole30 tips:
1. Be patient with yourself.
The first week especially is an adjustment period, and I felt hungry all the time. You will continually make new realizations surrounding which foods fill you up. For example, it takes eating about four apples to feel as full as you would after eating a bag of chips. After the first few days, I began to switch from the mentality of eating things that were “most healthy” to eating things that would fill me up the most (I ate a lot of plantain chips).
2. Bring lots of snacks to work/school (whenever you’re out).
If you have a consistent supply of healthy snacks, you’ll be less likely to get tempted/derailed.
3. Make plenty of food to take as leftovers.
One of my favorite recipes in the Whole30 book was the shepherd’s pie. If you follow the exact recipe in the book, you’ll come out with enough to fill a 12”x18” baking dish. This would easily last for 2-3 meals.
4. Make food ahead of time.
Cooking food ahead of time (especially when you have a busy schedule) makes it so much easier to stick to the program. For example, I ate leftovers for dinner one night and made gazpacho later that evening to have ready for the following night.
5. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
About halfway through the program I started to get more creative and try variations with recipes. I made shepherd’s pie again in the second week, but with beef and mashed russet potatoes (instead of ground turkey and sweet potatoes) for a heartier variation.
6. Make things that will fill you up.
This one’s simple: you’re less likely to cheat if you’re full. Experiment with different recipes in the Whole30 book and find those that fill you up the most.
7. You can still go out to dinner.
Just look ahead of time to see what Whole30-compliant menu options the restaurant has. It’s a bit harder to find dishes you can eat—but definitely possible. I’m grateful after completing the program because now I’m so much more aware of the healthy options at nearby restaurants. The Whole30 forced me to try new places that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
8. Don’t skip the reintroduction period.
They say this in the Whole30 book too, but really! In my opinion, this is the most important part of the program, and a big differentiator between this eating plan and other diets. The most worthwhile thing I got out of the Whole30 was discovering what types of food sensitivities I had, and that wouldn’t have been possible without gradually reintroducing certain foods and ingredients back into my diet.
And that’s it! Best of luck to those of you who decide to give the Whole30 a try, and Happy New Year! Here are a few other resources to help you get started:
For a full list of what I ate each day, see the Whole30 Eating Plan.
Thanks for reading along! Questions, comments, any of your own Whole30 experiences you’d like to share? Please respond in the space below!