I’ll never be one of those people who tell you that Whole 30 is easy. It’s not. But at the same time, it wasn’t quite as hard as I had made it out to be in my head either. Funny how it works out that way huh? We psyche ourselves out waaaaaaay more than we need to. In order to combat that, I feel it’s best to go in as prepared as possible. I’ve compiled a list of tips from my Whole 30 experience that will hopefully help some of you that are nervous or on the fence about taking the plunge.
Read The Book
Yes, you can find out the basics of everything you need to know just from scrolling the website, but I still strongly advise people to read the book. It explains everything more in depth and that extra explanation helps you embrace the process better. I had followed Whole 30 and Melissa Hartwig on social media for YEARS prior to embarking on a Whole 30 so I pretty much knew the ins and outs of the program. Even so, I still read the book (las minute, the day before and Day 1 of starting….cuz that’s how I roll) and am so glad that I did. It elevated the “rules” from just being a list of don’ts to something that felt more purposeful rather than something just there to be tough. Does that make sense? I don’t know….just read the damn book. :😉
I strongly suggest planning your Whole 30 for a month that’s more on the mellow side. In my opinion, the less travel, holidays, and social events the better. Obviously, this is unavoidable for some and there will never be a completely perfect time but do the best you can. I planned mine for mid-January. It was post-holiday madness but pre “everyone in my family has a birthday” month. I also avoided eating out at restaurants. While eating out on Whole 30 is possible, it was more work and stress than felt worth it for me.
Some may argue that the point of Whole 30 is being able to attend events and restaurants while still sticking to it and making good decisions, but I say why make it harder on yourself? There’s enough going on during your Whole 30 without adding in the stress of trying to find something you can eat or being tempted by everything around you. Personally, I think the eating out restaurants and attending social events with off plan food is better suited for post Whole 30 while you are entering your Food Freedom. At that point you no longer have such strict rules but can put everything you learned about yourself and the foods you eat into practice to make better decisions.
Take full advantage of the times you are feeling extra motivated
Day 1 I was like a machine! I was simmering bone broth, clarifying butter, making mayo, and making my own breakfast sausage to cook and freeze for quick and easy breakfasts. My advice is to stay on top of things that can get you ahead when you are feeling it, because there will be PLENTY of days when you won’t be and it could save your butt. If I was feeling a little motivated and had a small pocket of time I would find something I could do. I wouldn’t be completely out of mayo but was getting close so I would whip up a new batch really fast. Or snap the green beans to use in the next few days. Anything helps!
Identify what your biggest struggles might be and develop a plan
Like I mentioned in THIS POST, I predicted breakfast and all the prep work would be my biggest struggles and they were. I went into it with a plan for if/when they reared their head. For breakfast I took it slow and just tried a bit more and a bit earlier each day while not trying to place too much pressure on myself thus making the situation worse.
For the prepping portion, I made sure I had a few plans in place for days I really didn’t want to cook. I saved the trip to Five Guys for when I was completely over it and the thought of having to cook made me just want to go to bed. This kept it as a welcomed break from the norm and a novel treat. Keep some of those in your arsenal!!
I also toyed around with the idea of getting a Whole 30 compliant meal box delivery if I really needed it. I would still have to cook, but it would require a lot less thinking on my part. I ended up not doing this, but don’t hesitate to do so if it will help keep you sane and get you through a rough patch.
Really try your best to be observant of your body and behavior during the 30 days. If you don’t take the time to notice the changes you will be much more likely to give in to the “fuck it” mindset where you convince yourself that NOTHING is even changing so what’s the point? I guarantee that if you really stop and think about it you will find something(s) that will help keep you motivated to keep going. For me it was being able to eat a meal without looking 6 months pregnant afterwards and not having a noisy stomach that embarrasses me in meetings
Cooking & Cleaning
Stock up on plenty of parchment and foil! Whole 30 inherently comes with a lot of prep work and dishes and lining your pans with these things makes clean up soooooo much easier and faster. I also tried to cook using as few pans as possible. One pot/pan meals became my jam! Even if they aren’t a “one pot meal” most meals can be cooked only using a few items if you think them out a little first. Stagger the cooking of things and you can often keep reusing the same pan with just a simple wipe out....sometimes I don’t wipe it out at all and just let the flavors roll over 😊
And it may not be a possibility for everyone, but if you are able to wash your dishes at work...do it!! I spent a lot of years throwing my dirty Tupperware back into my lunchbox without cleaning it. Now I always clean them at the sink in the work breakroom. Having a few less dishes to do once I get home makes all the difference and I’m not dirtying multiple Tupperware sets. I bring them home already clean and ready to pack the next days lunch without digging around for another set.
Keep it interesting, but not overwhelming
As Melissa Hartwig says “ You don’t get bonus points for making your whole 30 harder than it needs to be” This one sort of piggy backs of the “take advantage of the times you’re feeling motivated” point. I don’t suggests planning out an elaborate and time-consuming meal every night for dinner...for pretty obvious reasons. You will get burnt out FAST and will be more likely to go off the rails. What I found worked best for me was trying to balance out enough of the interesting meals that might take more work with the really simple ones that can be whipped up in 10-15 minutes. One day making Cracklin chicken, fried plantains, broccoli, and aioli dip was totally doable. The next night I would be throwing some Applegate hot dogs in a pan with a salad and calling it a day. I kept things like compliant hot dogs, sausages, and bacon on hand at all times without actually menu planning them for any particular day. I saved them for when I needed something in a pinch. If I had kept it that simple everyday though I would have for sure gotten bored which also may have made me jump ship. It was all about the balance of the two that made me successful
In the infamous words of Scar....
Seriously though, always have emergency food with you! There was only one time that I epically failed in this department. I had not packed a hearty enough or fat filled lunch and then went running errands after work. With the added errands it had been many hours since I had last eaten and wouldn’t be having dinner for some time even when I did get home. I was walking around one store when I started to feel woozy. By the second store I was barely able to hold my hand basket and was having to stop to set it down and take breaks. I was fading fast. Luckily, I was able to buy something that was compliant and rip into it the second I was walking out of the store and inhaled it in my car. It was far from an ideal situation but taught me a lesson. From that point on I was never without emergency food and made an effort to pack more satiating meals for work.
Do the reintroduction protocol
When I began reintroduction once the 30 days was over, I received several messages from people following along on Instagram that told me I was the only person they knew that had done Whole 30 that actually followed through with reintroduction. At first, I was surprised by this. Then I thought about it for a minute and realized that nobody I knew had done it either. I feel like the 30 days is almost a waste if you don’t properly reintroduce the excluded foods. This means doing them one at a time (again, read the book) to truly be able to gage how they affect you. Through reintroduction I found out that what I thought were problem foods were not and most of my issues pointed to dairy. If I had dived into a cheeseburger on day 31, I would have completely assumed that the bread was the problem (because that was what I had always thought before) and I probably would have kept downing the dairy. What you learn from reintroduction is invaluable.
This means that you need to commit to more than just the 30 days. At minimum you need to dedicate yourself to 40 days if you follow their protocol. I divided my reintroduction into even more specific categories which took me into 45 days. But they were 45 COMPLETELY WORTH IT days. Don’t shortchange yourself all these benefits by going off the rails on Day 31. I promise it is worth it.
That about sums up my tips for a successful Whole 30. What tips do you have? Please share them in the comments