Recently, I attempted Whole 30 as part of a challenge at my gym. While I did not complete it by the book, I did learn a TON and have so many tips and tricks I wanted to share.
And when to break them…or at least forget that you are following them
- Meal Prep: This is the key to a successful Whole 30. If you have something tasty and compliant in front of you to eat you won’t be as easily tempted by that Pizza your office is ordering. Here are some tips:
- Pick recipes that excite you like this one and buy all of the ingredients before the week starts.
- Chop things you can chop ahead of time
- Order from Territory foods! They are a meal prep company that delivers fully prepared meals that are 100% compliant. This was the way I realized whole 30 is feasible and it took all of the stress out of figuring out what to eat.
- Snacks: Whole 30 discourages snacking because you are supposed to be learning to curb your cravings, but I would sure rather eat a snack than cave for fast food later in the day. Remember, if you’re hungry you’re doing it wrong so make sure you keep tons of compliant snacks around to help you out.
- Portions: Back to that “not hungry” thing, it takes way more veggies than you think to correctly fuel yourself. When you’re roasting veggies make more than you think you’ll eat.
- Drinks: Sometimes I eat when I’m bored. Maybe I could drink water instead? Yeah, there are tons of drink options to entertain you too.
- Eating out: There is sugar in everything- and I mean everything. Even though it is annoying to ask about the ingredients you really have to in order to see results from Whole 30.
- Drinking: When social events come up and FOMO is hitting you hard, your best bet is a vodka soda with lime. Breaking one rule won’t completely ruin your whole 30, but most alcoholic drinks are filled with sugar, grains, or dairy so like with food, choose something with minimal ingredients.
Things to eat that will WORK
- Go to snacks/craving killers: plantain chips with guac, Rx bars, apples and almond butter, bananas, sweet potato toast, kale chips (homemade), frozen banana ice cream, Lara bars (only certain flavors), bacon wrapped dates
- Meals: Zoodles, roasted veggies (sweet potatoes, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini are faves), chicken salad, salmon (Whole Foods pre-seasoned fillets are good but be sure to check the ingredients for sugar or honey), Cauliflower fried rice, fajitas, thai green curry.
- Breakfast: Whip up a few breakfast bowls so you don’t have to stress in the morning.
- Drinks: Kombucha (just make sure there is no added sugar or syrups), iced coffee (Trader Joe’s canned iced coffee is great to stock up on), la croix
Holy shit this Whole 30 thing is real
- Sugar: There is sugar in EVERYTHING! Even at Whole Foods there are very few items in the hot bar that do not contain sugar, agave, or honey. There are only two dressings at SweetGreen that don’t contain sugar (FYI Its the Pesto and Cilantro lime dressings). The baristas at Starbucks will tell you that the almond milk has no sugar added but if you look at the container the second ingredient is sugar. This is important. We often think we are making healthy choices only to be consuming far more than our daily suggested sugar intake. The biggest lifestyle change I have made from this experience is looking out for added sugar in everything I eat. Read the labels for the ingredients, not the nutrition facts. Order a cocktail without the simple syrup. Be that annoying customer that asks to see the packaging, because you deserve to know exactly what is going in to your body.
- Coffee: I used to drink sweetened coffee because I thought it didn’t taste good without it. I was basically drinking syrup to mask the taste of coffee and give me a quick pick me up. When you really think about the fact that you are starting your day with the equivalent of dessert and taking a break in the afternoon to reboot with more dessert, you will realize how bad that is. I’ve started adding coconut milk to my coffee for a little creaminess but sugar no longer has a place in my drinks.
- Grains: I used to think I needed grains in order to feel “full”. A lot of us are conditioned to expect a grain on our plate- this is what the food pyramid tells us and we are taught when we are little. This. Is. Not. True. Your body needs carbohydrates for energy but this does not mean grains are the place this should come from. Potatoes, broccoli, squash, and bananas all have carbs in them that your body can process perfectly fine. Whole 30 is not about not eating carbs, it’s about eating grain free carbs. Your energy levels and even your emotions are so effected by the type of carb you eat and I think being more consistently energized and emotionally stable sounds pretty good to me.
- Emotions: What you eat highly influences how you feel. If you’ve been feeling sort of blah for a while, try eating something different. My first 3 days of Whole 30 I was extremely stressed with work and was hungry all day. This led to me being an emotional wreck. I considered stopping Whole 30 because of how miserable it was making me. Food shouldn’t make you miserable. I needed to fuel myself better with substantial ingredients. Once I figured that out I felt like I was totally in control.
Ok I get it, Whole 30 is awesome
Total disclaimer: I did not follow a lot of the rules of Whole 30. I drank with my co-workers, ate Pizza and Bagels in New York, and caved for Taco Bell. I also snacked, ate hummus, and made “fake” dessert. Still, the lessons you learn when you truly examine your relationship with food are real. I highly recommend giving it a shot and sticking to it for at least 10 days. In 10 days without cheating you will see results and that is more than any other workout program or dietary supplement can give you.