If you’ve ever wanted to do Whole30, there’s never a better time to start than right now!
When you do Whole30, you commit to cutting out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, sulfites, and any processed foods. Stick to this diet for 30 days, and you’ll see a major change in your health. Whole30 gives your digestive system a break from the heavily-processed food that we eat most of the time, and allows you to reset your cravings and transform your relationship with food. The organizers of Whole30 promise that you’ll have more energy, sleep better, have clearer skin, and develop a taste for veggies, rather than sugar, if you stick to the diet for the whole 30 days.
Give it a try today. Here are some tips to help you have a successful Whole30.
1. Read the book
There are tons of blogs and social media accounts dedicated to Whole30-compliant recipes and inspiration, but the best thing you can do before starting Whole30 is to read the official book. It was written by Melissa Hartwig, the co-creator of Whole30, whose 2009 blog post inspired the entire movement. The book walks you through the lists of foods that you can eat, and which ones are off limits, but more importantly, it explains the rationale behind the restrictions.
2. Learn what you can eat, and what’s off limits
In addition to learning why certain foods are off limits, you need to have a really good sense of what you CAN eat, so you can plan your meals accordingly.
On Whole30, you will not be able to eat sugar, sulfites, grains, legumes, soy, dairy, or processed foods. You also cannot smoke. You can eat as much meat, fish, veggies, fruits, and fat as you like. You don’t count calories on Whole30, so just eat as much as you need to stay full.
3. Get any non-Whole30 food out of your house
Now that you know what you can and cannot eat, the next step is removing all foods that are not Whole30-compliant from your home. It’s way too hard to stick to the eating plan if you have a giant block of delicious cheese in your fridge, or some crispy crackers calling your name.
You don’t have to throw the food away. Whole30 is only 30 days, and after it’s over, you’ll need to begin gradually incorporating these foods back into your diet. Just make sure it’s out of the way. Put it in a bin in your basement, or ask a friend to keep it for the month so it’s out of your reach.
4. Meal plan
Meal planning is probably the most important step in your Whole30 journey. It’s very difficult to stick to the Whole30 eating plan without some advanced planning, because the list of what you can eat is pretty small.
Take some time before you start to plan a few meals that you can eat on rotation, then shop and prep food before the 30 days even starts. That way, you’ll have a stash of compliant food ready whenever you need it, and no excuse not to stick to your plan. If you really plan it out, you can make an entire week’s worth of meals in one marathon cooking session. Just don’t forget snacks!
5. Make sure you’re getting protein in every meal
When you first start Whole30, it’s easy to just cut out the food that you used to eat, without replacing it with anything. It’s easy to stop eating bread, but meal time gets harder when you realize that you have to replace those calories that you used to get from the bread with something else. You should be getting at least 20% of your daily calories from protein, which means eating lots of eggs, red meat, and chicken. Plus, making sure you include protein in every single meal can help you feel fuller longer.
6. Don’t just replace your beloved treats with Whole30 approved versions
The whole point of doing Whole30 is to change your relationship with food. Making positive, lasting change is difficult when you satisfy your cravings with things that are similar to your favorite treats, but made with Whole30-compliant ingredients.
If you used to wake up every morning and eat sugary-sweet pancakes for breakfast, you’ll never change your habits if you continue to eat pancakes — even if they’re made from a healthier recipe. The whole point of doing Whole30 is to reset your food habits, so resolve to really make a change, and break your dependence on old favorites.
7. Don’t get too crazy at the beginning
Luckily for us, there are tons of Whole30-compliant recipes that have been developed in the last few years. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of Whole30-based social media accounts, and plan our meals based on someone else’s eating habits.
Don’t worry about making your food look perfect — just keep it simple. You’re much more likely to stick with the plan for the full 30 days if you don’t exhaust yourself cooking complicated meals, and instead rotate through a few meals that you know you like.
8. Do it with a friend, partner, or anyone who can keep you accountable
Another great way to survive Whole30 is to do it with a friend or partner who can keep you accountable. The beginning of the program can be especially difficult, and it’s easy to see people around you eating normally, and give in to temptation.
Meal planning with a partner makes it much easier, especially if you’re living in the same house. You can plan, shop, and cook together, which divides the work and makes it way more fun. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. A partner can support you when you’re struggling, and celebrate your successes!
9. Avoid overeating nuts and fruit
There’s one major thing that limits positive results during Whole30 — overeating nuts and fruit. Nuts are super nutrient-dense, which is great when you’re eating a small handful, but not great if you rely on them to make yourself feel full. Just one cup of almond butter can add a whopping 1600 calories to your diet!
Fruit isn’t nutrient-dense — it’s actually the opposite. If you eat tons of fruit, you’re adding some fiber to your diet, but the amount of sugar that’s present in fruit offsets any other benefits. It’s okay to eat some fruit for a little bit of sweetness every day, but don’t overdo it.
10. Use Whole30 to reset your eating habits, as well as what you eat
One of the main reasons that people do Whole30 is because they want to press the reset button on their eating habits. While it’s important to really study the foods that you eat when you’re on Whole30, you should also be looking at how you consume food.
If you eat mostly at your desk, or while you’re distracted by the TV, chances are you’re consuming way more calories than you need. During Whole30, resolve to sit down and savor your meals, rather than rushing through them.
11. Don’t be afraid to go to restaurants
While you’re doing the Whole30 program, you can still go to restaurants, and enjoy some convenience food. You just have to be aware of what you’re eating.
Don’t be afraid to ask your server about all of the ingredients, including ones that aren’t listed. There are always swaps that you can make to ensure your restaurant meal is Whole30-compliant, like asking for a burger to be wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, or removing the croutons from your salad.
12. Make sure you’re drinking enough liquid
When you’re doing Whole30, drinking sugary sodas, lattes, or fruit juice is out. You can still drink black coffee, and enjoy as much herbal tea as you like. You should also be making sure that you’re drinking tons of water every day. Our bodies often confuse thirst with hunger, and hunger pangs can often be sated by drinking a large glass of water.
13. Always carry snacks with you
When you do your monthly or weekly meal plan, make sure that you include time to prep a bunch of Whole30-compliant snacks. Baggies of nuts, berries, veggie crudités, or even a container of meatballs or chicken strips make awesome snacks, and will help you stay full until your next meal. Just make sure that you always have snacks on you, so you’re not tempted to reach for a bag of chips or a slice of pizza.