I’d love to tell you that deciding to do the Whole30 is the hardest part. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. Making the decision to tackle such an undertaking is HUGE, but let’s be honest. You can’t expect to eliminate 34,095 foods and think it’s going to be a cake walk. (Friendly reminder, cake isn’t allowed. Apologies.)
Get Your Mind Right
This is the easily the most important aspect of a successful Whole30. With such a restricted diet, you will have cravings. You will be moody. You will consider quitting. Without the proper mindset, you will give in to the initial negative feedback and never experience the incredible benefits of the Whole30.
One thing that helped me with my first round was reading reviews on the various Whole30 books. I read pages and pages of people who changed their lives by changing their diet. They were sleeping better. Their cravings were gone for good. Mental clarity was better than ever. As I read those testimonials, I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be able to say all of those things. Failure wasn’t an option; I was going to nail this thing.
I also visualized myself succeeding. Before and during my Whole30 I thought about how amazing I was going to feel at the end of those 30 days. I imagined a life where I felt completely in control of what I ate instead of feeling helpless in the face of cravings. Simply put, I constantly reminded myself of what I wanted out of the experience, and I was so desperate to feel better I wouldn’t allow myself to stray.
In the spirit of honesty, I must confess that I hate this aspect of the Whole30. I am not a person who enjoys preparing a month’s worth of meals in a weekend. It’s exhausting and time consuming, and you don’t get to eat right away. The good news is, you don’t have to do that kind of meal prep, unless you want to. If that’s the case, slow clap for you. You are a fairy princess.
For the rest of us, here’s my busy (or lazy, whatever) person’s guide to meal prep. Make a menu the day before you do your grocery shopping and make your grocery list accordingly. (I LOVVVVEEE lists. I should have added that to this list.) This may seem like a very “duh” concept, but I can’t tell you how many times (seven trillion, approximately) I’ve made a grocery list without a thought as to what I’d cook with the stuff I was buying. On a busy or chaotic day when the simple act of deciding what to make for dinner makes you want to pull your hair out, this menu will save you from yourself. You still have to cook it, of course, but you don’t have to give anything else much thought.
For beginners, this is easily the most daunting part of the Whole30. Your grocery trips take longer, and you feel like you put back more than you out in your cart. The first thing to know about this is you need to look at the ingredients, not the nutrition label. The nutrition label will not tell you if the sugar is naturally occurring or added. It also won’t tell you if a product contains soy or dairy or many of the other forbidden foods. Thankfully, it gets easier. By the second week you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s compliant and what isn’t, and you feel empowered and in control. For more info on label reading and what to avoid, see Label-Reading 101.
Maybe you already cook every night and love it, and maybe you take the Carrie Bradshaw approach and use your oven for storage. Whatever the case may be, you will need to cook to have a successful Whole30. Thankfully, there is Pinterest. I have a board dedicated to delicious Whole30 recipes that my family enjoys as much as I do. There is also a W30 cookbook, Whole30 Fast & Easy, that contains 150 recipes if you find Pinterest Whole30 overwhelming. (*A word of caution: some recipes on Pinterest are labeled Whole30 but a close look at the required ingredients show it contains dairy or quinoa or soy. Be sure to make sure you’re dealing with a compliant recipe.)
The Bare Necessities
Whole30 puts the kibosh on a lot of stuff, but it generously offers you better alternatives for that stuff. You’ll need coconut
oil everything (oil, milk, flour, aminos), RX Bars and meat sticks for emergencies, flavored carbonated water (instead of sodas). If you can’t stomach black coffee, you’ll need to pick up an acceptable creamer. Also add compliant mayo and salad dressing to the list, unless you want to make your own, which kudos but you’re a little nuts. Speaking of nuts, you’ll need those and nut butters but not the peanut variety, because it’s actually a legume.
My first round, I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find all of this stuff for a price that didn’t require me to dip into my children’s college fund. Thankfully, I’ve found a better way this round.
Thrive Market is the online version of what it would look like if Costco and Whole Foods fell in love had a baby. Here you can shop organic, non-GMO goods for up to 50% less than what you’d pay at Whole Foods. If you have special dietary needs (keto, paleo, vegan, etc.) you can “shop your values” and see only products that fit that criteria.
My absolute favorite thing about Thrive Market is that for every new paid membership they gift a low-income family with a membership. Not only can you feel good about feeding your family better, you are also helping someone else do the same.
I was able to shop for Whole30 compliant necessities and picked up the Whole30 Starter Kit Pro for much cheaper than the same products cost me the first time. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial now and save 20% off of your first three orders.
Take the Plunge
I hope by now I’ve convinced you that while daunting, a Whole30 is more than worth the work. You’ll gain so much insight into your eating, and you’ll eliminate problematic foods you don’t currently realize are problematic.
Best of all, once you complete the 30 days (and honestly, even sooner) you will feel like such a badass, you may not even need rap music to make you feel like you could win a fight. Listen to rap music anyway, just to be sure.
I want to know: Are you tempted to do a Whole30? What do you hope to gain from it?
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