Our Previous Whole30 Attempt
My husband and I attempted the Whole30 program last fall. Unfortunately we didn’t finish all thirty days; we only completed around twenty days due to problems we experienced (mostly time related). We still learned a lot from reading It Starts with Food and focusing on consuming only whole healthy foods during the twenty days. For the months following our attempt, we continued eating Whole30-ish and continued feeling great. However, over time certain foods started creeping back onto our plates and we haven’t been feeling as great.
This time around we’re determined to come up with solutions for the issues we faced last time, finish all thirty days, and carefully reintroduce food groups into our diet to find out how each is impacting us. The issues we experienced during our Whole30 attempt have been frequently noted by many people I have seen posting online and that I have talked to in person. After thinking about it the past few months, I’ve planned out solutions to alleviate these common stressors.
Common Whole30 Problems & Solutions
- Too much time spent preparing food
- Solution: We prepared and froze program compliant foods before our Whole30 even began. During the program, DJ and I are also committing to a food prep day once a week.
- We had no time to cook breakfast in morning and were always running late
- Solution: Rather than always cooking the morning of, I’m brainstorming breakfast ideas that can be made ahead of time or just thrown in the oven while getting ready. We could also take our breakfast to go and eat at work.
- We couldn’t order takeout/go out to eat on busy days or while traveling
- Solution: I’m going to put in some more time researching local restaurant’s menus and hopefully find some organizations that are willing to make modifications. At least there’s always carnitas at Chipotle. Another great option for busy work days is to setup dinner in the slow cooker before leaving. That way when you get home, dinner is mostly finished already.
- We ran out of meal ideas halfway through
- Solution: I have been researching and saving tons of Whole 30 compliant recipes for over a year on my Pinterest board. With those recipes, I drafted a meal plan for our entire thirty days before we started.
- We spent too much on expensive meat and vegetables, plus replacing our condiments
- Solution: This time we knew the Whole30 won’t be cheap, so DJ and I made room in our budget for this extra expense. We also started stocking up ahead of time and learned to make some expensive condiments ourselves, such as mayo and ghee.
How to Prepare for a Successful Whole30
- Research the Whole30 program – I definitely recommend reading It Starts with Food (let me know if you want to borrow my copy!), but there are plenty of resources online as well. My previous Whole30 post contains main points from It Starts with Food, for starters. The book shows how your food choices impact your life. It is extremely helpful to know the reasons why you’re eliminating some of your beloved treats, snacks, and side dishes. There is a ton of info online, so if you have any specific questions, google should be able to help you out. Also feel free to ask me : )
- Visualize your goals for completing the program – Do you want to have more energy, lose excess weight, get better sleep, increase your athletic performance, end emotional eating, improve digestive problems, conquer your sugar cravings, discover more vegetables and healthy foods that you enjoy, reduce anxiety and depression, learn how food groups affect your body? When you have a tough day and want to revert back to old habits, it helps to know why you’re doing the Whole30.
- Can’t vs Don’t mindset – Make up your mind what kind of experience you’ll have during your Whole30. Instead of grieving all the foods you can’t eat, know that you just are choosing to exclude them from your diet for thirty days. It’s not that you can’t eat them ever again; they just don’t have a place in your diet this month.
- Discuss the Whole30 with your family/roommates, if applicable – You will probably be surprised at their support! Be sure to keep it personal and share your reasons for participating; reciting the general hazards of the Standard American Diet will feel like an attack to some. If you prepare food for others in your household who won’t be partaking in the Whole30, it may be helpful to prepare compliant meals for the whole family, then have them add their own non-compliant sides and toppings.
- Follow the Whole30 on any social media platforms you frequent – The Whole30 team has a varitey of pages on different platforms, all with a helpful, supportive, and informative presence. I enjoy Whole30‘s, Whole30 Recipes‘, and Melissa Hartwig‘s posts on Facebook and Whole30‘s, Whole30 Recipes‘, and Melissa Hartwig‘s posts on Instagram. There are also many bloggers who post about the Whole30. It helps to have an encouraging community if not in real life, then at least online.
- Consider responses to people and situations that may threaten your Whole30 progress – In addition to the common problems above, consider what issues are likely to arise in your own life that may threaten your progress. Instead of letting them surprise and derail you, have a plan. We tried to plan our previous Whole30 during a month when we had no social obligations and work wasn’t suppose to be too busy. But things still popped up. We traveled a couple days and had to have dinner out. DJ’s department has a breakfast meeting every Friday at work. We were invited to outings and parties. Nobody wants to seem like they are high-maintenance or no fun. Depending on the situation, we planned to either eat before/after, or bring our homemade food. It may feel weird at first, but chances are no one will care. Nobody said much to us about it. When they did, we cited the personal reasons we were participating in the Whole30 and that was that.
- On avoiding drinking alcohol – It can seem more than a little tricky. Alcohol is a powerful social catalyst and some people insist that drinking is the only way to have fun. Chances are, your choice to abstain from drinking will be noticed and there will be a barrage of questioning… Why aren’t you drinking? Why don’t you just have one drink? It’s because you’re pregnant, right? Well, you’re no fun, are you!?… Don’t let it bother you. Just calmly explain that you’re taking a break from drinking and try to change the subject. If you’re feeling generous, you could reassure them that it’s not going to negatively effect everyone’s social experience by offering to be the designated driver. In certain situations, it may be far easier to have a faux cocktail and avoid being questioned. Club soda with lemon or lime is a good go-to.
- Clean out your kitchen and pantry – We put all our non-Whole 30 compliant foods in a Tupperware storage container and in a bag on the bottom shelf of our fridge. Out of sight, out of mind. If you’re the only one in your household doing the Whole30, I would recommend putting your compliant items all in one place, somewhat separate from the foods you’re avoiding during the program.
- Stock up on food storage containers – While you’re cleaning out your kitchen, make sure you have enough Tupperware to store leftovers and transport your homemade food. You also may want to check your inventory of foil and storage bags, too.
- Consider buying, borrowing (or stealing) a food processor – There is a lot of vegetable chopping and ingredient blending going on in many Whole30 recipes, and having a food processor makes many dishes easier to prepare. Our first Whole30, we had a tiny little food processor that we won at Dave and Busters. It worked great to chop vegetables and herbs, and make Whole30 compliant sauces and dressings. Since then, we have seen the light and upgraded to a fancy Ninja food processor/blender that I sale-stalked for a couple months. I use it multiple times per week, sometimes multiple times per day. Even when we aren’t participating in a Whole30.
- Discover exciting recipes utilizing whole foods – Having an arsenal of Whole30 compliant meal ideas will be extremely helpful during your thirty days. By trying new things, you will get the most out of your Whole30 and find some new favorite foods to enjoy afterwards. If you’re not a big veggie lover as of right now, I recommend roasted veggies of all kinds. Coat in ghee or oil, add some salt pepper and spices to match the rest of your meal, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and roast in the oven (400˚ is good for most veggies, but you can google for specific cooking times and temps) until golden brown. Easy and delicious.
- Make a meal plan and grocery list – Having your kitchen stocked is necessary for Whole30 success. Meal planning is also a great habit to get in to save time and money. If you need some pointers, check out my Healthy Meal Planning Process post. I’m also working on a meal planning post specifically for Whole30 success!
- Go grocery shopping – You may dread going shopping in preparation for your Whole30. Don’t worry, chances are it won’t be so bad. By making a grocery list and primarily shopping the perimeter of your grocery store, you will be able to find most things you need easily. If you have a Costco nearby, you’re in luck. Costco has a great variety of whole foods at great prices, including meat, vegetables, organic eggs, chicken sausage, guacamole, avocado oil, nuts, almond butter and more.
- Buy more produce than you think you will need – You will feel like you are buying an insane amount of vegetables, but buy more than that! You will go through a metric fuck ton of vegetables! Similar not on eggs. Even though I remembered this from our previous Whole30 experience, I still didn’t buy enough. So I had to go back to the store numerous times our first week.
- Consider using disposable dishes – Disposables are not the most glamorous or environmentally friendly option, but they’re helpful when you have a sink stacked full of dishes and had a busy day at work. Sometimes the Whole30 can feel like a lot of work, so we say, do whatever you can to make things easier. So maybe pick up a small pack of plates and bowls while you’re shopping for your Whole30, just in case.
- Taper off sugar, processed food, and carbs – If your normal diet includes sugar and processed foods before starting the Whole30, you may experience something called “carb flu” for the first day or so, while the bacteria in your gut are changing and getting used to your new eating habits. “Carb flu” can include headaches and digestive upset. If you want to avoid this happening, I would recommend tapering off sugary and processed foods a week before you start the Whole30.
- Find beverages to replace alcohol, sodas and coffee with cream/sugar – If you are someone who drinks soda, beer or wine more often than water, it would be wise to start limiting your consumption of these non compliant beverages slowly as you approach the beginning of your Whole30 program. Replace the sugar laden drinks with water or seltzer water to help ease you out of the drinking mindset. If you are someone who depends on that light and sweet cup of coffee each morning, you may want to start baby stepping towards black coffee before beginning the Whole30 as well. Though there aren’t any compliant substitutes for sugar, you can try unsweetened nut milks or even coconut oil in place of cream. My husband and I found that after a little time, black coffee tastes much more flavorful and complex. Now we enjoy our coffee black, even a year after our first Whole30.
- Try a couple recipes early – A big part of Whole30 is was finding new foods that you like to eat. Since many of our mainstays were out of our diet for thirty days, we were a little clueless on what to do. Experimenting with different vegetables, meats, and recipes that we hadn’t really used before starting the Whole30 was very useful for meal planning. It helped me feel more confident going into the Whole30. This will also help reduce the chance of making something day of that goes wrong or you don’t even like!
Have you attempted or completed the Whole30 before? What were your results? What problems did you face? Comment and let us know!
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