How to Thrive on the Whole30
Talk about a lifestyle post! Going on the Whole 30 has been a definite lifestyle change. You can read about it on their website to get more information, but it's essentially an elimination diet to cleanse yourself before reintroducing foods to test if you're intolerant to core groups of foods that typically cause people irritation such as gluten, dairy, added sugar and alcohol.
One of the co-founders Melissa Hartwig spoke at my work a few months ago which was my main introduction to the program. Then some of my friends did it, and had positive experiences, so I finally decided to make the jump! I've never done a diet before (besides the time I tried to do a juice cleanse which only lasted 6 hours due to my lack of self discipline), so along with testing what (if anything) my body is intolerant to, it was also going to test my self discipline!
I used their website as my main point of reference, which I would recommend, since those I know who got their book made it seem like the program was way more strict. Regardless, read the program rules first, then check out my guide below for how I've been powering through! Comment below with any questions!
Whole 30 to me is all about planning! Since you have to be so thoughtful about the ingredients you can eat, it takes a lot of prep work to make a grocery list and shop. I spent so much longer among the aisles reading labels. It may be daunting, but this is honestly where the most educational part of Whole 30 is, and which is the part you will use long after the 30 days.
Your first steps is to read all of the lists out there. Here are some of the ones I found most helpful:
Once you have your list and have planned your upcoming meals, now's time to hit the store(s)! I typically rotate between Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joes for my shopping, so get a mix from all three.
Here's where I typically get at each:
Costco | Proteins, almond butter, eggs, fresh fruits and veggies, guacamole
Whole Foods | Almond milk, Kombucha, dehydrated fruits, condiments such as salad dressing, ketchup and ghee
Trader Joes | Pre-cut veggies such as cauliflower rice, nuts, canned coconut milk, frozen berries
You're now ready to prep, cook and eat! Continue on for meal ideas and my go-to snacks!
I've always been a breakfast on the go, or breakfast at work kind of girl. I work at Starbucks headquarters, so with two stores on site, it's easy to run a few floors for my cold brew and reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich. With Whole30, breakfast has had to be more planned out since there are less filling quick serve options out there.
Eggs are your best friend! You can make a variety of scrambles, hashes, or bakes that are a great protein packed start to your day. Keeping hard boiled eggs handy is a great fast option for later in the week.
Açaí bowls are my other go-to. As you know from my Homemade Açaí Bowls post, I can't get enough of them! My recipe has stayed mostly the same while on Whole30, but of course no granola (which is devastating since I love Purely Elizabeth!). Here's my current compliant açaí bowl recipe:
For the base |
1 unsweetened frozen acai packet (Trader Joe's)
Almond milk (New Barn Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk)
Blend ingredients together and top with...
Almond butter (Kirkland brand)
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Fresh berries of your choice
Lunches have been the biggest change for me simply because you have to plan for it. During the week, I'll pack my lunch and snacks (see below for my fav snacks!) to keep me filled throughout the day and not craving treats around the office. The office cinnamon rolls and vendor lunches have been hard to pass up!
My go to lunch is a salad with either arugula, kale, spinach or a mix of the three, any veggies I have around and Tessemae's Lemon Garlic Dressing. If we have a leftover protein that will get thrown in too! Add a La Croix and an apple or banana and you're good to go! With a mid-morning and an afternoon snack, this tides me over!
I love greens and a protein for dinner! My boyfriend is the typical protein cook in our household, so he'll grill chicken or a steak typically, and I'll make a salad. We'll have a side of broccoli or brussel sprouts with a steak, or peppers and onion for chicken to make fajitas. There are great recipes on Pinterest, but make sure you double check ingredient lists! I found some that were including things that weren't compliant.
One of my favorite dishes I found through this has been chicken curry. Add Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste from Whole Foods with canned coconut milk, then simmer chicken and you're done! You can add cauliflower rice if you want, but I also love it on it's own. Such a quick one-pan dinner, but it's so flavorful and filling!
Now we're to the good stuff! To make sure I never felt too hungry, I'd always have snacks on hand just in case. Typically, I would have a snack in the mid-morning then one in the afternoon. Here are my go-tos!
apple + almond butter
plantain chips + guacamole
dried or dehydrated fruit (or beets!)
You're not suppose to have any substitutes for eliminated foods while on Whole 30, but I did fudge (pun intended) this one a bit. I'm a huge dessert fan, so some nights I would make banana "ice cream". Hey - everyone needs something, right? Here's how I'd make it:
Mash 1 banana and stir in 1 tbs cinnamon. Put in freezer for 30 min - 1 hr. Remove and top with frozen blueberries, fresh fruit and /or drizzle almond butter. Enjoy!
It tastes like ice cream but without the dairy and added sugar! Yum!
I didn't think the drinks part of Whole 30 would be hard. It's definitely limiting, but not awful. Instead of adding soy milk or sugar to my coffee, I'd have to have it black. That was about the hardest part for me. I would always have compliant almond milk on hand, which can actually be hard to find. If I wanted a lighter smoothie, I prefer to use coconut water instead of almond milk for a more tropical flavor!
La Croix or another sparkling water is the other main go-to. Kombucha is a good treat beverage, so I would bring it to a friend's house if they were going to be drinking.
Not drinking alcohol wasn't a hug shift for me, since I typically only drink a night or two during the week if friends are getting together. As long as friends know you're doing the Whole 30, I never had a problem with people offering you a beer.
Here's the hard part! Eating out while on the Whole 30 has been the worst! I feel so pretentious asking what kind of oil things are cooked in. I understand the point and intent, but am definitely ready for this part to be over! I recently went to a healthy sandwich and salad shop Homegrown and could barely have anything on the menu - and it's suppose to be healthy! Eating out to me has not been worth it, since you have to get special items, sometimes with add ons (hello avocado!) so costs add up without much to show for it. I have preferred cooking at home!
Overall, I've been learning so much about ingredients that will continue on after the 30 days! I've loved finding new recipes and snacks, but have not enjoyed the annoyance factor that has come along with doing Whole 30 in public. Sans that part, I'm enjoying the process and am feeling great!
Comment below with any questions!