Guys! I’m 18 days into Whole30! I’m pretty proud of myself for lasting this long! I know it probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal for me. I never thought I could stick with something like this and I’ve had A LOT of extra challenges with it! I was really sick for the first part of Whole30 and when I’m not feeling well all I want is comfort food. Plus, Bassam didn’t end up doing Whole30 with me and he brought home something delicious that I couldn’t eat almost every day. While Whole30 is challenging, it actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. Read on for my tips on how to survive your first Whole30 and also for my 2 week update on how it has been so far.
12 Tips To Survive Your First Whole30
1. Meal prep is ESSENTIAL!
One of the biggest reasons I did Whole30 was because I wanted to get into the routine of meal prepping. I had been saying I wanted to meal prep weekly for so long now and I was always too lazy to do it. No matter how tired I am, meal prep is a MUST on Whole30! It’s just a relief to know that you have something ready to eat when you’re hungry. Plus, you’re making everything yourself for Whole30 meals and the veggies involve so much chopping that it’s just nice to have part of or all of your meal done and ready to go! Here’s how I meal prepped:
- Every few days, Bassam hard boiled a dozen eggs. I ate them as a quick breakfast, would add them to my salads if I didn’t have another protein, and would eat them as a snack if I was feeling STARVED
- Every few days, I baked a bunch of sweet potatoes. These were so perfect to add to my meals, especially if I was feeling extra hungry or carb needy. This also helped me be less gassy than others said they were and I expected to be (just being real here!)
- Twice a week, I made a giant batch of a dish I could eat for several days, like slow cooker chicken or tomato soup PACKED with veggies
- If I had to leave the house early in the morning, I would prep my breakfast and lunch the night before so I could just grab it in the morning
2. Share the Whole30 calendar with your loved ones who are not doing Whole30
On one of my “kill all the things days” (basically because your body is going through an intense sugar/carb detox and having a major temper tantrum), Bassam brought home 2 big boxes of freshly baked Lebanese pizza (maneesh). I freaked out. Like I actually couldn’t control my response, it was just instinctual from my body going through the detox and then smelling that yummy delicious cheesy carby smell. Never mind maneesh is one of my faves and we very rarely get it. I was not super nice to Bassam and he totally didn’t get why I was so upset. That’s when I realized I should share the Whole30 calendar with him so he could get a sense for what I was feeling on any particular day.
I highly recommend sharing the calendar with any loved ones you see on a daily basis who don’t know anything about Whole30. It’ll help them know what mood you might be in and how they can help you, if they’d like to.
3. Have a replacement ready for situations that may derail you
This was really important for me. I thought ahead about which situations may derail me and I came up with replacements for them in advance. I credit the majority of my success to this and meal prepping! Here are some examples:
- Going out for drinks with coworkers: I knew I was going to feel left out and want to drink with them. I brought my own compliant flavored sparkling water and asked the bar for a wine glass to put it in
- Bassam bringing home delicious food: If I knew in advance he was bringing something home that I would tempt me, I ate my meal before he got home so that I would be full and the smells wouldn’t tempt me. If I wanted to eat with him, I would have my meal ready so that I could eat it with him while he was eating whatever he was eating. Having it ready to go made me crave his food a bit less
- Long on the go days: Bring food! If I knew I would have access to a fridge then I would bring my regular foods, but if I didn’t then I would bring cut up fruit and veggies and a larabar or RX bar
- Busy days: I’ve learned my biggest food pitfall is when I’m busy. I just grab whatever is easiest and that’s usually not the healthiest thing. Meal prepping really helped with this and having easy snacks/meals to grab (see point #1). If you absolutely do not have time to cook, keep compliant turkey slices in the fridge. These can be a life saver in a pinch! I loved them on top of a salad, wrapped around cucumber slices, or in a piece of lettuce with avocado and cucumber as “sandwich”
- SUGAR CRAVINGS: Ugh. This was hard. I fought my cravings with a cup of herbal tea or a flavored sparkling water in a wine glass
- Wine cravings: Flavored sparkling water in a wine glass, a new flavor of tea, or kombucha. On a really really desperate day, I had some pomegranate juice in a wine glass. I know you’re technically not supposed to drink juice, but it’s also technically compliant and it was better than me cracking!
4. Focus on what you can eat
There actually is A LOT that you can eat on Whole30! Focusing on all those things makes it so much easier than focusing on what you can’t eat. I filled my fridge with tons of yummy and Whole30 compliant foods, like jicama, avocados, fruit, etc. Since produce tends to go bad fast, I had to eat up that stuff quickly which kept me full and not craving the things I couldn’t have!
5. Don’t feel bad about eating the same things or being “boring”
Before I started Whole30 I had every intention of making really exciting new meals almost everyday. I even started off the month by taking pictures of everything I ate so that I could share it with you in a blog post. Well, that lasted all of two days. After that, I pretty much ate the same thing all the time. Hard boiled eggs, a sweet potato, an avocado, tomato and cucumbers for breakfast. Salad with protein for lunch. Whatever I had meal prepped for the week for dinner, which was usually chicken in the slow cooker with salsa or a hot sauce/ghee mixture, over a bed of cauliflower rice.
If Bassam had done Whole30 with me, I probably would’ve made more exciting meals but it just didn’t seem worth it to spend so much time cooking when only I was going to eat it. Also, I don’t really get bored with food. If I really like something, I can eat it almost everyday. Having similar meals most days made the process mindless and easy. I didn’t have as many days where I obsessed over what to eat.
6. When you get to the point you just can’t do it anymore, search Pinterest for new recipes!
That being said, I did have moments of “ahhhhh I can’t eat one more grain-less or cheese-less meal!” When moments like that hit, I searched Pinterest for new inspo. My “Year of Health Challenges Facebook group” (join here) started a thread of recipes so we would all have inspiration at our finger tips. Realizing that there were so many fun and delicious recipes out there for me to try made the program exciting again and feel less deprivation.
Tip: when searching Pinterest for inspo, read the ingredients carefully. Recipes are often labeled Whole30 without actually being Whole30 compliant.
7. Get a support system! Even if it’s virtual!
Best case scenario: you do Whole30 with some friends. Having support from people in your life can make this process so much easier. If that’s not an option (it wasn’t for me), join an online community! There are sooooo many of them! I joined a very strict one, a looser/causal one, and created my own. I really liked the balance of being in all three. The really strict one was annoying at times, but it helped me learn the program expectations really well. When I would come across non compliant recipes labeled, “Whole30”, I would right away know they weren’t actually Whole30 approved. The looser one was really helpful because everyone was just so non judgmental and balanced. The one I created was just the sweetest group and really intimate because it was small. Knowing I could message someone who knew how I felt in a moment of weakness or read about someone else’s struggles really helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.
8. Try new things!
Even if you’re a picky eater, try new foods that you don’t typically like. You never know! You might like them when prepared a different way or your taste buds may change! I didn’t have any dramatic changes, but I did hear from a few people that they started liking a lot of foods that they didn’t previously like. For me it just mainly opened up new snack ideas, like jicama dipped in guac or olives.
9. Take a peek at the menu before eating out
Eating out is a CHALLENGE! Although you’ll probably do your best to avoid it, it’ll most likely happen at least once during your Whole30. The key to surviving is preparation! Here are my best tips.
- Take a look at the menu beforehand and decide what you’ll eat. This way you’ll have time to comb through the menu and come up with the best choice. Also, if you already know what you’ll be eating, you won’t feel as tempted when you’re there and you’re hungry and everyone else is ordering things you can’t have
- Ask lots of questions! Call ahead if you can or ask the server while you’re there. I didn’t feel bad about this at all, I just apologized ahead of time for my millions of questions. Here are some questions I’d ask:
- “Is there sugar in the salad dressing?”
- “What is the chicken/fish grilled with? Does it have butter?”
- If you can’t find anything compliant to eat, make your own meal! Just look at the menu to see what ingredients the restaurant has and make your own meal from them, like a create your own salad topped with whatever protein they have or ask for a piece of fish with a side of steamed vegetables and a side of avocado
- If you can, choose the restaurant yourself! This way you can choose a place you know will have something you can eat
10. Remind yourself you can eat it in 30 days!
If I was really freaking out over wanting to eat something (like the chocolate covered strawberries we made for a campaign), I would remind myself that I could have them in (x) days. It wasn’t forever, I could have them in the foreseeable future. That usually helped me get over my wanting to quit. Also reminding myself how proud of myself I’d be if I actually made it the whole month.
11. Stick to the meal templates as best as possible
Sticking to the meal template as best as possible, really helped me because it would keep me full. Having the right ratio of protein, fat, etc was way more filling than I expected it to be! I didn’t want to add avocado to every meal, so I also incorporated olives and full fat coconut milk. I just found this template that I linked to and it has sooo much more information than what I was using. I didn’t realize I should only be adding fruit occasionally and the exact sizing, so I kiiiiinda feel like I messed up this whole thing, but oh well, progress not perfection.
12. Your Whole30 is your Whole30
Whole30 is pretty strict. You are not allowed to make modifications. But here’s the thing, you may need to. I know people on Whole30 who are vegetarians, who are pregnant, who are have any number of things going on. Learn the rules. Learn the reasoning behind them. If you need to make an adjustment for yourself, go ahead and do that! You’re the only one who knows you and you’re the only one who knows what is best for you. It will not be a true Whole30, but as long as you’re okay with it, that’s all that matters.
I consciously chose to have honey in my tea during the days I was really sick. I wouldn’t have been able to handle my throat and my cough without it and I decided that I’m okay with making that modification and continuing on with my Whole30. The other thing I chose was during an exceptionally rough day where Bassam got this frose I’ve been dying to try forever. I almost decided to just quit so I could have the frose, so I decided to have one tiny sip. That tiny sip saved me from giving up and so that was worth it to me. Of course, this makes my Whole30 not a true Whole30 because of this, but I understand the rules and I consciously chose to make these adjustments. I’m fine with my decisions and you should be fine with whatever decisions you make for YOUR Whole30.
My 2-Week Check In
Like I mentioned, I’m on Day 18. While it hasn’t been a walk in the park, it also hasn’t been as terrible as I expected it to be. What has been really surprising to me is that besides the “kill all the things” day, I really haven’t been feeling what the timeline predicts and I know most people do. I was still recovering from the flu the first week and feeling really crappy from that, so I’m not sure if my lack of sugar detox was just that I couldn’t tell which symptoms were from the flu and which symptoms were from Whole30.
I should be feeling tiger blood right now, but I’m not. I’m just kind of feeling the same as I always do. That has been a little frustrating for me as I was hoping to feel significant changes. I also don’t feel lighter or like I’ve lost any weight. I know that’s not the point of this, but it’s still a bummer. This part could potentially be because I’m eating too much fruit. I was really worried that my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle not having grains, but that has been totally fine. It might be because I start most days with a sweet potato as part of my breakfast.
The cravings do get really intense at times and I have contemplating quitting several times. I’m so glad I never did. It wouldn’t have been worth it.
Overall, the biggest benefits from this that I’ve noticed are the things I’ve learned about myself in regards to my eating habits and the changes I want to implement moving forward.
- Being busy or stressed is my biggest pitfall. I reach for the most convenient thing which is really not that healthy. It doesn’t take that much more effort to make something healthy and with some advance planning, it’s very doable
- I CAN overcome my sugar cravings. I don’t need something sweet after every meal. Tea can satisfy me and so can fruit
- I don’t like eating crappy! So why do I do it? I think I’m just going to be more conscious about my eating habits after this experience
- There are healthy alternatives to almost everything! Just takes a little bit of advance planning
- I do not need to put cheese on every single food I eat
- Sparkling water can occasionally be a good replacement for wine
- I rely on quinoa way too much! Moving forward, I’ll probably just eat one serving a day
That’s pretty much it! Let me know if you have any questions! Almost on to the final week!
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