The Whole 30: How It Changed My Life

The Whole 30 has become increasingly prevalent in the media, and has become subsequently available to a wide population of people.  I first heard about the Whole 30 program when I began my research into real foods and the paleo approach of eating.  The concept interested me – 30 days of whole foods.  Cut out all alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy.  Add in quality meat and seafood, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, fruits, and all of the vegetables you can eat.  Eat three complete meals, instead of grazing all day long.  Put away the bathroom scale until day 30.  This encompasses the basic foundation of the program.  For some, the Whole 30 is an elimination diet used to determine intolerances to certain foods that cause inflammation, such as gluten or dairy.  For others, it is used regularly as a diet reset to purge the body of unhealthy cravings.  For me, the Whole 30 was an eye-opening learning experience.  I considered myself well-versed in the concept of real foods, however through my 30 day journey, I felt as if the food industry was exposed to me.  Finding compliant food was easier said than done. I remember once I searched numerous brands of tomato past for one that did not contain sugar as an ingredient.  Out of several brands, only one was worthy of being added to my grocery cart.  This was definitely one of the most frustrating parts of the program.  Sugar is in just about everything.  For the duration of the program, many condiments, meats, and other products were not an option because finding a sugarless choice was near impossible.  The next time you go to the store, just try and find a package of bacon or sausage without sugar listed as an ingredient.  Even most high quality brands were ruled out due to this one ingredient!  But enough about sugar – I could rant for several posts!  The Whole 30 was not an easy program.  It definitely challenged me.  About halfway, I reached a point where I wanted to quit very badly.  I’m a bit ashamed looking back, because I vividly remember texting my boyfriend how badly I wanted a chocolate malt and french fries! Despite my struggles, accomplishing a Whole 30 in its entirety was an amazing feeling.  The last week of the program I felt on top of the world physically and emotionally.  Whipping up a delicious and healthy meal became second nature.  Meal planning was my best friend.

If you are considering completing a Whole 30, here are my top tips to make the 30 days go as smoothly as possible!

1) Meatballs, Meatballs, Meatballs

Make up a batch or two of your favorite compliant meatballs and freeze in individual servings.  They can be paired with a cauli-rice, a side salad, or veggie noodles for a delicious and quick meal.

Here are my favorite Whole 30 meatball recipes:

Nom Nom Paleo’s Asian Meatballs

The Whole Smith’s Mango Jalapeno Chicken Meatballs

The Clothes Make The Girl’s Paleo Czech Meatballs

2) Cauliflower = Your New Best Friend

I have always liked cauliflower, and I have found several new methods of preparation.  Whether mashed, riced, or roasted, it makes a delicious and inexpensive side dish.  Bonus points if you use riced cauliflower to make Whole 30 “sushi” to be served alongside coconut aminos!

Try out these recipes:

Holistically Engineered’s Slow Cooker Mashed Cauliflower 

Stockpiling Mom’s Roasted Cauliflower

The Clothes Make The Girl’s Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice

3) Meal Plan – But Not Too Much

I found that it really helped to have a general idea of what I would be eating each week.  But planning every detail of every meal of every day was exhausting and ineffective.  I enjoy the spontaneity of throwing a meal together rather than following a strict plan.  Instead, I opted to loosely structure each week around the protein I bought.

Here’s what my line up looked like:

Week 1: I roasted a whole chicken and from this had many different meals including chicken and veggies, chicken salad, and bone broth made from the carcass.

Week 2: I made Nom Nom Paleo’s famous Slow Cooker Kalua Pork.  This provided meals of pulled pork with Tessamae’s barbeque sauce and coleslaw, pork tacos in romaine lettuce wraps, and roasted butternut squash noodles with pork and garlic cream sauce.

Week 3: I defrosted a bag of frozen shrimp, and enjoyed grilled garlic-lemon shrimp kabobs, spring rolls wrapped in romaine, and spaghetti squash shrimp “alfredo”.

Week 4: Pork chops.  This is easily my favorite recipe.  It has always turned out amazing for me, and goes great with mustard mashed potatoes/cauliflower.  I made up several pork chops and enjoyed them just as they are all week long.  Yum!

If I got tired of the protein of the week, I could always heat up my frozen meatballs or cook up some eggs and veggies.  I also kept some frozen leftover soup in baggies to defrost when needed.

4) Drink Water and Stay Active

While eating Whole 30 style, your body is experiencing the wonderful benefits of detoxification.  To prevent negative side effects such as headaches and irritability, drink lots of water and keep your body moving.  Having a water bottle handy at all times can also prevent you from absent-mindedly eating something non-compliant.

5) Take a Break From Dining Out

It is not easy to eat out while doing a Whole 30.  This is not to say that it is impossible, and if it is part of your lifestyle by all means you can find a way to make it work.  However, I found it refreshing to simply avoid eating out for the duration of the 30 day program.  I ate out one time during the program and it consisted of sashimi and coconut aminos at my favorite sushi restaurant.  For the rest of my meals, I either ate at home or brought along a packed meal that I had made earlier.  This was great because I was completely in control of what I ate and how it was prepared.  When eating out, the ingredients and their preparation are largely unknown.  This can cause anxiety and uncertainty, which are not part of the healthy eating habits endorsed by the Whole 30 program! It is my personal opinion that minimizing eating out during your Whole 30 makes it easier to make the best possible choices.

In my next post, I will share my personal Whole 30 results.  Just reliving my experience through this post has me excited to schedule another one in the future!  Feel free to leave any comments or questions below!

XOXO,

Tamara

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