whole30 : my experience, results & tips
It’s a 30 day cleanse where you completely eliminate sugar (real or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG and sulfites from your diet. “So what the heck do I eat?” you may ask.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that I just completed the Whole30! What’s the Whole30 you may ask? Well, it’s self-described as the following:
Think of it as a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
Essentially, it’s a 30 day cleanse where you completely eliminate sugar (real or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG and sulfites from your diet. “So what the heck do I eat?” you may ask.
Well, you can eat any kind of meat, fish and seafood (high-quality, grass-fed, organic and wild-caught are preferred), every vegetable except corn (which is technically a grain plant), fruit, nuts (remember peanuts are actually legumes and not allowed) and seeds. And that’s about it. But it sounds way more limiting than it actually is. You’re also allowed things like ghee or clarified butter, coconut aminos and salt, which all come in handy!
Okay, now that you now what the Whole30 is, I’ll tell you about my experience.
WEEK 1 – THIS IS KINDA FUN!
People say week 1 is the hardest but honestly for me week 4 was the most challenging (more on that later). Week 1 I was excited and ready for the challenge. I didn’t do this alone. My husband, mom, sisters and brother-in-law were all on the Whole30 too! We started on the same day and created a text chain where we all sent pictures of our meals and gave each other moral support. This was key and I highly recommend it. I didn’t want to let down 5 other people, so failure was not an option.
Another important tip to help you with success is meal prep! Make sure your fridge is stocked and get rid of anything you can’t eat on the diet! Have quick meals ready to go and snacks like nuts, fruit, chia seed pudding and hard boiled eggs on hand.
My biggest challenge week 1 was drinking my morning coffee with compliant almond milk that was not nearly as creamy and delicious as my regular almond milk. Besides that, I was too pumped on the idea of the diet for it to be hard.
WEEK 2 – THIS IS NOT FUN AT ALL.
Week 2 is when things start to get challenging. By now, your body is getting used to all the vegetables you’re putting into it and missing all the bad stuff. I felt bloated, tired, cranky and I really wanted a cocktail. On top of that I had to travel to NY for work…twice. If you have to travel or be in an hotel while on the Whole30, be warned: it ain’t easy but it’s eye-opening! Airport food is sh*t and almost everything has dairy in it. For both trips, I went prepared. I packed meals, fruits, nuts and Lara Bars (some of them are Whole30 compliant). Then there’s eating out. It’s a pain and you become “one of those people.” You have to make sure whatever you order wasn’t cooked in butter, doesn’t have dairy, grain, sugar etc. You have to ask a lot of questions and make a lot of modifications. It’s not fun but doable.
On the plus side, I’ve never felt better while traveling. I didn’t get jet lag, I didn’t have the usual sinus issues I get when flying and I wasn’t tired at all. I felt energized on both trips!
WEEK 3 – HOLY COW! THIS WORKS!
Week 3 is when it all starts to feel worth it. I had more energy, I felt skinny, my jeans fit better and I was getting creative with food. I was more than half-way done and I could taste the finish line (pun intended). Damien fast became a wonderful cook (bonus!) and we were spending more time at home, which was really nice. This was also the week we started becoming aware of our relationship with food and booze. Going out to eat and drink is what we do. When we didn’t have that, we had to make eating in as enjoyable as going out. Personally, I realized that I don’t really need sugar or dairy in my life but I love rice, pasta and booze. These were the things I was missing and couldn’t wait to have again.
WEEK 4 – THANK GOD, IT’S ALMOST OVER!
Week 4 is the home stretch, but for me, it was the hardest week. I already felt the benefits and I was ready to get back to “normal eating!” I was sick of constantly thinking about what I was going it eat. Then it hit, I should ALWAYS be constantly thinking about what I’m going to eat. That’s the point! Too often, I’m running around and let myself get to the “I’M STARVING!” point and then I eat whatever is most convenient. The Whole30 has opened my eyes to the importance of reading labels, meal prep and making smarter eating decisions overall. Funny enough, on Day 31 I wasn’t craving the things I thought I was dying to eat. I didn’t want rice, pasta or booze and I felt great. You should slowly reintroduced the things you did not eat on Whole30, so on Day 31 I had my regular almond milk which has some sugar and then ate like I was still on the diet. For dinner, I had a burger with a BUN!
In the end, I lost 8 pounds (my sister and her husband lost 20 pounds each!) and have a completely different outlook on food. I would call that a success! Would I do it again? Absolutely!
- Meal prep is essential! Shop, cook and prep on Sunday for the week. Then on Wednesday, do a “little shop” to supplement anything you need to get you through the week.
- Get at least one other person to do it with you. Support is key! If I didn’t have that family text chain, I may not have been successful.
- Always carry snacks! Put some nuts, dried fruit and/or Lara Bars in your purse/car/gym bag to help with emergency hunger.
- Make sure your schedule is “major event” free for the 30 days. Don’t plan your Whole30 when you have a wedding, bachelorette, vacation or any special event coming up! Otherwise you’re making something that’s already challenging even more challenging.
- Get creative with food! Discover new vegetables, spices, fruits and ways to cook. We found great recipes online (some below) and in The Whole30 Cookbook.
- Ease yourself into it. Binging on all your favorite “bad foods” the day before you start is a BAD IDEA and will only make your first week miserable. I took the week before to eat as healthy as possible while still allowing myself some favorites. For me that meant, no dairy, very little grain and no sweets. I think that’s why my first week wasn’t so bad.
RECIPES & HELPFUL LINKS
- Steak & Veggie Kabobs – We made these with salmon and shrimp but the steak version is delicious too.
- Buffalo Wings – We made these every weekend as our “treat.” Even though they are Whole30 approved, they felt “bad for us” which was good for us. Plus, they are delicious!
- Chia Seed Pudding – These are great when you get sick of eating eggs for breakfast and trust me, you will get sick of eating eggs for breakfast!
- Meat & Veggie Chili – We made a pot of chili every Sunday, because it’s just so easy to heat up a bowl throughout the week. Plus it’s super filling. We also baked sweet potatoes to go with it and that was my favorite combo.
- Whole30 Recipes on Instagram – This page was a lifesaver. Whenever I felt out of ideas, I went on this page and got inspired.
- Tessmae’s Dressings & Condiments – Stock up immediately! Tessemae’s has Whole30 compliant ketchup, mayo and dressings like Cesar and ranch. They are all DELICIOUS and great for quick salads, meat marinades and recipes. We plan on always using these we love them so much!
- Pederson’s – I love bacon. But did you know most (like 99%) of bacon has sugar! It does! So read your labels or buy the Pederson’s Whole30 approved bacon.