What is Whole30? What is the big deal? If you have ever been interested in a healthy eating reset, Whole30 may be a great challenge for you.. Some may be to:
- Challenge yourself – see what you can accomplish in 30 days
- Stop sugar cravings
- Restart for a continued healthy diet
- Cleaner skin
- Stop migraines or chronic inflammation issues
Myself, I do it for a restart for cleaner skin and to help lower my auto-inflammatory flare ups.
When I did the first Whole30 I did a bunch of prep work beforehand like all the advice I read online recommended. And although for my personality, it wasn’t the most exciting start – it was the best advice I could have received.
Cutting out many of the items you have come to rely on will push you emotionally and physically. We don’t realize the attachment we have to food, until you start to make changes that completely effect them. It is great for both the mind and the soul to really challenge these thoughts and to think about the emotional attachment you have to certain foods – and then work on overcoming them.
Here is a step-by-step guide to completing your first Whole30. And then following this will be updates every couple of days for the next 30 days as I work through the Whole30 Challenge for the third time (first time I was successful, and the second time I wasn’t)
What is the Whole30 Challenge?
Great question!! Melissa and Dallas Hartwig are the creators of this program. Here are the program rules they have posted on their website.
Check out their website for a ton of great resources and recipes!
Yes: Eat real food.
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
No: Avoid for 30 days.
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.
Some specific foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pizza crust, cereal, or ice cream. No commercially-prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.) or French fries either. However, this list is not limited strictly to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings. Our mantra: When in doubt, leave it out. It’s only 30 days.
One last and final rule:
- Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days. The Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and to focus only on body composition means you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat, or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
Step 1 – Read the Book!
This is so important!! It explains WHY you are doing this, what the big deal is and how all the rules are made. They give the option of skipping the “scientific stuff” but I highly recommend reading the whole book before or in the very initial stages of starting your Whole30.
The wave of emotions and phases you will go through are like this calendar really says. It is so important to know why this happens and when things get hard – why you are doing this.
They go into great detail why the challenge is set up the way it is, why they have you not eating things like legumes and smoothies. And will help you build knowledge around eating healthy for much longer then the 30 day challenge. This book is a great resource for understanding what the difference is between carbs, proteins and fats. Why people get freaked out about fats and why you need to be eating them. There are endless reasons why it is so important to get all the factual information upfront. So just read the book… mmkay!
Step 2 – Meal Prep
There is not a whole lot you can do to get around this – you will be doing a lot of meal prep. It is not an unrealistic amount – but instead it is actually very eye opening as to the amount of junk and processed foods you have come to rely on.
Fresh food doesn’t come in a brown paper bag ready to eat. It requires washing, chopping and cooking. This is just a fact of life. And one that really shouldn’t be as out of the normal as it is. But because we rely on so much convenience food in the regular day-to-day, when we do the Whole30 Challenge it seems like a ridiculous amount. But really, this is just a fact of life, that to eat healthy involves cooking everything ourselves.
There are a ton of great recipes out there, and many ways to cook only a couple of times a week and really make it count. I highly recommend meal planning services like Real Plans (affiliate link). Not only are they affordable, in the past I did all my recipe planning myself and it got to be alot to handle. And this time around, I am so happy to have Real Plans to rely on to add some variation and help with taking some of the guess work out of my daily prep.
Step 3 – Plan for the Day
The whole point of this challenge is that you don’t resort to fast food or unhealthy options. But for this to happen – and for you to be successful in your Whole30 – you need to plan for your day ahead.
Also, your metabolism speeds up like crazy on the Whole30. The amount of food I need to eat during the challenge is almost double the volume of food then on a regular day. So keep this in mind, your appetite will change.
I work full-time, at a job that to say doesn’t have a normal schedule is to put it lightly. Packing food for the full day, and everything that could possibly happen is a normal smart thing to do. I always pack more food then I could eat. There is absolutely nothing worse then to be hungry while you are doing a Whole30. The pity party sets in and the lack of convenient options seems like a full blown crisis. Avoid putting yourself in this situation from the outset – pack food.
This is also easy to do. Use a cooler bag – or even just a cheap thermo-bag they sell as reusable bags at the grocery store. Pack a couple of ice packs, and then your whole day full of meals and snacks.
Pack extra things such as:
- raw nuts
- fresh sliced veggies (carrots, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes etc)
- refillable water bottle
- boiled eggs
- Beef or Turkey jerky (check to make sure it is whole30 compliant)
Having these small things on hand in a pinch can really make your day go smoothly. It sucks being “that person” who has to eat their own snacks when everyone else is enjoying a treat someone brought in. But trust me – the benefits of all this hard work and preparation more then pay for themselves in how great you feel when you are on a continual roller coaster of carbohydrate highs and crashes.
Step 4 – Keep Going!
Things can get tough… really tough. Whether it be a night out that you want to enjoy a drink at, your favorite go-to treat, or just you are done cooking. This challenge is called “a challenge” for a reason! Push through, reach out for support from us and you can get through this!
The only way to do this is to hustle! Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and this is just one step in a journey of self-care and honesty.
You got this!!! Please share your stories below in the comments – or reach out for a little help! You are not alone, there is a whole community out there that is rooting behind you!