If you are in possession of an Instagram account you may have found yourself developing an increasing desire to complete a Whole30. You’ve heard it lauded as a cure to sugar addiction, unhealthy relationships with food or maybe even a path to self-discovery – the list goes on!
I, myself, remember scrolling through Instagram a few years ago, and coming across men and women alike posting pictures of their no-dairy, no-soy, no-legumes, no-sugar, no-alcohol, no-grain, no-sulfite meals. I scoffed and thought, “Oh, hell naw. I could never do that” — the biggest no-no for me was this whole no-sugar business. I enjoyed baking and I did so just about every night – homemade cinnamon rolls were always on request. How could *I* go 30 whole days without sugar? Impossible! I eventually came around, but never in a million years did I think I’d attempt a Whole30, let alone complete several rounds.
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re past the initial WTF stage and are seriously considering completing the program and in search of tips, good recipes, and perspectives. After successfully completing six rounds of the elimination diet myself I think I can help you out a bit. A Whole30 is one of the hardest, but also most rewarding and absolutely freeing things you can do for yourself and here I’ll share some hard-fought wisdom, bomb-ass recipes from around the internet, Instagram accounts to follow, and the best places to eat when you’re on-the-go.
- Try not to go overboard with meat proteins. This can be easy to do while on the Whole30 (or Paleo diet). I learned early on that I don’t feel my best when I eat too much meat, so to keep my consumption in line I try to have at least one vegetarian or maybe even a vegan/plant-based meal a day. Stay mindful and load up on the veggies!
- Stay prepped. Meal prepping can be a lifesaver (because if you stay ready you have less to worry about), but most of us get bored easily with eating the same thing over and over. I suggest prepping ingredients versus meals. If you prep ingredients you can combine the foods in different ways throughout the week. Lisa from Downshiftology has a beautifully shot video that demonstrates this. Also be sure to prep veggies, nut and fruits so you can avoid relying solely on what I call “crutch” foods like fruit and nut bars when you absolutely need a snack.
- Do the research, boo. I’ve seen many images on Instagram tagged #Whole30, but the person had non-compliant food – like corn for example – on their plate! A rookie mistake that can be avoided with some good ol’ research. Don’t play yourself – be sure to check out the Whole30 resources page for all the dets.
- Remember your greater why. Completing a Whole30 requires a certain amount of mental fortitude. You have to be able to focus and tap into your discipline even when things get hard or you feel weak. Before starting the program I suggest putting some thought into why you want to complete a Whole30. Whether your goal is to improve your relationship with food, quit a sugar addiction or even feel and look better – write it down, keep it close and make a promise to yourself to give yourself that gift. Doing this will help you to realign with your goal(s) when you feel like you’re missing out or simply want to quit. I know, I know a cupcake sounds really good around day 10 (especially if you’re sick of eating scrambled eggs every morning), but remembering your vow will help you to put your best foot forward and give it all you have. You’ll not only be extremely proud of yourself and like you accomplished something, but you’ll also feel like you’re apart of something greater. Also, always remember: 30 days isn’t forever. One day soon you’ll be able to indulge when you feel like it – but I guarantee those urges will be fewer and farther in-between after completing a successful Whole30.
- Treat it as self-care. Yes, the Whole30 is self-care. I consider anything we do for ourselves as self-care. I also found it really important during this time to observe other forms of self-care. Caring for myself helped me to look forward to other things – especially in the evening. Where I’d normally be thinking of snacking or eating, instead I was meditating, taking a bath, journaling or reading a book in the quiet next to my essential oil diffuser. If you already have a self-care routine, great! But if not, this is an opportune time to discover some things you can do to make yourself feel most cared for.
- Be careful of social media. During my six rounds of Whole30, I was careful of social media. If images of macaroni and cheese or donuts are going to tempt you, stay away! View accounts that are going to inspire you, not deter you (pssst…a few of my favorite accounts are listed below).
- Break out that slow cooker. Busy moms can relate. For me, nothing says “reclaiming my time” like throwing some shit (strikethrough) ingredients into a slow cooker and letting it go. Also, I love knowing that at the end of a long day, dinner will ready and waiting for me.
- Finish strong. After completion, please resist the urge to immediately gobble up everything you’ve been missing for the past 30 days. Your grandma’s famous biscuits can wait. Don’t roll your eyes. Instead, self evaluate and slowly reintroduce. No one should skip this step, because it defeats the purpose of an elimination diet. Take this time to carefully evaluate how off-plan foods make you feel once they’re re-introduced to your system. Do specific foods make you feel bloated or cause headaches? You’ll never know if you add everything back in at once!
MY SUGGESTIONS FOR WHOLE30 MEALS ON THE GO
Having to eat out cannot always be avoided. Below are my suggestions for places to go when you’re out and about.
- Zoës Kitchen. There are quite a few Whole30-approved meals here. When looking at the menu, just look for the Whole30 Approved logo. My favorite meal to grab here is the shrimp kabobs with roasted veggies and Moroccan harissa sauce.
- Chipotle. Chipotle is literally everywhere – hello convenience! Chipotle is very transparent about the ingredients in their food and it’s easy to spot what’s compliant and what’s not. When in a pinch I order a burrito bowl with carnitas*, guac, lettuce, tomatillo-green chili salsa, and fresh tomato salsa. The tomatillo-red chili salsa is also compliant, but I prefer to leave it out. Remember, say no to beans, rice, corn, queso, cheese, fajita veggies, or meats other than carnitas.
* (The only compliantly prepared meat at Chipotle. The carnitas do contain sunflower oil, but the oil isn’t specifically excluded. Carnitas are pork, so please be aware if you aren’t able to consume it.)
- Whole Foods hot bar. If you’re close to a Whole Food, rejoice! There are so many options here – it’s a grocery store afterall. Many Whole Foods have a “Paleo Options” section that often offers compliantly prepared food for the Whole30, but be sure to review the ingredients cards posted above to make sure. Even if you don’t see the dedicated section, take a look around as there is usually always at least one meat and a few veggies that are complaint. If all else fails, you can also always make a big, juicy salad. I often use plain olive oil with salt and pepper as dressing on the go if I don’t feel like purchasing a compliant dressing.
- Five Guys. If you find yourself in a pinch and there happens to be a Five Guys around order a lettuce wrapped burger. Add green peppers, onions, tomatoes, pickles, jalapeno peppers, mustard, hot sauce and pickles as you see fit.
This is unrelated af, but when I think of Five Guys, I can’t help but think of the Migos. Moving along…
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW
Stay motivated and inspired! Check out the accounts below.
GOOD AF RECIPES
My most favorite recipes. I keep these in my arsenal while on a Whole30. Delicious, healthy and you never feel deprived!
- Nom Nom Paleo’s Instant Pot Carnitas – Absolutely amazing. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, don’t worry – you can make it in a slow cooker as well.
- I Heart Umami’s Crispy Teriyaki Chicken – I always like to say, “A thigh never dies” – they stay juicy and this recipe is no exception.
- My Natural Family’s Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Paleo Baked Chicken – Making and eating this meal is such a comfort.
- Fit Slow Cooker Queen’s Slow Cooker Gumbo – I grew up in eating lots of Cajun and Creole foods in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This recipe not only hit the spot, but I also didn’t have to put in all the work of making a roux.
- Jay’s Baking Me Crazy Paleo Chicken Tenders – Not gonna lie: I love to douse these in Frank’s Red Hot (it’s my favorite compliant hot sauce).
- No. 2 Pencil’s Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas – I have the shrimp and peppers with avocado on the side. If I’m sharing, I provide tortillas to those not on the Whole30.