Let me start by saying, if I would have been doing the Whole30 last week while Fulton was hospitalized I would’ve failed MISERABLY. Like, licking the mashed potatoes and gravy off his dinner plate miserably.
But, thankfully, I got to experience all the magic that is a Whole30 (with my husband) during the most joyful time of the year: Lent! You just can’t. even. imagine. how fun we were to be around. (The kids may or may not still run for cover when either of us says we’re hungry.)
I thought this week I would share seven tips that might help/ inspire/ or convince you to give a Whole30 a try (or not; no pressure.) Because if *I* can do it, anyone can.
FYI: There will probably lots of capital letters for emphasis and to express pain.
1. PLAN LIKE YOU’VE NEVER PLANNED BEFORE (See what I mean?)
Seriously, I mapped out every meal and snack and bought extra everything at the store. I also made sure that if I made something the kids wouldn’t eat, there would be a large side of pasta, rice, rolls or, um…frozen pizza, to fill them up. Sure, I felt a bit guilty that I was helping their bodies rot, but if they were going to snub my shrimp with macadamia nut sauce over zucchini noodles, what choice did I have?
After a week or so, I settled on a pretty standard breakfast, lunch and set of snacks. Yes, there were plenty of meals I was less than thrilled about, but not having to over-think breakfast while drinking black coffee has it’s perks too. By the end, my breakfast was two eggs with shredded sweet potatoes, chicken tenders or chicken sausage over a salad with balsamic vinegar and truffle infused olive oil for lunch, with dates and cashews as my go to snacks, along with the occasional, overpriced, Larabar. I also relied on Nori as a sandwich wrap. (Desperate times people.) I drank lots of seltzer (which was nothing new) and sometimes unsweetened iced tea (but never after 4 p.m. because I became very sensitive to the caffeine.)
I think for me, the fact that the Whole 30 is pretty black and white helped me be disciplined. It was definitely important that my husband was on board also for our first go around. Once I got the hang of what was compliant and not, I also learned to think of it in the same terms as chastity. It wasn’t about how much could I get away with, but rather, thinking about my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit in all its aspects as functions. Did what and how I was eating give honor to that?The other shift in thought that really helped was to stop thinking of it as what we couldn’t eat. Once we jumped into the journey as an adventure in exploring new foods and new ways to eat old foods, we had much more satisfaction. I will say that if we do this again I need to keep in mind that the Hubs needs bigger portions than what I was making. I think he struggled with what to do with in between meal hunger more than I did. Planning was key…and more than just dinner planning! I learned to plan every meal and snack options or we would find ourselves up sugar creek! –Rakhi, Facebook group
I recommend making a bunch of Whole30 approved sauces early on and keeping them handy. You can also buy approved mayo, BBQ, etc if you’re willing to spend next month’s salary.
I’ve done the Whole30 twice now and the two things that helped me were doing it with someone – once with a friend and once with my husband (an the group here!). Support is critical for those days when you think you can’t go another day without bread or milk! The second thing that was key was variety in recipes. I relied heavily on some Whole30/Paleo recipe sites to keep the food delicious and interesting. – Kristina, Facebook group
3. FIND A SUPPORT GROUP THAT’S NOT JUST YOUR HUSBAND!
The best thing I did for this Whole30 was create a Facebook group that more than 40 women joined. We shared recipes, our struggles, and when someone felt this close to eating a bag of chocolate chips at the back of her pantry, we commented, prayed and eventually convinced her to have a Larabar instead. And by her I mean, like, all of us at one time or another. It was never easy, but it was easier to know that so many other people were doing the same thing with me, and it gave me resolve to keep going.
I cooked almost exclusively from Well Fed I & II cookbooks. The recipes were delish and many quite easy. She’s gives lots of great info and tips too on food prep, etc. I too find that accountability was key. I’ve been trying to adopt that way of eating for the long haul … and I feel better but it’s so much easier to fall off the wagon when no one else is doing it with you. – Jamie, Facebook group
4. Read every label, EVERY. LABEL.
Little jar of salsa; Whole30 compliant. Big jar of the exact same brand of salsa; not Whole30 compliant. WTH Chi-Chi’s??????? I also learned that there’s tons of sugar added to dried fruit- which is like just pouring more corn syrup into your cola before you slug it down.
The first couple weeks are incredibly hard. Without planning, having my spouse on board and a support group I would have thrown in the towel a hundred times (like I’ve done with so many other Lenten sacrifices). If you are considering a Whole30, put in the work to do it right.
…support is critical. I did it alone and while I don’t eat a ton of sugar or white flour, my days 11,12,13,14 were SO hard that I did fall down. Not sure why since I should have been past the carb flu. … But my tips are to find blogs that focus on whole foods like Nom Nom Paleo – I made a ton of things from there. Googling ‘Whole30 Recap’ to learn that people loved their La Croix drinks and Tesse Mae Ketchup really helped me last as long as I did and not feel deprived. Finding people on Instagram who post whole30 foods gave me lots of ideas all the time. – Katie, Facebook group
6. I got the best sleep of my life on the Whole30. Even my husband noticed the change in sleep patterns for himself and I immediately. Fulton and Teddy also noticed they needed to yell much louder and longer if they needed rolled over in bed at night…that would put them squarely in the not fans of the Whole30 club.
7. By week three the health benefits for me were huge. I decided to embark on a Whole30 because my blood pressure is through the roof without medication. The day after Ash Wednesday, my blood pressure, off meds, was 143 / 110. On March 13th, it was 124/87. I was pretty stoked. But a bit apprehensive because I really missed dairy and wine and many, many other things. Could I reintroduce some old favorites and still keep my blood pressure down?
I didn’t follow the strict reintroduction protocol, but after only a couple days of wine (a glass with dinner) and dairy ( a small serving with a couple meals) along with some paleo brownies, my blood pressure was back up. So, that was discouraging because I can’t really live the Whole30 diet long term, at least not now. I’m back on my meds, overindulging for Easter (50 days baby!) and trying to figure where I go from here.
Other members of my Facebook group lost weight, reduced or eliminated asthma and fibromyalgia symptoms and other mobility pains. I think that’s pretty cool.
BONUS: All those fresh veggies and additional fats and proteins would taste great followed with a probiotic chaser. Trust me on this without all the details. Your lower GI with thank me.
Whole30 fans or haters: anything you would add? Would you prefer to not read about the Whole30? Then link up and visit the links below, being sure to link back to my post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading all your takes while stealing the last of my children’s Easter candy!