As I’ve gotten older, things about how my body works have changed. In my thirties, I have developed seasonal allergies, lactose intolerance, minor skin issues, and skin sensitivity. I’ve been dealing with inconsistent digestive issues, stints of nausea, and weird pains. I’ve had just about every medical test (even yucky ones) you can have and they all come back normal. I’ve eliminated lactose and eat a mostly vegetarian diet at home, but splurge when we eat out, and yes, I know I eat too much sugar. We’re an active family and regularly go for hikes, walks, bike rides, and outdoor family adventures.
I’m not unhealthy by any means, but things could be better. I want more energy and better sleep, and I’m tired of the inconsistent digestive issues, never knowing when they will pop-up.
Several of my friends and people I know have completed the Whole30 program and had fantastic results, including weight loss, so I ordered the book The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom and read it to see if this was something that we should try.
Woah Baby. Whole30 is serious stuff. It sounds super cheesy, but Whole30 isn’t meant to be a diet. It’s meant to be a 30 day reset.
Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food.
— The Whole30 Program
After reading the book, Brian and I decided that completing a Whole30 would be a good idea to evaluate what’s going on with my body in relation to the foods I’m eating and it would be the kick in the pants we both need to eat healthier and up the amount of veggies we’re eating.
We were originally going to start our first Whole30 in February. Then it was going to be March. Then we decided to start Whole30 mid-March. We kept putting it off for a few reasons:
- While I was excited to try the Whole30 program, I wasn’t excited to cut so many foods I love from my diet.
- Our pantry and refrigerator were full of foods that are not Whole30 compliant and I hate wasting food.
- Brian wasn’t ready to give up his coffee creamer.
- We were traveling to two business conferences and would be hanging out with friends and eating out a lot and I just didn’t want to be that person.
April 1 is our official Whole30 Day 1.
We have eaten almost all of the sugars, beans, and grains, and non-Whole30 compliant foods in our house, and all that’s left are the foods the kids eat. We have meal planned, grocery shopped (some), and found Whole30 compliant coffee creamer. And this month while we will be traveling for spring break, we have no work travel.
What Is Whole30?
If The Whole30 is new to you, you may be wondering what The Whole30 is…
The Whole30 Program Rules
- 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.
It is a lot to cut out. Basically, during a Whole30 you can eat fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, and nuts. You can also have clarified butter or ghee, salt, vinegars, fruit juice, coconut aminos, and certain legumes like green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.
Since Brian’s Gallbladder Cancer, we don’t eat any red meat or pork, so in terms of meat, that basically leaves us with chicken and turkey. I’m also allergic to shellfish, so that also limits our fish choices. It’s a good thing we already eat mostly vegetarian! Yes, Whole30 sounds hard. You could say it’s hard. But one of the most famous quotes in the book will knock thinking right out of you with some serious tough love:
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your struggles.
— The Whole30 Program
Two Other Big Whole30 Rules
No weighing yourself or taking any body measurements for 30 days. I like that aspect of the program. No stepping on the scale, no counting calories, no counting points, no shakes, no measuring portions, no liquid diets, no eating foods you don’t like, no fitting your food into little colored containers. Instead, simply eat natural, healthy foods when you’re hungry.
No cheats. None. Not even one slip up is allowed. If you cheat or eat foods not allowed in The Whole30 Program, you are supposed to start over at Day 1 the next day. YIKES! If that isn’t incentive enough to stick to the plan, I don’t know what is! It would be horrible to get almost all the way through a Whole30, cheat, and have to start over. I can go 30 days without eating a single french fry or chip, but after 30 days, I’ll definitely be reintroducing those foods — just not eating them as often.
I also can go 30 days without making waffles (like waffles). I may use my waffle iron as a kitchen appliance to cook something quickly or avoid the oven, but it will be used as an appliance, not as a tool to replace sweet, unhealthy waffles.
Whole30: The First Day
Whether it’s short day trips, quick weekend getaways, week-long road trips, or 10-day vacations, we adventure a lot. That means the only way Brian and I are going to make it through Whole30 — which includes our Spring Break road trip to Mendocino and Fort Bragg — is to make it easy to eat on the go. And there is no better way to learn that than to dive in head first.
Today was the first day of our first Whole30 and we spent the day on the road, visiting Daffodil Hill, Black Chasm Cavern, and Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park. This meant we needed to pack a picnic lunch and car snacks, and I needed to plan in advance. I also needed a coffee creamer plan in place because Brian was not going to give up his coffee creamer. I did some googling yesterday and found Whole30 compliant coffee creamer and snack bars — all sold at Whole Foods. Hallelujah!
- Nutpods Coffee Creamer is made from coconut milk and almond milk, and comes in original, vanilla, and hazelnut flavors. The consistency of the Nutpods coffee creamer a little thinner than the Coffeemate Creamers but not as sweet, and while the vanilla creamer is good, the hazelnut is the best tasting. You can find Nutpods with the non-refrigerated Almond milks. Just be prepared to pay the same price you’d pay for a large Coffeemate creamer, even though they are the size of a single-serving kids milk. (You can also buy Nutpods on Amazon.)
- Larabars are snack bars made from nuts and fruit and are really delicious. They taste almost like a candy bar though, so keep some on hand for snack emergencies, but don’t plan on making them part of your daily routine. There are several Larabar flavors that are Whole30 compliant, including Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Cashew Cookie, Cherry Pie, Chocolate Coconut Chew, Coconut Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Bar, and Pecan Pie. (You can buy a box of Larabar Minis with three Whole30 flavors or Larabars by the flavor, like Cashew Cookie, on Amazon.)
- Clif Kit’s Organics Bars are made with dates, nuts, fruit, and sea salt. Whole30 compliant flavors include Cashew, Cherry & Pumpkin Seeds, Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut, and Dark Chocolate Walnut — all available on Amazon.
There are also Whole30 compliant RxBars, Epic Bars, and Pressed By Kind Bars — but we haven’t tried any of those yet.
Today was probably not the best day to promise the kids freshly made, hot-out-of-the-oven coffee cake for breakfast. Luckily, with my lactose allergy, I’m used to making meals, treats, and desserts that I can’t eat. With that said, breakfast is clearly going to be the easiest meal of the day for us because we already eat egg and veggie breakfast burritos almost every day. All I need to do is skip the tortilla wrapper.
The only thing I know I am going to struggle with is missing my delicious and amazing English Muffin breakfast sandwiches. I love those things. But it’s only 30 days, so I’ll get through it. I will.
Today I made a simple Asparagus And Mixed Veggie Breakfast Scramble with onions, red bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and asparagus, and added some hot sauce to give it a kick. This is the first time I have combined asparagus and eggs, and it was really, really good. In the future though, I am going to add in some type of breakfast meat or some potatoes to fill us up a bit more and keep us fuller longer.
Lunch And Afternoon Snacks
We were on the road for lunch. We resisted burgers and nachos at the Daffodil Hill snack bar and held out for our picnic lunch at Black Chasm Cavern. Brian and I packed apples with almond butter and a Larabar for each of us. It wasn’t as much food as we usually pack, mainly because I need to go grocery shopping, but we both felt satisfied.
In the afternoon, before visiting Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, we needed a snack and we each ate a second Larabar. Not a good choice, I know. Yikes But it’s our first day and we’re still figuring things out. In hindsight, I really should have thrown a bag of baby carrots in the ice chest. I’m hoping and praying that the crunch of carrots will satisfy my craving for crunchy Pringles (our go-to road trip car snack)!
We got home just before dinner time and we were starving. My stomach was growling. We made a quick trip to the grocery store for some chicken and began cooking right away. Tonight’s dinner was super yummy:
- Sweet Italian Barbecue Chicken
- Garlic And Thyme Roasted Baby Carrots
- Garlic And Thyme Cauliflower Mash
The Reality Of Whole30
Whole30 isn’t going to be as hard as I thought it would be.
Our biggest obstacle was coffee creamer — Brian wasn’t willing to give that up — and we solved that problem with Nutpods. We already eat a mostly vegetarian diet at home, I’ve recently restocked our spices, we have been cutting back on the sugar intake, and we can keep each other accountable. Also, I like cooking and trying new recipes, and this is forcing my hand to do both regularly, not only for our health but because it is great content for this blog!
Here are few things that I am going to commit to doing to make sure our first Whole30 is a success:
- Meal Plan: By planning our meals or scouting for recipes in advance, I’ll know what we’re going to have for each meal (mostly), and we’ll be able to better resist the urge to scrounge and snack or eat out.
- Snack Plan: When I’m hungry, I have serious hanger issues. It’s not pleasant for anyone. To make Whole30 a personal success, I am going to need to not only plan meals, but plan snacks. We must have simple, healthy, quick snacks on hand, not just for the afternoon munchies, but for those times we’re on the go and not at home.
- Grocery Shop: I need to actually do the grocery shopping when I make the meal plan, so we have healthy food options in the house when we’re hungry. Hopefully, this will help keep me from dreaming of chips and french fries. While the kids aren’t doing Whole30, I am going to use the Whole30 Shopping List as a way to work more veggies into their diets too and buy less prepackaged foods.
- Food/Meal Prep: When we’re home of the weekends, I am really good at meal prep. I am on it. But when we’re traveling and adventuring, I get lazy. I must stay on the meal prep for Whole30 to work because you have to make almost everything from scratch (like ranch and mayo and salad dressings and marinades) so they are Whole30 compliant.
- Cook In Large Quantities: My plan is to cook A LOT of whatever we’re making for dinner so we can have leftovers. This will make lunches during the workweek so much easier, and it will give us more options to mix in with our eggs in the mornings.
- Research Restaurant Options: It’s completely unrealistic to think we’re not going to eat out for an entire month. That is never going to happen. So I’m going to do some planning up front to find us some great options for those lazy days when we want someone else to cook. When possible, I can also look up a restaurant’s menu before we arrive to help make the best choices while doing Whole30.
- Share Progress: Luckily I’m not doing my first Whole30 alone. Brian and I are both doing Whole30 together, so we can help each other stay on track. Also, I am going to share my Whole30 journey and all of the Whole30 recipes I make here on the blog to help keep me accountable.
ABOUT THE RECIPES: All Whole30 compliant recipes I make will be labeled with (Whole30) in the title, so you can find them quickly and easily if you’re in the middle of a Whole30 or plan on starting Whole30 soon.
You can also follow along with me on my first Whole30 through these posts:
- Getting Used To The Whole30 Rules: Day 2-5
- Whole30 (Spring Break) Road Trip Food: Day 6-10
- Staying On Track With Whole30 On A Holiday: Day 11-16
- Whole30 While You’re Sick, Parties, And Date Night at A Brewery: Day 17-22
Almost all of the things I need to do for Whole30 success are things we already do, just not regularly.
I fall off the wagon when we go out of town, I procrastinate on the grocery shopping which leads to us eating out more than we want to, and I get lazy about meal planning and meal prep. Whole30 is swift kick in the pants to get back on track and do these things regularly. It’s also going to give me the push I need to cook larger quantities so we have more leftovers for lunches, which I’m pretty excited about.
The Whole30 Bottom Line
When I first started thing about doing Whole30, I was thinking about it being an elimination program. I was thinking only of everything I can’t have, everything I have to give up. But that’s not completely true and I needed to shift my thinking.
In reality, Whole30 isn’t about deprivation, it’s about taking a closer look at what we’re eating and how the foods we choose affect our bodies and how we feel. Whole30 is about ditching the processed foods and choosing natural foods. It encourages you (with some serious tough love) to embrace healthier foods, learn to cook healthier meals, explore new foods and flavors, and eat smarter — eat in a way that nourishes every part of your body.
Let’s just hope I still feel this way after a week of no chips or fries. I love chips. I love fries. I really, really love chips and fries.