I’ve recently endured 30 whole days of absolutely zero dairy, grains, legumes, and yes, also sugar! In other words, complete torture! Just kidding, it actually wasn’t hard at all! And I’m about to tell you how! If you want to learn how to survive the Whole 30, then keep on reading on!
First of all, if you’re not sure what the Whole 30 is, you must be living under a rock or something, because it seems to be talked about everywhere I look recently. But for those under-rock-livers, I’ll explain a little bit.
The Whole 30 is an elimination diet. It’s not what most people I talk to think though, where you can only eat 30 types of foods. It’s actually where you eat whole foods, as close to nature as possible, for 30 days. Then after the 30 days is up, you slowly start to reintroduce back the food groups you eliminated to see which of these foods you can tolerate.
The food groups you aren’t allowed to eat are dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar. I’m not going to get into why you should eliminate each of these food groups, because that’s why a book was written about it. If you want to know, in detail, why certain foods aren’t allowed, read this book before you start. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Now I know, you’re probably thinking, “What the hell can I eat then?” Well you’d be surprised at how much food is allowed! I never once felt deprived or starved during the entire 30 days. Actually, I felt so amazing the entire time, and I found it actually quite easy to stick to, that I chose to continue eating the Whole 30 diet even after it was over, with exception to a few foods, and I’ll explain which ones and why in a little bit.
How To Survive The Whole 30
I’ll be honest, the Whole 30 is hard! I know I just said I found it easy, but that’s because I did a lot of research beforehand, and I made sure I was prepared, both mentally and in the kitchen! You won’t be able to just wing it day by day and you probably will have cravings, especially at the start, but if your goal is to gain more energy, stop feeling bloated all the time, learn how to read labels and actually eat healthy, and lose weight all at the same time, then it will all be worth it!
I tell anyone who will listen about the Whole 30, because it did all of those things for me, and I just can’t understand why everyone in the entire world isn’t eating this way. So in this post, I’m going to lay out how I did my research, how I planned my weeks, how I handled my cravings, how I reintroduced each food group back in, and how I decided what foods to eliminate for good.
Do Your Research
First and foremost, you’re going to want to learn about the Whole 30. Find out exactly what foods are off limits, and what foods are allowed. There are a lot of additives that I didn’t even know about before I did my research. You can find a cheat sheet on this information on the Whole 30 website, but I highly recommend purchasing the book, It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, or you can even try borrowing it from your local library. It goes into detail about why each food should be eliminated and what it does to your body.
I think this was the main reason I found it so easy to stick to the plan. I knew what those foods did inside my body, and what could happen if I continued to eat them, and it turned me off! It also helps when other people ask you why you’re not eating certain foods, you can actually explain it to them, rather than just saying, “Because I was told not to.” You might actually inspire someone else to do The Whole 30 too, and you can play a part in changing their lives!
Grab A Partner
I’m sure you already know that it’s so much easier to finish something if you have someone doing it with you, especially when that someone is in the same household. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I had to cook two separate meals for me and my husband and kids.
As soon as I decided I wanted to try the Whole 30, I told my husband about it and asked if he’d do it with me. He was a little hesitant because, like me, he loves his toast and his chocolate, but he obviously agreed. I even told my dad and a few of my friends about it, who decided they wanted to try it as well. You can even make a Facebook group for you and your friends to share recipes, ideas, show each other support, and motivate one another.
Pick A Date
If you decided to read the book, you might notice it says “Don’t wait! Start now!”, but in my opinion, you want to be 100% prepared so you can be 110% successful!
When I decided to do it, my Dad was coming to visit for 9 days in a couple weeks, and I didn’t want to be so restricted when he was here, and then a week after he left was Easter and my husband’s birthday. So I decided to wait until after all of those events to start so I could just enjoy myself without worrying about what was in my food. I think it was one of the best decisions I made, because that gave me several weeks to mentally prepare for it, and I was able to find some Whole 30 recipes that I could try in the meantime to see if it was something I would enjoy.
Mindset Is Everything
If you go into the Whole 30 thinking it’s going to be impossible and that you’re going to fail, chances are you’re right. You need to believe that it’s do-able, that you’re going to change your life, your body. You need to have a positive mindset!
Prepare your mind by getting in the habit of meditating for 5 minutes each day. You might be surprised at how amazing it feels. Tell yourself the Whole 30 is going to be easy and that it’s going to fly by. Tell your partner too! Saying it out loud makes it that much more believable.
When the day arrives for you to cut out all those nasty foods you’ve learned about, you want to make sure you’re prepared in the kitchen too! Take the time before your start date to look up some Whole 30 compliant recipes you might like to try. Check out my favorite ones here on Pinterest.
Like I said, you’re not going to want to just wing these next 30 days. Meal planning is crucial to surviving the Whole 30 without feeling like you’re going to rip your hair out every day, and with meal planning comes meal prepping. Meal prep can be annoying and time consuming, but it’s only time consuming for one, maybe two days of the week, rather than every single day. If you’ve never meal prepped before and have no idea where to start, click on over to this post to see how I do it every single week.
Track Your Progress
This usually goes without saying – you should weigh yourself and take measurements and before photos right before you start the Whole 30 (or any health/fitness routine), if not to inspire others, but to motivate yourself! Sometimes it’s extremely reassuring when you think you’re not making any progress, but then you look at your old photos and compare them to current ones. Even the smallest change can light a fire in you to keep going!
But on top of that, track your non-scale progress as well! This was the most interesting part for me. I have a daily planner, and each day of the 30 days, I wrote down how I felt and any changes I might have noticed. I wrote whether I had cravings, how tired or energized I felt, if I felt bloated any given day, or how my mindset was. Looking back is really cool to see how things improved.
You’ll especially want to do this when you start reintroducing foods back into your diet so you can make an informed decision on what ones you want to keep consuming on a regular basis.
This Too Shall Pass
When you have a craving, and you will have cravings, don’t give in to it. I know it may seem hard and that you just might die if you don’t have that piece of chocolate, but remember that it will pass. Cravings never last that long, because it’s all in your mind. You don’t actually need the chocolate, or muffin, or whatever it is that is consuming your thoughts right now. If you give in to the craving, you will only feel worse after you’ve had it, both physically and emotionally.
You can even try distracting yourself! If you are craving something that is off limits, get up and move. Go for a walk, clean the house, meet with a friend, whatever will help take your mind off of it.
My biggest issue was having a snack after the kids went to bed. It usually consisted of toast with peanut butter, and it was something I looked forward to all day long. I even tried having the exact same thing in the afternoon as my snack to avoid wanting it in the evening, but it never tasted as good as it did before bed. I knew this was a habit I needed to kick, and not just the toast aspect of it, I needed to stop feeling like I needed something to eat after dinner.
Since after the kids go to bed is my time to relax and wind down, I couldn’t really get up and move, otherwise I’d never get to sleep at night. So instead, I decided to replace my craving.
Instead of eating something, I would sit down and have a caffeine-free herbal tea instead. Sometimes I would feel so hungry while that pot was brewing, that I almost grabbed a quick little something while I waited. But then I promised myself that if I still felt hungry after the tea, I would have something healthy. I never did because every single time, the feeling of hunger went away after my tea. I wasn’t actually hungry. I was accustomed to the habit of eating something at that time of night, and it made me feel hungry. Or maybe I was a little hungry, but the cup of tea was just enough to fill me up.
So if you can’t get away from your craving, replace it with something else!
Don’t Rush The Reintroduction Phase
This one is so important because it’s the whole reason you’re doing the Whole 30 in the first place. You want to find out what foods your body can tolerate and what ones make you feel like crap. If you reintroduce too many food groups at once, you won’t know what made you feel bloated, and you’ll just drag out the process even longer. Follow the reintroduction schedule in the book, and take note of how you feel after each day.
Remember, also, that reactions to foods don’t always happen right away. One food might make you feel funny immediately after, but another food might take 24 hours to show any symptoms. That is why it’s important to go back to the Whole 30 for 2-3 days after you try something, so you can be sure it doesn’t affect you.
I didn’t have any drastic results, like I thought I would. I lost 4 lbs, and several inches, including 2 inches off my waist, which is great! But I didn’t do the Whole 30 to lose weight. I knew that would be a natural side affect, but I decided to do this diet because I wanted to feel more energized throughout the day and learn how to read labels. I wanted to restore my relationship with food and stop having cravings all of the time.
I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I have much more energy throughout the day. Maybe a little, I don’t seem to have that afternoon slump like I used to. But I’m definitely still tired most of the time, but I’ve come to realize that it’s probably because I have an 18 month old who gets up at 5:00 am every single morning, and toddlers are a lot of work!
I didn’t completely get rid of my cravings, and I know that’s because I often gave in to them by having a compliant Larabar instead, but I did reduce them! I don’t have as many cravings as I used to, and I don’t actually crave chocolate, or toast, or anything that I used to. Instead I actually just crave Larabars, and in my opinion, that’s way better than craving highly processed junk.
I think the biggest result that I am most proud of, is my newfound love for eating healthy, nutritious foods that are as close to nature as possible. I don’t just eat healthy foods because I know I should anymore, I actually eat them now because I want to. Eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors doesn’t have to be boring with the thousands of recipes available online. I pretty much continue to follow the Whole 30 diet, with exception to a few things, like maple syrup (in moderation because it makes me bloated, but it’s so good on Paleo pancakes), honey in my coffee, and the odd serving of greek yogurt. I will also have a treat meal once a week on Saturdays when we have family movie night.
I am officially smaller and in better shape than I was before I got pregnant two years ago, and I continue to improve each and every day, without feeling like I’m trying.
I hope I’ve helped make the Whole 30 sound less scary for you, and that you’ll give it a go! It’s changed my relationship with food and I believe it will yours too!
Do you plan on committing to 30 days of amazingness? Comment below! And please pin to Pinterest using the image below!