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Have you ever thought of doing Whole 30, or wondering what your friends doing Whole30 are talking about? I’ve done Whole30 twice — and loved it both times.
My body feels better than it ever has when I’ve been on Whole30. I have so much energy, my joints feel so empty, and my skin is outstandingly clear. And it’s also a good way to drop a lot of weight.
Committing to 30 days of giving up all your favorite foods can be challenging — but I have 20 tips here to help you get through it!
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is a 30-day eating plan designed to change your worst food habits. For 30 days, you don’t consume dairy, grains (including gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa), legumes, soy, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, or artificial flavors.
Whole30 is a stricter version of the paleo diet. Some of the differences are that you’re not allowed to consume any natural sweeteners like raw honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.
Additionally, you don’t count calories, you don’t weigh yourself, you don’t snack, you don’t make “technically” approved junk food made of Whole30-compliant ingredients, and most importantly, YOU DO NOT CHEAT. EVER. If you mess up, you’re supposed to start over again.
It’s intimidating — but can you do that for 30 days? A lot of people can. A lot of those people didn’t think they could.
But if you give all those foods up, what do you actually eat?!
Short version: meat, eggs, and fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It’s pretty basic. You can build a delicious, filling meal from meat or fish and vegetables.
BUT I CAN’T DRINK MY COFFEE BLACK!! I’D NEVER SURVIVE.
Order Nutpods from Amazon for your coffee. These nut creamers are Whole30-approved and I hear they’re delicious. (Most commercially processed nut milks contain ingredients that are not Whole30-approved.)
You could also try to ease yourself into drinking your coffee black, like me.
This isn’t a healthy diet, though. Isn’t it better to be vegan, or keto, or follow the Mediterranean diet?
Whole30 is not claiming to be the healthiest diet in the world, nor is the paleo diet the be-all and end-all of nutrition. Lots of foods that are forbidden on Whole30 have tremendous health benefits — sprouted whole grains, red wine, certain kinds of honey, and especially beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
However, Whole30 is a million times healthier than the Standard American Diet.
You know by now that the Standard American Diet is terrible for you — way too much sugar, processed foods, and high-calorie dishes. Eating this way has caused an obesity epidemic in America, leading to increased levels of cancer, diabetes, and other weight-related illnesses.
At its core, Whole30 is a diet that eliminates most of the foods that cause inflammation, and most of the foods to which most people have latent insensitivities. Doing Whole30 can make you feel amazing. It makes ME feel amazing.
You will probably lose weight. You might lose a ton of weight. But the point isn’t to lose weight — the point is to improve your relationship with food.
Simply cutting sugar out of your diet will lead to a massive reduction in your caloric intake, which will lead to losing weight. The vast majority of people who do Whole30, do it honestly, and keep it up for 30 days end up losing several pounds.
As someone who usually hovers between a size 6 and size 8, I lose around two pounds of fat per week when on Whole30. Some people who have more to lose actually lose more.
There are WAY more health benefits from Whole30 than losing weight.
While losing weight might be at the forefront of your mind, there are much more important benefits.
Clear, perfect skin. Before I did my first Whole30, I was 32 and was still nursing a giant zit somewhere on my chin at all times. Whole30 cleared it up — and miraculously, it has STAYED clear since.
Reduced inflammation. I didn’t know I even carried inflammation in my body until I realized that after a week on Whole30, my knees and hips felt SO clear and wonderful.
Incredible energy. I no longer get up slowly — I bounce up like Tigger.
Better sleep. Giving up booze alone makes sleep much better.
Pain-free periods. Every woman is different, but you may have reduced pain or PMS symptoms during your period.
Just feeling great. It’s crazy how a poor diet can get you into feeling general malaise — and you don’t even realize until it goes away.
Tip #1: Schedule your Whole30 for when you don’t have food-related obligations.
I’ve only done two Whole30s in the past year and a half because of my travel schedule. Yes, I could make it work if I absolutely had to, but part of my work is writing about local restaurants so it’s a non-starter. It’s hard for me to have a month with no obligations — which is why I jumped on it when I realized I had a free April.
Christmas and Thanksgiving can be hard, especially if you’re planning to attend holiday parties and are looking forward to a family member’s signature dishes and lots of pie. But if you can withstand a lot of holiday season temptation, go for it. It’s easy to plan a Whole30-compliant Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
My biggest tip is not to plan Whole30 during a month when you have a wedding to attend. It’s hard to go to a wedding and say no to all that free food and booze, and you don’t want to make things hard on the people hosting you.
On the other hand, planning Whole30 over a holiday can save you from excess sugar consumption! I did one Whole30 over Halloween and one over Easter, and I felt proud of myself for completely avoiding candy on both occasions!
Tip #2: Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.
You are going to be doing a LOT of cooking while on Whole30. Why make it harder on yourself by making three unique dishes every single day? The answer is to meal prep instead.
I have never meal prepped in my LIFE until this month. Now, once a week I make eight salmon burgers and an egg/sausage/veggie bake. I roast sweet potatoes to go with the egg bake for breakfast and I roast whatever vegetables are on hand to go with the salmon burgers for lunch. It is amazing and convenient to always have a fridge full of ready-to-go meals!
When I make dinner, I usually make four portions, freeze one, and eat the rest over the next few days. That habit has always served me well, especially when I come home tired and don’t want to cook anything.
r/MealPrepSunday on Reddit is a great resource for meal prep.
Tip #3: You will be spending a lot of time and money on grocery shopping, but you might actually be saving.
Your grocery bills are going to go way up. It’s inevitable. But you’re going to be saving more in the long run because you won’t be going out to eat, you won’t be ordering takeout — and especially because you won’t be drinking.
Lately I’ve been treating myself to an eight-pack of the fancy new Pellegrino Essenza waters. They’re delicious fancy seltzers with flavors like tangerine and wild strawberry and morello cherry and pomegranate. And you know what? That eight-pack costs $7.29 at my grocery store…but a single large beer at my local bar on the next block costs $8. And how often are you going to stop at one beer?
If you’re looking to do Whole30 on the cheap, it’s tough when you can’t turn to staples like rice, beans, and pasta. I recommend looking for specials at your local grocery stores. Some cheaper items are bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (they’re cheap and tasty, and you can cut the bone out easily with kitchen shears), potatoes (and sweet potatoes), and frozen vegetables.
Tip #4: Shop smart, and often, at the grocery store.
Here are the most important things that I buy at the grocery store:
- All kinds of vegetables: I especially eat a lot of spinach, kale, zucchini, green beans, and broccoli
- Fruits: Berries, clementines, or whatever’s in season
- Sweet potatoes, for breakfast each day
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned wild Alaskan salmon, for salmon burgers
- Organic, pastured eggs
- The best meat I can afford: grass-fed beef if possible, organic pork, and ALWAYS antibiotic-free chicken (usually thighs)
- Nitrate-free chicken sausage without added sugar (Trader Joe’s has a compliant brand)
- Fish: usually salmon, tilapia, or whatever is available and easy
- Cooking fats: olive oil for most cooking, and ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, and/or avocado oil for high-heat cooking. Coconut milk irritates my stomach but most Whole30-ers rely on it.
- Capers, lemons, onions, garlic, coconut aminos, Red Boat fish sauce, spices, and fresh herbs for flavoring everything
- Superfine almond flour
- Beverages: coffee (not flavored!), various herbal teas, various seltzers
- Snacks and protein supplementation (for fitness reasons): Chomps grass-fed beef sticks, roasted salted almonds, grass-fed bone broth, boneless skinless sardines, RXBARs (for emergency hunger only as they’re made with dates and are considered “candy” on the Whole30 plan)
- If you want to stock your fridge with condiments, check out Tessemae’s ketchup or their eight-sauce starter pack, which includes barbecue sauce, Caesar dressing, and more, all Whole30-compliant. You can buy compliant mayonnaise — but I suggest you make your own! It’s fun!
When I’m on Whole30, I usually grocery shop twice a week and stop in a few other times for random ingredients. This is actually the way we should all be shopping, buying the freshest ingredients and cooking them immediately.
As far as supplies go, there are a few I highly value: a lemon squeezer changed my life; heavy-duty kitchen shears are vital if you’re regularly buying chicken thighs (to cut out the bone); I love this meat pounder.
And I am perhaps the only New Yorker who has a toaster oven in her kitchen but it is the BEST for roasting vegetables for one. I use mine at least twice a day.
Tip #5: Get podcasts and audiobooks for your cooking and dishwashing.
You are going to be spending a LOT of time in the kitchen, both cooking and cleaning. And if you’re like me and you don’t have a dishwasher, you’ll be spending a lot of time scrubbing dishes.
So get a portable speaker (this one is mine), bring it into your kitchen, and listen to some podcasts! It makes the work go by so much faster. Here are some of my favorite podcasts:
- For current politics: Pod Save America, The Wilderness, NPR Politics
- For true crime: Dirty John, The Drop Out, To Live and Die in Los Angeles, Broken Harts
- For history: Slow Burn, Bag Man
- For episodic fiction: Blackout
- For fun: Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, The Baby-Sitters Club Club
Looking for audiobooks? Even better! I borrow all of mine for free from the library. Generally I prefer lighter reads and especially memoirs read by the author. Here are a few recent faves:
- The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes
Another habit I’ve picked up? I drink a lot of herbal tea during the day, and whenever I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, I spend those two minutes cleaning up the kitchen.
Tip #6: Use Whole30 as a chance to try out new recipes.
Whole30 is an AWESOME opportunity to learn how to make new recipes! If you’re looking for recipes, Pinterest is a great resource.
My favorite Whole30 recipe site is Nom Nom Paleo. While it’s primarily paleo, all of the recipes point out how to make them Whole 30-compliant, and there are even 90 days of Whole30 recipes. Plus, they don’t go overboard on ads, which I appreciate as a consumer.
Here are some Whole30 recipes I enjoy:
- Egg Sausage Veggie Bake (via 40 Aprons) — I prep this every week and have it for breakfast with roasted sweet potatoes each day.
- Salmon Burgers (via The Real Food Dietitians) — I prep eight burgers every week and have them every day for lunch with Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Dressing. You can easily customize the recipe; I add capers.
- Cracklin’ Chicken (via Nom Nom Paleo) — This recipe looks so boringly basic BUT THIS CHICKEN IS SO GOOD IT’S UNREAL. It reminds me of “the great chicken place” everyone loved off Nimman Road in Chiang Mai.
- Potsticker Stir-Fry (via Nom Nom Paleo) — What a genius idea — make the filling for potstickers and supplement it with vegetables! I recommend using only half a Napa cabbage and using the other half for taco shells.
- Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (via Tasty Thin) — Serve it over cauliflower rice.
- Perfect Tomato Sauce (via Chrissy Teigen) — This is how I make my marinara and it’s perfect.
- Italian Meatballs (via Tastes Lovely) — These meatballs are made of pork and beef and are bound with eggs and almond flour. Add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for.
Tip #7: If you’re hungry, ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat a bowl of steamed broccoli?”
If the answer is yes, you’re hungry. If the answer is no, you’re looking to fulfill a craving. Learn to recognize that distinction.
Sometimes it helps to drink a full glass of water when you’re hungry. Much of the time when we think we’re hungry we’re actually just thirsty.
Tip #8: Keep lots of Whole30-compliant beverages on hand.
If you’re used to drinking at home, and especially if you’re trying to kick a soda addiction, you’ll need to be prepared.
For me, I love all kinds of herbal teas. I especially love super-fruity teas like Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger and Cranberry Apple Zinger (I buy them both in bulk from Amazon).
Seltzer is another big one. I drink a ton of seltzer — Polar is my fave (and Trader Joe’s, which is literally repackaged Polar), as well as Spindrift, and I love those new fancy Pellegrino Essenza seltzers. Just one thing: make sure it’s made with natural flavors only. There are lots of store brands that are made with artificial flavors and aspartame. Gross.
An added bonus? By the time you’ve been off sugar for a few weeks, non-sugary foods start to taste sweeter. By that point, Polar Orange Vanilla Seltzer tastes exactly like a Stewart’s Orange and Cream Soda to me!
Tip #9: Keep forbidden foods out of sight.
For me, just seeing a delicious forbidden food is tempting, but if it’s out of sight, I don’t think about it.
When I’m on Whole30, I keep noncompliant foods in my pantry instead of in my kitchen cabinets. It helps a lot.
Tip #10: Eating out is a challenge while on Whole30, but it can be done.
During my first Whole30, I was terrified to eat anywhere but Sweetgreen, where the Guacamole Greens salad (my favorite!) is Whole30-compliant if you omit the chips. On my second Whole30, I’ve relaxed a lot more, though I still eat a ton of Sweetgreen.
Make-your-own-salad spots, like Just Salad or Hale and Hearty, work well when you can choose the ingredients individually. Just top them with oil and vinegar.
Chipotle now has a Whole30-compliant bowl! You can only order it through the app, but you can get it at the counter by asking for a bowl with romaine lettuce, carnitas, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and guacamole. (Chipotle used to cook their fajita veggies in bran oil but they now cook them in Whole30-compliant sunflower oil.)
When I go out to a nicer restaurant, I’ll usually get a salad topped with plain chicken, shrimp, or smoked salmon. It definitely got boring by the end of Whole30, but at least I could eat something. You can also ask for a plain piece of meat or fish and some vegetable sides, but make sure they’re not cooked in butter. If you’re going out for breakfast, get a vegetable omelet and double-check that butter or milk will not be used.
Sashimi is a good option at Japanese restaurants. You can make your own compliant soy sauce by mixing coconut aminos and Red Boat fish sauce, or just have it with lemon juice if you’re in a pinch.
And at Harlem Public, my local burger brewpub, I had a plain burger with avocado, tomato, and no bun and a side salad instead of fries. (I had to send back the salad twice because first they topped it with beans, then they slathered it in dressing, but I made it work!).
Tip #11: The early days are HARD for lots of people.
Lots of people have a great first day on Whole30, then fall into hangover-like symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, irritability, general misery.
I lucked out in this respect — the first round of Whole30, I had one brief afternoon of irritability; the second round, I had one afternoon where pizza and Levain cookies danced in my head — but it was smooth sailing afterward.
But it’s smart to be prepared for this moment. There is a timeline of Whole30 symptoms — it’s good to refer to it.
Tip #12: You will have crazy dreams about food.
Almost everyone who does Whole30 has dreams about eating forbidden foods at some point. And it’s often something that you don’t even eat ordinarily, like Three Musketeers bars or Flaming Hot Cheetos!
This recent cycle, I dreamed I was shoving Twix in my mouth and then suddenly panicked that I had ruined my Whole30. Another night I dreamed I was mauling the hell out of a chocolate Santa. In April.
At least you wake up and feel relieved that it was just a dream! (And I’ll take these dreams over my usual “oh my God I have to take an exam and I forgot to go to that class all semester” dreams.)
Tip #13: Keep in mind that “good” foods can be problematic.
I fucking love cashew butter. I am OBSESSED with cashew butter. Give me the opportunity and I’ll happily stand at my kitchen counter with a jar of cashew butter and a spoon. Every spoonful I eat, I’m dreaming of the next spoonful. (Yes, don’t eat the cashew butter at my house, I double dip like crazy.)
And Trader Joe’s cashew butter, made with cashews, salt, and safflower oil, is technically Whole30-compliant.
Here’s the thing — I do NOT have good eating habits with cashew butter. Eating nonstop is not healthy. Dreaming about the next spoonful while you’re still enjoying a spoonful is not healthy. Eating for entertainment, not hunger, is not healthy.
I tried to be better. I bought some cashew butter last week and measured it out carefully, only eating one tablespoon at a time. And honestly, it didn’t work. I couldn’t kick my addiction. I would eat it when I wasn’t hungry.
After a day and a half I put the cashew butter in the freezer.
There are lots of foods that are technically compliant but problematic if consumed in excess. I struggle with macadamia nuts as well. Those “just mango” slices from Trader Joe’s are FULL of sugar, even though it’s natural sugar. And if you’re eating steak for every meal, that’s slightly less than ideal.
Tip #14: SEX WITH YOUR PANTS ON IS FORBIDDEN!
Whole30 refers to SWYPO, or Sex With Your Pants On, to re-creating junk foods using Whole30-approved ingredients. Some examples of that: making paleo brownies and cookies, making your own potato chips or French fries from scratch, or blending coffee, pureed dates, and coconut cream to create a Frappuccino-like beverage.
(They call it “sex with your pants on” because it will never be as good a the real thing.)
Why does this matter? The point of Whole30 is to get yourself into better eating habits. You’re not in good eating habits if you’re using junk food as a crutch. The point is to choose healthy foods instead.
Get yourself through the 30 days of Whole30 — then you can make all the “technically Whole30” treats you’d like. I have to admit that after finishing Whole30 I’ve enjoyed blending unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds, dates, and a little bit of water and rolling them into balls.
Tip #15: Get used to peer pressure from your friends, family, and coworkers.
I guarantee that you’ll have people in your life that won’t understand why you’re doing Whole30. Navigating these relationships is going to be one of the hardest tests.
I can’t tell you how many of my friends have said to me, “When you’re done with Whole30, let’s go out drinking!” or “We’ll have to get some Levain cookies/gelato/go for afternoon tea once your Whole30 is over!” or “But Kate, we’re going to an ALL-INCLUSIVE in 10 days!” I love my friends and I know they mean well, but I don’t want to slide back into my old habits.
And even worse are the people who say, “Just have one drink. Just one munchkin. You’ve been good for so long, does one tiny bite even matter?” YES! IT MATTERS!! Not slipping up is the point!
And if you have a partner, especially a live-in partner, he or she needs to be supportive. There is a world of difference between a partner who encourages you and a partner who complains the whole time. Whole30 can be a litmus test for your relationship.
Sometimes your gentle refusals of, “No, thanks,” have to turn into a more firm, “I’m not interested in eating that. Please stop asking.”
However, Whole30 can also show you how people can be respectful to your needs. One friend brought me a banana at her kid’s birthday celebration when everyone else was eating cupcakes. When a dinner I ordered came unexpectedly covered in barbecue sauce, another friend offered to eat it the next day for lunch and walked with me to pick up sashimi instead.
Tip #16: Whole30 is a lot easier when you have accountability.
It can be helpful to do Whole30 with a friend — just having someone in there with you will give you strength on the hardest days. You can cook together, you can trade recipes, you can grumble about coworkers throwing donuts in your face. (You do want that someone to be reliable, though — if they quit a few days in, that could make you quit a few days in.)
If you don’t have someone, I recommend joining a group on social media. The Whole30 subreddit is a bit quiet, but a nice community, and there are plenty of Facebook groups, too. They’re a great place to get positive feedback when you need it most.
Tip #17: If you REALLY want to kick things up, increase your workouts.
If you’re already in a health-oriented mindset, you should take that and run with it. Use this as an opportunity to go to the gym more often, or increase the intensity of your workouts, or try a class you’ve always wanted to try.
This month, I upped my weekly gym sessions from four to six (I’m not scared of you anymore, Wednesday Zumba!) and added high-intensity boxing to my repertoire.
Just keep in mind that you might be miserable the first week when your body is detoxing from sugar. Once you get over that hump, get to work.
Tip #18: Know that Whole30 doesn’t work for everyone.
I’ve had a few friends who did Whole30 who were absolutely miserable the whole time. Some didn’t lose any weight; others had hangover symptoms for all 30 days. Anecdotally, some of those friends have autoimmune disorders and were already somewhat restricted in what they could eat. And a lot of people have sensitivities to Whole30-approved foods like eggs, nuts, or nightshades.
If you’re a vegan, this challenge is going to be all but impossible, unless you eat a freaking truckload of nuts and seeds each day. Vegan staples like soy and legumes are forbidden during Whole30.
Additionally, if you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, this kind of restricted eating may bring you back into unhealthy habits. If you want to do Whole30, you should discuss it with your doctor.
If Whole30 doesn’t work for you, don’t let it get you down. Everyone’s body is different.
Tip #19: There’s a case for breaking some of the rules.
Whole30 is very strict about following the rules. I recommend following all the rules to a T for your first round, but once you’ve had a successful Whole30 under your belt, feel free to bend where it fits your lifestyle.
On my second round, I decided to track everything — my weight, body composition, and everything I ate. I did it for science reasons — I was genuinely interested to see how my body reacted to tweaks in my diet, especially when it came to fitness. Plus, it’s important for me to be eating at least 100 grams of protein each day.
Additionally, snacks are strongly discouraged while on Whole30, but if you’re an athlete, it’s stupid not to snack for the sake of a rule. My strength workouts are meaningless if I don’t consume protein afterward. (There are lots of protein-rich Whole30 post-workout snacks. I usually had a combination of Chomps grass-feed beef sticks, roasted almonds, and boneless skinless sardines.)
Some of my friends had one cheat — like a wedding meal, or special occasion, or just one drink, and they were at peace with their decisions.
As for me, during my first Whole30, I was in a tough situation already by being at a writing group at a sports bar. There was nothing on the menu I could eat, and the coffee machine wasn’t working. So I opted to get a cup of tea. I later looked at the label and saw that teabag contained soy lechitin, which was forbidden! According to Whole30, I should have started over again after 27 perfect days — but COME ONE. One teabag. I chose to ignore it and continue.
A word to the wise — if you ask in any of the online communities, whether on Facebook or Reddit, if it’s okay if you break a rule, everyone is going to jump on you and say you need to start over again. Know that going in.
Tip #20: Consider doing a reintroduction after Whole30.
The worst thing you can do is dive back into your old habits, starting with a giant pizza followed by an ice cream sundae. The point of this challenge is to change your worst food habits. What’s the point if you’re going to immediately give it up?
Whole30 recommends doing a slow reintroduction of your foods, ideally over the course of 15 days (waaaaah!). I totally get if you refuse to do that. You’ve worked hard for 30 days already. But if you’re trying to figure out if your body has a problem with certain foods, this can be invaluable.
I didn’t do a reintroduction on my first round. This round, I’m going to be reintroducing dairy first, then gluten, just to see how my body reacts. Those are the two most common sensitivities anyway.
What I Learned from Whole30
I learned that I reward myself with food far too often. That is going to be the toughest habit to break, and it’s going to take longer than 30 days. At least I recognize it for what it is, and I’ll be able to keep an eye out for it.
My daily coffee break is something I look forward to each day, and over time, it has snowballed into me having a large latte and a pastry. A s’mores cookie or a Brooklyn Blackout donut or three of those iced mini vanilla bean scones from Starbucks.
Today I reward myself with a black coffee, or herbal tea, or a cool flavor of seltzer. But I know that’s a crutch — I should be rewarding myself with something that ISN’T food. I’ll have to figure out what that can be.
I learned that if I want to lose weight, a Whole30 or paleo diet will do it quickly and safely. Right before I started traveling long-term, I essentially starved myself while working 18-hour days and lost a ton of weight. Being on a paleo diet, working out, and making sure I eat more calories than my TDEE every day is a healthy and safe way to drop pounds. I lose about two pounds per week while on Whole30.
I learned that I’m not an asshole if I go to a bar and don’t order alcohol. Plenty of people don’t order alcohol at bars for various reasons and the bartender will not hate you for not boozing it up. Tip nicely and you’re officially a good customer.
I learned that I crash if I don’t have slow carbs in the morning. I eat a cup of roasted sweet potatoes every morning with my breakfast. The one day I didn’t, and had a double portion of my egg bake instead, I was so exhausted that I had to take multiple breaks sitting on a bench while walking in Central Park!
I learned that sugar is in literally EVERYTHING. Sugar is dangerously addictive, and it’s in everything processed. For decades, the government tried to scare us into thinking that fat was the problem, but all along, they sold us on low-fat foods that were full of sugar as everyone kept getting fatter. This makes me furious.
I learned that my body is sensitive to coconut milk — and perhaps even coconut as a whole. I don’t notice this when I’m eating normally, but when I eat clean, if I eat something with coconut milk in it, my stomach aches hard. It even hurts a bit when I have a Coconut Chocolate RXBAR, which I love. It’s too bad that coconut milk is the basis of so many paleo recipes.
I learned that I can rewire my mind in 30 days. After 30 days, I don’t even dream of sweets anymore. It’s natural to eat this way.
Life After Whole30
The biggest challenge of Whole30 is learning to stick with your habits afterward. After my first Whole30, I went straight to Vegas — I tried to be good, but it was SO hard at times. And while I kept up a lot of my better habits, eventually most of them collapsed in a year.
Here is what I’m doing going forward:
Meal prep is here to stay. If I have my egg bake and sweet potatoes for breakfast and my salmon burgers with roasted vegetables for lunch, that takes care of most of my food for the day. And I enjoy doing the prep once per week.
Keep up my six days a week workout schedule. Now that I’m used to it, I want to keep it up.
Make an effort not to combine food binges and booze binges. Some of my most indulgent nights involve going to At the Wallace, my local weird bar, for a hot dog, waffle fries, dinosaur chicken nuggets, and a few beers. Or sharing a huge pizza at Rubirosa with a friend after having several rosés at a PR event in SoHo. It seems reasonable to choose to splurge on one or the other but not both.
Try to eat clean five days per week and splurge for two. This seems to be reasonable. I’ll see how it works in practice.
Continue trying new Whole30 recipes. I want to make pho and kimchi soon!
8 thoughts on “How to Survive #Whole30 — 20 Best Tips to Changing Your Eating Habits”
This was such an informative post! I tried the Whole30 a couple years ago and just could not do it- it did not work for me personally. I’m glad it’s worked for you though, and it has worked for people I know, so I know that it could be a good option for some! I really liked at the end how you talk about eating clean for 5 days and splurging for 2. I actually did this last year when I was calorie counting. I would try to stay under my goal 5 days a week and then give myself permission to go over 2 days a week (and not a ton over- maybe 100-300 calories over, going a ton over only once in a blue moon). The method worked for me- I shed almost 15 pounds in a few months! I would have to imagine that the psychological benefits of this alone would work for you too post-Whole 30. Although if you are trying to get away from rewarding yourself with food, maybe not 🙂 I’ve fallen off that wagon and will be doing a 6 week trip to Europe soon (you are partly the inspiration!), so after I return to the states I plan to focus on my eating habits again!
Omg. You look AMAZING, but this regiment seems like hell. I did the food tracking (calorie counting) for a year and it really made me more aware of what I ‘waste’ calories on. I lost ~25 lbs, with a bunch just ‘melting’ off me when I didnt drink for a month (whoever invents calorie-free booze will be a bajillionaire). Fun fact – even though there are plenty of drinkers in my circle, there is never any peer pressure to drink socially. Russia has a 0-alcohol tolerance for driving, so people who drive to work and go out dont even have a sip, for one. And I think bc of my country’s troubling (though strongly improving) history with alcohol abuse, there are abundant non-alc cocktail/flavored lemonade options at every restaurant and even bars. Of course, they are all full of sugar >.< so not a good diet substitute, but if your point is just to go 'dry', it's surprisingly easy to do in a country with such a boozy reputation.
If you’ve read the book – there is literally an entire section where Melissa Hartwig praises the Whole30 program (making her sound like it’s the best diet in the whole freaking world)
But the only reason I have decided to share my experience with you, is because you have to realize that not everyone has great experiences with this program. So, quit praising it like it’s the best diet ever.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, and bulimic tendencies.
I thought I had overcome it years ago.
I knew I had it under control when I started weightlifting and eating healthily. I track macros, which makes it easy to make sure I’m getting enough protein to sustain my physical activities. I was getting up to 2200 cals (I’m 5’1 and 100lbs)
But I had to stop tracking macros, and had the ability to eat whatever I wanted (if approved) if I wanted to try the whole30 program, right? Well, it’s more than that. There a billion rules this Melissa gal has set. Including dumb rules, like no smoothies (even if the ingredients are whole30 approved). But I followed them, thinking it would make me as healthy as ever, maybe even clear my skin, etc. I went in with all these high hopes. Also, may I add, I dont like to quit, so quitting was never an option for me.
After day 11 (I remember clearly) I realized that this diet sucks. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s not a “program” as Melissa calls it. It may be, due to all the rules you have to follow. But it’s literally a diet. And you know what they say about diets…
I felt like crap. Excuse my language.
I wasn’t getting any “energy boost” I was literally waking up feeling tired, and would only grow more tired throughout the day. I was told I was either a) not getting enough carbs or b) it was due to the lack of healthy eating before starting whole30. So, I diminished option b, because I know exactly what went into my body before whole30 and I can tell you I was already eating healthy before, and never had any issues like this lack of energy.
So I started adding sweet potato to 2 of my meals, and for about 2 days, I felt better. Not great, but better. So I continued doing that, but after day 14 I began getting exhausted again. Day 18 is when I really gave up, weighed in at 101lb, my anorexic tendencies kicked in, and everything went downhill. I was tired of it all, and my thoughts were always negative. I would only drink coffee and have bananas and apples for the remaining time. Day 1, I weighed in at 106lb. I quit day 25, and weighed in at 97lb. It’s been a few weeks now, I’m at 100lb, and I still havent been able to fully go back to the mindset I was in before whole30. Whole30 broke me, tore me in half and swallowed half of me. That’s what I feel like. Like half of me is gone, and Melissa stole it from me. Hate her now. At least have the decency to put something in your book that says “not everyone’s experiences will be positive.” Would even be great if she mentioned something to those who have overcome eating disorders who’d like to attempt the program. I mean, she has an entire section dedicated to vegetarians and vegans, dont people who have overcome eating disorders matter too??
As I said, Whole30 is not for everyone. Apparently it wasn’t for you. That’s fine.
Really interesting, informative post! I enjoyed reading about your experiences, but I also appreciated #18. I have celiac and I’m allergic to coconut, so with those 2 restrictions already I’ve never considered Whole 30 or any other program. I know Whole 30 is gluten free, but people often seem to use a lot of coconut, and in general I’ve found that 2 food restrictions is enough for me to handle while eating out, haha.
Amazing, interesting & informative post. Looking forward for next one. Cheers!!
Ah, the Whole30! I have been thinking about this for a while as I would love to kickstart a better relationship with food and figure out what foods I have sensitivities too (please don’t let it be gluten or sugar!). Last summer, my partner and I did a month of no sugar added eating (https://teaspoonofadventure.com/30-days-of-no-sugar-added-eating/) because the rules seemed simpler than Whole30. It was a neat experience, and definitely taught us a lot about what goes into the foods we eat. But not sure if it did that much for us long term.
Great article Kate! So cool to see you still traveling and publishing inspiring articles.