Whole 30 Info + Tips
Hello! If you have made it here, you probably have some interest in the Whole 30 program. This program was created by Melissa Hartwig Urban and Dallas Hartwig in 2009. Here is the official website for reference: https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/
I am going to give you a short run-down of the program from my perspective and then give you some tips that have helped me. I am starting my 4th Whole 30 in July 2019, and while I have some experience with it, I am in no way, shape, or form…a pro. I still have a lot to learn. The Whole 30 program, is a strict version of the Paleo diet that you do for 30 days, with the intention of ridding your body of all the main food that causes inflammation. Many types of food cause us inflammation and we have just been living with the pain, bloating, and inflammation for so long that we don’t even realize it. We blame the fact that we don’t feel well on other issues like stress, our jobs, and relationships, but our diet could be the root of all of those issues. Those things may in fact actually be issues, but what we consume can also be causing us to feel this way. This 30 day program rids our bodies of all Dairy, Grains, Legumes, Bad Oils, added sugar, and alcohol. It is important to be careful about avoiding those ingredients. Hidden forms of these ingredients are in food that you would never expect. For Example, “corn” has been turned into so many different things in this country. When you check labels, you have to make sure that no version of corn is listed. Here is a list of some corn by-products to avoid http://www.livecornfree.com/2010/04/ingredients-derived-from-corn-what-to.html
At times the Whole 30 gets frustrating because you start to realize all the various forms of Corn and Soy (watch out for Soy Lecithin) that are in your food. I remember learning that “dextrose” (corn by product) was listed in one of my favorite types of ham. Why is there corn in ham? It made me so frustrated that I couldn’t buy it, but at least I now know. At least I know about all of the fillers that food companies add to our food. When you do the Whole 30, you have to be strict. You cannot tell yourself “oh..it’s just a little bit (of sugar, wheat, corn, etc)…I will just eat a little bit”. If you want to commit to 30 days, then you really need to commit. You can do it! It is seriously ONLY 30 days. Honestly, I really don’t want you to start this program with the intention that you will do it “for the most part” and that you will take off a few days for a holiday, birthday, or work event. This is a commitment and it is only 30 days of your life. You can totally get through this, but if you can’t and if one particular event is just too important to miss, please consider finding a different set of 30 days to try this out.
Ok…finally…the tips. The biggest tip I have is to make sure you are prepared. You may ask “How do I prep myself for the Whole 30?”. I think the best way is to meal prep on a weekly basis. Some of my staples for the whole 30 are as follows:
- Potatoes (Sweet and White)
- Green Vegetables
- Fresh Fruit
- High Quality Ground Meat
- Other unprocessed Meat you may like to eat
- Grass Fed Hotdogs (Applegate or Trader Joe’s)
- Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage (found at most supermarkets)
- Chile Lime Chicken Burgers (Trader Joe’s)
- Squash (Spaghetti, Butternut, etc)
- Cauliflower Rice (frozen)
- Coconut Aminos (you will use this in place of soy sauce)
- Sesame Oil
- Almond Butter (any nut butter with no sugar added. Peanuts are a legume so you cannot eat them during the Whole30)
- Cans of Tuna
- Cans of Chicken (For chicken salad if you don’t have time to create fresh shredded chicken)
I use the food above to make the majority of my meals. I also use Avocado Oil and Coconut Oil as my main oils, as you have to be careful about which oils you use on the Whole30. You can also use Avocado Oil to make Mayonnaise and then flavored Mayonnaise. Because you can’t eat typical condiments or any dairy products, flavored mayos can create another flavor and texture element to your dishes. I love making curry mayo and chipotle mayo to add to lettuce wraps. It is so good! Mayo is really easy to make yourself. A good recipe for mayo is here https://www.tasteslovely.com/easiest-3-minute-homemade-mayonnaise/ I use this mayo if I make Tuna or Chicken salad too. Tuna and Chicken Salad over some greens is something I love eating normally, so I am happy I can make it during the whole30 as well.
For breakfast, I love to eat eggs, sausage(whole 30 compliant), and vegetables in the beginning, but then I start to get bored. Something you can try making if you get bored is Sweet Potato Toasts. Basically, you slice the sweet potato long ways(or rounds) in to 1/4 inch slices. Season them, add a little bit of oil, and then bake them in the oven at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway. When they are done, you can top them with avocado to make avocado toast or top with a fried egg. You can also top with almond butter and fruit. You can make a bunch of sweet potato toast ahead of time and store them in the fridge. I have also made breakfast soup. It is basically a base of sweet potato or butternut squash soup and I add vegetables and chicken apple sausage to it. This is a SUPER comforting meal to wake up to. You can then add a poached or fried egg on top for added sustenance. Here is my recipe for Sweet Potato Soup: https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/sweet-potato-soup-df-paleo-whole-30/
For Lunch, anything goes. I think one of my favorite types of meal is a homemade hamburger or grass-fed beef hotdog with sides of sweet potatoes and garlic spinach, sauerkraut, pickles, and homemade spicy mayonnaise. I also love leftover meat with cauliflower rice or chicken salad on spinach.
Dinner can be anything. You actually can eat anything for any meal. I don’t like to abide by the traditional version of “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. You can eat eggs whenever…soup whenever….anything whenever…as long as you want it. I love to make a big batch of shredded pork shoulder or chicken thighs in a slow cooker or my instant pot and use this with sides for a lot of my meals. Here is my recipe for Chicken Carnitas. https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/chicken-carnitas/
One thing to note is that during the Whole30, it is important to not try to create “whole 30 versions” of junk food. Junk food can be cookies, crackers, pizza, calzones, bread substitutes, cake, cupcakes, etc…but I think this should be defined as all food to which you have a strong emotional connection. If you can hear yourself say “how am I going to live without bread for 30 days”, then bread should definitely be a food that you do not try to duplicate using compliant ingredients. Same with pizza or dessert. If the idea of not eating pizza or dessert for 30 days makes you nervous, then that is precisely the type of food that you should avoid. It’s funny to think that we sometimes have emotional connections to food, like pancakes, but we do..and it is ok. But, for 30 days, throw away the “crutches” and no matter how tempting it is, I challenge you to not try to make these delicious types of food, even using compliant ingredients. I think these types of food are different for everyone. Some people can’t live without pizza, for some…it’s ice cream. Think really hard about which foods are the hardest for you to give up – these are the foods to avoid in any form during your Whole 30. You will feel really good about it after the 30 days are over.
Also, another thing that makes some people nervous about the Whole 30 is Dining Out. It is difficult to dine out during the Whole 30, but it is not impossible. You have to be mindful about what oils and seasonings are being used during the cooking process of the food you order. Some restaurants have made it easy for you and list certain meals that are “Whole 30 compliant”. Here is a list of several places I am aware of. You can also google your own location and see what pops up.
Philly Area Peeps: https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2019/01/02/whole30-restaurants-around-philadelphia/
Zoes Kitchen: https://zoeskitchen.com
Snap Kitchen: https://www.snapkitchen.com
Denver Area Peeps: https://therotaryeats.com
I will add more restaurants here as I find them.
Thinking back to past whole 30s I have done, I never lost a huge amount of weight, maybe never more than 8lbs. However, the knowledge I learned about food and how my body reacts to food is immeasurable. This isn’t supposed to be a quick weight loss plan – it is so much more than that. Have you ever just woken up with a clear head, not felt tired and sluggish, and felt like your body is working at its best? This is how you will feel at the end and it is amazing. I think this program is fun. I love doing 30 day challenges every so often to keep my mind focused. It makes me feel strong. I love that sense of pride I feel on day 31. 🙂 The first whole 30 I did was in August of 2012 and since then I have learned so much about food and healthy ingredients. I haven’t always been able to stick to being paleo over the last 7 years, but it has always been a plan that I have come back to over and over again because I know it is good for me. It is something that I truly believe in. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram page @spinachandbacon and I will try to help you or direct you to a resource page.
I’m ending this post with an example menu of what I typically eat in a day on Whole 30.
Example Day 1:
- Breakfast – Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup.https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/sweet-potato-soup-df-paleo-whole-30/
- Snack – Small smoothie with Mango, Spinach, and Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Lunch – Chicken Carnitas with Cauliflower Rice and Greens https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/chicken-carnitas/
- Snack – A Chomps Stick
- Dinner – Chili Lime Chicken Burger Lettuce Wrap with Avocado and a Side of Spinach
Example Day 2:
- Breakfast – Omelet with Spinach and Whole 30 Compliant Bacon or Sausage
- Snack – whole 30 compliant Lara Bar
- Lunch – Homemade Tuna Salad over Greens. Side of Sweet Potato or White Potato.
- Snack – A Chomps Stick
- Dinner – Asian Style Meatballs with Bok Choy (or any cabbage) https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/27/whole-30-asian-pork-meatballs/
Example Day 3:
- Breakfast – 2 Eggs, Half of an Avocado, and Sautéed Sweet Potato
- Lunch – Asian Style Meatballs, Bok Choy, and added Greens https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/27/whole-30-asian-pork-meatballs/
- Snack – Home-made pureed butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato soup.https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/sweet-potato-soup-df-paleo-whole-30/
- Dinner – Chicken Carnitas with Cauliflower Rice and Greens https://spinachandbacon.com/2019/06/23/chicken-carnitas/
- Dessert – Small smoothie with Banana, Spinach, and Unsweetened Almond Milk