My first Whole 30 experience is in the books, and it’s an interesting book. October is here, fall is in the air, and my first round of Whole 30 is over. Needless to say, I need a pumpkin pie something stat.
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I would say my first go at the Whole 30 wasn’t too painful. I chose to give it a try in the first place because my sweet tooth had gotten out of hand. That’s what happens when I am stressed, so it was more than food addiction I needed to tackle. I needed to focus on the food, why I was eating, and why I was eating so much. My calming mantra of choice? Purely Elizabeth granola. Oh boy, while there’s nothing bad for you in those bags, I was eating an entire bag in two days. There’s like 11 servings in those bad boys (eek).
So it was time to give this Whole 30 thing a try. I decided to do it in the month of September, right before the holidays so that I could get the sweet tooth under control before it was about to get really tested.
Was I perfect for 30 days? Not even close. But what I did accomplish, was to avoid granola for 30 days. Because of that, I was able to be mindful and observe my eating habits, and how sometimes it is emotions that drove them.
What is the Whole 30?
The Whole 30 is essentially a shift in eating for a thirty-day period. The idea is to remove certain food groups that can be problematic to some (like sugar for me), and emphasizes real, whole food. It promotes moderate amounts of protein including meat, eggs and seafood, as many veggies and your local farmer can turn out, and healthy fats. Now the important part – what you CAN’T have. Oh boy:
- Nothing with added sugar – Doesn’t matter if it’s real or artificial, if it’s honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar (hello my favorite granola) or the like, it’s off this list. This forces you to pay closer attention to nutrition labels, as many companies sneak sugar in there in many different ways.
- No alcohol
- Do not consume grains or legumes – a staple of the paleo diet, the Whole 30 also restricts grains, including rice, oats, wheat, rye, chickpeas, quinoa, soy sauce, peanuts, lentils, tofu, etc. There are plenty of ways to get your fix of these while on the Whole 30, which I will go into later in this post. I’ll also link to some of my favorite Whole 30 approved brands I discovered along the way!
- Nope to dairy – including cow, goat or sheep’s milk. Letting go of the dairy free yogurt was hard too (it’s not allowed). I actually came to the realization I am allergic to eggs by doing this (more later in the post).
- No baked goods, including “paleo” approved baked ingredients – this one made me sad, no Simple Mills cookies or crackers makes me a dull girl 🙁 I also had to quit the Birchbenders paleo waffles too.
Those First Few Days
Day 1 of my Whole 30 landed on a Friday. To put things in context – I go grocery shopping on Sundays to prep meals for the week. Was I ready for the Whole 30 when Friday rolled around? Not even close. I ate a bag of plantain chips (which store-bought plantain chips are not allowed on the Whole 30).
The first few days were a little weird because I didn’t have my yogurt and granola. That had become a nightly ritual for me. It was awkward, but I was not craving it.
After awhile I started filling the void with smoothies made it all approved ingredients. I also discovered Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides as a Whole 30 approved alternative to my protein powder. I used this in my smoothies, morning matcha, and even chia oats for more added protein.
I also started to become more aware of labels. I found a few awesome brands that had amazing ingredients for granola and thought I could use them in place of Purely Elizabeth (trying to get my fix somehow), but found honey used as a sweetener. A major bummer, but I am glad I noticed. It also made me move on from the cravings.
I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms.
Advice for a Successful Whole 30
I’d say I learned a thing or two not only about myself, but how to navigate a food program successfully. I learned that if I have the desire to do something, and I really put my mind to it, I can do it. I also learned a lot about doing the Whole 30 program, that I wanted to share with you:
- Plan Ahead – I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s not enough to have the intentions of eating clean, because most of the time with the way life is. A few times I totally had the intentions to eat a certain meal on a certain day, and it did not work out. I didn’t meal prep, I didn’t have all the ingredients, and found myself piecing together meals or going out to eat and getting a salad.
There’s lot’s of affordable glass food containers on Amazon that can hold meals for an entire week. If you want to make smoothies for breakfast, put all the ingredients in a bag, and place in the freezer. When your ready to eat, blend and serve.
- Don’t Let Yourself Feel Restricted – There were a few times I felt like I couldn’t eat anything but grass. It was only after I shifted my focus to the health benefits I was aiming for, and how I was honoring my body, did my mindset start to change. It feels at first like you can’t eat much, but you can get creative (check out my Whole 30 Teriyaki Chicken Bowl above as an example).
Stock up on Whole 30 Brands
This one was my saving grace for sure. Hop on Pinterest and type in Whole 30 approved products at… you’ll find them for nearly every grocery store out there. Some of my favorites?
- Vital Proteins – Collagen peptides for healthy nails, skin and digestion
- Primal Kitchen Foods Dressings and Mayo – this stuff is so bomb, I also made a Salmon Caesar Salad with their Caesar dressing (follow me on Instagram for the recipe)
- Primal Palate Spices – I love Primal Palate Spices, especially the Adobo seasoning (I put that ish on everything)
- Big Tree Farms Bali Coconut Aminos – this tastes exactly like soy sauce, without the soy.
- Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Spray – My meal prep lifesaver, I use this for all veggies I cook as well as for spraying down pans before cooking.