Doing Whole30 My Way

I am not affiliated with Whole30 or any brands mentioned in this post. Pics included of some of my favorite meals because they are pretty.

I discovered the Whole30 plan a few years ago, thanks to a running buddy. She was doing it and described how it all works.

No grains. No added sugar. No alcohol. No soy. No legumes. No dairy. For 30 days.

No, thanks, I thought to myself.

But then I entered into a time in life that I wasn’t feeling like myself. I felt lethargic and bloated. I thought I was doing all of the right things in my diet and exercise, but decided to challenge myself to be more intentional about it. So, I took the Whole30 challenge with my (now) husband by my side. I consumed the book cover-to-cover because I wanted to understand the science and know what to expect along the way.

It was so tough to make it through that first month, but we did it and felt so great afterwards! There was the satisfaction of knowing we stayed disciplined for an entire month, but we also felt better physically.

Deconstructed Burger Bowls

Once you complete the 30-day challenge, you begin reintroducing the things you eliminated to gauge how they make your body feel. This helps to identify any food sensitivities that you were unaware of.

Very quickly, I discovered that my body reacts to soy. My mouth got tingly and my throat was itchy – nearly instantly. Most grains, like rice, make me feel bloated. Sugar feeds inflammation, which causes my back and hip pain to flare. I lost interest in dairy altogether.

But, don’t take my wine away. That was a welcome return. Ha-ha!

We tend to fall back into bad habits as life gets hectic, so we’ve repeated our Whole30 challenge 2-3 times per year since then. It feels like a good reset and refocus.

What we’ve discovered is that our habits have continued to change with each challenge. I have fallen in love with almond milk. I crave veggies for breakfast (I know how unappealing that sounds.) I avoid buying foods processed with soy or corn byproducts. I am aware of the sugar content in everything I eat and try to limit my intake of processed sugar. I feel more resolved in these efforts and find that I don’t have to think much about my choices.

As I write this post, I’m on Day 18 of this 30-day challenge and realize that I’ve barely kept up with the days! In fact, I had to look at a calendar. While it’s not the goal, I can see physical changes in my body. I’m more energetic and am sleeping better at night.

I’ve also figured out what works best for me over the years, to keep me feeling satisfied and moving forward. Here’s a few tips that may help you survive and thrive during Whole30, too:

Use a meal planning app. I am completely devoted to eMeals. It has revolutionized mealtime in my house. I plan my menu, make ingredient substitutions, and order my groceries for pickup all in the app. I have no affiliation with the company. I’m just a passionate subscriber and have been using it for 4 or 5 years. It makes all the difference to know exactly what you’re going to eat for the week – and plan for leftovers for a very satisfying lunch (or breakfast, if you love veggies for breakfast, too!).

Experiment with trying different foods together. I discovered that my (still) favorite breakfast is roasted sweet potatoes with avocado and smoked salmon on top. Unbelievably delicious.

My favorite! Sweet potatoes, avocado, and smoked salmon

Everything bagel seasoning is my best friend. It goes on literally everything!

RX Bars. Holy moly. Get the chocolate sea salt variety! It is like manna from heaven. Most RX Bars are technically Whole30 compliant. Just avoid the ones with maple syrup and peanut butter. I say technically because “snacking” is discouraged on the plan. But this is how I make it work for me! I sometimes need that midday pick-me-up.

Nuts, fruit, avocados! These foods are so satisfying. Keep them with you at all times. Just avoid mixed nuts that contain peanuts and make sure they are roasted in a compliant oil.

Barnana (brand) plantain chips. Sometimes you just need something crunchy with salsa or guacamole. I discovered this brand late in the game, but I’m definitely never going to forget it!

There’s a sauce for that. Speaking of brands, The New Primal makes all sorts of delicious sauces and seasonings that are totally compliant. I ordered a variety pack from their website and have been so happy with everything I’ve tried.

Add collagen peptides to your morning brew. I love Vital Proteins. In addition to the health benefits, it’s another way to sneak in some protein. It keeps me feeling satisfied longer in-between meals.

Eating out is still okay! Sometimes you just don’t want to cook. We love Five Guys burger bowls, Zoe’s Kitchen, Chipotle, poke bowls… if you dine in a sit-down restaurant, just ask a few questions about the menu and you’ll find something that you can eat that is delicious and satisfying.

Chicken Curry

These are just a few things that have made my Whole30 challenges easier and successful. If you’re not panicking about food, you’re less likely to compromise on your commitment! Let me know if you have any questions or need meal recommendations. I am happy to share! And I wish you all the best on your personal journey.