Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of The Whole30 diet by now. But, if you’re like many (myself included) you have a million reasons why it wouldn’t work for you: the cost…the fact that you have a raging sweet tooth (this was SO me), or just being way too busy to make it work. These were my excuses too so I totally get it. But, with a little planning and a determination to keep things simple, The Whole30 is totally possible…even for lazy girls like me who have an aversion to cooking and/or are crazy busy (hello freelance gig, potty training toddler and newborn baby!).
Before I give you my how-to tips, here’s a quick run-down of my first Whole30 (I did another post on it here)…
Of course I wanted to get healthy, but let’s be real…a big part of my motivation was weight loss. As much as I would like them to, those 65 lbs. of pregnancy weight aren’t just going to lose themselves. Over the course of 30 days I lost 17 pounds. I didn’t take my measurements though, because I didn’t think of it. Here are my before and after photos (the before photos were taken 2 days after giving birth and I’d already lost 20 lbs. of pregnancy weight)…
Aside from the weight loss, I cut down a ton on my cravings. I won’t say I don’t have cravings at all anymore, but they’re definitely in check and they don’t control me like they once did. My taste for junk food has changed as well. As I’m writing this it’s my first day post-Whole30 and I haven’t eaten anything non-compliant yet…I simply haven’t had the desire. I’m sure it will happen eventually, but all of the forbidden foods I thought I’d want to scarf afterward just don’t seem as appealing. I also noticed that I feel a lot happier overall…probably because I’m not crashing and functioning in a carbohydrate induced fog every afternoon these days. On top of all of this I was thrilled that this way of eating has been perfectly safe for me as a nursing mom. With a few simple tweaks (adding in snacks, getting enough fats and drinking plenty of water) I’ve been able to keep my milk supply up and it might even be better than before (my baby is up almost 3 pounds from his birth weight at 7 weeks!).
A couple of side effects I was hoping for from the Whole30 were super increased energy and skin improvements and those never materialized for me. I have really bad psoriasis on my scalp and suspected that gluten or dairy may be the culprit, but my psoriasis never saw any improvements and if anything it got a lot worse. My dry skin was also just as dry and I still felt about the same level of tiredness. That said…I’m pretty sure these things are simply a result of simply having a needy newborn who doesn’t sleep through the night and fluctuating hormone levels after having a baby. I don’t blame the Whole30 for not working magic on these things though…just keeping it real so you know it’s just a way of eating and not magical fairy dust.
OK…now here’s the part you were waiting for…tips that helped me to be successful when I was going through the Whole30:
1. Read the book
A lot of people have asked if they need to read the Whole30 book It Starts With Food and the answer is YES. Without the book you won’t understand the “why” behind why you’re following all these food rules and it’ll just seem like meaningless restriction. Reading the book and understanding the “why” really does make a huge difference in how you view the foods you’re eating.
2. Keep it simple
There are a TON of fantastic blogs, Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts completely dedicated to Whole30 inspiration and recipes. These can be a great resource, but they can also be SUPER overwhelming, especially if you’re not someone who loves to cook. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Have some meat or eggs and pair it with some veggies. It really is as simple as that. Most of my meals were super basic and I literally ate the same breakfast and lunch for 30 days straight with only slight variations. (at the end of the post I’ll share some of my favorite food items and meals from the Whole30…super simple and definitely “lazy girl” approved).
Also, cut corners when you can. I’m not great at prep and I hated the idea of chopping up tons of fruits and veggies and spending my entire Sunday doing prep. As such, I bought a ton of pre-cut and pre-packaged produce from Costco and Trader Joe’s. Spinach, baby carrots, salad mixes, etc… The less prep the better! I realize that this is more expensive, but I really wanted to be successful and during this busy time in life, I knew it was going to help me stick with it.
3. Don’t binge before you start
I’ve dieted plenty of times in my life and as every good dieter knows…the night before you start a diet you always binge. In the past I would eat all the things in preparation for the weeks of deprivation ahead. This time around my husband suggested we take baby steps in the week or so before starting. We started cutting out extra starches at dinner time like rice and bread, and mostly just continued to eat normally without bingeing on treats and junk. When day one of my Whole30 rolled around I wasn’t miserable and suffering from withdrawals. I just felt normal. Yes, normal with some slight cravings, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be and I’m so glad I didn’t binge!
4. Do it with a friend
Having someone to keep you accountable (or having someone you are encouraging) was a big key to my success. I got my mom and dad to do the program along with me and they were constantly texting me asking if certain things were compliant or sharing their little successes. It kept me going and it’s been great to see their success! My dad lost 32 lbs. and got off of 2 of 3 blood pressure medications and my mom lost 15 lbs. and has been able to lower her insulin doses dramatically!
5. Plan ahead
The biggest help in being successful on the Whole30 was planning ahead. Thinking about what my plans were for the week on Sunday night and prepping items ahead of time. I didn’t get super fancy with it, but I would fill ziploc bags with veggies or dried fruit and nuts to stash in my purse for those times when I was out and might get super hungry. The goal of the Whole30 is to eat solid meals at home and I did the vast majority of the time, but I also knew that sometimes things happen and I might not always be home to make a meal for awhile, so I felt like this was a better option than eating something crappy from a convenience store or a drive-thru and failing at the Whole30 completely.
6. Give yourself a break
Know your dining out options. I ate at Chipotle once a week to give myself a break from cooking and it was glorious. Here’s what you can order: a burrito bowl with carnitas (the only compliant meat option), salsa (any/all except for the corn salsa), guac and LOTS of lettuce. I also ate out at restaurants for a couple of family occasions and stayed compliant by ordering lettuce-wrapped burgers. I asked about ingredients and just kept it simple.
7. Get some inspiration!
Instagram has probably been my most favorite source for Whole30 inspiration. A couple of my favorite Whole30 IGs are:
Now…here are some of my favorite easy Whole30 meals…
This is what I ate pretty much every day. Three eggs on top of a bed of spinach, chicken sausage or bacon (some of the time), and fruit on the side. Sometimes I made my eggs omelette style and mixed in other veggies like tomatoes, onions and zucchini, but mostly I did this because it requires the least amount of prep on the planet and because the runny eggs over raw spinach was a surprisingly delicious combo. Some days I ate this for dinner too if I had a particularly crazy day. Also, I quickly realized that I am a total grazer when it comes to fruit so I included it with my meals instead of just having it in between. I ate it at the end of a meal and only if I was still hungry. If not, I skipped it.
I ate tuna a TON on the Whole30. Mostly because I craved it like whoa during my entire pregnancy with Clive and I pretty much can’t get enough of it. Half of my lunches looked just like this: tuna salad eating on romaine hearts, a ton of baby carrots and guac (sometimes plantain chips), and fruit. I liked to make extra tuna at the beginning of the week and it would last me 4 meals. Here are the ingredients for my tuna salad (this is enough to last for 4 meals…you can halve the recipe to make less:
-2 cans Wild Planet Tuna
-1 small diced organic apple
-2 diced dill pickles
–Whole30 mayo to taste (this recipe is the one I used and it’s ridiculously easy – only takes 2-minutes to make!)
On the days I didn’t eat tuna, I usually ate leftover meat (chicken, steak or salmon) and threw it in a salad with Tessemae’s Southwest Ranch dressing (this stuff is awesome and Whole30 compliant!). On days when I was really lazy I just grilled a couple of Aidell’s Chicken Sausages and ate them with mustard alongside a bunch of raw veggies. I told you…lazy girl status.
This was my go-to snack: apple slices and almond butter. I tried not to snack a ton, but I gave myself wiggle room to snack at least once a day since I’m breastfeeding. I also really liked almonds and cashews with a tiny bit of dried fruit.
So…apparently I didn’t take any dinner photos, but basically dinner every night was grilled protein and a ton of sauteed veggies. Thank goodness it’s grilling season! I pretty much wanted to eat steak every night though. Aside from steak, we also did a lot of lettuce wrapped burgers (super delicious with a fried egg on top!). Those were the favorites, but we mixed in a few Whole30 recipes that were a bit more involved from time to time. But seriously…the simpler the better!
AND…if you’re wanting some ideas for things to shop for on the Whole30, these are some of my favorites. I’ll admit it was a lot of grocery shopping, but it was totally worth it.
SHOPPING LIST FAVORITES:
-Almonds + Cashews
-Fruit (organic berries, watermelon, apples, etc.)
-Veggies (organic spinach, Kale & Red Chard Stir Fry Kit (only eat the veggies), organic baby carrots, romaine hearts, etc…)
–Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bars (cashew and berry almond flavors are compliant)
-Grass Fed Flat Iron Steak
–Tessemae’s Southwest Ranch Dressing (this is nothing like typical ranch, which I hate)
Overall, my main advice is to find recipes you like and that are simple and stick with it. If you get too fancy you’ll want to quit immediately. Make it your own and you’ll do great!
Love and healthy eating,