To be honest, I never thought I would do a Whole30. It always seemed crazy and extremely hard to me. But, never say never! Today in this blog post I’m going to walk you through my first Whole30 journey. How it went, my tips and tricks, favorite recipes…everything!
Don’t want to read the whole post? Click to jump to a certain section!
- What is Whole30?
- Why I Decided to Try It
- How I Felt Each Week
- Mistakes I Made
- What I Missed the Most
- Other Things I Noticed
- Whole30 Approved Goods to Stock Up On
- My Favorite Whole30 Meals + Blogs
- My Favorite Whole30 “Snacks” + Quick Eats
- Meal Prep Tips
- Other Helpful Whole30 Resources + Tips
- Would I Do It Again?
- FREEBIES: Whole30 Guidelines Fridge Sheet + Weekly Shopping List
What is Whole30?
In a nutshell, Whole30 is a 30-day reset that eliminates the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups.
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
Basically: no added sugar, legumes, alcohol, grains, dairy, processed foods, etc. For a full list of rules, check out this list.
Why I Decided to Try It
I had some friends that did it in the past. I did think they were just crazy, but then I thought to myself, “could I actually do it myself?” I wasn’t feeling the best about how much I had been snacking and I *knew* that I ate way too much sugar. It was more of a personal challenge and I was curious to see if I could even do it and how my body would feel! Plus I wanted to be extra kind to my body right before the holidays! 🦃
Thankfully, my husband was on board and joined me. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been seeing him eat sweets and not being able to indulge myself. Not to mention planning groceries and separate meals. Definitely find a buddy if you can!
How I Felt Each Week
Week 1: I was super confident the first week like, “yeah! I got this!” and thankfully I felt pretty good. Some people get headaches because it’s such an abrupt change. I was okay! There was one…interesting….thing that happened though. My digestion slowed and uh, things were a bit backed up for an extra day or two if you know what I mean 💩
Week 2: Still feeling good. Of course, I wanted to indulge in some sweets but I got through it. I think my body was detoxing a little bit because I was breaking out on my face and I noticed my pits were more stinky than usual!
Week 3: I had LOTS of energy and felt amazing! Not only that but my skin looked SUPER clear and glowy (I know dairy, gluten, and sugar are acne triggers for me but I sometimes eat them anyway, oops!). However, all I could think about were TREATS! I found myself daydreaming about donuts, cookies, cheesecake, all the things 🍪 I also started to get bored of eating the same things like eggs for breakfast or apples as a snack. Gimme some variety and just let me go back to my normal habits, please! This was the hardest week for me because it just felt like the month was dragging.
Week 4: Home stretch! This was a hard week for me too. I was so DONE and contemplated quitting early so many times. I could tell I was starting to get lazy with making big solid meals and just wanting to snack more. But the motivation of almost being done keep me going.
So…I Made Some Mistakes!
Not going to lie, there are lots of rules and you’re bound to make a mistake or two your first time! I’m not afraid to share that I messed up a few times.
- There’s a lot of gray area with the rules, and there’s this concept of “Sex With Your Pants On (SWYPO)” which basically means you might be eating something with Whole30 approved ingredients, but the whole point is to train your brain to not want that food! It’s a little difficult to explain so check out the link above for details. For example, you could make pancakes with Whole30 approved ingredients, but technically pancakes are off-limits during Whole30. This was hard for me to wrap my head around!
- There are a lot of SWYPO recipes floating around the internet, especially Pinterest. I fell victim to some my first week, such as Cacao Coconut Balls that are filled with dates and essentially still feed your “sugar dragons” as they say! Yes, dates are allowed on Whole30 and the ingredients are all approved, but it’s not doing you any service or training you to not crave sweets! Beware of recipes out there that are labeled Whole30 but you should really be avoiding. I tried to leave dates alone after week 1 just because they are SO sweet and felt like cheating to me!
- I probably ate too much fruit. I can’t help it, I love sugar! On Whole30 you’re supposed to limit your fruit intake and really only eat it paired with other foods. Meh 🥝
- My first week I did not do enough meal prep and found myself a little hungry!
What I Missed + Craved the Most
- Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack and make it about twice a week. This is the recipe I usually make!
- I got a little bored of coffee (even the yummy ghee + MCT oil coffee!) and just REALLY wanted a sugary, yummy latté ☕️
- My husband and I usually have this smoothie during the week for breakfast. It was hard adjusting to taking the time to make a breakfast vs. just chugging a smoothie.
- And the obvious, SUGAR. In any form, I missed it.
Other Things I Noticed
- We ate a lot more meat than usual! Normally we plan about 3 meals per week that have meat or fish and eat some vegetarian meals the rest of the week. On Whole30 you can’t have legumes like chickpeas, so we found ourselves preparing more beef and chicken to fill us up and fill the void.
- It’s really not that hard to modify recipes to make them Whole30! Be creative!
- The grocery bills were definitely higher, like maybe $20-$50 more each week. But on the other hand, we weren’t eating out at restaurants at all so it probably evened out.
- I did feel like I was missing out at social events and people did kind of look at me funny if I didn’t eat something. Oh well. And I realize how much I usually rely on alcohol at social events and it was a little weird being the sober one 🍷 (#introvert)
- I’m not one to pay much attention to my weight; I don’t think it’s an accurate portrayal of your health. But I weighed myself before and after the 30 days and I only lost about 2 pounds. However, I will say that my body looked and felt better and I did notice that I lost some belly fat. I also started taking Barre classes last month so I think that combined with Whole30 helped me lose fat and gain muscle!
- My PMS symptoms were better! Usually I have one day where I’m super tired and a little crampy. I barely even noticed any cramps this month!
Whole30 Approved Options to Stock Up On
- Big Tree Farms Coconut Aminos (instead of soy sauce or liquid aminos)
- Fourth & Heart Grass-Fed Ghee
- Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo
- Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings
- Primal Kitchen Unsweetened Ketchup
- The New Primal Beef Jerky Thins
- Vital Proteins Collagen Creamers (to add in coffee)
- Wild Planet Wild Caught Salmon Tins (great on top of salads)
My Favorite Whole30 Meals + Blogs
- 40 Aprons (two pictured above)
- The Defined Dish
- The Primal Palate: Breakfast Sausages
My Favorite Whole30 “Snacks” + Quick Eats
- Apple slices with almond butter drizzle, sea salt, and cinnamon
- “Bulletproof” coffee (coffee, ghee, MCT oil, Vital Proteins collagen creamer)
- Hard-boiled eggs with Trader Joe’s bagel seasoning
- Homemade coconut yogurt (I like Minimalist Baker’s recipe) with a sprinkle of organic mulberry powder mixed in with chia seeds
- Homemade kombucha (check out my recipe!)
- Salt + vinegar zucchini chips
- Salted macadamia nuts
- Waterloo sparkling water
- Zoodles with ghee
Meal Prep Tips
- Meal prep is ESSENTIAL for a successful Whole30 in my opinion!
- Set aside about an hour each week to plan meals, snacks, and groceries
- Leave another hour or two (Sundays are my preferred day) to meal prep for recipes for the week and prepare some quick eats so you have food to grab when you’re in a pinch
- Freeze leftovers if you can’t eat them in time or want to thaw them for later in your Whole30
- Download the app Paprika to plan groceries and meals – it’s my go-to and an absolute lifesaver. I even wrote a whole blog post about it!
Other Helpful Whole30 Resources + Tips
- Read labels carefully because there are a lot of sneaky things hiding in a lot of foods
- If you have sweets and treats in your house, either get rid of them or hide them during your Whole30 (out of sight out of mind, kind of 🙂)
- Have a buddy doing Whole30 with you and hold each other accountable
- Try to have a positive mindset (look at all the things that I CAN eat vs. OMG I can’t eat anything!)
- Invest in an Almond Cow nut milk machine because there are very few nut milks on the market that are Whole30 approved! (see my blog post for more info + discount code)
- Avoid situations that might pressure you into cheating or slipping up (it’s only 30 days, you can get through it!)
- I’m a member of Thrive Market and it’s been a lifesaver because they have a whole section that’s Whole30 Approved! They even have a Whole30 Pro Kit and Starter Kit, so so helpful! (see my blog post about Thrive + get 25% off your first order and a free gift when you join!)
- My friend Mada Leigh has an awesome Meal Plan guide
- Pinterest has TONS of amazing Whole30 recipes and resources, but watch out for the SWYPO recipes! Check out my board with saved recipes:
Would I Do It Again?
In all honesty, probably not. Mayyyyybe I would do a Whole15 mini version, and would slightly modify it to allow things like maple syrup, beans, and honey in moderation. I loved how my body felt towards the end of my Whole30, but overall it just felt too restrictive to me.
Just knowing my personality, when I feel restricted, I ultimately want to binge after. In my everyday life, I eat pretty balanced and don’t restrict myself too much. This Whole30 was a good way to reset and remind me to snack less and eat more mindfully. But it’s just not something I would likely adopt long-term! 🤷♀️
Download Your Free Whole30 Guidelines Fridge Sheet + Weekly Shopping List!
Ready to start your own Whole30?! You can totally do it! I put together a 2-page PDF which you can download for FREE. One page is a guidelines “cheat sheet” to hang on your fridge to remind yourself of the rules. The other is a weekly shopping list broken down by aisle. It’s what my typical shopping haul looked like each week!
Now…who wants a donut?! 🍩😉 Have you done a Whole30 or would you try it? Let me hear your favorite meals, tips, and tricks below in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links.