I’m in week 2, round 2 of Whole30 and it’s been a lot easier than the first time. Granted, I get to eat eggs and spice and drink coffee so that’s a plus. But, I think more importantly it has helped to just know what to expect. I knew exactly what to do to get started that would give me the best chances for success. I had so many questions last week about my experience with Whole30 that I wanted to make sure YOU knew how to get started! Here are my very best tips for how to start the Whole30 program and I guarantee success! Ok, so I can’t guarantee success but I can promise you these steps will give you what you need to rock your first (or second, or third attempt) at Whole30!
1 Read or Listen to the Book
The book, It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig will explain everything you need to know about Whole30. This book is more than just instructions for the diet though, it also explains in detail the reasons behind every Whole30 food restriction.
Here’s why that is vital to your success, if you don’t understand why you shouldn’t snack, you are going to snack. If you think because almonds, cashews and other nuts are ok then peanuts should be and you don’t understand the difference, then you’ll probably make exceptions for peanut butter. Knowing the scientific data, research and reasons for each rule will ensure you follow that rule. Every time I wanted a snack, I thought about why they recommend no snacking and I adjusted my meals to avoid it. In this program, knowledge is most definitely power and will translate to willpower for you.
2 Plan Your Meals
Both times before I started Whole30, I sat down with the notes app on my phone and planned out my meals, one week at a time. For the first week, I make a list of foods for each meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I give myself one to two options per week for breakfast and lunch then I plan dinner around what I am making for my family. For example, if I am making tacos, I skip the tortillas, beans, and cheese that my people will eat and I make a taco salad for me. I use lettuce, taco meat, fresh veggies, avocados and salsa for my dressing. I just make sure I cook the meat to be compliant so that our whole family can eat basically the same thing.
For breakfast, I usually have something in the fridge ready to go so I can add toppings and make it a meal. For example, I make a big Tupperware of sausage and sweet potato hash so I can just heat up a serving and add an egg on top for my meal. Or I make a breakfast casserole, heat it up, top it with avocados and salsa and add a side of fresh fruit. I make the same kind of plans for lunches and create my grocery store shopping list off of this meal plan.
3 Tell EVERYONE
Seriously, tell everyone! I had a friend knock a bagel out of my hand the day before I started my first round because she thought I was already on Whole30. Accountability can be the game changer for staying compliant. Tell your family, friends, coworkers and announce it on social media so when you really, really, really, really, really want to bathe in queso, you can resist. I’m just assuming some people might want to bathe in queso… but it really made all the difference for me that my village knew because then they didn’t pressure me, they were supportive and encouraging.
Here’s your disclaimer on these sweet, well-intentioned people in your life though, you will have to explain yourself. And you will hear a lot of shock, horror and “what are you eating” comments. This is again where reading the book comes in handy and knowing your whys is important. Honestly, I found the easiest answer is that you are doing it for your health. No matter what your current health situation is, if you are doing this diet, it is for your health in some way. Whether it is to discover food sensitivities, lose weight, change your relationship with food, feel your best, attempt to heal an ailment with your body or for major health issues like me, it truly is for your health. So tell everyone, but keep it simple and be positive and when that doesn’t work… just walk away.
4 Meal Prep
This is a BIG one, y’all. You will have to meal prep. Unless you have an abundance of time and love to cook every single meal from scratch, three times a day, you will have to meal prep your food each week. There’s just no getting around it. It is time-consuming, especially at first. But I promise you, it will get easier and quicker the more you do it. The grocery stores have made meal prep a bit easier by providing chopped veggies, spiraled veggie noodles, riced cauliflower and other shortcuts, but that tends to be more expensive so how you meal prep is entirely up to you.
I like to meal prep on Sunday evenings. I put on a movie for the kids and get to work. I always have fresh fruit cut up and breakfast and lunch meals ready in the refrigerator for the week. One Sunday evening meal prep can last me the entire week because I freeze soups, casseroles, and cooked meats to pull out on Thursday when my fridge stash is dwindling. The more you can make in one sitting, the better. If you don’t have food ready, you are more likely to make bad choices and we’re trying to set you up for success here, right?!
5 Plan Around Life… But Don’t Wait
You don’t want to procrastinate starting, you want these healthy changes right now, I know. But, be realistic about what month you choose to do this. If this is your first attempt, don’t be crazy and start in December when you’re attending holiday parties and traveling. Set yourself up to dominate this thing! After listening to the book last March, I chose April because I wanted to start right away but also because it was the slowest month for our family in terms of holidays, travel and celebrations. In May, we celebrate my birthday, our wedding anniversary, end of school year parties and travel. That would have been rough. This is also why I chose October to November this time because I wanted to get in another round before the big holidays.
Here’s the thing about planning when to start, you will not find a perfect time. You won’t. Last April, we went out of town once and I had to pact an entire cooler of food that I heated up at our family and friends houses to eat. We attended THREE crawfish boils (for the record, crawfish and beer are a category in my personal food pyramid) and we celebrated Easter with mounds of candy surrounding me. That really was the slowest month for us last spring and summer though. So I did it! Next week I face Halloween with the littles and making our traditional Halloween cookies to pass out. So plan for the best month possible but don’t wait for the perfect time, because there’s not one!
6 Know What To Expect
For both rounds, the second week has been the killer for me. I am typically bloated, having some tummy aches and serious cravings the second week. They say that if you are going to fail, that most people fall off the wagon on day ten or eleven. I am on day eleven TODAY so it’s a good time to write this all out for y’all. Accountability! This timeline for what to expect is an incredible resource to see what changes you might go through as your body detoxes.
Both rounds, my “kill all the things” hangry days have been on days six and seven even though the timeline says days four and five. So although my timing is a little off from the timeline, it was very helpful to know what I might face. I did have every symptom they describe except the food dreams and my headaches have been only for a few days and very mild. I clicked back on that timeline link a lot through my first round, it was always nice to know my symptoms were normal and would pass.
7 Whole30 Facebook Style
Get after the Whole30 pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram. Find some Whole30 rock stars to follow on Instagram, you will see transformations, get some much-needed motivation, recipes, and ideas. There’s a ton of Facebook pages devoted to Whole30 too, just do a search. This is my favorite online group for Whole30 support.
Just a heads up, these online groups rock, but the people can sometimes get intense. They are in it to win it and their passion can get a little crazy. So when they say that you need to start all over on day 22 because you accidentally had a noncompliant food, take it with a grain of salt sister and you do you. Don’t be discouraged by the laser beam focus some people have in the groups, grab new food ideas (with real pictures), find support and get questions answered. Use what you can and let the rest go.
8 Eat Before You Are Hungry
This seems simple enough and you’ve probably heard it before but it makes all the difference to eat before you’re starving. I could talk for an hour about how hard it is to make good food choices when your hungry and you can smell your husband baking cookies or your kids are chowing down on pizza, but you know it’s true. You will eat more of the wrong foods if you let yourself get too hungry, every single time. Make this as easy as possible and eat on time, before you’re famished.
9 Drink Your Water
Another super duper easy concept that you already know and just have to do. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces every single day and especially before meals. Yes, you will have to pee constantly and yes, you will have to carry a giant water jug with you everywhere you go. But, it really is the best way to flush all those toxins and reduce your bloat, it will help you in the bathroom, improve your skin and help you to eat less and lose weight.
On a side note, go ahead and start drinking your water TODAY. Don’t wait to start Whole30 before drinking enough water, this alone will change your life.
10 JUST START
For real y’all, just start. Take action, right now. Buy the book today, set a start date, tell everyone your date, find some social media superstars to follow, get in those Facebook support groups and just start. Do it. You can, I promise.
For those of your checking in with me on Instagram, I do love to make you laugh and give you some motivation but I will try to remember to post some food pics so you know what I’m eating. I’ll be honest, this week I am hungry so I usually start eating before I think to snap a picture! ☺️ And hit me up with any specific questions you have, I am always here to help! firstname.lastname@example.org