As promised in my first post for Whole30 newbies, here are my tops 5 tips and favorite resources for your Whole30! I hope this is helpful to you, especially those of you who are undertaking your first Whole30.
1. Know your stuff.
The Whole30 has very strict rules about which foods you can and cannot eat, as well as the ways in which you should eat your foods. For example, you are allowed to eat fruit as part of a meal or snack, but you should not eat fruit as a dessert because that goes against the mindset you are supposed to be cultivating. Start by reading the Whole30 Program Rules (you may want to print this PDF so you can refer to it often) and make yourself a cheatsheet that you can keep handy (something simple like this). You can also find tons more information on the Whole30 website (the Dear Melissa section of the blog is awesome).
Most importantly, though, I highly recommend reading It Starts With Food. This is the original book written by co-founders of the program Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. What I love about this book is that it provides so much more than just rules for the program, including addressing the mental aspects of the program and how to personalize the Whole30 for your success. So worth the small investment or trip to the library!
2. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator.
Don’t let your Doritos or ketchup sit around to tempt you. Before you start your Whole30, rid your fridge and pantry of any non-compliant foods. If the food is not going to go bad in 30 days and you do not want to waste it, put it away somewhere (like in a box in your closet or a brown bag in the corner of your refrigerator). You are far more likely to be successful if you do not give yourself the opportunity to purposefully or accidentally eat non-compliant foods.
3. MEAL PREP!
I truly cannot adequately express the importance of meal prep on the Whole30. Without a doubt, preparing all of your own meals takes significantly more time than grabbing packaged or prepared foods. The key to ensuring that cooking does not take over your life and to preventing you from falling headfirst into a pizza at the end of a long day is to prepare tons of food ahead of time (think: cook once, eat twice, or six times…).
There are many different strategies for meal prep, and I would encourage you to try
different ways to find what works best for you. I recommend two main strategies. One option is to pick a day (probably Saturday or Sunday) to cook a TON of different dishes that you can reheat throughout the week. When I do this, I often make a hearty soup (like my Paleo Hamburger Stew), prep at least one plain protein (like 1-2 lbs of ground meat, a whole roasted chicken, or a bunch of hardboiled eggs), bake some sweet potatoes or potatoes (for easy, healthy sources of carbohydrate), and prep a variety of vegetables (try making a big batch of cauliflower rice or roasted Brussels sprouts). I then mix and match these prepped foods for meals that I need to eat in a hurry or on-the-go. For example, I might eat the soup for breakfast and then a combo of the protein, starch, and veggie(s) for lunch.
Another option is to simply cook extra every night as you make your dinner, and then use those
leftovers for your breakfast and lunch the following day. Almost every single time I cook, I prepare more than I need for a single meal so that I can use the leftovers the next day. I often throw whatever I made for dinner over greens and add avocado to make a bomb salad for lunch the next day. One advantage of this method is that it does not feel as overwhelming or time-consuming as the first method, but it does require that you have time to cook almost every day. Like I said, try both to see which one works for you!
4. Always pack snacks.
Though snacking is discouraged on the Whole30, you want to prevent yourself from getting into a situation in which you are starving and have nothing to eat – that will almost certainly lead to your Whole30 demise. Here are my top recommendations for Whole30-approved snacks that you can keep in your purse, backpack, or coat pocket, just in case:
- Nuts or trail mix – all nuts and dried fruits are Whole30-approved (as long as they are
not roasted in sketchy oils and have no sugar added). Check your labels! I love cashews, macadamia nuts, and golden raisins.
- Nut butter packets – I like Justin’s Almond Butter or Artisana Coconut Butter or Cashew Butter. Make sure you read your labels on these little packets, too!
- Epic bars – eating a meat bar may gross you out at first, but I have grown to love these because they are super satiating. The bacon flavor is by far the best.
- Larabars – these dried fruit and nut bars are delicious, but make sure you are not using them to satisfy your sweet tooth! I love the Cashew Cookie flavor.
Side note: I buy most of my snacks through Thrive Market, and you get a free jar of almond butter if you sign up for a membership!
5. Get inspired.
It can be isolating and overwhelming to totally overhaul your diet, so get yourself a virtual community! I absolutely love Instagram for this purpose. I follow a ton of Whole30 accounts to get new recipe ideas and motivation during hard times. Some of my favorite Whole30 accounts are:
And now, some of the best Whole30 resources, foods, and recipes…
Cookbooks: If you want to invest in a cookbook, check out my favorite paleo cookbooks or buy The Whole30 or The Whole30 Cookbook (I don’t own these, but all of the recipes will obviously be Whole30-approved).
Healthy Fats: You will need to invest in some high-quality, yummy fats for your Whole30. I recommend the following at a minimum:
- Ghee: a few of my favorites are Gather Superfoods Ghee, Tin Star Foods Ghee and Brown Butter and 4th & Heart Vanilla Bean Ghee (sounds weird but it is BOMB!)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nut Butters: a good jar of Artisana Organic Raw Coconut Butter or Once Again Creamy Almond Butter is liquid gold, trust me.
Again, I buy most of my healthy fats through Thrive Market, and you get a free jar of almond butter if you sign up for a membership!
Condiments: Changing up your condiments is one of the best ways to ensure that your meals never get boring!
- Get yourself some Primal Kitchen Mayo or make Homemade Whole30-Approved Mayo (I used to hate traditional mayo, but I put this stuff on anything/everything).
- Make fun salad dressings like Primal Palate Garden Ranch Dressing or one of
these eight Whole30-Approved salad dressings to spice up your salads.
- Make a pesto and buy yourself some hot sauce (I like to buy local brands – check your ingredients!) to keep things interesting.
Breakfast: Breakfast is usually the most difficult meal for Whole30 newbies because most people are used to eating processed carbohydrates or nothing at all for breakfast, but eating breakfast is absolutely vital to your Whole30 success! To be honest, I usually eat leftovers (like soup or whatever I had for dinner the night before) for breakfast, but I know that doesn’t work for some people. Having said that, some of my favorite breakfast recipes are linked below.
- Pesto Chicken and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake by Paleomg
- “Bacon Burgers and Fries” Paleo Breakfast Bake by Paleo Running Momma
- Paleo Chorizo & Potato Breakfast Bowl by Fed and Fit
- Chia Seed Pudding by Emily Eats Real Food
- Breakfast Stuffed Acorn Squash by Paleomg
- Paleo Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash by Fed and Fit
- Sweet Potato Bacon Egg Muffins by Paleo Running Momma
- Kitchen Sink Hash by Paleomg
Proteins: The easiest way to cook protein is simply to cook up a few pounds of ground meat in a skillet with seasonings (think salt, pepper, garlic powder, and/or turmeric). If you are feeling a little more adventurous, try one of these recipes.
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast by Paleomg
- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork by The Nourishing Home
- Barbacoa by Against All Grain
- Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken by Real Food with Dana
Soups: I have an obsession with soups because they are so nourishing and so satisfying, and you can make a huge soup to last you all week! I will eat soup for any meal of the day – I dare you to at least try it.
- Paleo Hamburger Stew
- Smooth Veggie Soup (top with protein of your choice)
- Creamy Broccoli Soup (top with protein of your choice)
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili by Paleomg
- AIP Carrot and Sweet Potato Chili by Autoimmune Wellness
- Triple Seafood Chowder by Grazed and Enthused
- Loaded Taco Soup by Living Loving Paleo
- Enchilada Chicken Stew by Paleomg
Sides: Don’t overthink your sides. Steam or roast a BUNCH of vegetables – you will be shocked by how many you eat when they fill two-thirds of your plate!
- Cauliflower Rice
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Smashed Potatoes with Onion and Garlic by Balanced Bites
- Roasted Carrots with Lemon Garlic Tahini Dressing by Twist of Lemons
- Baked Sweet Potatoes by Nom Nom Paleo
- One Easy Method for Roasting Vegetables by Paleo Leap
Congratulations, you made it to the end of this MASSIVE post! So, what did you think? Do you like any of these recipes and resources? Do you second any of my tips? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram!