While Whole30 can be great for one’s health, finishing your first Whole30 can actually be very challenging. In this article, we discuss how to prepare for your first Whole30, including lots of tips and tricks meant to teach you how to finish your first Whole30 easily.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is an elimination and reintroduction protocol that is designed to improve your health by changing your relationship with food. The Whole30 program focuses on teaching you how to eat real food while you eliminate from your diet foods proven to be problematic for health.
Here’s how it works:
- You take out a bunch of problematic foods from your diet for 30 consecutive days, without cheating or taking measurements of any kind.
- After the 30 days are over, it’ll take you between 10 and 30 days to reintroduce back the foods you missed on, one by one, observing how they impact your health.
- The last part of the Whole30 is finding your Food Freedom. Eventually you must find a balance between the Whole30 reset protocol and your old eating habits, keeping some foods that you eliminated initially, but only if they do not negatively impact your health, and only if you decide that it’s worth it for you.
For more info on The Whole30 program, check out my very short guide to Whole30.
Benefits of completing a Whole30
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the benefits you’ll have if you complete a Whole30. (listed here in random order):
- You will lose all your sugar cravings.
- You’ll end up appreciating the taste of real food.
- By the end, the change will be so mind-blowing that you’ll ask yourself: “How come I used to like those foods?”.
- You’ll most likely lose some weight (mostly fat).
- You’ll end up having more and more energy every day.
- Since you’ll have more energy, you’ll exercise and move more.
- You’ll incorporate healthy fats into your meals.
- You’ll definitely improve some of your health conditions, things like your energy levels, damaged skin or hair, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, eczema, allergies, digestive issues and even injuries that seem to take forever to heal.
- Your bad moods or your 5PM crash will be gone forever. That’s a promise!
- You’ll finally get a decent sleep at night.
- You’ll rebalance your hormones or at least improve some of the hormonal issues you might have.
- You’ll get to do tons of cooking and save money on top of this (say “adieu” to fast food meals).
- Say bye-bye to most of the digestive issues you might have experienced before the Whole30.
My experience with Whole30
I must confess that I haven’t completed a Whole30 myself but this doesn’t mean I don’t know my Whole30 rules and challenges. Let me explain…
I experimented with Whole30 quite a lot and in different ways, from eating to cooking, to reading books and articles, to understanding exactly what Whole30 is all about. I know how to cook almost anything and I generally follow the Whole30 rules in my everyday life, just not as part of a strict Whole30 reset protocol).
I’ve also read two of the official Whole30 books, “It Starts with Food (2014)” and “Food Freedom Forever (2016)”. And when I say read them, what I mean is I took notes, and I really dove into the information, twice. I’ve also read many articles related to the Whole30 program, and I follow closely with their official website. I’m also a fan of Melissa Hartwig. I love her work and I appreciate her as the co-founder and the public voice behind the Whole30 community.
So while I haven’t completed a Whole30 myself, I took the time to understand and appreciate what Whole30 is all about and how it can help anyone improve their health. The Whole30 community is increasing every year, and it’s safe to say now that it’s grown into a vibrant community centered around the idea of healthy living. Whole30 is more than just a protocol, Whole30 is almost a family, and that’s one of the things I like most about the entire Whole30 concept.
Need some cooking inspiration? Check-out my Whole30 approved recipes and start cooking your way to Whole30.
Tips for completing your first Whole30
When you decide to start your first Whole30, you are already a hero. No, really! It takes a lot of courage to admit that, in order to improve your health, you need to change something in your life. Change is not something we as humans take easy, that’s because change gets us out of our comfort zone and we don’t like that. On top of everything, Whole30 is not easy to complete since it will definitely seem restrictive at first, especially if you come from a diet based on processed foods, grains and sugar.
That being said, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks designed to help you plan ahead your Whole30 journey more carefully. As Melissa says, these 30 days will change your life, but in order to change you must be determined and prepared to change.
I gathered below some of the most important tips and motivations quotes to help you complete your first Whole30 in style.
Know the rules. Learn the rules, own the rules, stick to the rules. The Whole30 rules are tough, but so is your current health condition. Think about this when things will get hard.
Whole30 is not a diet. Whole30 is an elimination and reintroduction protocol, and you have to follow all the steps before getting all the health benefits.
It takes more than 30 days. The entire process (elimination + reintroduction + food freedom) takes more than 30 days. The first 30 days are called the Elimination phase, followed by the Reintroduction phase and later establishing your Food Freedom.
Find a partner. If you can find a Whole30 partner, this will make your journey so much easier. You might also consider joining an online group that can support you in this journey.
It will get tough. When things will be tough and you’ll crave those “old” foods, say to yourself: “This will be my last Whole30 meal, after this one I can eat anything I want”. This way you create a powerful habit and, by the end of the program, you’ll consciously make healthy choices easily.
Don’t cheat. It’s important not to cheat, not only once. There are no shortcuts when it comes to the Whole30 rules. Keep it 100% real and you’ll be fine, you’re doing it for your health.
Hang in there for 30 days. The tough part will only last for 30 days. After those 30 days, you can start the Reintroduction phase and that’s where things won’t be so restrictive anymore.
Meal prep will save you. Consider making meal preparation the central part of your routine. It’s important to always have something ready when you’re in a hurry. Meal prep will turn out to be a lifesaver when doing a Whole30.
Stock-up on healthy food. Always keep in your house approved ingredients and healthy foods, make it a priority to get rid of the unhealthy ones. This way you won’t have any other alternative but to eat healthy. How bad can it be to eat healthy?
Parties will be hard at first. When you attend parties, learn to decline certain foods by saying “thank you” and moving on – acknowledge that food is not the most important thing in your life.
Don’t go out with an empty stomach. Never go out on an empty stomach, especially at the beginning of your Whole30 reset. Eating at home will minimize cravings, especially if you’ll find yourself surrounded by unhealthy eating options.
Don’t hang around junk food. There are thousands of things in life much more interesting than junk food. After all, it’s only for 30 days and you’re doing it for your health.
Keep those approved snacks close. Always keep around approved snacks or bars; this way you’ll be able to avoid falling back to old habits.
Cook your own meals. Learn to cook your own meals, especially at the beginning of your Whole30. You could also make it a healthy family habit.
Restaurants are tricky. Avoid restaurants in the beginning, as there’s a bigger chance you’ll end up eating unapproved ingredients.
Never lose your hope. Regardless of any cravings you might experience, remember that real food is better and healthier for you. You just have to learn how to appreciate it again.
Be patient until your body adapts. Your taste buds will eventually adapt to the new way of eating. This will probably take at least 2-3 weeks, at which point you’ll say to yourself: “How come I was eating those foods, thinking they actually tasted good? Was I really under the impression those were nutritious meals?”
Medical conditions? If you have any previous medical conditions (anything serious), make sure you talk to your doctor before starting a Whole30.
Read at least one of the official Whole30 books. I recommend starting with “Food Freedom Forever (2016)” and continuing with “The Whole30 Day by Day (2017)”. The first book discusses what Whole30 is and how you can approach it. The second book will definitely help with your day-to-day struggles while doing a Whole30.
Sample resets. Besides the original Whole30, there’s also the option of sample resets. These are trimmed down versions of the original Whole30, designed for people that can’t follow the “strict” protocol of Whole30.
Food Freedom. Food Freedom is all about understanding if a certain food that was listed as problematic can work for you or it makes you sick and must be avoided. You decide if that cookie is worth it or not worth it. But you’ll also have to keep yourself accountable for your “mistakes” in the long run.
You will fail eventually. It’s ok to slip out of your Food Freedom at some point. Acknowledge this as soon as possible, get back to your reset protocol once more, and you’ll be fine.
Social life and Whole30. Social life can be difficult at times because almost all social gatherings these days are centered on food and alcohol. My advice is: don’t try to convince anyone, learn to refuse politely the foods that don’t align with your Whole30 beliefs and move on.
Learn how to speak to others about Whole30. Learn how to speak to your friends and family about your reset or about Whole30. Your goal should not be to show off or scare them, aim to get their support in the long run. After all, Whole30 can be tough and you’ll need all the support you can get, plus they may need a Whole30 reset themselves.
Keep a journal. Consider putting together a food journal to keep you accountable while completing your reset. Many people use Instagram to post photos with their Whole30 meals, in the form of a journal. One note here: post every single meal and not only the ones that look the best. This is not a competition; you don’t need “beautiful” pictures; This is a journal and a way to reflect back on your Whole30 food choices.
At some point, you will hit a wall. Just because others eat junk food you don’t have to do it. Think how many of the people you know are sick and don’t even know it. You’re doing this for your health so please stick with it; it’s only for 30 days.
Tea and coffee don’t need milk and sugar to taste good.
- Whole30 is not a diet. Whole 30 is an elimination and reintroduction protocol meant to help you balance your relationship with food.
- The Whole30 Elimination lasts for 30 consecutive days, after which follows the Reintroduction period (10-30 days).
- Finally, once you’ve identified what foods make you sick, what foods are ok to eat and what foods are worth it, you can safely determine your Food Freedom.
- You can always go back and do another Whole30, if you feel that your way of eating has gone bad.
- Before starting your Whole30 journey, stock up with approved ingredients and healthy foods while getting rid of the unapproved ones.
- Read the rules and make sure you understand them.
- Get used to reading the labels (yes, on everything).
- Know there’s actually a huge Whole30 community out there. Keep this in mind for the days when it will seem impossible to move ahead.
- Read at least one of the official Whole30 books. You’ll get knowledge, motivation, and inspiration straight from Melissa herself.
I’m curious to find out about your experience with Whole30? What are your tips for completing a Whole30 in style?
- Whole30, Whole30 101
- Whole30, What is Food Freedom?
- Whole30, The Whole30 Rules
- Whole30, Whole30 Official Books
- Whole30, Whole30 Shopping List (pdf)
- Whole30, Official Whole30 Program Rules (pdf)
- Instagram, Official Whole30 Recipes
- Instagram, Official Whole30 Account
- Instagram, Melissa Hartwig