What is a WHOLE30?
Essentially... it's a reset for your body! Over the next 30 days (hence, the whole 30), you will eat nothing but whole foods. During the 30 day reset, you eliminate the most inflammatory foods out of your diet in an effort to reset your body (no sugars, alcohol, dairy, grains & legumes).
The main focus of the program is to reduce the inflammation in your body and to create good food habits. It is not a whole365 or a diet, but a 30 day RESET for your body.
Co-founder Melissa Hartwig Urban highly encourages individuals participating in the program to focus on what she refers to as "non-scale victories" (NSV). Depending on the individual, NSV's can be quite astonishing (read some of the amazing testimonials in link below!) https://whole30.com/2011/06/the-whole30-a-z-real-life-testimonials/
The reset will kickstart your ability make really good food choices (if you follow the program, this is inevitable!). By sticking to the program for 30 days, it will help you curb those crazy sugar cravings & late night junk food habits.
Before you embark on your first #Whole30, I do think it's important to get clear on the WHY you are doing the program. I've heard of many people starting the program but not understanding why they are eliminating certain foods. Others jump on the band wagon because it is "trendy". Depending on the individual, this reason alone may not be enough to get you through the 30 days. There are some challenging days ahead and personally, I found it very helpful to understand the science behind how/why the program was designed in such a way.
If you're somebody who is very analytical and feel you'd like to understand the "WHY" behind the foods that are being eliminated, I recommend you read Melissa's book "It Start's With Food". In the book. Melissa goes through the eliminated food groups in very specific detail and what effects they can have on your body in the long run. She also demystifies some very old beliefs around certain foods and their effects on our body.
I've provided the link to the book below if you'd like to grab a copy for yourself!
I'll be the first to say (& my husband will agree!) that the food during the reset is amazing!!! You just need A LOT of it! I relate the WHOLE30 to a very strict version of paleo (read your labels!). Essentially if you enjoy eating vegetables and meat, you won't have any issues with the actual food you can have during the program. In order to set yourself up for a successful #whole30, you will need to prep a TON of food. If you are stocking the fridge on a regular basis and prepping along the way, you are golden! The last thing you want is to get hungry there are no compliant ingredients/meals for you to make a nice meal. This can be a recipe for disaster!
Some food tips for success:
Prep, Prep & more Prep! Just when you think you've made enough roasted vegetables for an army....you will probably need more in a few days!
Read your labels (sugars sneak their way into most jars & packaged spices).
Be creative in the kitchen! Add diversity to your meals! Start off by buying a variety of vegetables and experimenting with them or a different version of your go-to vegetables (spiralized butternut squash? Cauliflower rice? Yes please!)
You shouldn't be hungry. If you are hungry during the program, you aren't eating enough. Don't be scared to add some fats to your dish to help sustain you through the day. Some of my favourite fats to add to my plate are olives (check your labels), avocados, pumpkin seeds & hemp seed hearts. I've included a meal template guide from the #whole30 website that I always keep handy on my phone as a quick reference! Note that for those of your working out during the program, there are pre/post workout meals that do not replace your breakfast/lunch/dinner. Read more below:!
My "must-have" items during the program:
Parchment Paper (for easy pee-zy clean-up!)
Tupperware for storing all of your delicious meal prep :)
Fresh herbs & citrus (thyme, rosemary, parsley, lemons, limes & oranges)
Homemade chicken/beef/vegetable broth - A lot of the recipes will call for a broth to add flavour to the meal and I'm telling you now that it is very challenging to find a compliant broth in the grocery store (even in the organic section!)
Frank's Hot sauce
Yellow Mustard - I recently picked up this brand at my local grocery store and it's delicious! https://maisonorphee.com/products/moutarde-jaune-au-curcuma-biologique?lang=en
Coconut Aminos - a soy seasoning replacement that is great in stir fry's, marinades, salad dressings!
EVOO/Avocado Oil/Coconut Oil
Clarified Butter or Ghee - I make my own and its is so easy! All you need is organic unsalted butter & cheese cloth!
Herbal Tea (check your labels)
An accountability buddy! Find somebody who is also doing the program whether it be somebody you know or through the social media community. I truly feel that having the community support is a strong pillar to the success I had.
"DO NOT WEIGH YOURSELF!"
Part of the program is that you do NOT weight yourself during the month and only do so on day 1 and on day 30. Focusing on the NSV's vs. the # on the scale is really important here and one of the main "rules" of the program. If you are somebody that typically steps on the scale on a regular basis, this may create a bit of discomfort for you! I encourage you to try it (it's only 30 days!) and see how you truly feel (emotionally, physically). We tend to associate our "worth" and how we feel based on the # that pops up on the scale (this can be a very scary thing sisters!).
Prior to stepping on the scale on day 30, work through the Non Scale Victories checklist (listed below) and do a quick inventory of what type of changes you've noticed throughout the month. Remember, the intention of the program is not to lose weight, but to help you determine how the foods you eat DO affect your body & mind... NSV's baby!. So if stepping on the scale is not important to you or you feel that seeing the # on the scale may compromise your experience in any way, than don't do it! This is REALLY about improving your quality of life and not about the # of pounds you may have lost.
NSV inventory worksheet:
I'm feeling...... Snack-y!
During the 30 day reset, you are not meant to snack (INSERT PANIC!). I know... we all love snacks but hear me out! The theory on this is that if you have enough food on your plate at meal time (fats, proteins, vegetables) than you should not be hungry. We live in a society where snacking is VERY normal. As a teenager, I'd always come home and have cheese and crackers as an afternoon snack! Looking back, I can honestly say that a lot of these habits to grab "snacks" between meals are emotional. Next time you gravitate to grab a late-night snack, ask yourself the questions.... Are you bored? Killing time? Avoiding something you should be doing?
During my whole30 program, I do run into instances throughout the day where I am hungry in between meal (possibly even hangry!). If I know that my next meal will not be for a few hours, than I will be sure to have a compliant snack handy (celery & almond butter, a handful of mixed nuts or my chocolate macaroon protein bars). When I am prepping my next meal, I am mindful to add more fats to my plate (hemp seed hearts, pumpkin seeds, olives, avocado) as I know this will sustain me through to the next meal. Remember that your pre WHOLE30 plate may have consisted of rice, quinoa, pasta or a ciabatta bun and these have all been eliminated from your regime. It does take a fair amount of cauliflower to fill that heavy carb "gap" so don't be scared to load up on those veggies!
That being said, I try my best "not" to snack during the 30 days and am a lot more mindful about my thoughts/emotions when I am feeling "snacky". BUT, I will not starve myself to get to the next meal! I've come such a long way on my journey of self love and I do not want to be starving my body!
Challenges that I experienced:
Kitchen parties! All.. the time!
There is a lot of food prep that goes into the program & I don't think there's any way around it! So before you start the program, just know that and it'll help you psychologically when you are cutting your 6th bag of sweet potatoes! Before I started, I made a a few "frozen meals" for evening when our schedules may not allow for cooking a nice meal. I found it helpful to have these frozen meals as it allowed me to have a few nights "off" from being in the kitchen.
Let's get social!
The program most definitely had it's challenges! Social gatherings will (almost) always consist of fancy foods & drink. Family dinners, potluck's etc. will come with a lot of questions because you will most likely need to bring your own Tupperware with your own meal. I found it best to simply tell others that was doing a short reset for my body by eliminating certain foods that cause inflammation in my body to see how I feel. Going out for dinner has it's challenges as well,
Leaving on a jet plane!
Being on the road/traveling during your reset will add some logistic challenges. I went on a brief business trip last year during my #whole30 and boy oh boy did it add some elements to the packing! The suitcase was filled with nut butters, frozen compliant meals that I had prepped in advance, hard boiled eggs, sweet potato... looking back, it's quite comical to say the least! I barely had room for my work outfits!
I love dining out! But the few times that I was out fo dinner during the reset, had it's challenges! I felt like "that" picky diner asking 101 questions. Breakfast out was easiest (eggs & potatoes... yum!) so I didn't eat out all that much. We went to a steakhouse with a friend and there was wine...that glass of red wine was very tempting!
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my the whole30 program! I noticed numerous NSV's. To name a few:
I had waaaay less sugar cravings!The less you have it, the less you crave!
I started chewing my food more & made a mindful effort to eat my meals without distractions (ie. phone, iPad, TV). It's really interesting how we have a tendency to distract ourselves and always have to be doing "something" while eating. I express gratitude for the food I am about to eat and taste all of the flavours tantalizing my palate.
Better energy levels...read more on--->tiger blood!
Digestion improved and less bloating (yahoo!)
Better energy during the day & for my workouts
The variety of foods you are "allowed" to eat during the 30 days is extensive however the rules (fine print) are important to make note of in order to have a positive experience.
Good news! Melissa Hartwig Urban makes it soooooo easy for you!
It's true! She shares a ton of amazing (free!) resources on her website and provides grocery lists, thorough rules of the programs, meal plan coordination (this is new!) and a plethora of free recipes. My personal favourite resource is the timeline calendar that is shared on the whole30 blog. It provides a daily journal of what you can "expect" during the 30 days (as reported by many who have completed the program). I found the timeline to be really helpful as I knew what I could potentially "expect" on some of the "harder" days.
P.S. I am currently on day 12 of the reset and I literally was dreaming about my mémère's homemade cherry cheesecake last night (insert drool!)! The timeline provided is comically accurate!
If you're thinking about doing the reset and have some questions, comment below! I'd love to hear from you!
Have a great weekend everybody!