10 Tips for Surviving Your First Whole30

On January 21, 2019 by Kim

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If you have the foggiest idea of what the Whole30 is then you know it is hard. No, not as hard as giving up an addiction or beating cancer (as per Melissa and Dallas in It Starts With Food). But giving up whole food groups (including all forms of sugar except fruit) for 30 days would not be described by anyone as easy. Especially when it is your very first Whole30.

BUT, you can do it!

We know, because we have done it. A number of the Once a Month Meals staff have participated in Whole30 for various reasons. We know what it is like to not know what in the world to eat. We know what it feels like to want to “kill all the things.” We know what it is like to struggle through a social gathering without any bread, sweets, or cheese – for the love!

But we also have seen our tummies flattendiscovered new favorite foods, and new found energy. We have slain the sugar dragon! Tricia even cured her migraines!

We’d love to share our victories and struggles. We’re aren’t nutrition experts or even paleo experts, but we have been there. We have all had days where the thing that kept us going until the next day was an encouraging word, even if it came through our computer screen!

Join our Community of Whole30 freezer cooks and learn the top 10 tips for surviving your first Whole30.

Freezer Meals - Whole30 Lasagna Roll-Ups Recipe 2

Tip #1: Cook some food ahead of time!

I know this may come as somewhat of a shock to you, but freezer cooking is a great way to prep ahead for a Whole30. It is meal planning and meal prep all in one! Since there are very few convenience items or eating out options when you are on Whole30, you will want to have some meals that you can just grab and eat. My suggestion is to use

Whole30 Compliant Menus   Create your own menu

first whole30 tips

Tip #2: Buy some paper plates.

This may sound so silly, but with all of the extra concentration on cooking from scratch, it is nice to just not have to worry about washing plates too. It gives you time to focus on what is important.

first whole30 tips

Tip #3: Find some accountability.

Find a friend, a spouse, coworker, etc. to do the 30 day challenge with you. Make it official on social media. Tell people what you are doing so that you feel a sense of commitment to your word. Find others who are on the same journey (through Facebook, Instagram, paleo blogs, etc.) and get inspired.

Members, don’t forget! You can ask for support, recipes suggestions, tips, and more in our Community!

Tip #4: Make a list of emergency snacks.

Snacks are not highly encouraged, but not forbidden. Sometimes you just know that you aren’t going to make it to the next meal. You may be caught outside of your kitchen with no compliant food options. Keeping a stash of go-to items keeps you from caving in the face of hunger or social pressure.

Tip #5: Pay attention to your body.

One of the best benefits of doing the Whole30 is simply the knowledge that you gain about your body and how it reacts to food. You will learn what foods make you feel best. You will learn when you are truly hungry and when you just want food.

You will learn that you actually CAN say no and the world doesn’t crumble. You may even discover new foods that you didn’t know you liked. So listen carefully to your body as you go throughout the 30 days, but most especially after the 30 days when you start reintroducing foods.

Tip #6: Keep it simple!

Definitely keep your food simple. Don’t feel like you have to try a new recipe with 30 ingredients or cook 5 different veggie sides at each meal. Just enjoy the simplicity of good foods. This will save you time and sanity.

But also keep it simple by not overdoing it socially during your Whole30. Don’t host a big party. Try to avoid big holidays or your birthday/anniversary month. Social gatherings will come up, and you don’t have to be a party pooper, but don’t seek out extra opportunities to be tempted. Once a Month Meals staffer, Regan, suggests planning a fun substitution in these cases. For example, she created a compliant Cinco de Mayo meal, complete with sparkling lime soda in fancy glasses.

Tip #7: Make your food pretty.

Even very simple food can still look pretty on the plate and entice all of your senses. Buy some fresh herbs and garnish your dishes. Drizzle your sauce on so it looks appetizing (Add homemade mayo or versatile Sunshine Sauce to your custom Whole30 meal plan to help you enjoy your first Whole30 more!). Snap a pic and keep a food journal on Instagram. Your friends will be jealous.

Tip #8: Forget about food.

If you’re like me, all you can think about is food. But my dear co-worker, Kelly, is always quick to remind me that a treat doesn’t have to be food. It can be a bubble bath, a quiet walk without the kids, a movie on the couch, a new book (or compliant cook book!), a mani/pedi, a new accessory, or home decor that makes you cozy and happy. Learn to cope with stress without eating a whole pizza or a gallon of ice cream.

Before and after weight loss pictures

Encourage yourself by making a list of goals that have nothing to do with the scale. Here are a few examples, but get creative!

  • Try a new recipe/cut of meat/vegetable.
  • Make a new personal best at the gym.
  • Walking/hiking/biking a mile (or a mile more than you used to).
  • Learn a new skill or make time for hobbies you have put on hold.
  • Go to bed early and/or get up early.
  • Drop a pants size.
  • Finish an encouraging book (maybe It Starts with Food!)
  • Less pain, clearer skin, thinking more clearly, less mood swings……the list is endless!

Tip #9: Be your own cheerleader.

It is awesome to have accountability, but when it comes down to it, you are the one who has to make the choice. Encourage yourself with notes, quotes, verses, etc. taped to the refrigerator, your mirror, or anywhere you will see them often. Changing the way you think (about food, about yourself, about your circumstances) is the best way to start changing your habits.

Write down a list of reasons to remind yourself WHY you are doing this when you are standing in front of the refrigerator (or a plate full of cookies) thinking, “Why am I doing this?”

Tip #10: Let go of guilt.

We have so many emotions associated with food, eating, and dieting, but I think guilt is the worst. Whatever happens during your Whole30, there is no reason for guilt. Whether your first Whole30 lasts 3 days or 30, you will have learned something. And you can always make the choice to start again.

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