10 TIPS FOR HOW TO PREP FOR A WHOLE 30
I consider myself a Whole 30 veteran. I started doing them before everyone seemed to know what it was. During my first one you couldn’t even eat potatoes & it was near impossible to buy Whole 30 compliant condiments, salad dressings, & coffee creamer. You had to make it all from scratch! My how times have changed. My first Whole 30 was years ago & I’ve done over ten since then. I typically do one every January & every August. I usually start them depending on my travel schedule or what I have going on, so it may not always start on the first of the month. This time, it just worked out that way & it’s always nice to keep track of what day you’re on based on the calendar. I know that starting a Whole 30 can be daunting, whether it’s number one or number fifteen. Preparation is KEY to a successful Whole 30 so today I wanted to share 10 tips for how to prep for a Whole 30 to help make starting one & successfully finishing one as easy as possible!
First things first, when you are considering how to prep for a Whole 30, you need to mental prep. If you don’t have the desire to do the Whole 30 & you aren’t ready to commit, then you likely won’t be able to successfully complete the full thirty days. I believe the Whole 30 (& food complications in general) are mostly mental, so being ready & overcoming your own mind is most of the challenge.
KNOW THE RULES
When looking at how to prep for a Whole 30, it’s important that you really know the rules of the Whole 30. I recommend reading the Whole 30 book & It Starts with Food if you really want to know all the ins & outs of the programs. The main rules are that you need to cut out all: alcohol, dairy, legumes, sugar, grains, carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. You can have some legumes, like snap peas, or some technical dairy, like ghee. While some things, like a baked good, may be technically compliant because of their ingredients, they may be off limits during the Whole 30 because of the way your brain processes them. If you know the ins & outs of the rules, it will be a lot easier to know what you can & can’t eat so you don’t accidentally mess up during your Whole 30. To easily reference all the rules I recommend, bookmarking the program rules.
It’s true that misery loves company. I’m kidding, kind of. In all honesty, having a support system is essential for success. On days when you are feeling unmotivated, blah, burnt out, or bored with food, a support system will be there for encouragement, new recipe ideas, & to keep you motivated. Whether you’re doing the Whole 30 with your significant other, a best friend, or an online community, it’s so important to find your team! I’m always here if you have questions or need support during a Whole 30, especially during January or August when I’m doing one of my bi-annual challenges. Check hashtags online such as #januarywhole30 or #augustwhole30 & I guarantee you’ll find other people doing one at the same time as you! My easiest ones are when my husband participates with me or when I have a close friend doing it, too.
I recommend spending some time leading up to your Whole 30 to ‘clean out’ your house. Whether you eat your way through the items in your kitchen in the weeks or days before your Whole 30 so you aren’t wasteful, or if you throw out tempting non-compliant items, it’s important not to have your favorite snacks lying around to tempt you. If you are going to ‘get rid’ of food, I recommend giving them to a neighbor or donating them to a food bank so they aren’t totally wasted.
Cleaning house includes ditching your scale. I shared a post on why I don’t own a scale, but if you do the next 30+ days is a time to put it away. Put it somewhere you won’t be tempted to get it out. The Whole 30 is a process & you don’t want to hop on the scale half way through & get discouraged. The Whole 30 works, but you have to give it the full 30 days. It’s about a lot more than a number on a scale, as it always is.
DESIGNATE AN ‘OFF LIMITS’ AREA
Designate an ‘off limits’ area for the food you do keep in your kitchen that is not compliant. This way, it’s not in a tempting place. This is especially helpful if you have other people in the house who aren’t doing the Whole 30 with you. Often times, I’ll be doing the Whole 30 & Charles will eat what I cook, but he may not be doing the full Whole 30 with me, so he likes to have other food around the house for snacks or meals. We can keep those foods in a separate place in the pantry or fridge so I’m not tempted by them, but my hubs is able to eat what he wants.
PLAN THE MENU
When considering how to prep for a Whole 30, I like plan the menu of what I’m going to eat. I like to approach it a week at a time & come up with a few recipes I’ll make. This helps me plan my grocery list (more on that below) & not get caught off guard with what I’m eating. A few of my favorite recipes I start out on the Whole 30 with are: tuna salad, mini egg frittatas, spring roll bowls, coconut curry salmon, cajun shrimp & cauliflower grits, cauliflower fried rice, mushroom bolognese, ramen zoodle soup, salmon sashimi bowls, & sole piccata.
After you’ve gotten your kitchen cleaned out or at least reorganized, it’s important to restock it with Whole 30 approved ingredients & foods. This, of course, requires you to grocery shop. I recommend making a list of a ton of Whole 30 essentials, snacks, & foods based on the recipes you’ll be making each week. Go to the grocery store when you’re feeling motivated! This way, you aren’t distracted by all the non-compliant food. If this is your first Whole 30, I recommend giving yourself some time at the store. You’ll likely be reading a lot of labels until you learn which foods are complaint on your own. If you aren’t feeling like you can go to the store without distraction, consider grocery delivery from some of your go to stores like Whole Foods & Walmart.
Before grocery shopping I highly recommend looking over some Whole 30 snack ideas & stocking up. Making a post of my favorite snack ideas on the Whole 30 was one of my most requested posts & I think it’s so important to have some handy so you are prepared. I like to keep an approved bar, nuts, & nut butter with me all the time so that if I find myself on the go & hungry I have something ready. Nut butters are great because you can grab an apple or celery to eat with them & keep yourself satisfied.
COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE
If you aren’t usually a leftover person, I highly recommend that you learn to be one. I am big on making enough food so that I can cook once & eat (at least) twice. Otherwise, you’ll constantly be in the kitchen cooking & cleaning. Even if you don’t love to eat leftovers the same way, I recommend cooking all your veggies at once & then finding different ways to use them for a few days. Same goes for proteins! Making enough food for multiple meals saves you so much time & helps you be prepared.
KEEP FOOD IDEAS HANDY
When looking at how to prep for a whole 30, it’s important that you keep the recipe ideas coming so that you don’t end up eating the same thing every day. This will make you get bored & will make you not learn to enjoy all the delicious food you CAN have on the Whole 30. Some of the recipes I’ve created or made during the Whole 30 have become some of our weekly staples & we cook them at home whether we’re doing a Whole 30 or not. To me, that is what a Whole 30 is all about– reminding yourself of all the amazing, healthy food you can prepare that will make you feel good.
I have a ton of Whole 30 recipes on the blog if you need some ideas. I rounded up some of my favorite Whole 30 recipes & a ton of Whole 30 snack ideas, too. There are several Whole 30 books with recipes available, also that I have linked at the end of this post for you all. Pinterest is also a great resource! Always be sure to read through the recipe & triple check that it is in fact Whole 30 compliant both with the ingredients & how they are used. Some of my favorite sites for healthy recipes that have a ton of Whole 30 options include: The Defined Dish (Not only is she an amazing Dallas-based cook, but she’s so sweet & her kids are adorable if you follow her on the ‘gram), Nom Nom Paleo, Well Fed, A Cozy Kitchen, Paleo Running Mama, Olive You Whole, Stupid Easy Paleo, & Fit Foods (Another Dallas-based babe who is big on Keto & has so many amazing recipes in her e-book).
I feel better knowing that I’m not going crazy with how I feel on certain days of the Whole 30. For example, usually around day five, I get pretty bad sugar detox symptoms or withdrawal feelings. I love to check in with the Whole 30 timeline & remind myself that those feelings are very typical. It’s not so much that the Whole 30 is making you feel bad, it’s that detoxing from all the bad things you were eating & drinking is causing certain feelings or symptoms. I highly recommend referring to this. You can also get more detailed day-by-day information via the Whole 30 Day by Day book. Checking in with your support system is also so important! You are all probably experiencing some of the same things so its good to know you aren’t alone!
I hope these tips are helpful when you are planning how to prep for a Whole 30. These are things I do every time that I start & they really have helped me be the most successful. If you have any questions, post requests, or recipe requests, always feel free to reach out! I’m here to help. I’m rounding up some of my favorite Whole 30 books, snacks, essentials, & kitchen must haves for you all below.