My Ultimate Guide To Whole30: Results + Tips + (Surprising!) Takeaways

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably because:

  1. You’ve already done Whole30 yourself and you’re wondering if my results/tips/takeaways are similar to yours.
  2. You’re thinking about doing Whole30 but aren’t sure if it’s for you.
  3. You want to know what all of these crazy people on social media are talking about when they refer to #whole30recipes and #whole30reintroduction.
  4. A mixture of the above.

Regardless as to why you’re here, I’m happy you are!

First of all, let’s get the elephant out of the room if you fall into #3:

What exactly is Whole30, and why do people do it?

Here’s the link to Whole30’s official site where you can read detailed descriptions about the program and people’s various goals when starting it.

My ultimate goal was to give my body a healthy reset after the holidays. It takes several weeks to heal the gut, so I was excited to cut out the most inflammatory foods (namely sugar, grains, and dairy) in hopes of feeling healthier than ever before!

My Whole30 Results

Even though weight gain wasn’t my motive, I lost 7 pounds. My husband lost close to 25!

By about day 21, I was also experiencing the following:

  • Perfect digestion
  • Clearer skin than ever
  • Increased energy
  • Deeper sleep
  • Zero bloat/puffiness

So, it was a true success! That’s not to say it wasn’t difficult at times…

If you’re planning to embark on your own Whole30, learn from my tips & takeaways!

My Whole30 Tips

1) Don’t. Overcomplicate. Things.

I can’t emphasize this point enough. Whole30 is not the time to try and become a renowned chef…unless you absolutely adore cooking! (In that case, knock yourself out!)

If you’re like me, you’re working full-time and barely have time to pee, much less throw together Whole30-approved meals three times each day.

Food bloggers get paid to come up with some absolutely incredible, inspiring creations! Possibly, try a few of those throughout your Whole30, but aside from that go easy on yourself.

⇒ To learn how to make Whole30 as simple as possible, read my post “Easy-Peasy Whole30 Recipes…PLUS A Calendar Of EVERYTHING I Ate!”

Sometimes, dinner may be a spoonful of almond butter, some raw veggies dipped in guacamole, and scrambled eggs, which is just fiiiine. As long as you stick to the Whole30 guidelines—which are tough enough to follow in this modern world of convenience food, preservatives, crappy oils, and emulsifiers!—you’re doing GREAT!

2) Prepare beforehand.

I entered Whole30 thinking it was going to be a piece of cake crustless, dairy-free quiche. I usually follow a Paleo diet 90% of the time, so I figured Whole30 would be a slightly stricter version of that. Because of my overconfidence, I didn’t grocery shop ahead of time. Big mistake!

Whole30 was tougher than I thought, but it would have been easier if I had prepared.

So, be sure to prep beforehand. Toss out (donate?) non-Whole30-approved sauces, snacks, and ingredients from your fridge/pantry. Replace with Whole30-approved items. Whatever you do, don’t go into Whole30 with the blasé I-eat-healthy-most-of-the-time-so-I’ve-totally-got-this attitude that I did!

3) Always be prepared during.

Meal prep! Pack snacks for plane flights or long car rides! 99% of food in the “real world” is not Whole30-approved, which is disappointing/illuminating and also annoying if you’re hungry and unprepared.

I started to take dry roasted + salted nuts with me everywhere I went…just in case!

4) Don’t be surprised if the first week(s) is/are really, really tough.

As mentioned, I thought I had Whole30 in the bag before I even started. I did not! The first week, I experienced all of the following:

  • A mouthwatering sensation every time I spotted that chocolate bar in the fridge (that I had not gotten rid of beforehand! See #2. Be sure to prepare!)
  • Feelings of sadness thinking about restaurant meals and social gatherings I’d likely skip that month.
  • Feelings of self-doubt/insecurity thinking about restaurant meals and social gatherings I’d attend, only to be judged or pressured.
  • A razor-sharp focus on all of the things I couldn’t eat. (Again, this was partially because of my unpreparedness. At first, my apartment basically held zero Whole30-approved items, but it was swimming in Whole30-UNapproved things!)
  • A realization that some of the supplements I’m used to taking regularly (like Natural Vitality’s magnesium powder and Life Extension’s zinc lozenges) have stevia, dextrose, and other sweeteners in them. Who knew?!
  • Cravings for wine during Netflix binge sessions.

During difficult moments, I appreciated the program’s famous tough love quote: “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

4) Be gentle with yourself.

The moment I started to realize that even things I thought were sugar-free and “healthy” (like the aforementioned Natural Vitality magnesium powder and Life Extension lozenges) weren’t Whole30-approved, the whole experiment seemed too daunting.

My Type-A personality began spiraling out of control. I even started reading articles titled “Why I Quit Whole30” to decide whether or not I should bail.

I also felt almost depressed (is the beginning this hard for everyone?!) by the fact that most restaurant foods are not Whole30-approved. My absolute favorite thing to do in NYC is to gather with friends and share a long meal over several appetizers, cocktails, entrees, and desserts. Was Whole30 worth missing all of that fun?!

At that point, I had an honest, introspective pep talk with myself. I was turning obsessive, which was not healthy for my perfectionist personality. I was reminded of my ultimate goal, which did not involve developing disordered eating habits or lapsing into a month of sadness.

Then, I made some modifications to my Whole30 that would make it more sustainable/enjoyable, but that would not throw me out of Whole30-compliance entirely. My modifications (which I actually typed into a note in my phone) were:

  • If I accidentally eat something that’s not approved in “Whole30 world” but is still healthy in the real world, I won’t beat myself up over it.
  • I’ll still eat dinners out and and at friends’ houses and be as compliant as possible 99% of the time, but I won’t obsess about the 1% of the time I may eat something that’s not 100% compliant. (I will, however, adhere to the “no alcohol” rule.)

Even though Whole30 is a global movement, it’s a personal choice.

Moving forward, I realized that my Whole30 could look slightly different than the person’s next to me. I never needed to refer back to the modifications typed into my phone, but I felt much lighter/happier/on board.

5) Know that you’re not always gonna fit in, and be A-OK with that!

A lot (most?) of the people you come in contact with throughout your Whole30—friends, coworkers, family members, acquaintances—will not understand what the hell you’re doing…and that’s okay!

Just hold your ground. Say no to alcohol and shared appetizers that aren’t Whole30-compliant. It may feel weird/awkward in the moment, but the alternative is locking yourself up in your home for an entire month and never socializing with the outside world. That’s no way to live!

Embrace your position as the “outsider” in social settings throughout the 30 days. I promise you it gets easier and easier!

This experiment also goes to show just how much of our social lives revolve around food and alcohol. The fact that you’re not eating/drinking certain things will upset some people, but that’s on them! Their lack of sensitivity or borderline annoyance probably relates to something personal they’re going through; it’s not about you.

So just keep on keepin’ on in spite of any negative or harsh comments/feedback from the people you love. Just as you need to be gentle on yourself throughout the month, you need to be gentle with others.

Your best friend may not understand why her favorite drinking buddy is now exclusively ordering soda water + lemon, and she may have a lot of unsolicited opinions to share about your choices. Just listen, calmly remind her of your goal for doing this in the first place (“I’m really excited to give my body a 30-day reset and allow my gut to fully heal”), remind her of your need for support (“I’d really appreciate your support throughout this month since this isn’t easy!”), and shift the conversation to a new topic (“How about that impending polar vortex, eh?!”).

You’ve got this.

6) Don’t stereotype food.

Eat dinner leftovers for breakfast. Eat “breakfast” for dinner. The less you try to put food into boxes, the easier your 30 days will be!

My (Surprising!) Whole30 Takeaways

1) Spending an entire month free from the decision fatigue that surrounds minute-by-minute food choices is actually quite amazing!

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s freeing not to have to make food choices all day long.

2) It. WORKS.

At the end of the 30 days, I felt like a MILLION BUCKS.

3) The second it ended, I missed it.

Because of the freedom I felt from constant “should I or shouldn’t I eat this?” decisions (#1) and the fact that I felt healthier than ever before (#2), I was actually sad when the 30 days were up. I’ve already planned to do Whole30 once each year, likely every January. Looking forward to the next round!

4) It’s best to do Whole30 with a buddy.

My buddy was my husband, but yours may be a friend, coworker, or even a stranger on Instagram!

Regardless of who it is, make sure you have someone to turn to when you hit points of weakness (which will happen!).

It was always nice to strategize with my husband about how to pack Whole30-approved snacks for plane trips, what to eat at restaurants, and which groceries to buy each week.

5) I saved oodles of moola!

Restaurant meals, takeout, and alcohol cost $$$! Therefore, I had some extra cash burning a hole in my pocket.

Throughout the 30 days, I treated myself to self-care experiences I ordinarily wouldn’t splurge on, like fancy spin classes and a luxurious facial.

6) Reintroduction is oh-so illuminating, so don’t skip it!

One of the main points of Whole30 is to determine if you have any food intolerances. As of now, there’s no affordable, 100%-accurate blood test to identify these intolerances, so an elimination diet—like Whole30!—is the best way to get to the bottom of any issues.

The program details a couple of reintroduction options: a quick 10-day plan and a slower paced one.

I started out doing the quicker option but then opted for the slower reintroduction.

What I found to be most helpful was creating a note in my phone to track each reintroduced item + my symptoms (if any).

Basically, I’d reintroduce one possibly inflammatory food, record my reaction to the item, then return to Whole30 for a couple days to let my body recalibrate before introducing a new item.

This went on for a couple of weeks, so I was still essentially doing Whole30 most of the time. (My Whole30 turned into a Whole45, which was fine since I was reluctant to end it in the first place!)

To summarize, these are my Whole30 results + tips + takeaways:

RESULTS:

  • Weight loss
  • Perfect digestion
  • Clearer skin than ever
  • Increased energy
  • Deeper sleep
  • Zero bloat/puffiness

TIPS:

  • Don’t. Overcomplicate. Things.
  • Prepare beforehand.
  • Always be prepared during.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first week(s) is/are really, really tough.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Know that you’re not always gonna fit in, and be A-OK with that!
  • Don’t stereotype food.

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Spending an entire month free from the decision fatigue that surrounds minute-by-minute food choices is actually quite amazing!
  • It. WORKS.
  • The second it ended, I missed it.
  • It’s best to do Whole30 with a buddy.
  • I saved oodles of moola!
  • Reintroduction is oh-so illuminating, so don’t skip it!

When you come up with your own Whole30 tips + takeaways, I’d love to hear them! Share your ideas in the comments 🙂


⇒ Ready to ditch fad diets and health myths forever? I provide expert coaching through a foolproof formula: self-awareness + sustainable habits + simple swaps = lifelong WELLth! Click here to learn more!

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