Changing how we eat can be so difficult. A month of drastic diet changes is no small feat. Way to go for thinking about giving it a try. Here are some great Whole30 tips to help make your journey a success!
A Whole30 is a good jump start no matter your long term eating plan and will help you notice food sensitivities you otherwise might have missed.
It took months of thinking about it before we completed our first Whole30.
What exactly is a Whole30? It’s a 30 day nutritional program designed to change your cravings, habits, help heal your body, and give you a good restart. They have a great post of the many benefits here.
The rules (foods you can and can’t eat) can seem a little daunting. Knowing I was going to have to avoid so many foods that were a standard part of our mostly real food diet stopped me from committing for a long time. There are no sweeteners allowed of any kind (not even honey), no grains (quinoa, oats, rice etc), no legumes or peanut butter, no dairy, no carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites, and you also aren’t allowed to create plan ingredient approved “baked goods”. (It’s sort-of like a paleo plan but more strict.)
That’s a lot of nos! So to help you start, and ensure that you’ll finish out the 30 days strong, here are 12 tips for a successful Whole30.
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1. Plan, Plan, Plan
Menu plan for all three meals and snacks. In fact, plan for at least a week at a time or even for the whole 30 days.
Food on Whole30 can take more time to prepare than you are used to so don’t leave it to the last minute or you’ll find yourself stressed or grabbing foods that aren’t on plan. I promise a written menu really helps keep that from happening.
I also liked using these cookbooks for recipe inspiration! I was able to find them at my library, but here are the Amazon links for them:
2. Mentally Prepare for a Hard Start
Don’t expect it to be a bed of roses! You will struggle and possible feel miserable the early days. I found myself thinking about food (I couldn’t eat) continuously! Be prepared for this and be prepared to stick it out. You can do it.
Because of this, if possible, you might want to plan your Whole30 to start when life won’t be too crazy or stressful.
3. Mentally Prepare to be Over it at the End
By the time 30 days are over you’ll probably be ready to just quit and think, “surely 27 days is good enough” – especially as events and functions come up and it would just be more fun to be able to eat “regular” food again. Knowing this will happen will allow yourself to combat it.
Possibly, set a reward for yourself if you stick out the 30 days! A little extra motivation never hurts.
4. Have the Entire Family Do It
Let me tell you, it would have been torture if everyone else in my house was eating cheese, grains, and chocolate and I had to watch. The temptation to take a bite would be huge and I don’t think my attitude would have been as great. I didn’t cheat, but it was a family project. I’m not sure the results would have been the same otherwise.
So turn it into a family challenge and celebrate with a special outing when you are done!
5. Do it With a Friend
My sister and her husband did a Whole30 the same time we did. It was amazing! Having another person responsible for the majority of the cooking to talk to was so helpful. We could brainstorm together and take meals from each other’s menus, and, of course, keep each other accountable.
6. Repeat Meals
Please, don’t feel like you need to come up with 30 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. If you find a meal you love – especially one the kids love – make it every week. Or even more often. It simplifies everything and it’s nice to have solid meals everyone will eat to fall back on.
7. Do Lots of Kitchen Prep at One Time
You’ll be using many fruits, vegetables, and meats during this month. That means a lot of prepping those fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Instead of spending hours in the kitchen each day preparing these items, take some time on the weekends to wash, peel, chop all the food you can for the next several days. Bonus, you only have to do those dishes once.
8. Plan for Leftovers to Save Time in the Kitchen
One of the big deterrents of the Whole30 is the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen.
Make extra each night (at least on the recipes your family loves) so you can have leftovers on a busy day or use them for lunches!
9. Try New Things
If you don’t venture beyond scrambled eggs for breakfast and carrots and broccoli for your veggies, it will be a long 30 days. Get out of your rut. Be creative with seasonings and spices!
Try cooking some veggies you don’t love in a new way and pick out some new produce you’ve never tried.
10. Save Up to Increase Your Grocery Budget
Set aside a extra money before your Whole30 begins! We keep our grocery budget low and we definitely spent more during this challenge. Probably double what we normally spend. Only buying produce, meats, dried fruit, and nuts can get a little pricey. Watch for meats to get marked down and start stocking up in the months prior as well.
You’ll find great tips for cutting costs on your normal grocery budget in this post. Then set the money saved aside for your Whole30:
11. Get Rid of Temptation
Had there been a bag of my favorite candy staring me in the face every time I opened up the cabinet or cheese in the refrigerator it would have been a really long month and I’d have been much more incline to just cheat a bite of something here or there.
Bury them in the deepest part of your pantry, pass ingredients on to a friend, or toss them – do what it takes so they won’t be taunting you!!!
12. There’s NO Perfect Time
Our lives are busy. There’s always things going on. If you try to wait for the perfect 30 days where you have nothing going on that will take you out of your home, you’ll never do it. That’s a big part of the reason it took me soooo long to commit.
Find a time that works best – probably avoiding major holidays and birthdays of your family members – and put it on the calendar.
Lastly, don’t let fear keep you from getting started! Take the plunge and set aside 30 days for recharging your body, breaking cravings, and possibly losing a few inches and pounds and becoming a healthier you. You’ve got this, especially with these Whole30 tips that will help you succeed!
Have you done a Whole30? What tips do you have?
If you haven’t done a Whole30, are you thinking about it?
Originally published January 2015. Updated May 2020.