Not that eating a salad every day is my ideal diet… but I’ll be honest- I feel a whole lot better about myself after eating a salad and drinking 100% fruit juice than chowing down an entire Pizza Press pie while chugging an IPA. That being said, I too struggle with the idea of going 30 days without dairy, sugar, carbs, beans/corn (?), peanuts, and any other fantastic foods this diet manages to kick to the curb. How do I do it, you ask? Well, I’d say it’s a delicate balance of determination combined with lots and lots of snacking on anything (mostly) diet-approved that I can get my hands on.
I’ve done this one time, and it was so worth it that I’m writing this to help push others through the first week (without a doubt the hardest week of the diet) and make it to the amazing phase where eating whole foods comes natural. Though things like this aren’t for everyone, I figured putting the carbs/sugar/dairy to the side for a month is probably healthier (and less dangerous) for my body than a questionable juice cleanse involving lemons and cayenne pepper.
Without further ado, let’s go through the tips/ tricks/ thoughts I gathered after nearly three weeks on the Whole 30 diet.
1. Always hungry? How about “snacks, snacks, and MORE snacks?”
This might seem unorthodox (considering you’re supposedly trying to diet, not overeat or indulge). However, the point of Whole 30 is to eat healthy, whole food that is not processed and (frankly) goes through your body much quicker than those unhealthier foods. So grab all the carrot sticks, almond butter, hard boiled eggs, fruit, and anything else you can get your hands on to squeeze in those snacks between meals! This is especially important at work, where your brain could really use that energy. As I mentioned before, your body is burning through this food quickly, and could certainly use a pick-me-up. Here is an amazing list of easy on-the-go snacks for your Whole 30 journey.
2. Mix it up a little – Try making your favorite meals with Whole 30 Ingredients!
Pinterest is your friend here! Check out my Whole 30 board and other amazing Whole 30 food ideas on their Instagram page. From simple zucchini noodle pasta to dupes for ice cream sundaes and mac and cheese, it’s amazing what these brave chefs have come up with to ensure a much more pleasant Whole 30 experience. One of my biggest challenges during Whole 30 is finding a healthy form of dessert- so my favorite Pinterest discovery is (without a doubt) the cacao powder chia pudding. I love a cool, sweet treat in the summer that’s easy to make in large quantities using just a few ingredients. Check out the chia pudding recipe here, and if you’re looking to add a little sweetness, try using dates or making a paste out of dates. You can also add some unsweetened baking chocolate chips if you really want to boost that chocolatey flavor.
3. How to eat out at restaurants – To dine or not to dine?
Mostly when I eat at a restaurant during Whole 30 I try to ensure it’s a diet “friendly” place. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shut out all of the places you love. Most restaurants offer some sort of healthy option, and American restaurants are especially good at modifying your dish to what you want. Even so, remember that appetizers and sides are your friends here! If all else fails, you can call it a sugar or gluten intolerance to avoid lengthy conversations on your physical appearance and why they think they know what you should and shouldn’t do with your body.
4. Sugar cravings and how to curb them
I’m not going to lie- it’s TOUGH letting go of sugar during this diet. But the benefits are that you really come to terms with your intense addiction to sugar and the unnecessary amount of sugar Americans cram into their food. I highly recommend getting as much fruit as you can, and especially using dried fruit for those exhausting days when you just need a sweet treat. One of my favorite remedies for PMS chocolate cravings is that chocolate chia seed pudding I mentioned above- totally guilt free and extra delicious. Another go-to is the mixed nut butter from Trader Joe’s- absolutely delicious!
5. Drink more water, in all forms
“DRINK. MORE. WATER.” I remind myself as I quickly reach over to my water bottle to sip the elixir of life. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water during this diet! With all the salt you may be consuming to compensate for the lack of sweet treats (I think we all do this), you’ll need to really drink as much water as you can. Additionally, the best way to top off a nutritional cleanse like the Whole 30 is to also rinse out your system as much as possible to eliminate toxins and fully benefit from the diet. Now, I know you’re scratching your head as to why I said “in all forms.” That’s because water can definitely be BORING. So, I recommend these different ways to wean yourself off soda and some other delectable water flavoring recipes. All of these and more can be found with just a quick search on Whole 30 approved ways to spruce up that H2O.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself the first week.
Slipping a little is ok, especially if you’ve never tried this before! But don’t let these mistakes pile up and ruin the whole diet. I find that the best ways to avoid slipping up during the real serious weeks of Whole 30 are to dedicate some time to preparing your mind and body for this transition. You’ll want to give yourself a week (or two) to start eating healthier. Start by steadily cutting out dairy with replacements like almond milk and vegan cheese, and really cutting back on soda and alcohol so you don’t go “cold turkey” the first week of your diet and feel miserable.
7. Stay away from the scale.
When they said not to weigh yourself at the beginning of the book- they meant it. Don’t go near that scale! This is not a time to let numbers get you down or discourage you from all the real benefits you’ll be getting even after just 2 weeks on the diet. The results will come, but patience is key! Feeling super impatient? Try taking a photo of yourself before and after the diet, and you’ll see the difference the scales won’t show. I know it’s an outdated phrase, but muscle really does way more than fat! If you’re serious about weight loss for fitness reasons, than consulting a nutritionist or fitness trainer might be better for you in addition to the Whole 30 program.
8. Avoid the hangry monster- Don’t ever run out of food.
If at all possible, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to constantly keep my fridge stocked with Whole 30 approved meals/snacks to avoid getting hungry/angry- or what we Millennials call “hangry.” This is the worst scenario during a diet, because all judgement is clouded. It’s nearly impossible to manage your appetite when you’re angry! So, make sure you hide the sweet stuff- that means candy and holiday treats too- and keep those Whole 30 snacks at arms length. As you continue the diet, you’ll realize that hunger is satisfied more quickly. You may need more snacks or meals throughout the day, but they’ll be smaller and much more satisfying.
9. Exercise helps, but don’t overdo it.
Of course, fitness and exercise are integral to sculpting your body into the shape that you want. However, food makes just as big (if not more) of a difference than even exercise. That’s why it’s so hard to diet for so many people- there are just too many ways to stray from a healthy, balanced diet. Remember: The time and energy you’re putting into this diet are going to have amazing long term results and a huge impact on how you choose to eat food in the future. Exercise might help speed the process of attaining your fitness goals, but hardcore workouts might make you tired, “hangry,” and force you to loose motivation for the diet because you just want to carb-load after that intense workout. Avoid exhausting yourself even more with intense exercise, and embrace the changes in your body by instead focusing on your mental health, getting more sleep, and investing some extra time doing the things you enjoy.
10. Countdown to the end and then… Embrace your results!
Keeping a countdown going until the end of the diet really helped me stay motivated. Just knowing I was at the halfway mark of two weeks, and then even approaching the last weeks and realizing my improved appearance, mood, and well-being made me super excited to finish the diet strong and even consider doing it again a few months later. Keep in mind: This is NOT a permanent thing. Just as before you started, you can/should wean off the Whole 30 slowly, while keeping in mind the food choices you will make from now on and how these can affect your body. Don’t think that ending the diet will somehow reverse or change the way you look and feel now! Just remember the good habits it helped you form, and keep those in mind if you’re ever at a binge drinking college party or thinking about stuffing your face with pizza at midnight when the diet is over. Take it slow, and embrace the glorious results that Whole 30 has brought you!
That’s all, folks! Thanks so much for reading, and please comment below with your Whole 30 experience, any questions you still have for me about the diet, or anything else that comes to mind with this article. Ciao!