So you've decided to take the plunge to do 30 straight days of clean eating? You are not alone and you can survive it, trust me. I have several rounds under my belt and have learned a lot about myself, the process and how to be successful. Some of you may be doing this as a New Years resolution, to jump start some weight loss, or just to try it because you've heard your coworkers talking about. Regardless of the reasoning, there is a lot to be learned by doing thirty straight days of clean eating. If you have not done so, you should check out the original Whole 30 book by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig for the rules and some great recipes. Here are some of my pointers for how to really get through the next 30 days.
Meal Prep - Whole 30 is geared towards getting you away from the mindless snacking and eating foods that are whole and nutritious. That means you really should not be eating anything with preservatives. Every weekend I set out a meal plan for every day to get me through my work week. Sunday mornings are dedicated to going to the grocery store and getting fresh vegetables and any meat that I may need to get me through at least my time while I am at work and do not have access to a kitchen. I also hard boil a dozen eggs every week - I always have ready made protein and will eat two for breakfast, or keep them at work for emergency protein to get me through a craving.
- Drink Water - I have a reusable water bottle that is 750 ml, and I drink about 5 of those throughout the day, more if I hit the gym or take the dog for a long walk. I know a lot of people who have said they hate the taste of water, so I recommend you get one of those refillable water bottles with filter in it, and bring pre-chopped lemons, cucumber, strawberries, etc. Put the fruit in the filter and you have Whole 30 compliant flavored water all day long. I also drink a lot green tea to get me through my day.
- Read Labels - Hidden sugars are every where, and having done Whole 30 multiple times I can tell you that the sugar withdrawals can be a bit rough, but you will get over the slump. Read your labels if you plan on using canned goods - some tomato sauces have sugar as an ingredient. If you are not making sauces from scratch, really make sure you are not accidentally sabotaging yourself. Salsa, hot sauce, etc all can have sugar as an ingredient. Even gum and mints can have sugar (sugar free does not equal sans sugar, usually there is an artificial sweetener, and those are a big NOPE on Whole 30).
- Beware Potatoes - The first time I did Whole 30 a few yeas ago, sweet potatoes were the only potato considered compliant to the rules. Now, other potatoes have joined the list. If your goal is to lose weight, eating potatoes (even though they are compliant) every day might make meeting that goal more difficult. You might come to rely on potatoes during your cravings for carbs, but they are still carb heavy and a part of Whole 30 is learning how to overcome those cravings. If you absolutely cannot do without sweet potatoes and other compliant potatoes, keep them to only one meal a week.
- Watch Your Sugar Intake - Fruits and some berries are compliant on Whole 30, but if you actually want to shed a few pounds, eating a breakfast of just apples, berries, grapes, etc will just start your day with a huge dose of sugar - one average sized apple has upwards of 17 grams of sugar. For me, this is the biggest lesson - do research into the amount of sugar in the foods you are eating. Start your day off with protein and fiber and you'll be fuller longer. A lot of people who have serious sugar addictions make this mistake - they eat a ton of fruit, even though it is compliant, get on the scale (which you should not do if you are strictly following the rules) and get frustrated that the numbers haven't changed.
- Try New Recipes - I love cooking and trying new recipes, but I understand not everyone is the same as me. Some people love one thing or are self proclaimed picky eaters. And that is okay. But I know some people who have attempted a Whole 30 and failed a week in because they got bored with eating ground turkey and eggs every day. Even if you already started and are reading this going 'great, I am going to get burned out,' FEAR NOT. The internet is your best resource. I went to Greatist.com when I tried my first Whole 30; they have great articles with links to close to 100 different recipes. Go onto a variety of blogs and get new ideas for recipes to try to get you through this journey. Don't be afraid to make something, you never know when your inner chef will decide to shine through.
These are just some of my top tips, but please feel free to email me or leave me a comment on my Facebook page if you have a question, or you're just looking for some support to get through the next 30 days. I promise that you will not regret doing this, keep up a good attitude and when it gets tough, there are loads of people out there that are willing to help you get through it. For me, Whole 30 opened my eyes to really educating myself on what goes into my body. I was always told you are what you eat - if that is true, then why not give yourself some building blocks to a healthier lifestyle? Good luck and have fun!