Set some goals
If you don’t remember why you’ve decided to do this it you’re not going to make it past Day 10 when your aunt makes you feel guilty for not having cake at Uncle Bob’s retirement party. I buckled down for my first W30 because I was having headaches and joint pain and wanted to see if any of it was due to diet.
The benefit I wasn’t looking for then that I was pleasantly surprised by was how much more healthily I wanted to eat for months after. For me, there is no pendulum swing back to unhealthy at the end of the month. It resets my habits and tastebuds in a major way, so I’m just not interested in the sugary, processed nonsense that makes me happy at the moment but feel lousy in the long run. It’s been a crazy stressful year at my house, and my food habits have gone down the toilet. Chocolate chips on a spoonful of peanut butter can’t be breakfast, chips and salsa can’t be lunch. I keep reneging on small, “no desserts except on Sundays” type resolutions. It’s time for a hard reboot.
Have a plan
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but this is a different way of eating and it requires some thought. Sit down and figure out half a dozen meal ideas. I’ve made a spreadsheet that Bekah and I will be updating of some of my favorites—comment on it with your own and we’ll add them in! Your plan should include some meals you won’t mind eating for breakfast—cereal and toast mean that none of us are used to needing a plan for breakfast, and if you skip breakfast on Whole 30 you’ll be violently hangry all day long. Sweet potato or veggie hash with egg or compliant sausage is classic, but my favorite is a breakfast salad with grapefruit, avocado and prosciutto.
Don’t have too much of any one type of food on the list— my first W30 was low on planning, so I ate tons of eggs the first week, then gagged at the thought of them for about six months. The second one I had too much slow cooked, shredded meat and I got SO tired of that texture in every meal. This time I’m planning on ordering a couple compliant meal kits from Blue Apron near the end of the month when I’m out of ideas and energy to cook.
Make a giant grocery list
In addition to your planned meals, make sure it includes emergency “I’m late to making dinner and hangry and can’t think straight” foods. Almonds, apples with nut butter, and avocados are my favorite. I work hard to sit down for a proper breakfast on W30, but I have a job and 3 kids and a husband who travels a lot, so back-up to-go breakfasts are necessary. RX Bars are my favorite, but a Lara will do, and I grabbed a Chomp and an Epic Bar to try this time around too. I get tired of plain water, so I throw lots of herbal teas and seltzers in my basket. Compliant salsas, olives and pickles make those plates more exciting and keep you from hating your life at day 10. I’ve stocked up on red curry paste and everything bagel seasoning blend to keep things interesting too.
Do some prep
I don’t usually eat much mayonnaise, but on W30 it somehow becomes necessary. This isn’t as hard as you think it is, but it’s trickier than the Whole 30 people make it out to be. It’s something to be done the day before you start, not when you’re already hungry for lunch. When I have it made I’ll use part of the batch it to make devilled eggs—just squish the hardboiled yokes in a ziplock with mayo, mustard and chopped pickles, then cut off the tip of the bag to pipe the filling back into the whites. Top with paprika and olives and you’ve got ready to eat protein stockpiled. I’ll thaw a pork roast to make Carnitas on day 1 and mix up a batch of breakfast sausage patties. I prefer cooked veggies to raw, so I’ll roast a big batch of broccoli and another of sweet potatoes with peppers and onions to keep me from burning out on salad too quickly.
Just keep going!
The first week+ is going to be miserable. Remember your goals and that it’s only 30 days of your life. Good luck! Let us know how it’s going!
WRITTEN BY BEA
Bea loves life in the Pacific Northwest, rereading old novels and weird varieties of pickles. She can dive deep on Harry Potter, Twilight, 90’s CCM, celeb fashion or foreign policy. She’s trying to figure out what to do when the little one goes to kindergarten, what to make for dinner and how to be a feminist who can’t pass up a princess book.