Monday, December 31, 2012

Tips for a Whole30

I know many people will be starting their resolutions with the start of 2013 upon us; while diets and lifestyles come in many forms, for many paleo devotees a Whole30 program is a popular way to clean things up.

I won't be joining you on your journey (more on why below), but I did want to share some of my Whole30 advice and experiences. I also have quite a few tasty dishes to share, many of which I make often just as part of my "regular" paleo diet.

First, the tips:
1. Plan ahead. This is good advice for anyone following a paleo lifestyle, but it's imperative if you're doing a Whole30. Bake or make food you can turn to when hunger strikes. Soup and casseroles are particularly good dishes for this purpose, in addition to having some cooked protein on hand to add to salads.

2. Baby steps. This might not be very helpful advice if you're committed to starting this thing tomorrow, but is a smart way to help ease yourself into the process. I used to drink two coffees a day, both made with almond milk and stevia. Before I even started the Whole30, I cut back to one mug a day, and lessened the amount of stevia. If you have a particular weak/soft spot that you know will be sensitive during your Whole30, try to address it prior so you're not going through excessive withdrawal and emotional trauma ;)

3. Watch the nuts. My New Year's resolution is to watch my mindless snacking, particularly of nuts. I know they're tasty and convenient, but there's also not the easiest to digest and obviously high in calories. It's far too easy to overdo it with them, particularly when you're following a limited program. Try to avoid having excessive amounts in the house (I buy in bulk at Whole Foods, so try to only pick up what I need for recipes).

4. Try to make it fun. I think the key is to view the challenge as positively as possible. Don't dwell on what you can't have, but rather focus on making what you CAN taste as delicious as possible. I created a Pinterest Whole30 board during my challenge, and still love finding tempting dishes to pin to it.

5. Keep a diary. While I will confess that I often goof and miss an entry, I always find whenever I'm dedicated to logging my food I learn a lot about myself. My goal with my Whole30 and by following paleo in general isn't to lose weight, but I do want to think about how food affects me. Keeping a food log during my Whole30 made me realize that too many sweet potatoes can be as brutal to me as too much natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. I learned that balsamic vinegar can irritate my psoriasis, and what foods give me the most energy before a run.

So why no Whole30 for me? Well, I would forewarn I don't think the experience is for everyone. I struggled with disordered eating in my past, and found that being so obsessive and limiting was a little tough on me psychologically. I also didn't find that I personally experienced any life-changing positive effects, such as increased energy or amazingly clear skin...

... but I *did* make some tasty food and would love to share.

My Pinterest Whole30 board is chock-full of good recipes.

I began my own Whole30 on May 19. You can start there and follow my posts to see what I eat and how I was feeling.

Cauliflower Breakfast Pie is a great take on quiche that is easy to make and will feed you for days.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup is convenient for quick lunches, and a great way to appease your sweet tooth.

Steak Tips in Mushroom Gravy would be perfect comfort food if you're embarking on a January Whole30.
If you want an approved chocolate fix, a Double Chocolate Smoothie can really hit the spot.


  1. Thanks for writing this! I am already drooling as I look through your Pinterest board ...

    1. thanks Alli! Even though I'm not following a Whole30 now, I keep the board active because I think it's fun to find compliant recipes. Glad you like it :)

  2. Hi Susan!
    I love your tips for a successful Whole30!I know they'll come in handy for a lot of folks this month.
    However, I would like to point out that, with the exception of some cocoa powder in a chilli recipe, there's no such thing as an "approved chocolate fix". In addition, we really recommend against liquid food in general.

    Thanks for spreading the Good Food Word!
    Robin @ Whole9

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