Ever Wondered About The Whole 30? Follow Along!
Starting July 6, 2020, I am committed to strictly following The “Whole 30” diet plan. What is the Whole 30? It is a diet plan that eliminates processed food, alcohol, and foods which may be allergenic. Take a look at their page for the specific details: https://whole30.com/
Why The Whole 30?
Take a look at this quick video to hear about why I am giving this a try, and reasons it may or may not be right for you.
In summary, here is what is going to be completely, 100% eliminated for 30 Days.
- Grains (Yes, Even Whole Grains)
- Processed/Added Sugar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Legumes (Beans, Peanuts)
- Treats with “approved” ingredients
- Weighing or body measurements
Based on these guidelines, here are some things which are “allowed”:
- Coffee (Black)
- Tea (nothing added)
- Nuts (excluding peanuts)
- Herbs, Spices, Seasoning (no MSG)
I am not diving in head first to this Whole 30 experience, in fact I have been preparing for months. I have tried elimination of all of the above for at least a week period of time, before attempting them all at once. For example, I committed an entire month (January) to not drinking alcohol. During the following weeks and months, I tried week (or longer) periods of time and eliminated legumes, dairy, and others on the not allowed list.
Identify your Challenges in Advance
During my preparation, I have identified my biggest challenge areas for me to be successful in Whole 30:
- Eliminating Dairy (Cheese is so good)
Alcohol is simply a matter of discipline, but it is an adjustment and important to plan for. Alcohol, and food can have social pressures attached to them, especially if you are going to be changing a familiar routine. Whether it be alcohol, or certain food groups that you will not be consuming for a time period, it is important for you to remember that you do not owe anybody an explanation.
Alcohol is not an essential nutrient/anything you need to find a substitution for in your diet. Other food groups are/can be, so let me walk you through my example with legumes:
My wife makes me a soup and/or chopped veggie salad every week, and it is a staple of my diet which I plan to keep up during the Whole 30. These soups and salads often have beans as a key ingredient. We have talked through ingredients which can be substituted for beans:
- Cauliflower (pulsed in food processor)
What are your challenges? Cream in coffee, sandwiches, dairy? How will you work around them? Spending some time thinking about this before committing to the Whole 30 will set you up for success.
Lets talk through some of the most common challenges, grains, and sugar/sweeteners. Why they can be challenging to eliminate, and how you can address it [Video].
Reasons to Try The Whole 30
After my initial assessment of the program, here are what I would consider some great reasons to give this a try:
- Re-examine your relationship with certain foods, drinks.
- Do some self assessment if you have any food sensitivity.
- Use as a springboard for long term dietary changes.
On the flip side, it seems counter productive to try the Whole 30 to lose weight or as a “quick fix”. You may see some short term benefits such as weight or body fat loss, but the program itself will not have any sustained results/success unless you take lessons learned and apply them in the form of lifestyle changes.
As I approach my final week before starting the program, here are a few strategies I am using to make sure I am ready:
- Shopping plan: Making sure you have a plan to shop for fresh ingredients each week, if needed. This would be your fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, and other items which may not be shelf stable.
- Stock up on pantry staples which are Whole 30 compliant and you can use are part of your meals or snacks. For me, some examples are mixed nuts (no peanuts), seeds, olive oil, canned fish, pickles/other pickled items, coconut flakes, almond butter, beef sticks (watch the sugar content), and a few other related items. These can be stocked up on so you don’t necessarily need to buy them each week. Customize your list based on what you know will help supplement your meals and stay on track.
- How will you stay hydrated? The answer for this program is that water needs to be your main source of fluid intake. If you get board with just plain water, try squeezing a little bit of lemon or lime in it. I am a coffee and green tea drinker, so I have plenty of these items on hand. If you drink coffee and use cream and/or sugar/sweetener, you have some work to do before trying the Whole 30. Your only real options are: 1. Drink coffee black 2. Do not drink coffee. You could technically use something like coconut milk as a creamer, but remember one of the program guidelines is that you should reexamine your relationship/habits around food and not find compliant “treats”.
- Plan your meals in advance. This either means do one big day of cooking/meal prep each week, or spend one day plan out how you will cook and prep meals each week. If you do not make a plan to stay on track, it will be easy to fall out of compliance. My plan is to work with my wife (the chef) to do meal prep once per week which will give me one staple meal per day that I can build around. This approach works for me, you could decide to get more detailed day by day if that will work for you.
- In addition to a pantry stock up, you may want to consider a pantry inventory/clean out. What do you have on hand that is not compliant with your new plan which may tempt you? Ice cream, chips, soda, booze, candy? Whatever it is, consider that if you have a stressful day and you know these quick and easy items are in your house, you will have a harder time staying on the plan. If you need to go to the store to buy one of your favorite treats, you will at least have the period of time driving to the store to think about if you really want the treat more than the progress you have made
I will be doing weekly summary posts with successes, challenges, and recipes/meal plans. While there is no weigh ins or body measurements during the program, I do plan to weigh in before and after, just to see what happens (no expectation or goal). Follow along and let me know what you think!