Whole30 Survival Guide
Day One Breakfast
Today marks my fourth full day on Whole30. A few weeks ago, I shared that I would be trying the Whole30 challenge for the next month. I didn’t take much time to dive into the why’s or how’s though, so I thought I would do a bit more of that in today’s post. Part of this is selfish (announcing things on the internet is a great way to hold yourself accountable), and part of this is because many of you have asked me to.
So, I’m the first to give any popular food program the side eye. I’m an extremely skeptical person and don’t believe in cutting out major groups of foods without understanding the reason behind it. If you have a legitimate health intolerance or allergy, that is a different matter. Everybody is different and you should never allow anyone to make you feel bad about what you put into your body. That is not the intention behind this post. I’m just sharing my own experience and thoughts, because some people expressed interest in this!
In my opinion, food offers a lot more than just health benefits and nutrients. Food is emotional. Certain foods just taste really good and make life fun. I love dairy. I love pasta. I love bread and grains. I certainly enjoy baked goods from time to time. I don’t shy away from that. After all, my job revolves around food. So, you can imagine my very first reaction to the concept of Whole30. You can’t eat what?!
Favorite Guacamole Green Salad (minus the tortilla chips)
But I kept hearing more and more good things about it. I decided to buy the book It Starts with Food and read it. And guess what? Once I read it, I kind of wanted to do it! It was incredibly fascinating to me and I found that many aspects of the book, particularly the parts about cravings or foods-with-no-brakes, resonated with me.
I have always been curious as to how different foods impact me, but I’ve never really known how foods impact me. You can’t really know until you eliminate them and reintroduce them back into your life. While I love vegetables, fruits, and many other traditionally good-for-you foods, and consider myself fairly conscious about the food choices that I make, I have several ‘foods-with-no-brakes’. For me, that is pasta, bread, and grains.
I love ’em and crave them. A lot. A little too much. I’ve definitely picked up some bad habits in the last few years and my metabolism isn’t what it once was. Sigh. A lot of these habits are also making me less creative (and inevitably, more lazy) in the kitchen too!
I’m definitely aware of my weakness around certain foods, but I had a tendency to push these thoughts aside for the satisfaction of eating them. I eat a second or third helping because it tastes good, not because my stomach is hungry. To be honest, I think everyone has foods like this in their life! It isn’t about eliminating foods from my life altogether (I have no plans of doing this, really!), but understanding my relationship to these foods better.
That is the reason that I’m trying Whole30. To reset old habits, get back on track, become more aware of my food choices (the emotional reasons behind them, as well as how different foods affect my energy, body, and mood), and ultimately use this experience to become more creative with my everyday meals. I wanted to share the process with you all to prove that its possible to eat really delicious, exciting food that happens to meet all of the program requirements.
So far, the trick is to focus on all of the foods that you can eat, instead of focusing on the ones that you cannot. Just four days in, I’m already more conscious of filling my breakfast and lunch plates with healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, ghee, etc.) protein, and vegetables.
I’m prepping ahead and stocking my fridge with easy-to-grab choices (leftover roast chicken, hard-boiled eggs, sliced vegetables, etc.), which is making it extremely easy to make nutritious, thoughtful choices throughout the day. The best part? These foods are very, very satiating. Way more satiating than some of my go-to breakfasts or lunches in the past.
Leftover Meatballs, Zucchini Pasta, Salad, + Roasted Vegetables
Foods excluded from Whole30: grains, legumes (including peanuts), soy, sugar (including natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, etc.), and dairy (with the exception of ghee or clarified butter, which doesn’t contain milk solids).
Foods allowed on Whole30: vegetables, fruits, seafood, eggs, meat, poultry, potatoes, and tree nuts.
Things I like about the program: The rules are very clear and easy to follow in that regard. It forces you to branch out and become more creative. You’ll inevitably be picking up all sorts of vegetables, fruits, seafood, or meat just to avoid boredom with any of your meals.
I’ve always been a label and ingredient reader when buying store-bought items, but it will make you even more conscious and aware of the choices you make (aka. things in your pantry that shouldn’t need to contain added sugar probably do). If you are horrible at meal-planning, you’ll be forced to figure it out. Meal planning and food prep is key.
Things I don’t like about the program: You have to eat a lot of meat or seafood in order to create satiating meals. I’m not used to this though I have a feeling my body prefers it and is much more satiated when I eat more protein. I love that the program strongly encourages seeking out high-quality, grass-fed or pastured meat, but I still feel that it leaves out a lot of sustainable, plant-based protein options (legumes, grains, etc.). However, it is only 30 days!
Without grains or dairy, traditional breakfast options are majorly limited. You’ll get really bored of eggs. I’m already bored of eggs. I miss yogurt. Thankfully, I don’t mind eating non-breakfast-y things at breakfast. Ask me this question again in 20 days.
It’s very difficult to enjoy normal social gatherings that involve food. In fact, I don’t really anticipate eating out at all in the next month. Going out to restaurants or traveling is cumbersome and requires a lot of planning and forethought. Our upcoming trip to New York City this weekend is proving that quickly.
How I’m feeling: Good! Not overwhelmingly different. I’m feeling very satiated after every meal and haven’t felt the need to snack in between, which is pretty unusual for me! Usually, I need some fruit or snack to tide me over from lunch to dinner. Technically, snacking is discouraged on the program and I haven’t done much of it. I’m going to bed earlier, feel less bloated, more hungry in the morning (a good sign), and haven’t experienced any afternoon slumps or ‘hangry-ness’.
I haven’t experienced any massive sugar cravings which is something that most people experience in the first three to five days. But I wasn’t anticipating the no-sugar rule to be the hardest part of this for me. I have always craved savory foods over sweet ones. I’m an out of sight, out of mind person. If I have a loaf of banana bread or cake sitting on my countertop, I’m going to eat some of it. No question. If I don’t have those types of things sitting in my kitchen (my preference), I can go for a pretty long time without them.
I definitely miss grains, my sprouted bread and English muffins, and pasta. But I miss them less for taste, and more for the variety and texture that they add to meals. The most noticeable craving – if I can even call it that – is dairy. I miss milk and cheese. A lot! Mostly for the flavor they add. My morning coffee is not the same. There really is no substitute!
I can already tell that I’ll need to really mix up my meals in the next few weeks in order to avoid becoming bored. Food boredom is the worst.
Breakfast Hash, Avocado, + Fried Eggs
Since a bunch of you mentioned that you would be starting Whole 30 with me (or were interested in maybe doing it or just wanted to know more!), I wanted to share a handful of recipes from the blog that already happen to be Whole 30 compliant – or very close to it with a few small tweaks.
If you’re interesting in seeing more behind the scenes, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Instagram story videos. I’ve been sharing a lot a things behind the scenes (including my never-ending search for the best non-dairy substitute):
WHOLE 30 COMPLIANT RECIPES + RESOURCES:
- Ghee vs clarified butter (and how to make both at home!)
- Green Chile Adobo Sauce (put this on everything!)
- Homemade Garlic Confit
- Mexican Hash Brown Stack (substitute oil with liquid ghee)
- Breakfast Hash (omit oil; substitute ghee + add compliant sausage)
Soups + Stews:
- Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Garam Masala Carrot Soup
- Butternut Squash and Leek Soup (substitute butter with ghee; omit the creme fraiche)
- Creamy Tomato and Avocado Gazpacho
- Authentic Mexican Tortilla Soup (omit the cheese + tortilla chips)
- Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
- Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup (omit the lentils + cheese; add chicken or homemade mini meatballs)
- Guacamole Greens Salad (omit the tortilla chips)
- Radicchio, Pear, Pomegranate, and Walnut Salad (omit the gorgonzola; add roasted chicken)
- Za’atar Grilled Chicken Bowls (omit bulgur; substitute cauliflower rice or salad greens)
- Seared Salmon with Adobo Sauce and Frisee Salad
- Middle Eastern Spatchcocked Chicken with Vegetables
- Spicy Sausage with Broccoli Rabe (omit pasta; substitute vegetable noodles)
- Weeknight Broiled Salmon with Chermoula Herb Crust
- Indian Braised Chicken (omit chickpeas + yogurt; substitute coconut milk)
- Trout Almondine (omit flour; substitute butter with ghee)
I’ll be sharing more recipes over the next few weeks! Let me know if you found this post interesting, and if you’d like me to share more about my experience doing the program!