Yay! The Whole 30! You're making a commitment to better your health! This is AWESOME!!! Whether you're doing it for the first time, or just back for a recharge, I applaud your decision!
I myself am ready to clean the slate again and start fresh. I've been doing the Paleo/Primal thing on and off for a few years now, and pretty consistently since September, but I've been slipping more and more. I officially feel bloated and uncomfortable in my favorite pants, which means it's time to re-evaluate what I'm putting in my mouth.
Okay, so you've committed. Now what?
FIRST - Go over the rules. Essentially you're going to be eating only whole foods for thirty days. This means no wheat, dairy, legumes, sweeteners (natural or otherwise), or alcohol. If it comes in a box, it's probably not allowed. Think 'perimeter shopping' --- mostly the produce aisle and the meat counter. If you do buy something packaged, make sure you can read, pronounce, and understand all the ingredients.
tip: Carbs are not the enemy! Fruits and vegetables are full of healthy carbohydrates. Don't worry about it. Enjoy that apple or sweet potato!
NEXT - Clean out your kitchen and pantry. This is harder for those of us who have children or family that won't be participating. My husband and kids clean up pretty well, but they still get the occasional goldfish snack or popsicle, and the hubby is not about to give up his sandwiches at lunch. Which is okay, they're exceedingly trim and fit, and mostly eat according to the blue print - it just means more willpower for me.
tip: Fat is GOOD! If you find that you're not fully satisfied or still hungry, chances are you're not getting enough fat. It's hard to make that transition from the high carb, low fat mantra, but trust me. You'll be glad you did.
FINALLY - Make a plan and follow it! Choose some recipes that look delicious and exciting. If you're the type that needs a step-by-step, find a daily meal plan. Fill your fridge and freezer and countertop with healthy wholesome food choices. Fully commit to the next thirty days.
tip: If you make a mistake, get over it. An oops is NO reason to stop your Whole 30. If you want to be a stickler, go ahead and restart the clock. But if you accidentally grab a chip without thinking about it? Or fall face first into a slice of pizza? Don't use it as an excuse to finish the bag or pie.
WHEN IT'S DONE - Hopefully by this point you've made a meaningful long term commitment to change your dietary lifestyle, rather than seeing this as a singular thirty day hurdle. Most people transition from here to a paleo or primal lifestyle and often adopt the 80/20 approach. I myself like to celebrate with a piece of dark chocolate and a tall glass of red wine.
But, wait! What about the whole "pastured! grass! fed! organic!" stuff? I can't afford to eat like that!
Me either. Make the best decisions you can within your budget. This diet should NOT put you into debt. It's a balancing act between spending the money to make your body healthy (and avoid future medical costs) and not running your finances into the ground right now. So, if you can afford to buy all grass fed beef, free range turkeys, and farm fresh eggs? By all means, please do! If not? Do what you can. My personal choice is to buy local farm eggs and free range all beef grass fed hot dogs. Some people choose to focus on the dirty dozen. Others find it all too overwhelming and just focus on the ingredients rather then their origin. You have to find what works for you.
tip: Don't forget about the freezer section! Frozen fruits and vegetables are often more cost effective and just as delicious!!!
No, no, no! I need more! What if I have questions?!
I will put a resource section at the bottom of this post. The program was started several years ago and folks with much more expertise have answered pretty much every question you might have.
tip: Know your weaknesses! For me it's crunchy and salty foods. So I have homemade pickles, baby carrots, sliced sweet peppers, and guac for dipping at the ready. Also a secret stash of nitrate/sugar free bacon in case it gets really bad. If you're a sweets person? Have coconut milk and frozen fruit ready for a quick smoothie fix!
- Sometime between day one and day three you will start to feel like absolute crap. The manifestation is different for everyone (and a few lucky folks don't get this at all) but for me it means a mind numbing headache (like my brain is swelling and is literally going to start leaking from my ears). Also I get really foggy headed for a few days. Kind of like a hangover. Which, actually it is. A food hangover.
- Between weeks one and two(ish) you will be SO FREAKING HUNGRY. This is also totally normal. Your body is making a change in how it processes food. Be sure you're eating, eating, eating, and getting enough fat. This is not the time to be calorie counting or eating strictly lean cuts. I've heard fat-bombs work wonders.
- You will not feel amazing right away, and you may have some pretty awful stomachaches as your digestive tract readjusts. Try eating more probiotic foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha) or taking a probiotic supplement. Sometimes this part even takes longer than the 30 days, but most people feel much better around the two week mark.
- Prepare to pee a LOT. I don't know the science behind it, but it happens. The first week or so I have to get up a couple times a night and run to the john. It does subside.
- On Mama Loves Food:
- Here's my complete list of paleo / primal recipes. These are NOT all Whole 30 compliant. You may need to do some minor tweaking, but often I try to provide modifications within the recipe.
- Some of my very favorites are the Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles, Zucchini Noodles, Ultimate Paleo Smoothie, Roasted Plantains, Spanish Fried Egg, (un)Oatmeal, Lemon Butter Steamed Artichokes, Sausage Stuffed Breakfast Peppers, Roasted Bone Marrow, The Best Roast Broccoli Ever, The Best Roast Asparagus Ever, Creamy Asparagus Soup, Curry Grilled Chicken Wings, Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Whole Roasted Chicken.
- Or are you just curious about what I ate? Well, you're in luck! Here's every day, with every meal, including links to recipes!
- Other websites I love:
- The Official Whole 30 Page
- NomNom Paleo (my personal favorite)
- Multiply Delicious (has a YEAR long meal plan available!)
- Stupid Easy Paleo
- Good Cheap Eats
- Paleo Plan (also has week-by-week comprehensive meal plans available)
- Mark's Daily Apple
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- The Lazy Caveman
- Primal Toad
- Jen's Gone Paleo
- Ancestral Chef
- Cookbook suggestions: