The most daunting thing about my Whole30 round was the amount of time it took to prepare food. I’m used to cooking dinner every night and with my Weight Watcher’s journey, I often made food for my family and then made a healthier version for me so I’m no stranger to long evenings in the kitchen making food. And I really like to cook and create new recipes so it wasn’t a chore exactly, but sometimes I was hungry and just wanted to eat something fast and easy. Those were the most trying times for me on my Whole30 adventure, when I was tired and wanted to make quick (AKA: bad) choices.
I think the time commitment and being tired leads to a lot of people’s downfall when they try the extreme clean eating that Whole30 demands. Nobody has enough time and Whole30 demands a lot of it. So today I’m sharing some of the things that helped me stay on track and some lessons I learned.
Prepare for the week on Sundays
I have been doing this for years now and I swear it’s the biggest factor in my success. We’re pretty lucky that our church has Saturday night services so that we can make Sundays our family day where everyone stays in their pajamas and we just watch movies, catch up with chores around the house, and get ready for the week. On Sundays I get my breakfasts and lunches ready for the week.
For Whole30, I always put a pound or two of chicken in the Crock Pot in the morning, I boiled eggs (I started this baking method and I like it a lot more than boiling), I cooked uncured Canadian bacon and put it in baggies for breakfasts. I don’t leave myself time in the mornings to get breakfast or lunch ready so I have to do it ahead of time or I will end up eating things I’ll regret later. Quitting early wasn’t an option so I made sure to have plenty of things ready at all times.
Prep food ahead of time
I always had shredded sweet potatoes, zucchini noodles (done with this magical tool), and shredded carrots in the fridge. Because I found it worth the extra expense, I would buy shredded carrots, broccoli slaw mix, and sometimes even diced onions and green peppers from the grocery store. You know yourself well enough to know if you’re going to actually take the time to prep these or it would just be easier to buy them. And for me, I chose buying. Every week at the store, I made sure to buy sweet potatoes and zucchini; I’d shred four to five sweet potatoes on a cheese grater and store them in a Tupperware container so I could grab a few handfuls whenever I needed them. The same with zucchini, I’d turn them into noodles and then refrigerate them. Adding them to a meat dish or just sauteing them in some olive oil was a filling meal in a pinch.
Stock your kitchen with your favorites
Sometimes nothing looked or sounded good on Whole30. I was less hungry and occasionally had to force myself to eat because I knew what would happen later if I didn’t. So keeping your favorite Whole30-approved snacks ready is convenient for smaller meals. In my kitchen, I always had avocados, sweet potatoes, olive oil, steak, eggs, and butternut/acorn squash stocked. I could always come up with a few good, filling meals with those things.
Buy a new veggie to try
I didn’t even know I liked acorn squash until Whole30. And even though I’m not currently following that meal plan, I still eat string beans cooked in ghee about once a week. I had no idea I liked string beans or ghee until this experiment. If you’re buying something new and you have no idea what to do with it once it’s home, check out Instagram or YouTube. There are so many people that can show you how to make something foreign actually taste good. Plus, you might find a new favorite!
Cashews, cashews, cashews
I had cashews hidden everywhere: in my car, in my purse, in my desk at school. If I ever hit a time where I needed something to eat that would help me not race to the nearest McDonald’s drive-thru, it was cashews. Most grocery stores sell seasoned ones without added sugar and made with the compliant oil, so if you burn out on the regular salted ones, try a new variety.
Don’t change where you grocery shop
Some people might not agree with this one, but here’s my reasoning: I don’t live close to a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Fresh Thyme (all specialty grocery stores that carry a lot more Whole30 complaint food than your neighborhood store probably does) and so making a special trip is just that, special. It takes time and I mentioned I don’t have lot of that in this current season. I needed to figure out how to eat Whole30 complaint while shopping at Wal-Mart, Aldi, and Marsh because those are my stores. If I truly wanted to make a lifestyle change and not just try a fad diet out for a month, I had to be successful at the same place I buy my toilet paper, dog food, and get my oil changed. Did it make it a little more difficult? Yes, but it was manageable. And it has made me much more likely to stick with it since I can make better choices in the same place I’m shopping for my family’s groceries. I did make one trip to Trader Joe’s because I needed ghee (also called clarified butter) and I could not find that anywhere else. I had less options at my regular stores, but I was still able to find plenty of things to eat there. So don’t let lack of access to specialty health food stores deter you, most local grocers carry grass-fed meats, oils, fruits, and veggies and really that’s all you need.
Change some of your family’s eating habits too…but slowly
If I suddenly took away my daughters’ Goldfish crackers there would be a mutiny. I understand that. So while I did not decide to make the Whole30 diet a family affair, I did make some subtle changes for my family’s health. I got rid of the Country Crock that we loved and replaces it with coconut butter. I stopped using Pam spray and only used real oil to flavor pans and food. I’m slowly transitioning everyone out of peanut butter and going to almond butter (this is the hardest change so far). Reading It Starts With Food opened my eyes to a lot of the food I was feeding my family and their lack of nutritional value. And since I do all the grocery shopping and cooking, I have control over that and I needed to make some changes. I had a friend that did the Whole30 challenge with her whole family; her and her husband plus their two small girls all cut out sugar, processed foods, dairy, breads, and a million other things that weren’t making their bodies better and she said the benefits were shocking. I’m not as brave as she is. At least not yet.
After my thirty days ended, I celebrated with dark chocolate. Lots and lots of dark chocolate. But other than that, I kept eating the same things because I enjoyed what I was eating and I still craved it. The thirty days, although sometimes tough, really sold me on this cleaner way of eating. After the holidays are over, I’m going to do another round. If you’re interested in doing one with me, I’m thinking of starting a closed Facebook group for support. I did my first round with three other girls from my First Thursday group and I think at times it was all that kept me going. We got to share successes, complain about things we missed, cheer each other on, and hold each other accountable which is something I thrive on. If you’re interested in starting a round in January, I’m thinking of starting a few days after the new year, email me or leave a message here.
Have you done Whole30 before? What made you successful? If you didn’t complete a whole round, what stood in your way?