Whole30 Tips and Tricks

Happy Tuesday! It's officially Day 24 of Whole30 and I truly cannot believe how fast it's flown by. Today's blog post is a lot more personal, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into my Whole30 experience. I wrote about why I did Whole30 in this blog post, but below is a brief recap.

After dealing with some chronic digestive issues, I wanted to give my body a much needed reset. The main reason I did it was because I knew I hadn't been feeling well and needed to change something. Doing Whole30 was the only way I could hold myself accountable. Giving up gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol seems intimidating and restrictive, but rather than view Whole30 as a negative thing, I viewed it as an opportunity to gain something.  

I'd tried the mindbodygreen 7-Day Sugar Detox a few months ago to see if that would help, but I didn't notice a huge difference. I felt more energized and woke up without my alarm which are both great results, but they didn't solve the underlying issue of my digestive issues.

I committed to doing another Whole30 this summer because I didn't have any trips or big events planned for these 30 days (July 9th-August 7th). I knew that I could really dedicate the month to meal planning and cooking a lot and wouldn't feel like I was missing out on too many social opportunities.

So far, I can truly say I've never felt better. I haven't had any sharp stomach pains like I used to get and have had little to no bloat. I have had migraines (read on for that), but I feel amazing, both inside and out. 

The past couple of weeks I had so many friends reach out that were curious about doing their own Whole30 so I decided to put together a few tidbits about my experience thus far.

  • The first week I started Whole30 I surprisingly was not very hungry so my meal times were all over the place. I had been so bloated and my digestion was out of whack prior to Whole30, that I really think it took a whole week to get back to normal. By the second week, I got into more of a groove and ate at normal times.
  • I haven't been doing all my meal prep on Sundays. I usually make meals on Sunday that will last Rob and I for Sunday dinner, Monday lunch and Monday dinner. I will cook again Monday night for Tuesday lunch / Tuesday dinner / Wednesday lunch, etc. Sometimes our schedules change and things come up so I don't like to have a bunch of wasted food.
  • For whatever reason I have not been in the mood for red meat and have been craving chicken and ground turkey. I've been eating a lot less fish than I normally do which is unlike me, but I still try and eat salmon 2 times a week.
  • I have been keeping a food journal and I write down everything I eat in a day and the times I eat. Before I started Whole30 I was the most bloated I've ever been and feeling so sick. I wanted to try and pinpoint how I was feeling after every time I ate. This has been extremely helpful and probably my number one piece of advice!
  • I have pretty much relied on roasted veggies (beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnip, broccoli are my favorites). Then I bake chicken or sauté ground turkey in turmeric to have as protein.
  • I always have fruit on hand. Apples and almond butter, oranges and peaches are my go-to. Whole30 recommends 2 servings of fruit per day, but I have been having more. I just play it by ear depending on how I am feeling.
  • If I am craving "dessert" I have frozen grapes.
  • I always prepare 2-3 chia puddings (recipe below) in mason jars on Sundays. I bring them to my office on Mondays so I can have that as a meal if I don't feel like lunch, or have it as a mid-afternoon snack during the week.
  • I have been drinking kombucha (not everyday, but almost) even though they say not to buy anything that has sugar in the ingredients list. Kombucha is my preferred probiotic. 
  • I have had smoothies a few times even though it's not recommended because it's "processed". Sometimes that's all I was craving for a meal, especially after a workout. I use blueberries and unsweetened acai so it's minimal sugar and don't put anything in there that's not Whole30 compliant. I put tons of fiber and greens in to balance it out!
  • I prefer to eat salads at dinner instead of lunch. I always crave warmer foods at lunch, plus it keeps me fuller. 
  • I had an RXbar once and a Larabar 2-3 times as backup. Personally, RXbars make me feel sick and Larabars are so good but they do taste like candy. They are both Whole30 approved so I ended up buying them just to have as backup.
  • I love eggs and eat them all the time, but the first few weeks I found myself not as hungry for eggs in the morning. I ended up having eggs at dinner with roasted veggies or some chicken sausage.
  • I always have nuts on hand at my office. I love roasting cashews, almonds and walnuts at 375 for 15-18 minutes. It's a lot easier for me to digest than just eating them raw. I also add pistachios too!
  • I have only made no-bake balls once, but if you need something to keep you energized this would probably be better than nuts or fruit.
  • I always make my own salad dressings. I mix dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt & pepper, red or white wine vinegar and olive oil, then whisk together. If I am eating out I make sure to get no dressing and just olive oil and balsamic or lemon juice. You'd be surprised at how many restaurants use honey or other sugars as an emulsifier in their dressings. 
  • If I am going out to an event, I order a sparkling water with lemon and mint - it is super refreshing and looks like a mocktail so I don't have to look lame :)
  • Since you can't have vanilla extract on Whole30, I have relied a lot on cinnamon and vanilla bean powder if I want to add flavor to my chia pudding or nut milk.
  • I normally don't like Ghee, but I have been cook my eggs in it and then I use olive oil for most things and sometimes coconut oil. Coconut aminos, red & white wine vinegar and dijon mustard are lifesavers for seasonings and marinades!
  • If I am eating out, I choose a salad or Sashimi. I use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and serve it with side of avocado, ginger, some greens or hijiki seaweed that I soak in water.
  • I have been doing shorter workouts (more jogs and 20 minutes of cardio or a HIIT workout for 15 minutes) and less workouts (~3 times a week).
  • One thing I noticed in general is that raw nuts and RXbars make me feel sick (super hard for my body to digest) and I have gotten some severe migraines - I think it might be from the sugar in the kombucha and not drinking enough water.
  • I don't drink coffee, but have been cutting back on tea and trying to drink more water. If I do want something caffeinated, I'll make a matcha latte in the morning with hot water, The New Barn Unsweetened Almond Milk, collagen peptides and MCT oil if I want that as more of a meal!
  • It has been so eye opening seeing how many things have added sugar in the ingredients. The coconut water from Trader Joes had fructose, along with their seeded dijon mustard. Always read your labels!
  • Overall, I had serious cravings the second week and had mood swings, but it's been mostly smooth sailing since then!

Below are a few of my go-to recipes. 

Whole30 Approved Recipes:

  • Breakfast:
    • Blueberry Chia Pudding With Collagen Peptides - this is such an easy make ahead meal or snack for when you are on the go! I love to top mine with blueberries or peaches, depending on what fruit is in season. Blueberries are great because they are low in sugar. 
    • Egg Muffins - I made these every Sunday as part of my meal prep! You can switch out whatever protein and veggies you prefer - you can also use 10 eggs instead of 8)
    • Poached eggs - I love poached or fried eggs served on a bed of sauteed veggies or with a side breakfast salad. 
  • Lunch / Dinner
    • Spiralized Daikon Radish and Shaved Carrot Salad - the daikon radish has a very distinct smell so I usually eat this in 1-2 days. It is super refreshing if you make it ahead of time and leave it in the marinade in the fridge then serve with fish or sliced avocado!
    • Oven Baked Carrot and Parsnip Fries - I made roasted veggies at least 2-3 times a week. They are the perfect emergency food - throw an egg on top or serve it with a side of chicken sausage!
    • Meatballs (whether ground beef or turkey) are super easy because they are easy to prep and last a long way. I love serving mine with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
    • Pesto - perfect to have on hand for eggs, meatballs, chicken, veggies.
    • Baked Turmeric Chicken - I stopped making chicken on the stove because I always overcook it and it's too messy to clean up. Baking it is so much easier and less prep. The key is cooking chicken thighs or breasts for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees, flipping halfway through.
    • Cauliflower Couscous - this dish is so savory and is great as a side dish served with your favorite protein, or simply on its own.
    • Chicken Lettuce Wraps - I made these twice, once for a dinner party I was hosting and another week when I wanted something quick and easy for lunch. The recipe makes a lot of food so these were great leftovers. 
    • Roasted Butternut Squash - simple, but so flavorful with some fresh herbs. 
    • Turkey Chili - this is one of my favorite recipes because it's packed with veggies and so filling!
    • Spaghetti Squash and Bolognese - a class dish you can never go wrong!
    • Salmon and mashed potatoes - the potatoes take a little longer to prep but are so worth it!
    • Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos - serve these over a bed of greens, or make a "taco bowl" on a bed of cauliflower rice
    • Cauliflower Fried Rice - a classic spin on my favorite dish!
  • Snacks
    • Carrot Tahini Dip - This was great to bring to dinner parties and as a snack during the work week. I sliced up zucchini and red peppers for dipping and sometimes served it with a side of prosciutto.
    • Apples and Almond Butter - I brought a small tupperware filled with almond butter and a few apples at the beginning of the workweek
    • Roasted Nut Trail Mix - always so great to have on hand when I'm at work, on a road trip or a flight!

Products:

  • The New Barn Unsweetened Almond Milk - this was a weekly staple for me.  
  • I also made my own hemp milk which I used in the chia pudding or in my smoothies. If you make your own nut milk regularly, I'd stick with that!
  • Bilinski Chicken Sausage was great to have in the mornings or for lunch. Not all of their sausages are compliant, but I loved their Spinach with Spring Greens flavor.

Also I found myself googling a lot of like "Can I have this on Whole30" in the beginning and Olive You Whole's blog was super helpful, especially when trying to find chicken sausage and bacon that was compliant while grocery shopping!

If you've ever done a Whole30 I'd love to know about your experience!

Shop my Whole30 Kitchen Essential Items Below!