Ah, the Whole30. An entire month without grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, legumes and soy – what's not to love? Okay, maybe the absence of your favorite comfort foods, the fact that you may or may not have to start making everything you eat from scratch, and the complete removal of happy hour from your weekly agenda.
Although it can sound a little overwhelming at first, I promise, you can successfully complete a Whole30. And, as a Whole30 veteran myself, I believe you can do so without completely overhauling your existence in the process. Here are seven ideas to help you tackle it without rearranging life as you currently know it.
Plan for Success
The absolute best way to succeed at a Whole30 without turning your life (and brain, and pantry) upside down? Make time to prepare for it. That means starting your week – and your month – off right with a Whole30-specific meal plan. Sitting down once a week seems like the least crazy-making way to do this, so if that means meal planning instead of curling up with a book, or while you catch up on This Is Us, do it. Just make it happen. It's a game changer.
Do it for the Right Reasons
Taking on a Whole30 isn't – and shouldn't be – a body-image move. While weight loss is occasionally a side effect of the endeavor, the founders of Whole30 consider the program a short-term nutrition reset. It's designed to balance your body and heal your digestive system, and should probably be considered more of a lifestyle move than a beach-prep situation. My advice? Skip the scale and focus on the way you feel. And then use that extra energy and alertness for something fun, like making your grout extra sexy.
Keep the Glass Half Full
No, you can't have that post-work glass of wine. And, no, you can't have that cookie either. But while it's easy to get hung up on all the things you can no longer consume (for the time being), completing your Whole30 will be so much simpler if you focus on the positive and start thinking about everything you can eat instead. Consider it your personal safari into the world of fruits and vegetables, or make it a goal to find and try a new food each week. Better yet? Spend some time with these Whole30-approved recipes, which look amazing.
Find Good Resources
There are a lot of places to learn about the Whole30 on the internet right now. And while a quick Google search will bring you face to face with almost too many websites to even consider, it's important to find resources that are right for you. The Whole30 website is a great place to begin, especially if you're not 100 percent clear on the rules, but from there you can dive into numerous food blogs for help with your day-to-day meal situation. The roundups, firsthand experience and mayo-making lessons (seriously though, homemade mayo is beyond good) over here are a fantastic launching point.
Have a Backup Plan
One of the real-life downsides to the Whole30 is how much time you're going to spend in the kitchen. Even if you love cooking, it can be a bit hard to fit it all into the average workday. So, how do you stay in the game when you have a day that might otherwise take you off the rails? Easy: Know your options. There are takeout-friendly restaurants that have tasty Whole30 meals, you just have to find them. My favorite recommendation for when you find yourself hangry? Chipotle (their carnitas is Whole30 safe, and tastes pretty fantastic paired with guac, salsa and lettuce).
Maintain a Social Life
Believe it or not, many restaurants will have something you can consume. If you have plans, don't feel like you have to cancel. Instead, pick up the phone and call ahead to ask questions about the menu, or be prepared to spend some quality time with your waiter. At the very least, you'll be able to put in an order of grilled chicken and steamed veggies, or a bunless hamburger, if not something better. Plus, you'll be able to skate through your 30 days without becoming a hermit.
Replace Your Cravings
If you know you'll be jonesing for a scoop of ice cream before bed, think about something Whole30-approved you can swap it for. (My favorite? A mug of tea. It cuts the craving and helps with pre-bedtime wind-down.) Then, stock up on it when you do your meal planning and grocery shopping and make sure you have it ready for action on day one. It may take a few days to adjust, but at least you'll have something in your hands (or belly) to help fight the urge to go off the rails.
Conform to Your Lifestyle
One way to ensure your Whole30 experience is as difficult as possible? Trying to change everything about your current routine in the process. Instead of molding your weeks to fit your new food decisions, fit those food decisions into your weeks. That means knowing how much time you have each day to prepare food (consider large-batch food preparations or pulling out a slow cooker or Instant Pot if you're busy during the week) and thinking about grocery trips in advance so you can streamline as many food-related decisions as possible.
Have you tried a Whole30? What helped you succeed – or ended up being a major road block?