Feeling like you need a reset from the holidays? Embarking on the month-long diet Whole30 can be just the thing to encourage clean eating, reset your metabolism, reshape your relationship with food, and break habits that are causing you to eat unhealthy.
If you're not familiar with Whole30, it's an elimination diet. Here's what's off the menu: grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and legumes, with no indulgences for the entire month. These foods are considered "hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups."
The focus is to learn to enjoy whole, clean, simple foods that fuel your body. So no desserts (like muffins or cookies or ice cream) or "junky" foods (like pizza or pancakes) — even if they're made with Whole30-approved ingredients — as these types of foods can be triggers for unhealthy eating habits.
Eating Whole30 versions of these types of foods won't be as good as the "real" ones you remember, so you might spend the entire month feeling sad and obsessing about the foods you can't have. If you used to eat pizza three times a week and that's what's contributed to your weight gain and not feeling great (which is why you committed to Whole30 in the first place!), then those habits won't change and you won't gain anything from this challenge. Just embrace whole foods, and remember: it's only 30 days!
If you do this month-long challenge right, you won't feel restricted or hungry. With these five tips from registered dietitian Sheri Kasper, you'll breeze through these 30 days!
Remember All the Benefits
Every day, keep in mind the "why" during this month to help you stay inspired to stick with it. Why are you doing Whole30? To start eating healthier and reduce food cravings? To jump-start weight loss? For higher energy levels? Better sleep? Maybe a combination of all of these? Whatever your reason, know that this month might be difficult, but you'll reap so many benefits, it'll all be worth it.
Take Advantage of the Whole30 Community
Because Whole30 is popular, there are tons of blogs and Instagram and Facebook groups filled with other people following the Whole30 plan. Connect with these abundant, knowledgeable, and encouraging people and bounce ideas (and grievances) off them. It will keep you motivated and help you feel supported throughout your Whole30 journey.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
The saying "failing to plan is planning to fail" has never been more true. Meal prep will be key here. Research simple, delicious recipes and plan out your meals and snacks as much as you can to stay on top of hunger.
Here's an example: veggie omelets for breakfast, a big salad with protein and avocado for lunch, and salmon with baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli for dinner. Wash and prep fruits and raw veggies to have on hand for snacking. Clean out your kitchen of foods not on the menu, and stock your fridge full of Whole30-approved foods.
Use Whole30 as an opportunity to try new foods and expand your usual menu. There are endless ideas through Pinterest, food bloggers, and on the websites of Whole30-approved food companies. Exploring new recipes will prevent boredom and make the experience more exciting.
And don't miss out on socializing or going out to eat just because you're doing Whole30. It will be harder to stick to the plan if you feel like your social life is compromised. So if you're going to a party, bring a dish that's Whole30 approved for everyone to enjoy. If you're meeting friends at a restaurant, call ahead and work with the chef to figure out a meal you can eat.
Start at the Right Time
You might be tempted to get on the bandwagon on Jan. 1, but be smart about when you start your 30 days. Look at your calendar and make sure there are no big events, scheduled travel, or other plans that might derail your efforts or make Whole30 more difficult. Tell the people around you that you're doing Whole30 so they don't accidentally surprise you with homemade cookies.