It’s fairly obvious that I’ve embarked on another round of Whole30 if you’re following me on Instagram. The first was last year. I try not to clutter what is a travel based account with too many home cooked food pics but I can’t help but share the beautiful plates of food that showcase themselves at our table every evening. Hopefully you’ve heard of Whole30 by now. Whole30 is a way of eating that focuses on lots of vegetables, proteins like eggs, fish and lean meats and some fruit. If organic, all the better. Click here if you need an introduction.
Is Whole30 a Fad Diet?
There is benefit from being labeled as the latest and greatest in healthy weight loss programs, public awareness and social media attention come to mind. Thats how I came to learn of it. However, Whole30 is not a fad diet, but more of a lifestyle. This is old terminology I know but let me tell you why that is. Whole30 is not necessarily just about weight loss, it’s about restoring your body to optimal health via nutritious, non processed eating.
My goal for starting it was both. It’s the only “program” that I have been able to maintain for more than ten days at a time. Why? Because you aren’t counting freaking calories (a calorie from fast food is not the same as a calorie from avocado), good fats are your friend and, as a result, your appetite is satiated. Me and starvation just don’t mix. Do this for 30 days and then slowly introduce certain foods which were previously restricted back into your regime, no not potato chips or Oreos.
You’ll realize that Whole30 penetrates your style of eating even when you’re not doing the 30 day thing. For instance, the only canned item in my pantry is coconut milk and I finally threw out my microwave. I hadn’t used it in about three years anyway.
Whole30 vs Atkins and Paleo
Whole30 is definitely not Atkins (read constipation diet) and it is a take on paleo but where white potatoes are allowed (in moderation, of course). Other than that, Whole30 does not allow added sugar of any kind, not even honey. Fruits are allowed but in smaller portions, half a banana let’s say. It also advises against recreating baked junk foods with “approved” ingredients, whereas Paleo encourages it. Paleo has become a bit ba$tardized with supermarkets carrying all kinds of junky items labeled paleo approved. I don’t think cavemen snacked on bags of paleo approved bagel bites or cupcakes at four in the afternoon back in the day. Paleo approved wine? Now that’s great.
If excessive meat consumption is a concern, worry not. I’ve touched red meat once in the last 40 days, limitation has been more of an ethical and environmental consideration on my part. I’m allergic to certain shellfish but I’m still taking part. Being vegetarian/vegan is nearly impossible on Whole30 in my honest opinion.
10 Tips for Doing Whole30:
- Buying books or gimmicky/branded items are not necessary. While the creators of Whole30 have recommended two books which I’m sure are a very informative read, they are not required to do the program. All information with do’s and dont’s are on the website
- Doing this with your partner can be both a blessing and a curse. I’m sure I don’t have to explain
- Do not worry about the number of eggs you’re eating. They are your best friend on Whole30 and otherwise. I eat 8 whole eggs every week and my cholesterol is fine. Eggs have gotten a bad wrap because the American Heart Association (as well as the USDA) is comprised of many silly people. Read here
- You will only succeed if you learn to prep and plan. Keeping veggies and protein in the fridge at all times are essential. We reach for the quickest thing when hungry and if there’s nothing prepped, its back to Day 1 aka square one
- Be aware of your ratios and proportions. Protein should not be taking up more than a third of your plate, the same goes for the starchy foods that are allowed on the program. Truth is you’ll get cravings if ratios for protein, veggies and fat (yes fat) are not balanced. Don’t follow everyone on social media with the hashtag #Whole30. I see pics of a 250 gram chicken breast next to 8 strips of bacon with the largest sweet potato known to man on one plate with captions claiming its Whole30. That is not Whole30. If I choose to throw in a white potato every once in a while, its a half and ensure there is nothing starchy or fruits with higher sugar content in the rest of my day. Avocado and coconut make for the best fat fill ins. Typically there is no more than 80-100 grams of meat on my plate and there are always lots and lots of veggies. Studies say we should not be consuming more than 70 grams of meat per day if at all (the size of a deck of cards or bar of soap)
- Another reason you should avoid following everyone doing Whole30 on social media is that many of the popular accounts belong to professional cooks. Their recipes can be intimidating and they don’t need to be. Putting together a dish of wild boar from the Australian bush encrusted with black sesame accompanied by the blood of a golden goose dressed with puree of wild lily from the Himalayas is great for taking a picture but not great for everyday practicality. My Whole30 dinners take no more than 30 minutes including prep time and they are delicious . I have a new found appreciation for fresh ingredients and simple cooking. I use organic vegetables and all proteins are free range/grass fed. The most exotic items in my pantry at the moment are desiccated coconut, turmeric and almond meal. These make for a great crust on pan cooked chicken. Don’t forget fresh herbs, lots and lots of fresh herbs
- Get used to eating very non breakfast items for breakfast. There are many times where breakfast consists of last night’s fish with veggies
- Skipping dairy is the best thing you will do for yourself. Adults do not require cow’s milk or the hormones that contaminate it
- Acknowledge that there will be troughs and peaks. You will get headaches, you will feel tired. Its normal. Expect it, don’t fight it, wait it out
- It’s okay not to exercise heavily. Walking is good for you but partaking in high intensity training may sabotage you in the beginning
The last thing I will say is drink lots of water, 2 liters a day or more. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
This article is my subjective opinion only and based on personal experience.