Starting September 1st I am going to be embarking on my second attempt at completing a Whole 30 this year. Back in January I started my very first Whole 30 and things were going well as I was starting to feel so much better as I helped rid my body of some foods that I love but where causing me to experience some unhealthy symptoms. Unfortunately about halfway through the stomach bug (round two) hit our home and I went down for the count. For several days the only things I could stomach were crackers, bread, Gatorade and oatmeal… all no-nos during the Whole 30.
While I didn’t re-start my Whole 30 from the beginning, I did greatly reduce a lot of the foods that are eliminated during the Whole 30 as part of a lifestyle change. I have been eating less grains and dairy, as well as removing many wheat “gluten” products from my diet. I have also been very conscience of my sugar intake. In fact not only was I feeling so much better but I had even lost those last few stubborn pounds of baby weight.
Life was good, I was feeling good and then we were surprised with the news that I was expecting another little blessing. While the excitement of learning that baby number 3 was coming, I quickly started to feel some of those unpleasant early pregnancy symptoms of nausea and food aversions.
Let’s just say that I was not the pregnant lady who craved vegetables and other wholesome goodies. No, no, no… I craved (and ate a lot of) carbs and comfort food big time!
Doritos, rice crispy treats, bacon (lots and lots of bacon), fried chicken, pizza (I once leaned over to whisper in my husband’s ear during church to let him know that we HAD to stop and pick up a pepperoni pizza on the way home from church! I’m. Not. Even. Kidding) The list could go on and on about all the unhealthy foods that I craved in those early months of my first trimester and I’m not proud of it either.
From Instagram: This is why pregnant women should not be allowed to go grocery shopping because things like rice krispie treats and vanilla caramel popcorn in up in your cart. And no the rice krispie treats are not for my kids 🙂 #preggoproblems
Now that I’m finally in the second trimester and feeling much better (vegetables actually sound good!) I knew that it was time to re-start my body and help re-set my eating habits. I first considered dropping the goal of completing a Whole 30 in September after I found out that I was pregnant but after a little research I discovered that a Whole 30 was not only safe during pregnancy, it can actually help to alleviate many uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms too.
For starters a Whole 30 is not a diet. I’m not counting calories and restricting my meal portions. Instead I will fill my plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, meat and healthy fats, all which is needed in a balanced healthy pregnancy diet. I will be removing sugar, grains and soy.
Secondly during my pregnancy with Amelia I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes so the last few months I had to completely change my diet. The odds that this pregnancy will also end up with GD are even greater so why not change my diet now and start to focus on feeling healthy again? While the research claims that you can’t prevent getting GD I have to believe that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and healthy fats will help.
Finally over the past few months our family has started to make some compromising choices in our food. I got lazy ready ingredient labels and served my kids things I probably wouldn’t have normally served them. So even though the other members won’t be completing the Whole 30 with me (see below for why) I can still grocery shop and serve them better food choices.
So to prepare for this upcoming Whole 30 challenge, I wanted to share with you some tips to help you plan and complete a successful Whole 30 on your own, whether you’ve done one before or if this will be your first.
1. Pick the Right Time
A Whole 30 takes commitment and dedication so it’s a good idea to pick a time when there won’t be many distractions to tempt you to fall off the wagon. Unless you are making a permanent lifestyle change, then you probably don’t want to start a Whole 30 challenge during a holiday season or during a time where there will be celebrations and huge family meals with comforting treats and dishes.
I purposely chose January since it was after the Christmas season and I would be ready to re-start my digestive system from a little over-indulgence. September is also a good time for me since we have no birthdays to celebrate and there aren’t any special holidays. Plus it just so happens to work out that I’m now in the feel good second trimester where all my food aversions have pretty much vanished.
Also you don’t have to start a Whole 30 challenge at the start of the month, you can start anytime counting down the days. I prefer to start at the beginning of the month because it’s just easier for me to keep track and to know when I’m finished but if you are ready to start now then go ahead and get started!
2.Focus on What You Can Eat
Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you can eat. This is the number one piece of advice that nutritionists and doctor’s give their patients when they are instructing them to make significant dietary changes.
Don’t think about how you can’t eat bread, pasta and sugar. Instead fill your mind with positive thoughts about all the delicious fresh, in season fruits and vegetables you can eat. Or juicy, tender meats that will fill your plate. With a variety of spices, herbs, and condiments you can make anything tasty and flavorful.
This will be especially helpful during the first few days as your body starts to go through a carb and sugar detox and when temptation to throw in the towel becomes almost unbearable. If you you focus on the good and think about the acceptable foods in a positive way, it makes them sound oh so much more appealing!
3. Have a Plan
You know that I’m a big fan of having a meal plan in place. Not only does it help you have a plan in place but it can also save your time and money. I meal plan for the entire month so it would make sense that I would sit down and plan how to adapt our family favorite meals into healthy, Whole 30 approved dishes.
Sit down and make a plan of what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use Pinterest to search for paleo friendly meals. Check out cookbooks, like Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat for new recipes or inspiration. Get creative as to how you can adapt some of your favorite dishes. If planning for a whole month seems daunting, then plan for just two weeks so that way you know what ingredients you need to stock your pantry with.
Also plan out a few snacks to eat as your body adapts the the change. While the theory behind the Whole 30 is not to snack but to change the way your body reacts to food, I still think it’s a good idea to plan on having some foods in our pantry and refrigerator that you can munch on when cravings hit. If you have a plan in place you are much more likely to complete your Whole 30 successfully.
4. Prepare for your Pantry and Refrigerator
After you have your meal plan in place, make a shopping list of nutritious foods and staples that you need to be successful on your Whole 30. Open your refrigerator and pantry to evaluate what you already have and what needs to either be thrown out or moved out of sight.
I can’t throw out all the sugary and carb filled snacks in my pantry because my husband would protest and since I’m an advocate for a happy marriage, I know NOT to get rid of my husband’s M&M’s, potato chips and Coke! But I can rearrange the pantry so those items are not in sight (of course letting him know where and why I moved them!) and put nuts, fruits and veggies in their place.
Also read the ingredient labels on your favorite condiments and spice mixes. You may or may not be surprised to learn that many food companies sneak the likes of sugar, soy and corn into a bunch of placed they don’t belong (like vitamins, salad dressings and pre-made guacamole just to name a few). Become familiar with their alternative names too so you can avoid them.
5. What About Your Family?
It’s very helpful if your family will be doing the Whole 30 alongside you but sometimes that’s not always realistic. My husband has told me that he will never willingly give up his sugary treats so that’s something that I have to respect. But every meal that I will cook will be a Whole 30 approved meal and I won’t be making two separate dinners either.
My kids will eat mostly paleo at home but they spend a lot of time with grandparents so tying to get grandparents to follow a strict diet is not a battle that I am willing to take at this time. If your kids are older, then talk with them before you completely overhaul the eating system in your home. If you make a sudden change, like removing all sugar and dairy from the house without discussing it with your family, you may be in danger of a revolt!
6. Have a List of Food Choices or Snacks
Temptation will strike and you don’t want to be caught in a weak moment because when you cheat you technically have to start all over again. That’s why it’s a good idea to think through some of your triggers and find a Whole 30 approved alternate to get you through those moments.
Want something crunchy? Raw vegetables with spicy guacamole, or crunchy apples with almond butter and cinnamon are good options.
Want something sweet? Fresh fruit is be best natural sweetener you need! Stock your refrigerator with a variety of fruits to help you overcome any sweet craving.
Want something salty or savory? Garlicky pickles are a good choice just make sure sugar wasn’t added to the pickling juice. Or make your own trail mix with a variety of nuts, again check the ingredients label for any unnecessary add-ins.
Want something creamy? Unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon, a spoonful (or two) of unsweetened almond butter or a small smoothie made with berries, spinach and almond milk can help curb the temptation to eat an unhealthy creamy snack.
Craving a latte? Add some coconut cream and a little cinnamon to your morning cup of coffee
Feeling bored drinking water? Keep some lemon or cucumber slices handy in the refrigerator or throw in a few raspberries into your water to naturally flavor it.
6. Stay Hydrated
While it’s good to have a list of food choices to have on hand when you are feeling hungry and about to cave in to temptation, I think the best thing you can do is to stay hydrated.
Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Every morning I fill my big 30 ounce water jug I was given in the hospital when I gave birth. I challenge myself to fill it up twice before breakfast and twice again in the afternoon.
Usually when we feel hungry we are actually just thirsty so a good rule of thumb is to drink water when you feel hungry and then wait for about 15 minutes. If you are still hungry then drink some more water and eat a piece of fruit or some vegetable sticks to tide you over until the next meal time.
One Last Tip…
Read the book It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways before you start your challenge. Not only is it jam packed with all the rules of the Whole 30 but it is also full of scientific research and facts for why you would want, and need to, cut out certain foods for a period of time. And unlike other health books, this one is actually easy to read and breaks down the information into easy to understand explanations. It was super helpful.