Have a Whole30 round coming up? Here are 15 tips and tricks from experienced Whole30-ers, just the help you need to be a smashing success on your round!
Along with half the universe, I started a Whole30 round this January. This was my second time through, so this go-around, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, if you are doing it for the first time, it can be quite the experience. Don’t get me wrong – the payoffs are AMAZING (you can read my full review here), but it is not for the faint of heart or will. It will take a lot of determination to make it the full 30 days, but it is most certainly doable. And yes, you – you can do this.
If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, this is it in a nutshell:
Do this for 30 days, to identify problems foods, detox your body, and then slowly reintroduce to see what has a negative effect on your body. (For more detailed information, see the Whole30 website or the book The Whole30.)
Along the way, I learned a few things that have helped; it made my second round easier, and it has helped me make Whole30 more of a lifestyle for me now. I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks that might help you on your round. I also asked a few Whole30 groups I’m a part of for their best insider’s tips, so you are getting the inside scoop from a few different perspectives.
If this is your first time doing Whole30, here are 15 tips that will help you make this a killer round and a smashing success.
Ultimate Insider Tips and Tricks for a Killer Whole30 Round
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1| Don’t do it alone.
Whole30 is a big, big commitment – and it’s not easy. Just being honest up front! Don’t try to do this alone. If you can get your family on board- fantastic! That will make cooking a lot easier, it will help with cleaning the junk food out of the house, and it’s built-in moral support. If not, try to see if a few friends will do it, too. I had a couple girlfriends who were on board, and we were texting daily – sharing recipes, commiserating in weak moments, and offering encouragement.
I DEFINITELY recommend joining Whole30 Facebook groups. They are SO helpful for information, what is compliant, recipes… join them! I would even join them prior to beginning Whole30. It will really help you know what to expect. Two of my favorite groups are Whole 30 Support Group and Keep Calm and Whole30 On.
Just a warning – some people in the groups can be intense! It might feel like you are being monitored by the self-appointed Whole30 police! Don’t let that throw you – you still will take away so much good information, and it’s a great place to ask questions!
2| Read The Whole30 before doing your first Whole30 round.
I made the mistake of NOT reading the book first, just using the website. The Whole30 website is great, but the book has so much more information to get you ready. Take the time to read it. If you don’t want to buy a copy, get one from your library. I eventually bought the book months after I did my first round, because it was pretty much my lifestyle by that point, but I wish I had bought it sooner.
In the Facebook groups, I’ve also heard some good buzz about the book Food Freedom Forever, also by Melissa Hartwig. Many in the group have highly recommended this book as well – before, during or after a round. It is on my ‘to-get’ list, stat!
3| Make sure your first round fits in your schedule.
If you know you have some major events coming up with super-tempting food, try to schedule the Whole30 for a time that will be the least tempting. You know – doing Whole30 over vacation or during Christmas could set you up for a fail. Try to pick 30 consecutive days where you think it will be doable, with the least amount of temptation. You still might have to suck it up at party or a shower, but try to give yourself a chunk of days in a row to build up some momentum. And, the first week or so can be tough on your body when you’re detoxing, so definitely try to keep your calendar clear in the beginning.
4| Pre-plan what you will eat.
Like I said, Whole30 is a big commitment, and you need to be ready for it. If you aren’t a meal planner, now would be a great time to start! You will probably need to shop for some very specific items that aren’t in your pantry. If you make a menu ahead of time, you can shop to your menu and be ready. There were a few times when I didn’t plan so well, and I felt really stuck that I didn’t have any compliant ingredients in the house.
Many have said it’s easier to pick a day over the weekend to plan for the whole week: shop, wash and cut up vegetables, makes salads ahead of time, food prep as much as you can.
5| Try not to make complicated meals for every meal, especially in the beginning.
If you are good in the kitchen, Whole30 might not be a huge challenge, when it comes to recipes. Me, on the other hand? A complete klutz. I often felt overwhelmed with all of the new recipes and ingredients and food items I wasn’t used to. I usually tried new recipes for dinner time, but I tried to keep breakfast and lunch pretty simple. I did a lot of the same thing for breakfast and for lunch – I just didn’t have it in me to make 3 exotic meals a day. As long as you are following the Whole30 plate and your food is compliant, your meal is good. Try to keep it as simple as possible. You will have a lot going on physically and mentally. Don’t burden yourself.
Whole30 must have been eavesdropping on our complaints because there’s a new Whole30 cookbook that just came out – The Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook. Fast and easy? Girl, you are speaking my language!
However, if you like to cook, you might find yourself bored with keeping things simple. So if you are a chef in the kitchen and love to try new things, then…
6| Experiment with new recipes.
There is SO much delicious food you can eat on Whole30. Seriously – some of the meals I’ve eaten on Whole30 are the most delicious I’ve ever tasted. Done right, you should not feel deprived (apart from not having your trigger foods). If you love to experiment with food, then have at it! Sometimes, people complain that it’s getting boring to eat on Whole30, especially breakfast. If you love to cook, then continue on! Continue being you – just change the foods that you eat.
7| Get your kitchen gadgets ahead of time.
A lot of these new recipes require certain gadgets. You might have them if you are good in the kitchen, but I didn’t! The book has their list of recommended items and ones that are nice to have. For me, the non-negotiable ones are a good meat thermometer, a spiralizer, an immersion blender, and a food processor. Those got me through the whole month. Other W30-ers love using their crockposts and Instant-Pots as well.
8| Sometimes you are just getting through a meal, and it’s just about getting food in your body.
There were days when I was bored with food, didn’t have the energy to come up with something delicious and creative, but I needed to eat something to stay on plan. On those days, I foraged for whatever I had that was compliant, ate and regrouped for the next meal. Sometimes it was boring as heck or maybe it was just a Larabar and a cup of coffee. You might not love every single meal. You might not have the energy to put together perfect Whole30 plates for every meal. Sometimes, you just need to see food as fuel to get you through to the next meal. Totally OK. Just stay compliant and you’re good.
9| Be prepared ahead of time for the moment of temptation.
You will be tempted to go off plan. Many times. That’s a fact. Have a plan ahead of time of what you will do when temptation or the sugar dragon strikes. In that desperate moment, I didn’t always have the where-withal to logically tell myself why Whole30 was worth it. I just needed a go-to escape.
For me personally, a few things worked. First, I tried to have all tempting food out of my house. I have 2 toddlers and a husband who wasn’t always participating, so I did have non-compliant food in the house. But I kept the most tempting food in a closet, out of the kitchen. Usually, if it wasn’t handy, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of digging out a treat.
Second, a cup of tea seemed to work. My ‘snacky’ time is between lunch and dinner, when my boys are napping. I’m not a tea drinker, but I found a cinnamon one that I love, and it does the trick. (This is my secret weapon tea – it’s amazing!)
Third, I get out of the kitchen. I just realized (I mean, just realized – like, last night), that if I do my work in the living room instead of the kitchen, I’m not as tempted to snack! Isn’t that crazy?!? Why didn’t I see that before?!? I LOVE to nosh while I’m working, so that afternoon time when I’m snacky, it was so hard not to snack while I was working at the kitchen table. But if I went in the living room, the temptation almost completely disappeared. So, a change of location might work. From what I’m told, a craving only lasts 2-3 minutes. Surely, we can busy ourselves for a few minutes til the moment passes, right?!?
While Whole30 doesn’t encourage snacking, you may find yourself starving at times and ready to take an easy way out. I’m not talking about a craving but a legit hunger pain. At that point, especially in the beginning when you are figuring out portion size and how much you need to stay full, a compliant snack can help. This shouldn’t be the norm, but it’s definitely better than falling off the wagon.
In this scenario, a list of ‘go-to’ snacks and what you have available in your house can help. I also put together a list of 50+ Whole30 Emergency Snacks with a free printable. Check it out if you need some ideas or just download the list by filling out the box below. Or, you can just write a list of what you have available so you don’t have to hunt through the cabinets.
10| Figure out what you can BUY, MAKE, or SKIP for the month.
OK, it is tough to find certain items that are compliant – salad dressings, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayo. It’s very time-consuming to have to make ALL of them. And it’s expensive to BUY all of them. Try to figure out what you can buy. Make what you can’t buy (or what is too expensive to buy). And see if there is anything you can skip. For example, I don’t eat a lot of mayo. It was expensive to buy, and I kept getting it wrong when I made it. I was easier just to skip it for a month (I found guacamole a good substitute in most things that I might have used mayo with!).
And, there are things that you can buy that will save you time and energy: things like riced cauliflower, sweet potato mash, frozen cut vegetables, chili lime chicken burgers, compliant chicken sausage. If you find a shortcut that won’t break your bank, do it!
11| Eat leftovers for any meal and any kind of food for any meal.
You don’t have to see certain meals as ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’, and ‘dinner.’ You are just eating 3 meals. You can eat your dinner leftovers for breakfast, and you can eat your big meal for lunch. Eating 3 compliant meals is the goal.
12| Make double batches of foods as a time-saver (but beware if it’s a new recipe).
There is a LOT of cooking that goes into Whole30. Your kitchen will look like a war zone, and for some meals, you will swear you have used every single frying pan and pot you own. If you can make extra and double batches that will save you time cooking later, do it! But a bit of caution – I would be careful about making double batches of unfamiliar recipes. I did that more than once, and I didn’t love the recipe. Then, I was stuck with twice as much. It’s a lot of trial and error, and it takes a little practice.
13| Make your favorite meals with a W30 twist.
In the whole idea of keeping things simple, most of your favorite recipes have a Whole30 version. Start with those first. Burgers are an easy go-to, as well as a Whole30 version of chicken cutlets, taco salad and pork chops. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s better to use your favorite recipe with a Whole30 twist. And if you have a recipe you and your family loves, check Pinterest! I would guarantee there is a Whole30 version of it. But just double check the ingredient list. Some recipes might say Whole30, but they contain non-compliant ingredients (in those cases, I either substituted a compliant ingredient or left it out altogether).
14| Stock up on key items.
So, I felt like I was going to the store all the time for fresh fruit and vegetables. It was pretty tiring at points. However, if you can have a few items on hand in bulk, that will help! Here were the ones I tried to make sure I had a good supply of, because I used them so much: eggs, extra virgin olive oil, Trader Joe’s Olive Oil Cooking Spray, guacamole, coconut milk.
For me, there were a few prepared or pre-cooked go-to items that I always had on hand. Always have hard-boiled eggs cooked and ready to go. Every time my oven was on, I threw in a few extra potatoes or sweet potatoes. Those worked great to bulk up a lazy lunch or dinner. Meatballs are another great food to have on hand for a quick protein fix or dinner.
15| No cheating
You will get the most out of the program if you stick to it as it is written. Don’t question the rules. Don’t try to figure them out. Just follow them. It’s hard, but it’s really not that hard. It’s 30 days. You can do this. Now, if you are on Day 23 and you find out the broth you used had less than 2% sugar – do you start over? I will not tell you what to do. No one will. It’s a personal decision. I won’t even tell you what I would do. But as a rule, follow the program as it is written.
Speaking very honestly, doing Whole30 is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I was a chronic yo-yo dieter, and this way of eating put an end to that. No more measuring, no more counting points – just eating real foods that are good for you. These tips can help you have a killer Whole30 round. There are SO many people who have done Whole30 successfully and you totally can, too.
Here’s my last cheerleading statement – this was my inspiration!
You have so many people cheering you – me among them! You can do this!
Are you doing Whole30 for the first time? What are your biggest fears or concerns? Any questions? Let me know! I’m here cheering you on!
Need some more Whole30 support? Take a look below!