If you’re like me, you’ve had at least a friend or more who’s done the Whole30 diet and you’ve been a little curious, but a little hesitant, because let’s just say the list of off-limit foods is pretty dang long. But with a recent stomach ailment that’s left my insides off kilter and some extra pounds packed on from the winter, I downloaded the Whole30 book (on Kindle or hardcover from our affiliate Amazon), checked out the Whole30 blog, and got started with the diet last week.
And hooray, I survived—mostly.
Thankfully, there are a ton of online resources for the Whole30 beyond their book and blog, so it’s easy to find support and answers to any questions you might have. And there are a ton of Whole30 recipes everywhere. But still, there are a few tips that can help get you started, plus surprising things that happened during my first week on the Whole30 diet that might help you decide if it’s also right for you.
Check them out below, and stay tuned for my weekly updates all month long, which will include pounds and inches lost (hopefully).
Related: A food lover’s guide to Whole30: Tips and tricks to make it through the month
Getting Started on the Whole30 Diet
Before you jump into the Whole30, there are a few things that you should do to prepare, but first let me give you a little background on why I finally decided to go for it. I was drawn to the Whole30 over other popular diets mostly because there’s no calorie counting. I have done very well in the past with diets where I can eat a lot, but just not certain things, so I figured that this would work well for me.
Also, I like a lot of the foods on the Whole30 grocery list and eat them pretty often, so I felt as though I’d be able to get by without feeling like I was missing out on too much. I’m not a dessert person (I know, I know), so cutting out sugar isn’t a big thing for me (or so I thought). Plus, you can eat fruit, so I figured I’d be okay.
And while I do exercise, I just can’t commit to doing something for an hour a day, or even 30-40 minutes everyday, at least not right now, so the idea of cutting my diet back (rather than increasing exercise) appeals to me.
If these things sound like you, too, or you’re otherwise on board to give the Whole30 a try, here are a few things I’d recommend before beginning.
1. Get the book. While there are a ton of online resources for the Whole30 diet, I definitely suggest buying The Whole30 book and bookmarking their blog, which offers a wealth of information.
I was pretty familiar with the “why’s” of this kind of diet, which are really more about healthy living than weight loss, and had a good sense of what you could and couldn’t do (black coffee, yes! Alcohol, nope!), but the book gives you the rationale and more information, if you want it. Plus it offers specific grocery lists, recipes, meal plans, and stuff like that. It’s a great quick reference.
2. Take your measurements. Even though the Whole30 isn’t necessarily about weight loss, I am really hoping to lose some weight. If you’re like me, record your starting weight and measurements so that you can track your progress. And, yes, I know that you’re not supposed to weigh yourself during the Whole30, but I am going to do it anyway because I like to torture myself. Ha.
3. Plan ahead. You will not survive this diet if you do not plan ahead. That means, you need to make sure you’ve got food in your house that you can eat. Also, if you’ve got dinner dates, lots of social events, or are going on vacation, you might want to wait until after to start. It is much easier to pack your own food or eat at home while on this diet, so if you know you won’t be able to do that most of the time, don’t start right now.
Week One: 5 Surprising Things That Happened on the Whole30 Diet
I honestly didn’t know what reaction to expect from my body, but after reading the Whole30 blog post about the first week, I have to say, it’s spot on. You feel pretty good the first day or two, then you want to hurt people, and then you just feel plain exhausted. My stomach has been a little iffy, but nothing worse than when I had the stomach bug. In fact, I think it actually helped my digestive system, though it’s not completely back to normal just yet. Other than that, here’s what happened during my first week that might surprise you:
1. I learned that every damn thing has sugar in it. Holy crap, people: Pretty much every packaged food has added sugar. Everything. It’s eye-opening and a little depressing.
I suppose I should have known this after watching Fed Up, however this diet will remind you, once again, that we live in a very sugary world.
2. I bought way more veggies and fruits than I have in a long time. I have to say, I felt pretty great coming home from the store with lots of fresh produce, especially vegetables that I haven’t had in a long time. (I’m looking at you, spaghetti squash!)
Granted, it can get expensive, so know that you can easily eat frozen and canned veggies if those are in your budget. That said, this is the perfect time of year to do this diet because you can get deals on seasonal produce at your local farmer’s market, like these strawberries that I scored.
Related: How to keep up with Whole30 if you’re on vacation. Eep!
3. I never felt hungry. Ever. I realize that this has a lot to do with the fact that I stocked up on the right foods, but I was still very surprised that I wasn’t hungry at all. I didn’t even find myself craving sweet things, though having lots of fruit, dates, Lara Bars, and fruit juice (no sugar added, obvy) definitely helped. Mostly, I just ate when I was hungry, which was way less than I usually eat… when I bored, tired, angry, and so on.
4. I had to cook, but not as much as I thought I would have to. While prep is vital to a successful Whole30 diet experience, you don’t need to cook intricate recipes, unless that’s your thing, of course. I pretty much got by on potatoes and potato salad, like this tasty recipe by Holly Marshall (above), a protein, and some veggies, with eggs thrown in at least once a day. For flavor, I mostly just used olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Keep in mind that I’m someone who can happily get by eating quick sautéed veggies and microwaved potatoes and fish for dinner, so while I may tire of this by week 3, I could totally work with the Whole30 restrictions. If you can’t give up mayo or ketchup or like sauces for flavor, you may end up doing way more cooking than I did because you’ll have to make lots of store-bought staples that you take for grated from scratch.
Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources, starting with the Whole30 blog, that can help you with that.
Related: Does the Jillian Michaels One Week Shred really work? We tried it.
5. I lost 5 lbs. Yeah! I went from 183 to 178-ish in the first week (yep, 5 pounds lost), and that was with minimal exercise. Now that my energy is back up, I’m really hoping to move my butt a little more to see if I can keep up the pace next week.
Definitely check out my follow-up post: My Whole 30 Diet Results to see how I did.
Have you done the Whole30? Got questions for me? Just leave them in the comments! You can purchase the Whole30 book through our affiliate Amazon for kindle or a hardcopy, or find it at your local library or indie bookstore.
So great to read your blog. I have been reading and rereading “rules” and hoping I can commit to this for 30 days. You sound a lot like me although I am older than you and have 4 older kids. I am a really busy mom who eats pretty well, but love to snack on bad stuff
The one thing I can’t find on the web site anywhere are simple day to day example of meals. Every recipie I read has so many ingredients. Why not just a simple egg and apple for breakfast. And a simple can of tuna with lettuce for lunch?
I am also crazy confused about the coffee thing, some say yes you can use nutpod dairy free creamer another place says no? I really want to have something in my coffee that resembles milk!
Hi Valerie: You can totally do all those meals. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t think I’ve really cooked anything but veggies in a pan with olive oil and salt/pepper. I just buy a lot of stuff I can just pile on a plate and go (potatoes in the microwave, etc). I believe the book has recipes for you and a weeklong plan, so worth a peek (can you find it at your local library). And as for the coffee, I read it as NO non-dairy creamers. You can use unsweetened coconut milk, which you can buy in a can at your grocery store. I’m on vaca and drinking black coffee and I actually miss that stuff, even though it’s like white water (ha). Good luck! -Kristen