FOOD: Whole30 Tips and Tricks
In a non-travel related post, Jason and I just finished our 4th, yes FOURTH, Whole 30. (Ok, we were a few days short due to travel, but shhhh don’t tell!)
For 30 days, your diet is limited to unprocessed, ‘whole’ foods (mostly meat, fish, veggies and fruits) – no legumes, grains, dairy, sugar, or alcohol. You can read more about it here and if time, read the book that explains the logic behind it! Since our first round, more helpful resources and recipes have come out, and a few more foods have been added to the ‘acceptable’ list (like kombucha and white potatoes as well as sweet potatoes… which is really helpful for us here in Turkey because sweet potatoes are at fancy store and cost you your first child…)
My sister is actually the one that started us on this journey, thanks sis…. Then, Jason read the book while we were dating, and decided to try it. I said, “Heck, well if you are going to eat this way then why not try this food thing together for 30 days…” And so it started the journey of learning more about food. Even more so, I learned about the relationship certain foods had with my body.
Here are 4 things I learned/habits it broke:
1. Dairy- I learned dairy is not very kind to my system and it makes me feel bloated. I realized this when I moved to Turkey the first time, but thought it was just milk. Not having any dairy produces for 30 days (which was REALLY hard by the way) taught me that I need to be more picky about what dairy I eat. It broke my habit of ‘having’ to have cheese on everything, and now I mostly go without it.
2. Coffee – I can drink coffee without yummy delicious coffee creamers. In fact, now I prefer it! I still like a little creaminess but I use other options like bulletproof coffee, coconut oil, and heavy whipping cream (non-box cream is really hard to find here in Turkey)
3. Sugar – This was the MOST frustrating part of Whole30. I did not realize how MUCH sugar I was consuming daily from grabbing a piece of candy here and there. Also, sooo much processed (boxed, prepared, powder, frozen) food has sugar hidden in it as well. I learned to check everything before I bought it even when I am not on the Whole30 for the rest of the 11 months of the year. If I can enjoy it without sugar then why buy something with extra sugar in it?
4. Cooking – I can cook, and it’s get easier the more you try. In fact, the more we cook with veggies, the more I can change up spices, oil, and combinations to create unique flavors. Messing up and creating messes when cooking is part of the deal!
For those who are just starting off with Whole30, here are my tips for you!
To be clear, we were not strict on organic/grass-fed products. At the time (and even now to be honest) it just isn’t always an option and it can be expensive depending on where you live and what is accessible to you.
Have on hand:
1. EGGS – This is your easy go-to lifesaver when you are feeling tired of cooking or just don’t have time! We always bought a large batch of eggs and boiled about half of them. This is a great quick protein option for pre or post workouts as well. The first round I was training for a half marathon and the extra protein servings were really important to me! Also, egg salad is a great lunch option!
2. MAYO – Spend the time to make your own mayo. If you take time on the weekend to do this, it will be a great help you during the week when you need a little ‘extra somethin’ for your food. Great for egg salad, chicken salad, lettuce wraps, burgers, dressings, etc.
3. SALAD DRESSING – Make a salad dressing on the weekend for your week. If you love ranch, use the homemade mayo and try mixing up the Whole30 Dump Ranch dressing (I like this one). If you don’t know much about oil based dressings, experiment! The usually ratio is 2/3(oil) to 1/3(vinegar) and add spices – THAT’S IT. Each week you can change it up a bit, and it will be helpful for a quick salad!
4. COFFEE lovers – You have a couple of options if you are a ‘milk and sugar with a little coffee’ person. First off, sorry, no sugar subs, but you CAN do this! But for milk – Canned coconut milk, ghee, heavy whipping cream and coconut oil. I personally prefer the fresh organic heavy whipping cream(I told you I am picky about my dairy products now!) or coconut oil (blend really well!). For the coconut oil, I use an ice cube tray and make little single serving coconut oil cubes (keep in the fridge). This makes it an easy go to for my morning coffee ‘creamer’.
5. COCONUT MILK – This is one of my most used items during Whole30. A lot of indian/thai meals use dairy and canned coconut milk is a great substitute. It is perfect for making soup creamier. Only use the canned milked as there are no additives.
6. GHEE – Just spend the money and buy it – or make your own. Yes, it is not exactly like butter so you have to get use to it. Perfect for the bulletproof coffee, roasting veggies, and topping a baked sweet potato.
Buy from the store:
– Trader Joes Just Mango Slices (dried mango) – NO sugar added(be careful because they get mixed in with the sugar ones!)
– Trader Joes Salsa and Pineapple Salsa(I think there is no sugar)
– Trader Joes Roasted Plantain Chips
– Trader Joes Ghee
– Trader Joes Almond Butter
– Trader Joes Grass Fed Angus Beef Burgers – reasonably priced
– Sesame Oil – Little pricey but gives a new flavor to roasted veggies and great for stir fry!
– Fish Sauce – Smell terrible but so good on thai dishes
– Coconut Aminos – Lifesaver for Asian meals which we love to make!
– Sam’s Club Coconut Oil – massive container
– Trader Joes or Aldi Nuts are great to have on hand for snacks(which technically is not encouraged)- the Whole30 list tells you which ones are preferred. Nuts are just expensive, but really good options to have on hand!
– Aldi Salsa – There are some that do not have sugar!
– Aldi Sweet Potato Chips – While this is technically not Whole30 ideals, the ingredients are only sweet potatoes, oil, and salt. And it was a heck of alot easier to buy these then make sweet potato chips (which we did our first round).
– Aldi has Grass-fed beef and chicken now
– Aldi avocados, avocados, avocccaaaaddddoooossss – So versatile! Breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Actually most of our produce came from Aldi or TJ.
Cooking – My advice for first-timers… KEEP IT SIMPLE! While it would be great to recreate your favorite Chinese meal Whole30 style, it is not always easy. Don’t frustrate yourself, but instead learn how to make the simple items great! Also, PLAN AHEAD. Food just takes more time in general when you cook from scratch. I am a planner when it comes to meals and Jason is not. So the last few times we have done Whole30, Jason just does it. He is better at last minute game-plans. However, if you are a planner and take your lunch to work, it easier to have a list of options to cook so that I wasn’t frustrated! Something like, Breakfast – Eggs and Avocados, Lunch – Salad with Tuna, Dinner – Chicken with roasted veggies. Nothing hard!
Eating out – This one is just hard, and we just gave ourselves some grace. There are lots of eating out guide out on the web – like this one. Whole30 also covers how eat out in a little question guide.
Lastly, if you mess up, IT IS OKAY. Just continue on with the program! Your life is NOT ruined. Actually, Jason and I got engaged around day 2o something during our first Whole30 (couple that eat together, stay together 😉 ). So we celebrated by going to eat Mexican Food which is exactly the opposite of the goal of Whole30… let’s just say that after 20 days of no grains, dairy or alcohol, that was NOT a good idea to have the margarita! But the next day, we were back on track and finished out the rest of the program!
The more I write on this, the more I have to say! Maybe I’ll write another post about it in the future!
What would you like to know more about? Meal prep? Whole30 Instagram accounts?
What did you find helpful?
What area of Whole30 are you finding difficult?