*Hi there! Super excited to have a guest post~ here on Ampersand. Just like how I love sharing cool new things with you, I love when people share awesome ideas/tips/events with me! Meet my cousin Bethany–carb enthusiast (ironic for this post) & fan of Ampersand. Y’all can follow her her here on Instagram.
Diets are tricky. They change constantly, they’re IMPOSSIBLE to follow and they can be so expensive sometimes. So I was hesitant to try a new diet. I had never had any luck sticking to them in the past. Then I found Whole30. Now don’t get me wrong, Whole30 is NOT a walk in the park, but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. If you want to learn more about it or try it for yourself, click here. Or pick up a copy of It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dan Hartwig. The gist of the diet is cleaning out your body and resetting your metabolism by cutting out 5 major types of food: Sugar, Legumes, Dairy, Grains, and Alcohol. While it looks hard on the surface, dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a rewarding experience and a healthier you!
Here are some tips from my experience on Whole30 (which turned into the Whole90+ for me!)
1. Substitute, substitute, substitute
Obviously, you are going to get cravings, especially in the first week or so. My advice to you is SUBSTITUTE! There are so ways to get around those pesky cravings by using different ingredients. For me, I have a salty tooth. I LOVE salty foods and snacks. Carbs are my spirit animal. However, you have to shy away from stuff like that on this diet. So, I found ways around it! For instance, I used chicken or beef broth as a substitute for milk or dairy in some dishes like mashed potatoes or meatballs. Eggs are a great way to add moisture as well. Have a sweet tooth? Whole30 allows you to eat fruit which is a great way to curb those chocolate cravings.
2. The first 10 days are the hardest
The first 10 days were hard for me. I was going through some pretty bad sugar, caffeine and bread withdrawal. You just have to push through! I would recommend doing the diet with a partner so that you can encourage each other and work together to stay strong. The best thing to remember is that once you finish the first ten days, you’re 1/3 of the way done! Yes, it sucks. Yes, you want chocolate. JUST SAY NO! My way of solving the craving problem was not buying snacks and sweets to keep in the house. If you don’t have it at an easy reach, you can’t eat it easily. Once you begin, clear out all the non-Whole30 approved food from your house. Start fresh and clean! This will make those ten days easier and will help you through the whole diet as well.
3. Experiment with new flavors
Try new things! I experimented with new flavors, recipes and foods. I used so many flavors that I didn’t realize were great! I bought new spices like dill and cumin. I used new flavors like lemon-garlic, red-wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. I did a lot of internet searching and reading recipes. The Whole30 cookbook was a great help as well. If you don’t know how to cook something or what flavors mix well together, use your resources and don’t be afraid to try something new!
4. Meal Prep will save your life
Sundays were cooking days for me during this diet. I always planned out each meal carefully and made a shopping list. I picked three meals and just made seven servings of of each one. This way I could have everything cooked for the week in three to four hours. However, if you want to be more ambitious, you can make two or three different meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would make a large egg casserole for breakfast (click here to download it!) and just cut pieces off each morning. I would always have salad for lunch with a different type of meat each week. For dinner, I made sure my meal included a meat, a veggie, and some sort of carb in different forms. My parents bought me a 25-piece Tupperware set for Christmas, and let me tell you, I needed it! It made meal prep so much easier. I could put each day’s salad in one and the weekly dinner in another. They save space and make grabbing food each day nice and quick.
5. Be in the right mindset: positive thinking is key
If you are not in the right mindset, you will fail at this diet. Don’t focus on the things that you CAN’T have, but focus on the new things you can try. Either be all in or all out. Don’t teeter on the fence. A friend of mine tried this diet as well, but her heart was not in. Within two weeks, she had completely given up and ended up binge eating. She was so sick. So just stick to it! It becomes so much easier and the reward of feeling great makes it so worth it. Psych yourself up before you start. Have a great exit meal full of cheat foods or maybe your favorite food. Have something to look forward to at the end. Find something to motivate you to get through the 30 days. You will not be disappointed.
6. Stock up on olive oil
Olive oil will save your life on Whole30. It has so many purposes. It can keep the egg casserole from sticking to the pan or can be a great way to “fry” up your veggies. You can use it in EVERYTHING. It has a great flavor and makes everything a little crunchier. It is a much healthier choice over canola or vegetable oil. Buy it in bulk before you start. I went through at least two large bottles of it during mine.
7. Read nutrition labels
You will be pleasantly surprised to find out how bad the food we eat actually is. For example, you would assume that cashews would be fine, but they are cooked in soy which is a legume which is a no-no on this diet! However, try the *healthy* food section of the grocery store. That is where I spent a majority of my grocery store time. They have a lot more variety and they have healthier substitutes for you to try.
8. Cut out coffee
I am a coffee ADDICT! Before I began this diet, I was drinking four to five cups of caffeinated coffee a day. While caffeine is not technically a restriction of this diet, once I started, I tried my hardest to cut my caffeine intake. I went down to one 16oz. cup of coffee in the morning. I never felt better. I slept sounder at night. I didn’t crash in the afternoon. I didn’t have stress dreams (and I was student teaching so I was living in stress all the time). It was and still is wonderful! Now, I still drink only one cup. After 12 p.m., I try to only drink decaf coffee if I am craving the taste. Since you are cutting so much anyway, just take it to the next level and try to cut it down. If you drink 7 cups a day, try cutting it down to 4.
9. Do NOT step on the scale for the first 30 days
They mention this in the book, but I thought it was so important. This diet is NOT about weight loss. It’s about starting a healthier lifestyle and cleaning out your body. Weigh yourself at the beginning and then weigh yourself at the end. It was so worth it to do that! I did that, and I highly recommend it. I was 165 when I began and by the end of the 30 days I was down to 150. I lost 15 pounds in 30 days. I never felt healthier or cleaner, and I definitely looked it! If you don’t believe me, see for yourself:
10. Take the leap, it’s only one month
A very wise professor once told me, “ You can do anything for a limited amount of time.” That rings true in all of life, but particularly in this case. IT IS ONLY THIRTY DAYS! I loved it so much that I ended up staying with it for a whole semester of school. I have never felt better in my life. I recommend just taking the leap. TRY IT! At this point, you really have nothing to lose. Get into the right mindset and jump right in. You will thank yourself later!
Get up and make the effort to make yourself a healthier, happier, more whole you. &.
*Kasia again! Want to guest post on Ampersand? Shoot me an email– firstname.lastname@example.org.