Whole 30 Planning and Preparation

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I’m changing my diet around for a month, hoping to beat some of my sugar cravings. Here’s how I’m planning and preparing for a Whole 30.

Eggs and Sweet Potato Hash with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

A couple years ago I did a strict elimination diet called the Whole 30 in the hopes of curing my chronic hip pain. While the diet didn’t help my pain — yoga did — I really learned a lot about my body and food, particularly sugar.

I also had more energy than I’ve ever had in my life!

The Whole 30 involves eliminating sugar, soy, gluten, grains/seeds, alcohol, and dairy for thirty days. Your body gets a break from foods that might be causing you trouble (i.e. inflammation, stomach upset, etc) while you focus on very nutrient rich foods, like vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish, and meat.

It’s like paleo on steroids because you are cautioned not to make foods that mimic gluten- or dairy- filled foods that you might overindulge in (i.e., no paleo pancakes or paleo coffee creamer). The point is to break cravings as well as to isolate problem foods.

I started thinking about the Whole 30 again in December when my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. I think doing this diet, at least for 30 days, would help him “reset” his cravings and help him adjust to a healthier, long term diet. I figured he and my mom would have an easier time if I helped fill their freezer, purge their pantry, and offer very specific help.

Over New Year’s I noticed that sometimes I can’t hold my hand steady. I get the shakes pretty frequently. I’m not sure if it’s neurological or nutritional, but I’m not going to the doc until I rule out the latter. The more I thought about helping my parents, I realized I might help myself, too. My decision was sealed when I reached for sugar to put in my coffee.

I haven’t done that in two years!

I’m not sure what’s going on, so I’m going to do another Whole 30 in February. My 17-year old son, Mr. Nutrition Himself, is going to do it with me. FishPapa may even join in for kicks.

Shrimp on the Barbie

I think it will be easier for me this time since I’ll have in-house company. Also, the food market is friendlier to this kind of diet these days. Plus, I’ve learned a little bit about

Here are the things that I’ve done to prepare for a Whole 30:

1. A Pantry Challenge

We spent the month of January “eating down the pantry” so that we could clean out, rotate stock, and save some money. Not only does this use up what we have that I might not be able to eat later, but it frees some extra cash to offset increased purchases of protein and health food items. There are tons of things to learn in a Pantry Challenge.

2. Reading

I reread through the book that explains it all, It Starts with Food. It was a good refresher about what the benefits can be. While I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with cheese, baguette, and red wine — quite the contrary! — I think a break from those things that I could overindulge in is a good idea.

One of the points in the book is the focus on eating nutrient-rich foods. While of course there is debate about this, it makes sense to me and helps me be motivated. An apple with almond butter is obviously a healthier option than a cupcake.

3. Freezer Cooking

I spent most of Saturday either shopping or cooking for our whole 30. I chose meals that I can feed the whole family with some modifications. If the kids have pasta with meat sauce, I’ll have it over spaghetti squash. If they have tacos, I’ll skip the cheese and sour cream, and eat my “tacos” in cabbage leaves.

You can grab my Whole 30 freezer cooking plan over on Good Cheap Eats.

4. Meal Planning

I’ve created some Whole 30 meal plans that are full of foods I love but are also Whole 30 compliant. One of the struggles when Mom changes her eating habits is that she can end up cooking two meals at dinnertime, one for her and one for the family. I’m hoping to avoid that this time around.

You can get those downloads on Good Cheap Eats as well.

thrive market products

5. Shopping

While the diet focuses on regular, fresh foods that you can buy anywhere, there were a few items that I went out of my way to pick up, like certain coconut products, sugar-free fish sauce, and other sugar-free or soy-free items that are harder to track down. I went to a fair number of stores (Trader Joe’s, Costco, Ralphs, and Sprouts) and even ordered from Thrive Market.

Thrive Market is an online health food market place. That’s my referral link. If you join, they’ll give me a credit. To start, you get a free trial membership and 15% off your first order. I bought all this for much less than I would have bought at the stores. Plus, if your order is over $49, you get free shipping.

6. Starting a Journal

I’m keeping a food journal to track what I eat, what I like, what I want to make again. Any time I change my food regimen, I start experimenting. I like to keep track of those experiments. You can read along on my Whole 30 journey.

I didn’t lose weight last time I did this, but I’m hoping that’s because I “ate like a lumberjack” according to my husband. I’m going to watch my portion size a little more this time and see if I can get reenergized and maybe lose a couple pounds.

Have you ever done a Whole 30?

Whole 30 Planning and Preparation

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Rebecca says

    I’ve done 6 whole30s, and while the last 3 I have started to focus less on the whole30 dogma and just more on nourishment (like at this point if I want a paleo pancake, I don’t consider it a cardinal sin), I do think there is a lot of value in following the plan specifically as you try to figure out issues. I always lose a lot of weight also when I do them, which tells me that something I eat often causes me a lot of inflammation. I also keep discovering food sensitivities the cleaner and more in tune with my body I am. At 32, I also have reversed all hormone markers for PCOS with these clean eating months (diagnosed at 17) so I think your attempt to try to heal yourself first with food is definitely the best first place to start!

    • I think you’re right on the paleo pancakes. If cravings aren’t an issue, it’s about focusing on the nutrients. Good for you on all your progress!

  2. We did the Whole 30 last January/February. Gearing up to do another one mid-February. We felt awesome when we did it last time. I didn’t lose any weight last time either–maybe I ate too much? Anyways, my husband lost 10 pounds. I was super concerned about eating enough last time and may have overdone it. LOL I plan to simplify more for this go around.

    • I think my dad and husband will lose more than I will. I think it still needs portion control, but it’s hard, isn’t it?

  3. Brett Elizabeth says

    I’m doing Whole 30 right now! I’m on day 20 and I feel great. I used your recipe for homemade Larabars and they are so good! It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be, but it’s a really good thing I like cooking; that’s for sure!

  4. Lori says

    I would love to do a whole 30 to reset and break the sugar addiction I have. I will have to read the book, and prepare myself, having 3 kids under 5, homeschooling and finishing bible college, no one in my house would want me to give up sugar right now, lol

    • In the last five years, I have gone from a tablespoon of sugar in my daily coffee and two cokes a day to almost no regular sugar habits. My teeth have improved dramatically! That alone is worth it.

  5. Jenni says

    I don’t think I could do a whole whole 30. But I’ve been working on evening out my blood sugar levels. Working on way more protien especially. And more veggies instead of fruit. Doing less dairy since I think it causes me some issues. But I have 3, almost 4 kids and it’s exhausting. When I can focus on these things, I feel better. and it helps me not be so mindless in my eating.

    • I know about “mother of many” exhaustion, but I also know at some point you can’t just keep cheating your health. At around 40 all my bad habits caught up with me.

  6. We are closing in on week 1 of our first Whole30 challenge as a family (myself, husband, teenage daughter)- toddler is tapping out. She needs her whole milk too much! I am combatting 20 years of PCOS and my daughter has been a slave to sugar and carb cravings. She is the one who asked if we could do it as a family!
    I have found there is success in having each other to lean on, to encourage and just whine too when you really really want some creamer in your coffee. Also, planning and meal prep are important. We have a food plan for the family and shopped to that plan. It was expensive, but there are things I won’t have to buy again all month (cashews, coconut oil, meat). So far, my daughter and I have both dropped a pound a day (goodness!) and my husband has dropped 3 lbs. He is modified a bit, still taking in some grains to not feel deprived. His words.
    I am needing less sleep, but feel more rested. Teenager has noticed that too! I do still want my coffee but less and less. We are looking forward to week 2!

  7. Kristi C says

    My husband and I just started a modified Whole 30. We don’t have any health issues to deal with, we just want to eat cleaner. I might just call it an eating clean program, rather than Whole 30. While I respect the Whole 30 eating plan, it is a little rigid and I like flexible. I have one cup of coffee in the morning and it’s going to have cream. Otherwise, no dairy for any part of the day, I don’t mind the bit I’ll have once. On Valentine’s Day with my hubbie, I might have dessert. So I think its really what you want to focus on, and my goal is to eat clean and feed my body whole foods with a healthy balance of fats, proteins and lots of fruits and veggies. If I have an occasional treat, it’s okay. I look forward to using some of your recipes, as eggs and salad are going to get a little stale around week 3 & 4. We have two kids so it will be a challenge incorporating things in for them too.

    • I think the most valuable take-away is to get in the practice of eating real food and being intentional about your food choices.

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