Feb 10, 2016

The Whole 30 for Lazy, Busy People

Okay, so I'm not actually lazy (gah, I hope so anyway) but I wanted to do the Whole 30 as simply as possible. I thought I would share some tips, a few favorite recipes and what I learned from the whole experience.

Why did we do the Whole 30?
I am not going to explain the "official" benefits, but you can read about it if you want. I did not read the book (I should have) but I read A LOT on the website. Eric and have always eaten generally healthy (we actually like healthy food as crazy as that sounds) but we had never done anything restrictive. Additionally, 2015 was a really transitional year for us (two new jobs, moving, new baby) so we had gotten into a bad habit of eating out a lot. We both just wanted a fresh start to eating clean this year.

Tips for Success

Meal plan. I'm this is kind of obvious, but it was really hard for me at first. You literally have to plan every meal (including breakfast - which I never used to do) because if you don't know what you're going to eat, you will either starve or eat something illegal not approved. I planned each week on Sunday night (looking up recipes online) and shopped Monday mornings. Meal planning without wasting food is a skill in and of itself, and it takes work. But it's worth it.

because this is the only picture I could find of me holding black coffee :)

Coffee talk. To truly do the Whole 30, you are supposed to drink black coffee only (a lot of people choose to cut it out completely). We are coffee drinkers lovers so we enjoyed it during our Whole 30. Eric prefers his coffee black so it wasn't an issue for him. BUT, if you love your coffee heavily creamed/sugared, I highly recommend weaning yourself off of the additives before you start the Whole 30. Obviously, you can do it all at the same time, but it's hard. A couple of years ago, I weaned myself off of creamer (cutting back a little each cup) and even though I still prefer a little cream in my coffee (hence the blog name), I often drink it black so this part of the Whole 30 was a non-issue.

Make breakfast ahead. My husband has to be at work at 7:45am and on the days that I work (two days a week) I have to be there at 7am (ugh). Anyway, in the past we would do some form of to-go oatmeal/granola bar but that obviously wouldn't work. I started making a quiche (love this recipe!) on Monday nights and then we would each take a slice with us to work in the morning and heat it up there.

Have a partner. I could not have done this if Eric wasn't on board. The idea of us eating separate food is so stressful to me - we were "in it together" and helped motivate each other to be consistent. We also told all of our co-workers that we were doing it so they could ask us about it and choose healthy options for lunches together.

Find a "treat." I know in the "official" Whole 30 you are really supposed to not get creative about treats and substitutions, but we had a few "vices" that kept us going. First, La Croix. We kept our house stocked. I actually used to think they were gross, but I started loving them over the course of completing the Whole 30. We don't really drink soda, but they were kind of an alcohol substitution for us. Second, Lara Bars. Oh, Lara Bars. How I love thee. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but these kept me from eating my fingernails out of starvation. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I was so thankful for them on evenings that I just wanted a snack or was craving something sweet (oh and not all Larabars are compliant, so be careful).

Things I Learned

Sugar is in everything. This was perhaps the most eye-opening thing for me. Most nut milks have sugar in them, as do packaged broths (whyyyyy???), granola bars that I always assumed were healthy, pre-packaged oatmeal, mayonnaise, the list goes on and on. I don't know why I never paid attention before, but my eyes have been opened. Since going back to "normal" eating, Eric and I are still trying to avoid sugar and it definitely takes strategy.

The energy increase is real. During the second week of the Whole 30, Eric looked at me and said "let's paint our bedroom tonight." We had been talking about painting it for months but we just couldn't get motivated to do it. But we both definitely had more energy during the month, and now I get to look at beautifully painted walls as a result :)

The cravings stop. During the first week, Eric and I were having crazy cravings. One night we were just desperate for a piece of chocolate cake. We don't even necessarily love chocolate cake, but the craving was legit. We resisted, but I was really worried we would spend the entire month fighting ourselves. Fortunately, the cravings pretty much went away. The Whole 30 was hard, but mostly because of inconvenience, not because we craved other food.

Your skin reflects what you eat. I have always struggled with acne and a few years ago I experimented with food and learned a lot. However, I had never been this restrictive with my food before so I was curious to see what would happen.  My skin was perfect. No pimples at all. And now that I'm eating "normally" again yep, the acne is back. Which is annoying. But at least I know that I do have some control over how my skin looks.

Favorite Recipes

We made these a couple of times - so easy and delicious! Sweet potato fries are a staple even if we are not doing the Whole 30! 

chicken and veggie stir fry with cauliflower rice
Not really a recipe for this... I made up a sauce with garlic and coconut aminos since soy sauce is a no go. So good. I don't love rice anyway, so I think we'll probably incorporate cauli rice into our routine more. 

I made a quiche every Monday night for us to eat for breakfast for the rest of the week. I mixed up the ingredients each week to keep it interesting.

Other yummy things we made:
  • salmon and leek soup
  • shredded chicken (I cook whole chickens every few weeks and keep it in the fridge) with kale salad (kale, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and olive oil lemon dressing)
  • baked salmon and roasted veggies
  • chia pudding with blackberries
  • lots of fruit for snacks! 

Final Thoughts
I am sooooooo glad we decided to do this. We had talked about it forever, and I am so glad we made ourselves do it. Eric lost about 12 pounds, which was awesome, but it's definitely about so much more than losing weight. It's so important to know what you are putting into your body and even though we eat "healthy" it was still so eye-opening for us. I am reading labels A LOT closer these days.


  1. This has interested me for a long time! I don't know if I could get my husband on board - he loves to snack and is also the main food preparer in the house, so the burden would fall most heavily on him to plan and cook. Food planning is something we are really bad at. But! I really want to work on our food planning skills, and we should theoretically have the time to do this. We are childless! We have flexible jobs! We have a grocery story that is two blocks away! This post has made me think more seriously about trying.

  2. How interesting! I know how much I turn to sugary foods so I feel like ti would be good for me to cut it out of my diet and stop the cravings, but I worry about my self-control! The Greek meatballs look SO good! I pinned those to make later!

  3. Sugar really is everywhere! I'm glad that this process worked out so well for you guys! I'm checking out the Greek meatball recipe now. It sounds delicious!

  4. HOORAY! Thanks so much for posting this! The hubs and I are almost done with our 2nd week and I am always searching for tips. I think I might start making that quiche since my breakfast casserole was a flop :-( Also, hooray for La Croix! I drink one every day, Whole30 or not!

    Alysia Ave

  5. Loved reading about your experiences! It's so crazy how the food we eat directly affects our skin like that (and energy levels too). I'd definitely have to go slow with the coffee thing- I am a cream & sugar gal and the thought of black is just gross to me- gah. I really want to try whole 30 but I have such a sweet tooth, so I feel like I need to do a 30 before the 30 to wean off the sugar or I feel like I'd be all kinds of crazy!


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