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One-Year Anniversary: Lessons and Tips


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On Sept. 1 (yes, I’m a bit late in posting this), I celebrated exactly one year since I started my first Whole30. I have been eating mostly Paleo/Whole30 since, with some extended off-roading during vacations. Here’s what I’ve learned, plus some tips that might help the new folks. (Sorry in advance for the length!)


What I’ve learned:


- I really don’t miss cheese, milk, bread, pasta, rice, or beans -- many of the things that I was consuming regularly pre-Whole30. I pretty much only eat these things when I go out. It is very difficult to order off the menu at most restaurants without getting grains and/or dairy in your meal. Sometimes I am “that person” who asks how things are cooked and what exactly is in them, but most of the time I would prefer NOT to be that person.


- Without all the grains and dairy, I don’t get that “ugh, I ate way too much” feeling anymore. I get full, of course, because I eat a TON of food, but it’s not the same kind of full. I would have to say that this is one of my favorite non-scale victories – feeling full but not FULL.


- I eat at home way more often, and I’m mostly fine with that. I have always enjoyed cooking, and have discovered so many great recipes from Well Fed, Nom Nom Paleo, Tom Denham, PaleOMG, Stupid Easy Paleo, and more. That said, it can be exhausting doing all the planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. Sometimes I just want to take a little nap in the kitchen. And sometimes I need a BREAK.


- Foods I now LOVE: Homemade mayo (can’t live without it). Chicken thighs – cooked in lots of different ways, but especially on the grill. GT’s Kombucha (haven’t gotten up the guts to make it myself yet). Meatballs, especially with Merguez spices. Castelvetrano olives. Zoodles. Sweet Potatoes. Turnips and rutabagas. Butternut squash, especially sautéed with sliced sunchokes. Acorn squash. Pan fried chicken livers. Sautéed ground meat and veggies (just discovered what a great addition parsnips make!). Scrambled eggs with pureed butternut squash and Magic Mushroom Powder. Kalua pork. Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage (dipped in mayo, of course). Homemade ghee. Coconut oil and coconut milk. “Love Beets.” Anything made in the Instant Pot. In other words: There’s so much great food that’s good for you.


- Food and beverages I am not quite willing to give up: Chocolate (only now it has to be high quality). Pinot Grigio (any quality will do, sadly). Really good ice cream (preferably from a local farm). I can forgo these things when I’m doing a Whole30, but when I’m not doing one, I do indulge from time to time. I try to keep my serving sizes small; my sugar dragon is actually pretty small and easily satisfied, and I confess I have not vanquished him entirely. I completely understand that if I were to eliminate or cut back more on these items, I could probably lose those nagging 6 pounds that pop on and off. Of course, it’s always my choice, and the effects (both pro and con) are mine to experience.


- In my pre-Whole 30 days, I used to eat four--count ‘em four!--breakfast/snack bars per day, and I was always trying the latest “healthy” chip (lentil chips, popcorn chips, etc). So, it is not a surprise that I turned to nuts during my first Whole30. They are definitely a “snacky” thing for me, and now I reserve them only for use in recipes, as opposed to eating them by the handful. I feel much better having eliminated them, as they do tend to upset my stomach. Plus, I feel so much better not snacking AT ALL between meals anymore. If I am genuinely starving when I start to make dinner, I will have a handful of Castelvetrano olives. Even just a few can tide me over until dinner is ready.  


- When I increased my veggie intake, I discovered that I need to be careful with FODMAPs. Lots of broccoli and cauliflower and onions can be unkind to my digestive system. I didn’t have to cut these foods out entirely, but I relied too heavily on them when I first upped my veggie intake. More variety in my veggies has definitely helped.


- An interesting observation: There is a lot of similarity in attitudes and behaviors around drinking alcohol, consuming sugar, drinking coffee, and binging on foods in unhealthy ways. And it can be awkward being a non-drinker or non-sugar eater in certain social situations. I look forward to writing more about this, as I prepare to possibly give up alcohol entirely (yikes!). In all honesty, I feel SO MUCH BETTER when I don’t drink alcohol. I feel energized, and focused, and alive.


Tips for the uninitiated or struggling:


Please note that these are just my suggestions. I’m not an expert or anything, just a very satisfied “customer.”


- PREPARE! I have been reading the forum quite a bit (obsessively?) over the last year, and I’ve noticed that some folks jump into doing a Whole30 without much planning or research. I respect and admire people who can just dive into things – I’ve never been like that. But I do think this is one situation where a decent amount of prep can help you really make the most of these 30 days. Read the website, read lots of threads on the forum, read the books, clean out your kitchen, go shopping for new pantry items, go shopping again. And read the meal template, for gosh sakes!


- Consider taking a pre-Whole30 month (or a week or two) to wean yourself off the worst foodstuff that you typically eat and start trying new recipes.


- Don’t worry so much about your weight (I know, easier said than done). If you eat healthy, your body will thank you in lots of ways. You will probably feel like crap at the beginning, or maybe you won’t feel anything. But eventually you will feel GREAT.


- Frozen veggies are your friend. My husband and I eat them every morning with breakfast. Also: Veggies at breakfast ROCK! Why isn’t this a thing?! Why is breakfast so often sweet stuff?


- Yes, eating healthy takes time and effort and costs more. This might require a shift in your thinking, but your health is worth it. For decades now, we have prioritized cheap, fast, and easy food, and look where it’s gotten us! If you want to feel better, you have to do better when it comes to buying and cooking your food.


- Natural Calm (unflavored) can help with sleep and bathroom issues.


- Read the forum some more. The people here are fun, and even a year later, I still learn new tips and discover great recipes.


That’s enough for now, eh? Thanks to Melissa and Dallas and everyone in the Whole30 family.  I feel great!  

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  • 3 months later...

Newbie to the program. Today is day 4 and I find myself struggling. Not with wanting to eat a certain food but with trying to keep up with eating clean, especially when having kids around and finding their 'tasties' everywhere. Often times these last few days, I have put their food in my mouth only to spit it right back out....such a bad habit!!!!


Couple of things I have noticed these past few days. Keeping in mind that I have had a bug for the last 2 weeks, my body is bit tired (not sure if it's the intense workouts or something else). Also, I have had these slight headaches when I wake up....and I don't feel any less bloated.


Would love to know how to get the puffed out face and belly issue taken care off.


Any advice would help...

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