If you follow me at all on Instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that I am doing the Whole30 this month. Yep, I jumped on that January Whole30 bandwagon and I haven’t looked back.
On that same path, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you may have noticed that the past me has had a love-hate relationship with the Whole30, with more of an emphasis early on with the ‘hate’ aspect.
If I’m being honest with myself and honest with a lot of you, I had a terrible time coming to terms a few years ago with my “new way of eating” post my Eosinophilic Esophagitis diagnosis.
It was tough to swallow (no pun intended) that the foods I had eaten and enjoyed for years were all of a sudden ganging up on me and causing my body to react differently than normal. I had a tough time accepting that my body just wasn’t the same anymore, and that I couldn’t carry on with previous behaviors or eating patterns, for that matter, that I had found “success” with early in in my quest for a healthier lifestyle and weight loss journey.
So I was bitter and I bashed the program, when the truth of the matter is, I honestly feel my best when I follow a paleo-diet and one similar to what the Whole30 outlines. For me, I feel the best physically (and let’s be honest – emotionally) when I cut out gluten and dairy. I also have to be honest in that I realize food does bring me pleasure, and I refuse to live a life deprived of some of my favorite treats. Which is why I personally follow a lifestyle where 90% of the time I eat gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-ish foods, and the other 10% of the time I indulge and enjoy the foods that I probably shouldn’t be eating.
You’ve probably seen me mention my “Worth-It-Meter.” This means I realize that maybe devouring a pizza might make me feel terrible later on – but I also realize that I absolutely LOVE pizza and that sometimes I want to be able to order it in with my family and enjoy every single bite of it. So, sometimes I decide that feeling bad later is totally worth it for the short-term displaced happiness that pizza might bring me. And I’m okay with that. There have been plenty of other times where I’ve looked at something I may have previously loved and thought – nope. Not this time. It definitely doesn’t feel worth how I’ll feel later. Really learning and understanding how my body and my mind react to certain foods has been essential for me finding my own version of Food Freedom that the Whole30 teaches.
I also think it makes a difference when you go into something like this cold turkey vs. when you’ve had time to really research the types of foods that you can be eating. It’s all about mindset, and no matter what program you may be starting, if you go into it looking at all of the things you can’t do, or you can’t eat, then you’re setting the tone right away that this is hard and it’s going to be a struggle because look at all the things you can’t do that everyone else can while you’re following this program. So more times than not, people quit. Been there, done that. I can preach it because I’m just as guilty as everyone else.
So having over a year of following a paleo lifestyle has helped me go into this new Whole30 round with a fresh set of eyes. Because I’m no longer focusing on those foods that I can’t have, I’m choosing to think about all of the delicious meals I can have. And luckily, I know my tastes pretty well, so I only cook the foods that I love. Not the ones that I don’t. It helps – think about it. Some may even venture as far as to say that it’s logical.
I absolutely despise Brussels Sprouts. Hate them, can’t stand them. No matter how hard I try. So you know what I’m not going to do in January (or probably anytime thereafter?) I’m not going to prep any Brussels Sprouts as part of my meal plan. You know what I do love? Zucchini. So you can bet there’s gonna be a whole lotta zucchini in my meal plan. Focus on the foods that you love that will help you stay satisfied and excited about what you’re doing during your program – no matter which one it may be.
So if I already follow a 90% paleo-diet, then why did I feel the need to do the Whole30, you may be asking? It’s simple. I’m human, just like all of you, and around the holidays I tend to find my Worth-It-Meter getting a little biased, a little lax, and a little lazy. AKA I overindulged and ate far too many things that I typically don’t, and found myself craving them a lot more than I typically do.
I needed something to help get me back into my normal pattern; something that involved a little structure to keep me in line, and get me excited again about taking care of myself. So, Whole30 it was.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I get that sometimes the struggle is real. It’s hard to stay committed to something because there are literally temptations everywhere. That’s why I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorite Whole30/Whole30 compliant recipes that will hopefully keep you excited and on track to finish the rest of this month strong! I may even share some other tips I’ve learned toward the end, so keep reading!
Breakfast Protein Scramble
This is a recipe that I came up with awhile ago, and it’s been a go-to ever since. It’s such a nice basic that you can eat it as-is and it’s full of flavor, or you can add an egg with your serving. Keep in mind, the macros provided in this recipe are without an egg!
Whole30 Bangers & Mash
One of my favorite recipes from the Whole30 book is the Banger Sausage Patties with Sweet Potato Mash & Caramelized Onions.
I make this meal about once per week and it’s a spouse favorite; Chad will ask for this meal by name. When I’m not following the Whole30, I’ll also steam a bag of peas and add as an additional veggie (sorry, though.. peas are not approved while doing the Whole30).
Whole30 Inspired Chili
This recipe is inspired by the Classic Chili recipe found in the Whole30 book, however, when I went to make that recipe, I found myself modifying it so much that before I knew it, I had my own original-ish recipe that’s become a favorite in our house. I’m sure the original is amazing, I just typically don’t eat a lot of red meat, which started the modification train rolling.
While this isn’t exactly a meal or full recipe, one of the easiest and most delicious staples I cook on the regular is pulled pork. Cooper honestly asks for this one all the time (and I’m making it as I type this so he’s pretty excited). One of the perks is that we can get so many different meals out of one protein. I’ll give some examples below, but first – here’s what you need and what you’ll do:
- 2-4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
- Garlic powder
- Place meat in a slow cooker
- Season with garlic powder
- Add 1/2 cup water
- Cook on low for 9-10 hours
Once it’s Cooked:
- Remove bones from slow cooker and throw away
- Take two forks and shred the meat
That’s it. Your prep time is literally less than 5 minutes, and although it takes 9-10 hours to cook, you’re not physically having to do anything. Those are my absolute favorite types of meals to make.. the ones that require minimal effort but end up tasting amazing!
Here is how we all usually eat our pulled pork:
Chad :Over a baked sweet potato with corn, onions, and bbq sauce
Coop : On a whole wheat bun with bbq sauce and a side of veggies (and maybe some fries if he asks super nicely).
Me : I like to saute a cole slaw mix on low heat for about 5 minutes with a little bit of olive oil and veggie seasoning. Once it’s warm and soft, I mix with my pulled pork and usually have a sweet potato on the side. This is literally what I’ll be eating tonight and Cooper and I are both counting down the hours until dinner time!
There are also a few things I try and keep on hand for when I’m running low on time, need to grab something and go, or if I run out of my prepped meals or don’t have time to prep for the week.
- Deli Meat
- Raw Nuts (walnuts are my personal go-to)
- Fresh Fruit
- Bags of lettuce/greens
- Compliant bars (RX and Lara – but read labels, not all flavors are compliant)
Some of my favorite compliant brands:
- Primal Kitchen (compliant mayo and ranch)
- Tessemae (all sorts of dressings; bbq, buffalo, etc.)
- RX Bars
- Lara Bars
- Nut pods (coffee creamer)
- Epic (jerkey)
Have you ever completed a Whole30 round, or have you done anything similar? I’d love to hear about your experience and some of your best tricks and tips! Drop a comment below!
Disclaimer: I may have used some affiliate links in this post, which means if you click on any of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I will get a commission straight from the retailer at no additional cost or price to you. All of the opinions in this blog are always mine, and I would never recommend something I didn’t like!