Whole30 and a Whole Lot of Thoughts


If you follow me on Instagram (@griffinmckenzie), you'll notice that I'm in the middle of my second round of the Whole30. For those of you who have no idea what the Whole30 is, let me provide you with a short summary:

  • It's a way of eating (no, not a strange crash diet) that is designed to cleanse your body, reset your digestive system, and provide you with a better quality of life and a better relationship with food.
  • It focuses on eating whole, real foods - no strange substitutes or processed ingredients.
  • You must eliminate sugar, dairy, grains, soy, alcohol, legumes, and anything nasty and artificial like MSG or carrageenan.
  • There is no calorie counting, weighing yourself, or restricting your food supply.
  • It is not the same thing as a paleo diet, and neither Paleo nor the Whole30 are about eating large quantities of meat and nothing else.

Let me also preface this post by saying, though I grew up in a family that placed a huge focus on nutrition, thousands of people who had no previous interest in healthy eating have successfully completed the Whole30. Anyone can do it; it just takes some willpower!

So, for those of you who have asked, here are my tips, tricks, and thoughts on the Whole30.

Pick a month where you are relatively boring

My biggest temptation during a month of clean eating is not the food itself, it's the FOMO on social activities. I can easily resist a glass of wine or ice cream if I'm at home on a Tuesday night, but it's much harder when you're out with friends. Now, unless you live under a rock, you will have to face some sort of social temptation, but your planning is really about mitigating the risk. Do not choose to start your whole30 during your best friend's wedding month, or your vacation month, or anything truly monumental - it's just not worth it. Plan it, commit to it, and begin.

How Bad were You Before?

When I'm asked "how bad" or "how difficult" the Whole30 is, my question is always the same - how bad were you before? A couple of years ago, I did something even more rigid (yes, detoxes more intense than the whole30 do exist), and that was my first experience with the sugar hangover that you often read about on Whole30 forums. Honestly, it is a pretty rough few days. You feel exhausted and nauseous and grumpy, and you become genuinely terrified about what food has done to your body. But, if you make it through the "feeling disgusting" stage, however long that lasts for you, you can make it the entire stretch of time. In my previous Whole30 and during this round, I didn't experience a sugar detox because I keep my normal diet relatively clean (besides when eating out). I don't eat gluten, dairy, or too many grains at home, so that helps keep my body in check.

keep it interesting

During the first round of Whole30 I did in January, we meal prepped once a week. Now, my husband likes to cook much more than I do, so this took a lot of effort for me to really plan and create our meals. I came to enjoy it by the end, but I truly don't have enough time to batch cook for hours every weekend. So, this round, I've focused on simple recipes, staple groceries, and eating the same thing a couple of times a week. If you crave variety, then meal prep, get creative! I am able to survive on the simple, and it's easier on my budget and attention span.

results - everyone is different

This goes back to the whole "how bad were you before" concept. If you don't have a ton of weight to lose, don't compare yourself to the success stories where people lose 30 pounds during round 1. I like doing the whole30 because it gives me a ton of energy, helps my skin clear up, and reduces any bloating/water weight that I tend to carry around from my sometimes funky digestive system. The point of the whole30 is to give you a better relationship with food and a healthier lifestyle; weight loss and other physical transformations are just benefits. I don't tend to lose a lot of weight on the whole30 if I step on the scale, but my clothes always fit differently about a week into it.

snack time is for winners

Overall, the Whole30 program is not a huge advocate of snacking, but they do say to adjust this rule to fit your lifestyle. I have a very active lifestyle, and my body cannot function if I don't have a snack after taking a Pure Barre class or before teaching Platform. The Whole30 has partner brands such as LaCroix, Epic Bars, and other meat-based snack bars, but I have my favorites. If you're a recovering soda drinker, LaCroix is amazing. I don't drink soda, and I'm still hooked on these! Larabars are amazing (coconut cream pie and pineapple upside down cake are heaven), but I limit myself to only 1 a day because they are so high in natural sugars. RXbars are my true favorite - they have egg whites which fill me up on the go (no, they do not taste like eggs). And last but not least, G.T.'s Kombucha (grape with chia seeds) and Trader Joe's salted plantain chips are the ultimate treats. If you really intend on making it the entire 30 days, and you're an active person, don't skimp on all of this goodness!

I truly believe that anyone can be successful on the Whole30, and the goal is not to eliminate "bad" food forever. It's a lifestyle, not a crash diet that will never stick around. It teaches you the importance of real food and the way our bodies were designed to function. Shoot me an email if you have any questions. Until then,  I'll be rocking out with my kale salads for the next 18 days.