So, as a novice Whole30er, you might find yourself asking, “What is with all this talk about a meal template?” Basically, the meal template is our goal and guide as to how much of what types of foods we should be eating. It reminds us that veggies should be the primary food on our plate (and that means you too potatoes and sweet potatoes). It also reminds us that we need other real food on our plates. It’s critical that all meals include veggies, protein and a healthy plated fat. Fruit is optional but if consumed, should be eaten as part of your meal and not as a “dessert” Also, keep fruit to no more than 2 servings a day. Remember, ½ of a banana is one serving.
So… lets break down the plate. On Whole30 you should be eating healthy food, and a lot of it. You shouldn’t be hungry between meals unless you are doing big workouts and then you might need a mini meal. Your plate should be a dinner size plate, a salad plate isn’t large enough.
Over 1/2 of your plate should be veggies. They can be raw, sautéed, grilled, baked chopped up, whole, spiralized, riced etc. Basically, don’t deep fry them and put a lot of them on your plate. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are veggies for Whole30 purposes, but this doesn’t mean you should eat platefuls of mashed potatoes. Keep it colorful and make sure to mix it up. I personally eat tons of greens. A quick friendly reminder that peas and corn are no-go’s for Whole30 purposes.
You should have 1-2 palm sized portions of protein at every meal. Protein can be fish, poultry, pork, beef etc. It can be cooked a thousand different ways! This is where your energy will come from in between meals. I personally grill and sautée a lot. This should be good protein, as clean or organic as possible. For many people (like myself) all organic is not in the budget so I do it when and where I can. Do what works with your budget and strong stress about getting organic. Bacon is not considered a protein or a plated fat, it’s just a little extra something, so keep it reasonable.
What is a plated fat you ask? I asked the same question a couple of years ago. It is a healthy fat that is part of your meal. Cooking fat, oil, or ghee that you use to cook your food is NOT a plated fat. Most of that remains in the pan and is not enough to count. Plated fat should be part of every single meal. It is what keeps you satisfied between meals. Some plated fat favorites are: almond butter or other non-peanut nut butter, avocado, dressing (like dump ranch- which is a staple on my plate), coconut cream or ghee in your coffee, mayonnaise (I make my own and holy moly is it amazing), olives, raw nuts etc. There are all healthy plated fats that you can make a part of your meal. Portion size? I almost never measure, but a handful of olives or nuts, a couple tablespoons of nut butter or mayo etc., and ½-1 whole avocado
Don’t be afraid to use a Whole30 approved marinade or make your own. There are so many awesome recipes out there for marinades and they literally take seconds to throw together. Also, don’t be afraid of your spice drawer. I have probably 50 spices in my spice drawer and use all of them. It is amazing what they can do to add flavor varieties and make your food even more amazing. Always read labels on spice blends though. Many of the blends can contain non-compliant ingredients. To give you an idea, taco seasoning from the packet is generally not compliant.
If all is said and done and you are drinking a decent amount of water (general guideline is 8 oz for every 20 lbs. of body weight) and eating dinner plate size meals and still feel hungry between meals, you need to do some tweaking. Maybe you are feeling hungry because you used to be a big snacker and this is a habit that you are breaking, or maybe you might actually be hungry. Your plate might need a little tweaking. Maybe increase your plated fat, add a little bit more protein or throw a potato on your plate. Meal size definitely takes some trial and error to get it right. And remember, this is not a diet, it is feeding your body lots of good nutritious food to fuel you throughout your day so you can be your best, whether that means less medical issues, less exhaustion, a more stable mood or not having to drag yourself out of the bed in the morning.
There are so many NSVs (non-scale victories) that await you. Happy Whole30ing!