Checking In With Yourself: Is Your Whole30 Working?

It’s halfway through your Whole30 and you’re feeling frustrated. Your clothes don’t seem loose, you’re not feeling that different, and to be honest, oftentimes you’re dragging. You’re thinking about quitting – but you want to follow through with what you started.

So, what do you do?

Before you throw in the towel, it’s smart to have a heart-to-heart with YOURSELF. Here are some questions you can run through to make sure you’re on track. Remember to be honest with yourself – these points are key to your success on Whole30.

Are you eating per the meal template? Whole30 is not about eating unlimited amounts of bacon and RxBars. It’s about following a meal template, which we’ve outlined here. As a base, start with plates that are at least half filled with vegetables. To that, add 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein and some healthy fat. Take a hard look at your meals and make sure they are plated by the template. It’s recommended by Whole30 because it works!

Are you eating enough fat? We’ve all been brainwashed that fat is bad (hello, 1980s and 1990s!) so undoing this one is hard for many people. Whole30 suggests that you add a healthy fat (think avocado, nuts, olive oil, ghee, olives, etc.) to every meal. The fat keeps you satisfied, happy, and it provides your body with essential nutrients to keep it operating. Take a look at the official Whole30 meal template for more ideas on healthy fat sources. And check out a blog post on some of our favorite sauces, which can serve as added fats on your plate. Don’t skimp on the fat! It will backfire in the end. However, be mindful of portion sizes when it comes to healthy fats like nuts. It’s easy to mindlessly grab handful after handful – so we recommend portioning them out and putting the bag away before you start grazing!

Are you eating a variety of vegetables? I’ll be honest: It can get easy to get lazy on Whole30. Maybe at the beginning, you were eating a wide range of veggies and now on Day 21, you’re eating a potato and some cucumber slices with your chicken and calling it a day. Make sure you are eating a broad array of vegetables – A good rule of thumb is to aim to get every color of vegetable on your plate (and in your body) daily! A tip that I am implementing more and more is to start each meal with a bed of greens and build from there. That knocks off one vegetable without any thought. Potatoes are fine (and encouraged!) on Whole30 – Just be sure they are not taking up all of the space on you plates and crowding out other nutrient-dense veggies.

If you have access to a local farm, farmer’s market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share this summer, those are good options for getting lots of delicious, fresh vegetables to your plate at reasonable prices. I just started a 20-week CSA and I love knowing that I will have a new supply of local veggies every week – They taste amazing and the variety keeps me happy.

Are you eating too much fruit? Fruit is certainly encouraged on Whole30, and there’s certainly a bounty of it in the summer. (Hello, local strawberries!) But fruit has (natural) sugar and that sugar can awake your sleeping sugar dragon if you keep feeding it. We suggest eating fruit with your meals and not generally as stand-alone snacks during the day. That way, you are not feeding your body straight sugar but eating it alongside protein, veggies, and fat. Also, be sure to check your quantities. A few handful of blueberries on a salad is great, for example, but we would not advise you to eat a giant bowl of fruit salad at every meal. Be honest with yourself and keep your fruit portions in check. This also applies to dried fruit – which is even sweeter and can become a substitute for candy for many. If you’re constantly popping dates or dried figs or raisins into your mouth, are you really changing your habits around sugar?

Are you getting enough sleep? Your body is going through a lot on Whole30 – It’s working hard to change how you source energy from your food (from sugar to fat/protein.) You’re also probably spending more time than usual in the supermarket and kitchen, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning. It’s exhausting! Sleep is a beautiful, restorative thing and it does not serve you (or your Whole30) if you skimp. Try to get to bed earlier (even work on this in increments of 15 minutes), shut off electronics earlier, and focus on being calm and relaxed as you hit the sheets. My issue is that I don’t always “schedule” enough time for sleep but over my years doing Whole30, I have improved on this. I can feel the difference when I get enough sleep – it’s the BEST feeling!!

Are you moving your body? Movement is not a formal part of Whole30 but we all know that movement helps support a healthy mind and body. If you were exercising before beginning Whole30, hopefully you can keep it up (maybe with a few adjustments, such as pre/post-workout meals if needed and varying the intensity of your exercise.) If you were not exercising prior to Whole30 (and have the OK from your doctor), now is a super time to start moving in tandem with your new way of eating. It does NOT have to be complicated. Start with walking (going for a walk, adding in steps by parking farther away from a store or getting on a subway at a stop or two earlier), take the stairs when you can, do some at-home yoga (there are lots of online options for free yoga or check out yoga DVDs!), or sign up for a class at a local studio. (Many studios offer your first class for free!)

Are you truly prepared? Whole30 is a big endeavor, especially your first round. Your meals do not have to be complicated or beautiful but there is some element of preparedness that is necessary for success. And it’s different for everyone! For some, it may be just having compliant ingredients, quick protein, and pantry staples on hand (Be sure to check out Thrive Market – www.thrivemarket.com/everydaywhole – if you need to stock up!) so you can whip something up after work. Others need to prep meals for the whole week on Sunday. Whatever’s the case for YOU, make sure you have what you need in your house to get it done. Compliant food is not going to magically appear when you’re hungry so be true to your style of prep and you will be sure to succeed!

Have you had to check in with yourself during a Whole30? What did you discover you were doing well or could do better?

Tips On Getting Your Kids To Eat Healthy Foods

Divided plates are a hit with my kids

Got a kid or kids that could live on a diet of pasta, chicken nuggets, and ketchup? I’ve made plenty of meals that have ended up on the floor for the dog to eat. I’ll skip over the obvious cutting out sugar, junk food, and blah, blah, blah because you all know that one. I want to tell you about what I do to engage my kids and help get them on board to eating healthy.

Fun Plates

I completely underestimated how much my kids would love to eat on something fun. I have a bunch of plates and bowls for them on one of our bottom shelves. They can pick their plate for their meal and it seems to make them a little more open to eating whatever is on it. Everything apparently is more appealing when there’s a dinosaur involved!

The Golden Rule

There’s only one rule in my kitchen, which mostly applies right now to my 6 year old daughter because my 2 year old son is…well, he’s 2. The golden rule is if something is on your plate that’s new, take ONE BITE. Just try it. You don’t have to like it, just try it.

I’ll put literally one piece of something new on their plates to try. I remember that my daughter didn’t want to try a red pepper and she had exactly one little piece on her plate along with one piece of red onion and one piece of yellow pepper. I told her she had to try one of those three things–her choice. She took a teeny tiny nibble of the red pepper and ended up taking another nibble. She told me it was actually good. I’ve gotten them to try a lot of food this way. The super small quantity isn’t overwhelming and just trying it (yep, they can spit it out if they don’t like it) is working for us.

I should mention that if there’s a huge fuss about it, I don’t push it. I don’t want it to become something dreaded and on days that are long or if they’re tired, there’s no need to force it.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping tends to be my alone time. I know, I know…living the vida loco over here. Don’t judge. I do bring the kids along sometimes and get them to pick out what THEY want for fruits and veggies. I encourage them to look for new stuff.

The other week, my daughter was with me and I ran into someone I knew and stopped to chat. I set her free in the produce section and told her to go pick what she wanted. It was interesting to see what she picked, the funniest being when she plopped a bag of green beans into the shopping cart. There were literally 14 beans…basically what she could fit in her little hand.

The great thing is that when she picks something, she wants to eat it. She’s asked about produce that she doesn’t know about and has been wanting to try cabbage. Who knows if she’ll like it but she’ll willing to try it and that’s all that counts.

Junior Chef

On days when you have time, toss an little apron on your kid(s) and let them channel their inner junior chef. I have supplies for them (see above)–my daughter loves her measuring spoons and cups and the salad spinner is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Sometimes I put my daughter in charge of making a salad for the family or have her help her little brother stir something. Mix something, measure something, mash something, cut something…anything that’s age appropriate. She feels proud of herself and has a great time when she’s helped in some way to make a meal. Needless to say, I watch her carefully ’cause safety and all.

Little Herb Garden

When it’s finally warm enough, we go out and buy some starter herb plants. My daughter picks them and we talk about the smell of it and what it’s used for. City living doesn’t lend itself to gardening very well so, right now, we’re confined to a small little herb garden.

With the new herbs, we plant a bunch of them in containers and watch them grow. What kid doesn’t love getting their hands dirty? My daughter helps water them and when they’re big enough we go out on the deck to pick what we want to use for supper. It’s just another way to get her invested in eating well.

So, there you have it, this is what’s working for me and my family. I hide veggies in things and do all the other mom tricks to get them to eat healthy stuff. I want them to have a good and healthy relationship with food and am hoping that by giving them the tools and opportunity to make good choices that it’ll help.

Do you have any tips that you do to encourage your kids to eat healthy?

How to Whole30 as a Teacher

I am an educator. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing because all of life seems to come back to learning and applying knowledge. Whole30 has been no different!

I am also a wife, mom to six kiddos (age range spanning 16 years – which means I will forever have teenagers – Lord help me!). I am a caretaker and as a school administrator in a large urban district working with at-risk students and families. I often do a fantastic job of taking care of everyone else, often at the expense of myself. But, my first Whole30 round in January 2018 changed all of that!

When you work in education, your entire world can be broken down into minutes and acronyms. You spend hours in PLCs learning about how PBL, RTI and MTSS are going to change your world. You work with students who are ADHA, ASD, EBD/LD or OHI and are tasked to create learning environments that are inclusive and differentiated to each individual, unique need. You debate if phonics or whole language is better and then agree on balanced literacy. The hours are of your day are full during the school year and your summer vacation is typically spent regrouping and preparing for the year ahead.

To be successful on Whole30, I focused in and fit it into my world….so let me share my Top 5 Tips for Educators in acronyms just for you!

1. MPLYLP – Meal Plan Like You Lesson Plan (Write it down)
Think about Whole30 in the same way you think about your lesson plans! Pull recipes, make grocery lists, shop and organize your food. I know I need breakfast ready for a quick reheat in the morning. Lunches need to be packed the night before so I can grab and go. I plan and make sure dinner is ready and available. Grab emergency items for when you are extra hungry or need a little something to make it through that afternoon staff meeting! Everything you pre-plan for the week sets you up for success during the day.

2. POW – Prep on Weekends (Don’t fail to prep)
I prep on Saturdays. I grocery shop first thing in the morning and then prep it when I get home. I roast or air fry veggies because roasted veggies are just as yummy cold as they are reheated. Poaching chicken ensures I have a quick protein to add to any meal and I make sure I have hard-boiled eggs on hand. I toss together things like Egg Roll in a Bowl or make easy soups packed with veggies. I keep big meals for the weekend when I have time to BBQ. Snack size bags work great for veggies or meat sticks. Portioning out food makes it ready to go because then there is no excuse.

3. FIP – Find Your Posse
Find your people and support each other. Most people are intrigued with my Whole30 meals and support me if I share my reasoning behind it. Yes, to some it sounds crazy, but people will still cheer you on. Find those people and hang on to them!

4. H3 – Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (keep those fluids coming)

Water, LaCroix, Hot Tea, Iced Tea, Coffee – whatever it is, grab it! This keeps you going more than you know and is the easiest thing to keep in hand in the classroom or hallway. Buy a fun bottle or insulated cup and keep it filled. This helps regulate your hunger as well.

5. KISS – Keep it Simple Sister/Sir (cold meals, no reheating, grab and go)
Simplicity is key! When I first started, I was making condiments and fancy dishes. Now, the lazy deviled egg is the way to go. I know when I am home, having my tools close at hand makes my time more efficient. Cleaning out my fridge so I don’t have to think about what I am grabbing and if it is compliant is the best.

Following these few steps has made it possible for me to be successful during some of the most difficult times of the year. They also hold me accountable during breaks and summer vacation when the change in routine throws things off. Staying focused through the end will ensure your success and a long string of NSVs!

Here’s to summer vacation, fellow educators…!