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?