Let’s talk about size. It matters. Size matters. Meal size, that is. People say it doesn’t, but we all know it does. While it is not an official rule, a very strong recommendation of the Whole 30 program is to be eating three solid meals following the meal template (vegetables, protein, healthy fat) and avoid snacking. If the goal is to maximize your results, really follow not just the rules but also the spirit of the program and tune into the reasons you are mindlessly put food in your face hole, you want to cut the snacking. In order to do this successfully, it takes some mental strength, but also you need to eat meals that are big enough to keep you full and satisfied. Here are my thoughts on how to make your plates the right size to carry you through until the next meal.
Use dinner plates It will be a tough mind shift from limiting your portions. When I used to snack, I would always limit myself to a small plate. I thought I would trick myself into being full by filling it and could convince myself it was so much food. SPOILER ALERT. It wasn’t. And then I was hungry again in two hours. Now that you are eating a LARGE portion of nutrient dense, whole foods, you will need to eat more. I always fill my plate with leafy green veggies first.
Add starchy vegetables You are allowed to eat potatoes. Sooooo…unless you have issues with nightshades, please eat some potatoes. Roasted, baked, hash, shredded, spiralize, riced, whatever, but just try them. Sometimes people have weight loss too prioritized that they are miserable on their Whole30 round that miss out on feeling good because they are hungry all the time. Don’t be hungry! Eat carrots, squash, plantains, and potatoes and find new ways to prepare them. They will be an awesome compliment to your meal, keep you feeling full and give you energy.
Add FAT There are SO MANY types of healthy fat to add to your meal beyond what you are cooking with. You can have oil based dressings, mayo, coconut milk, shredded coconut, avocado, olives, nuts, nut butter, ghee, marinated onions, pesto; there are so many! Sometimes I even use two or three kinds of healthy fat in a meal and I can make it as long as five hours between meals. For example, I love having half an avocado, dump ranch over a salad, and slice a few olives in my salad. BOOM. Healthy FAT!
Eat enough protein The meal template says to have one to two palm size portions. Don’t be afraid to eat two if you are hungry. One of my FAVORITE parts of this program is that I don’t need to weigh or measure my food. I just take a look at my hand and guestimate my protein size. It’s pretty handy. If you’re eating eggs, the guide is to eat as many as you can hold in one hand. For me that’s three or four. I have figured out that the right number for breakfast is usually two if I’m having another source of protein, like homemade turkey sausage patties or a chicken apple sausage. I go for three if I’m only having eggs over a huge amount of greens and something else.
Here’s the thing, friends. There isn’t a one-size fits all answer for portions. You will have to play around with your meal sizes to figure out what the winning plate size looks like for you. If you’re an athlete, workout regularly, or have another situation that requires more than three meals, you know what you need. Some people can’t do a big breakfast because they can’t eat much in the morning. I can’t help you there. (Actually, we can help you, but that’s a different post…) I seriously LOVE breakfast. I love breakfast foods and need to have a big hearty breakfast to set me up for success for the day. I tend to try and taper my meals with my smallest being usually at dinner. Although, let’s be honest. I still eat a large plate of veggies, protein, and healthy fat so I’m not wandering aimlessly around the kitchen an hour after dinner ready to fall face first into the jar of almond butter with a spoon. Don’t judge. We’ve all been there.
Like most things with Whole 30, you have some personal responsibility to be honest about what’s working and what isn’t. It’s totally personal, but if you are feeling like you are struggling in between meals, tweak it! Be honest about if you are always looking for compliant snacks or reaching for your “emergency” foods in not-so-emergency situations. Whole 30 is about compliance, but also mindfulness so, for me snacking is something I really try to eliminate as a habit. In order to do that, I make sure to eat bigger meals. Don’t be afraid to eat more if you are hungry, because we all know portion size matters.