whole30 | from the beginning

I recently decided I was interested in trying the WHOLE30 -- an eating plan in which you eliminate certain foods (and food groups) from your diet because of the negative effects they may be are having on your body & mind. You may not even realize the effects they are having. In fact, you may be going about your life feeling fine, thinking you are in general, "pretty healthy." 

But once you take a step of faith & courage to eliminate said foods you will likely begin to see how great you really can feel. You will likely start to live feeling the way God intended for us to feel and live -- healthy and whole, without ailments and pain, conditions and health concerns, and with energy and a passion for life.

I am speaking from some experience, as a few years ago I completely eliminated both gluten and dairy from my diet after discovering a considerable amount of physical issues I had related to both but gluten especially. When I did, I felt like a new person. Over time, I have slowly integrated those back to a lesser degree than before, but they still exist in my diet and while they don't bother me most of the time, there are days I wake up and feel pretty crappy because of something I ate the day or night before.
Side note: Have you ever eaten a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal before bed and woken up the next morning with a stuffed nose or sinus headache? Or eaten some icecream after dinner and woken up congested and thought you were coming down with a cold? Yup. Me too. That is one small example -- and one of the most common ways I see it in my own life -- of the negative effect those foods have on the human body.

 Most of the time I feel pretty good. I consider myself healthy and fit, and while I don't have excess weight to lose, I am always up for gaining more muscle, toning, and being healthy head to toe, inside and out. SO that brings me to where I am at now. 

After finding considerable recipe inspiration online and through instagram, I brought it up to Dustin that I was interested in doing the WHOLE30 and that I wanted him to do it with me. I am weird in that I didn't want to start until the 1st of May -- I like to start goals at the beginning of the month to track my progress in line with the dates. But I got so excited (seriously!) about doing the WHOLE30 that I just couldn't wait. 

I spent most of this week planning meals and jotting down notes after reading and doing some research. I know for me it will be all about planning and preparation. I plan the meals I want to eat and I spend time prepping them in the kitchen so I have everything cut, washed, ready to go. I want this month to be easy in the sense that I don't have to stress out about what I will eat or how much time it will take to prepare it. With an 11-month old who is always on the move and seemingly never tires, I want easy meals that require little thought but that nourish both my body and mind.

So today is Day 1 of my WHOLE30 Challenge. Each day I will be journaling a little about what I ate that day, what I enjoyed and what I struggled with and then at the end of each week I will post it on here. I also plan to post my meals on instagram and my favorite new WHOLE30 approved recipes on my blog on a regular basis.

Below is more information for those of you who are interested in learning about WHOLE30. The book "It Starts with Food" by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig is an incredible resource if you are considering trying the WHOLE 30 or adopting a PALEO lifestyle (available here). It is a New York Times Bestseller and I dove into it this week and had trouble putting it down! 

What Is WHOLE30?

It is an eating plan in which you strip certain food groups from your diet because of the harmful effect they have on your body. These effects may be any of the following: low energy levels, general aches and pains unrelated to injury, difficulty losing weight or maintaining weight loss, skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or acne, digestive ailments, infertility, seasonal allergies, asthma, etc. Often, the suggested remedy for these conditions is medication. But the WHOLE 30 plan suggests (and I agree 100%) that is is your food that is contributing to these conditions and no amount of medication will fix them if you don't change your diet. 

For a full 30 days, you need to cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups that are negatively impacting your body. The goal is to let your body heal and recover from whatever effects your diet has had on your body. This program is designed to change the way you think about food, change your tastes, change your habits and curb your cravings. It may even change the emotional relationship you have with food and with your body. 

WHOLE30 Guidelines

Eat protein // meat, seafood, eggs
Eat vegetables // any and every kind and lots of them!
Eat healthy fats // avocado, nuts, seeds, oils
Eat fruit // in moderation


Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial // No maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. 

Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking

Do not eat grains // This includes but is not limited to wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains, quinoa, bran, germ, starch, etc.

Do not eat legumes // This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter either. This also includes all forms of soy -- soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways soy is snuck into foods (like soy lethicin)

Do not eat dairy // This includes cow, goat or sheep's milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream...with the exception of clarified butter or ghee

Do not eat white potatoes // This includes white, red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerling potatoes

Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites // Carageenan is often found in almond milk as a binder; monosodium glutamate is snuck into many foods and sulfites are present in many processed foods, often found in wine, dried fruits, and dried potato products 

Do not consume Paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts or junk foods // While some products may be "WHOLE 30 APPROVED," meaning they do not contain any of the ingredients or foods you must avoid on this program (such as coconut milk ice cream, almond-flour muffins, or banana-egg pancakes), these should be avoided during this challenge. Don't try to replicate junk food during your 30 days because that misses the point of the WHOLE30 entirely.

The Final Rule
The WHOLE30 Program states, "You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you'll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer." // They encourage weighing yourself before and after if you are interested in seeing a tangible result, however during your WHOLE30, do not count calories or take measurements. Instead focus on how you are feeling and not on the numbers.


Clarified Butter or Ghee // This is the only source of dairy allowed during your WHOLE30. Plain butter is not allowed, as the milk proteins found in the non-clarified butter may have a negative impact. 

Certain Legumes // Green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas are all allowed

Vinegar // Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice vinegar, are allowed. The only exception would be malt vinegar, which has added sugar and contains gluten.

My Personal Thoughts & Goals

In general, I don't consume cow's milk (I drink almond milk and have exclusively for years) and I only consume very limited gluten. The grains I do consume include brown rice, corn, and quinoa. The dairy I consume includes cheese, butter and icecream. 

I eat an adequate amount of vegetables but I am challenging myself to double the vegetable portion I have grown accustomed to eating. I also want to amp up the protein I eat. 

One of my biggest goals is to let go of my thoughts of "what typical breakfast food is" and "what typical dinner food is" and instead just view each meal as that -- a meal. I want to eat vegetables at all meals, especially breakfast, because that is a habit I have never really developed. 

I also want to find ways to be creative in the kitchen without overthinking it. It is great to plan new meals and snacks and have fun with it, but I don't want to lose sight of the goal of simplicity. A dinner of grilled chicken & grilled veggies with a small side of fresh fruit is so easy and meets all the requirements. 

For my WHOLE30, I am choosing to focus on the following 6 Principles:

Planning // Plan meals ahead of time so that I am not caught in a pinch or stressed out when it comes time to eat

Preparation // Consider my meal plan and prepare foods accordingly; maybe that means washing and chopping veggies before bed after Dustin and Olivia are asleep, or maybe that means preparing grilled chicken or hard boiled eggs before a busy weekend; whatever it is, I am going to put in the prep time so that during the day -- when I am hungry and have a little girl at my feet -- I am not scrambling to pull something together.

Peer Support // I am really excited to get to know other women via instagram and the blogging community who have completed the WHOLE30 or who are just starting alongside me. I have already found so much support and so many great ideas, as well as meal inspiration just from seeing beautiful photographs! I believe one of the best ways to succeed in anything is by having support from those around you and I hope to offer the support to others while also drawing my own from those who have already experienced it.

Positive Mindset // Do I even need to address why this is included? Positivity makes all the difference in the world and I want to keep a positive mindset throughout my WHOLE30 because I know it will benefit me in so many ways.

Persistence // Although some of the WHOLE30 eating habits may not be new for me (milk, gluten), others are. I want to focus on being persistent every day -- having enthusiasm and courage to keep going and to not give up even if I have a weird day where my meals don't come together or I try a new recipe and it totally fails.

Passion & Pleasure // A really big thing for me is that no matter how or what I am eating, I do not want to feel deprived. I don't want to feel like I am giving up my favorite foods in favor of something that tastes like cardboard. SO I want to be passionate about what I am eating and take pleasure in it! As I spent time writing out meal ideas this week, I seriously was SO excited! I love a good challenge and I am passionate about finding healthy ways to make my kitchen and my diet more fun. Take pleasure in your food, because God gave it to us so that we may enjoy it! Focus on what you are gaining and not what you giving up. Through the WHOLE30, I am determined to find delicious foods that I am passionate about eating so that I never feel deprived. 

A lot of what you will see over the next month on my blog will be WHOLE30 related (in addition to all of my regular series and all the fun posts that are to come about Olivia's 1st Birhthday party!).
I'd love for you to follow along and let me know if you've done it, are doing it, or hope to do it in the future. I welcome any success stories, feedback or tips you may have and of course I am always interested in hearing your favorite WHOLE30 approved recipes! 
Email me or leave a comment below.

Finally, let's kick this weekend off to a delicious start by discussing how AMAZING homemade sweet potato chips are. I made them for the first time last night because I was just so excited to start my WHOLE30 and I couldn't believe (1) that it took me 24 years to try them and (2) that I've been buying store-bought chips for years! Seriously, give these a go and you'll be hooked!

Easy Sweet Potato Chips // WHOLE30 Approved
Thinly slice organic sweet potatoes (skin on) using a mandolin or sharp knife; on my mandolin, I have it set on the thinnest setting. 

Spread sweet potato slices onto a baking sheet (I line mine with tin foil) and coat lightly in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and S+P. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes // 
Chips should be crisp, but not burnt.
Some may be chewy, which I LOVE!

Add extra seasoning as desired and enjoy! 

The Whole30 Program Online // Available Here
The Whole30 Program for PDF Download // Available Here
8 Steps if You're New to the WHOLE30 // Available Here
WHOLE30 Versus Paleo // Available Here
Paleo 101 // Available Here
What About Calcium? on the WHOLE30 // Available Here
Learning about Butter for the WHOLE30 // Available Here
Common Foods that Contain Sulfites // Available Here

Jenna's Kitchen: Meal Inspiration // Instagram Here
Lauren: Eating Whole // Blog Here & Instagram Here
Tara Eats Whole // Instagram Here


  1. I just made the goal to remove fast food and cut back on soda for May. I think I'll do the Whole 30 in June and see how it goes. Like you, I have to start on the first of the month. :)

  2. I have read the book cover to cover and decided to do the Whole 30 just shy of 1 month ago. It wasn't difficult to get going, but I am now finding myself searching for recipes and tips to keep it going comfortably. Like the rest of the world, time can be a problem, so I have had to plan shopping, preparation, storage and creativity more than I would have anticipated. The only difficult piece is doing it alone. My partner is not really interested in doing this with me, hates vegetables and chooses to follow a different dietary path. Although a bit of a rearrangement of our dining routine, I follow Whole 30 and he does what he wants - we cook a protein I know I will eat, I make my veggies, he makes his starches and it seems to be working okay for now. My main motivation for starting this journey was to better my health, specfically to try to reduce my cholesterol. I have genetically high cholesterol from both sides of my family, and now menopausal, that has added to a less than desirable cholesterol indicator. I don't want to have to take prescription statins if at all avoidable so I decided to try the Whole 30 for 60-90 days and then will assess by my next blood test if there has been any benefit to the cholesterol issue by Whole 30. By following the Whole 30, I have noticed alot more energy, far less joint pain, fewer times of feeling bloated, and a small improvement in my sleep quality. I think as I find more recipes and figure out my personal needs for amounts of protein and fats, my hunger will be balanced and I will feel satisfied for the hours in between meals. I am very pleased with Whole 30 so far and amazed by the amount of junk manufacturers sneak into our foods we eat. I do miss my almond milk though.


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