Tomorrow marks the first day of what may very well be the 30 most difficult days of my life. Dramatic? Perhaps. Probably true? Most likely.
I start the Whole30 challenge tomorrow with my boyfriend, John. (It took about three days of begging him to do it with me before he caved. Misery loves company.) It was his idea to start on a day that would coordinate our timing to wrap up the program on a Thursday, so we can then indulge in the foods we’ve missed starting on a Friday, the weekend. Sometimes it’s nice dating such a smartypants. So, that’s why we’re starting on January 4 instead of the 1st, like a lot of other people.
Apparently this program has been around for years, but I only heard about it for the first time a few weeks ago. My boss was talking about how she wanted to do it to cleanse out holiday goodies, and my initial thought when she told me the details of it was that she must be crazy.
And then came the holidays. And the bread, and the cookies, and the ice cream, and the wine, and the enchiladas, and the casseroles, and the cheese and crackers. Suddenly, a cleanse didn’t sound so bad after all. Like I’ve talked about before, I’m not big on jumping on board with health trends — I think a lot of them promise more than they result, and some can be unhealthy physically and mentally.
But when I started researching Whole30, I became excited and terrified all at once. This program encourages eating real food: veggies, meat, seafood, eggs, seeds, nuts, and fruit. Any processed food is discouraged, and sugar, legumes, grains, dairy, and alcohol are not allowed at all. I realized after reading about it that this isn’t really a “cleanse” in the sense I think of, like a juice cleanse where you feel like you’re starving the whole time, but it’s more of a real-foods boost for your body and metabolism.
I also realized, with pure terror, that most of my favorite foods would be nixed from my diet for 30 whole days. But, while I LOVE food and am one of those people who works out almost solely to eat good stuff, it might not be so bad to lay off some things for a few weeks. (Lookin’ at you, ice cream and wine.)
I consider myself to have a pretty healthy mindset toward food, and let me be clear that I’m not doing Whole30 as a punishment for indulging in lots of delicious holiday meals for the last month. It’s more of a way to feel some balance and get back to a simplified way of eating after so much richness. I think everything nutritionally should be a balancing act, so since I’ve had my fair share of junk for the last few weeks, my body is, dare I say, sorta craving healthy, whole foods.
John and I created a Whole30 meal plan for ourselves, found below, for the next four-and-some-change weeks that will help us stay on top of our meals and still feel like we’re eating yummy food (I hope). If you’re considering doing the program, or if you’ve already started it this week or want to start with us tomorrow (eek!), feel free to use our plan for inspiration during your 30-day endeavor.
I am certainly nervous, since I’m an emotional/stress eater and love a glass of wine with dinner, but I’m also pretty freaking excited. I think this will be an interesting challenge for self control and mental toughness, and from what I’ve heard, it’s totally worth it for the way you feel at the end of the 30 days.
Have you done Whole30 before? Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions or advice! Happy Whole30!
Whole 30 Meal Plan — Wednesday, January 4 through Thursday, February 2
(Edit: Most recipes are hyperlinked below. Click on the name of the dish to be redirected to a different blog that provides the recipe. The ones that aren’t hyperlinked are things that I know by heart or have in a cookbook at home, but a quick Google search should provide easy recipes. Also! Some recipes use bacon and sausage; make SURE you buy varieties that are made without sugar. We’ve had luck finding them sugarless at Whole Foods.)
Egg + Veggie “Muffins”
Breakfast Sausage, Eggs, and Avocado
Week 1 W-Sa:
Week 1 Su-Tu:
Week 2 W-Sa:
Week 2 Su-Tu:
Week 3 W-Sa:
Week 3 Su-Tu:
Week 4 W-Sa:
Week 4 Su-Th:
Week 1 W-Th:
Week 1 F-Su:
Week 1 M-Tu:
Week 2 W-Th:
Week 2 F-Su:
Week 2 M-Tu:
Zuppa Toscana (photo example at the top of this post!)
Week 3 W-Th:
Week 3 F-Su:
John’s Bean-less Chili (make enough to freeze leftovers)
Week 3 M-Tu:
Week 4 W-Th:
Week 4 F-Su:
Pecan Crusted Pork Chops (healthy cookbook for couples)
Week 4 M-Tu:
John’s Bean-less Chili (leftovers)
Week 4 W-Th: