You might be feeling frightened or excited… or both. (The fabulous Melissa Joulwan calls this “frexcited.”) These are typical emotions when embarking on a new adventure. Try to remember that while your Whole30 is a big deal… it’s not really that scary at all. It’s just 30 days of eating real food that tastes great and nourishes your body—simple, natural, easy!
We call this first week “transitional” because we know there are a lot of things shifting in your world right now. Let’s be honest: you’re taking on a lot. Changing your eating habits, slaying the sugar dragon, and learning to prepare meals in a whole new way can be emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. But you’re also fired up about the challenge, changing your life, and accomplishing the goals you set for yourself on Day 0. Let your enthusiasm for the process and your commitment carry you through this first week.
During your first few days, we’ll give you lots of tools to help you navigate this stage of your Whole30. And believe us—each day you maintain your commitment to the Whole30 puts you closer to the other side, when your energy levels will surge, your body will be stronger and leaner, your digestive system will be happier than it’s been in years, and you will positively glow with good health and happiness.
Why not stop by the Whole30 Forum and share how you’re feeling? We have a special section set up just for Day One introductions.
Have a great Day 1!
Why We Eat What We Eat: Good Food Standards
From It Starts With Food: Choose your foods by following these four Good Food standards. We’re pretty picky about this: all the foods we recommend have to satisfy all four criteria. Not three, not most … all.
The food that you eat should:
Promote a healthy psychological response. As a rule, we think the foods that are good for your body should also not mess with your mind. And we think the psychological effects of your food choices are perhaps the most important factors to consider during your healthy-eating transformation.
This is why the Whole30 includes rules like, “No Paleo-ifying desserts or junk food” or “No stepping on the scale for 30 days.” The guidelines aren’t just about how these foods (and behaviors) are affecting you physically, but also how they play into our unhealthy relationships with food, eating, and our bodies.
Promote a healthy hormonal response. Chronic “overcarbsumption” of food-with-no-brakes leads to reliance on sugar for fuel, an accumulation of body fat, triglyceride buildup in the liver, and an excess of glucose and triglycerides in the bloodstream. But you can stop overconsuming, dial all the way back to insulin and leptin sensitivity, retrain your body to burn fat and, to a significant degree, restore normal cortisol levels, by doing one simple thing: changing the food you put on your plate.
This is why our plan includes nutrient-dense, whole foods (no nutrient-poor-but-technically-Paleo options!) and why we include guidelines like, “Eat three meals a day, trying not to snack,” and “Start your day with a breakfast focused on protein and fat.” The food choices and mealtime habits you’ll develop on your Whole30 will start to restore a healthy hormonal balance quickly.
Support a healthy gut. We believe you should consume only foods (and drinks) that support normal, healthy digestive function; eating anything that impairs the integrity of your gut impairs the integrity of your health.
This is why the Whole30 is 100% for 30 days—no cheats, slips, or special occasions. If you’re sensitive to a particular substance, it only takes a tiny amount to promote disruption in the gut (and elsewhere in the body). You must completely eliminate all potentially problematic foods for the full 30 days to allow your gut time and space to heal.
Support immune function and minimize inflammation. Your food choices should result in a well-rested, highly-effective defense system. In other words, food should not cause excessive ongoing immune activity, also known as chronic systemic inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation is at the heart of metabolic syndrome.
This is perhaps the most significant standard of them all, because systemic inflammation is related to just about every lifestyle-related disease and condition you can think of. It’s also sneaky, and can manifest itself in any number of different ways in the body—no two people’s symptoms are alike. And it’s why we eliminate the foods and beverages we do, as they have all been shown to promote inflammation either directly, or indirectly through impaired gut integrity.
Want to know the secret to surviving your Whole30 without being a slave to the kitchen? Turns out you don’t need fancypants recipes that take hours to prepare to eat delicious, healthy food. All you need are the right basic ingredients.
One of the biggest reasons people are initially reluctant to change their diets to a whole food-based approach is that at the outset, it appears complicated and time consuming. The thing is, complicated and time consuming couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’ve made preparing delicious, healthy food even easier with the Meal Map in It Starts With Food. It’s simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Are you ready? Here is the basic formula:
No intricate 52-step recipes.
No five trips to Williams-Sonoma to pick up cooking tools you’ll only ever use once.
No fancy ingredients that you’ll only find at high-end specialty shops.
Just you, maybe some loved ones, a simple plan, and beautiful, nutritious food.
Ground meat is very versatile and cooks quickly, so a variety of meals are only a few minutes away at any time. Experiment with beef, lamb, pork, turkey, and bison—we’ve given you ideas below to get you started. You might just discover a new favorite! To make a one-skillet meal, cook 1 to 2 cups of vegetables per person. Then, place another 1 to 2 Tbsp cooking fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cooked ground meat and vegetables, and season accordingly (seasoning amounts are per person). Sauté until heated through.
Morning Mix: ground pork or turkey · diced apple · ⅛ tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg. A great morning meal, or “breakfast for dinner.” A real kid pleaser!
Indian Curry: ground beef or lamb · cauliflower · carrots · ¼ cup coconut milk · 1 tsp curry powder. Trade cauliflower for broccoli and/or raw diced tomatoes for a different flavor sensation.
Thai Basil Beef: ground beef · green beans · red bell pepper · 1 Tbsp each lime juice and coconut aminos · a few fresh basil leaves. Top with a squeeze of lime juice for added zing. Great for breakfast with an egg added to the mix—or in a bowl with lots of broth for instant soup.
30 Days of Whole30
Afraid your next month’s worth of meals will consist of exciting dishes like grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and clarified butter; or eggs, spinach and avocado? Fear not! We’ve put together a giant list of Whole30 meal plans from around the Web, so you can avoid E.P.S. (Empty Plate Syndrome) during your Whole30.
Between the Whole30 Daily, our free free Whole30 Forum, and our collection of Whole30 meal plans, heck… we may as well come to your house and do your Whole30 for you!*
*That would cost extra, but if you live in Prague, the Croatian coast, or Costa Rica, we’d consider it.
Quick Tip of the Day
Right now, think of three meals you could make in 15 minutes or less, with ingredients you’ll always have on hand. Then, write them down and post them in a prominent place in your kitchen or on your fridge. Bingo! You’ve got a plan for those nights when you arrive home hungry, cranky, and too tired to whip up a gourmet meal—and when your favorite (less healthy) take-out restaurant is likely to be calling your name.
Green curry using frozen shrimp and frozen stir-fry vegetables.
Scrambled eggs with canned artichokes, black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Kale or spinach salad topped with canned tuna, fresh cherries or berries, and slivered almonds.
A quick hash with frozen chicken sausage, onion, peppers, and sweet potato.
A Little Inspiration
Just in case you’re still a little nervous about what’s to come…
“Before I tell you what the Whole30 is, I would like to share my thoughts on what the Whole 30 is not. The Whole30 is not a diet. It is not a twenty-two day program with eight cheat days (weekends) built in. It is not 30 days of restriction, to be followed by 335 days of gluttony. Here is what the Whole30 is. It is life-changing. It is the path to healing your insides. It is about eating real food and learning that what you put into your body actually matters. It is a test of the level of respect you have for this one body you were given. Simply put, if you follow it the way it was written, it works. If you don’t, it doesn’t. My only regret is that I waited so long to do it.” —Tara O., Edwardsburg, Michigan
Now, get to it… and good luck on your first day of the Whole30.
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