Whole 30 Debrief: Tips & Tools

Hey Party-Makers,

Checking in from the other side of Whole 30! Honestly, I cannot believe this month is already over. It’s been really fun to spend the month taking care of our bodies, and creating beautiful and delicious food for you.

When we started Whole 30 this round, we were completely in it to restart our bodies. I can’t say we were committed at that time to making any lifestyle changes, but as the month progressed we found ourselves falling in love with whole foods. We experienced a lot of creativity, simplicity, and discipline in sticking to a specific eating regimen for the month. As I’ve been debriefing the experience, I’m honestly a little bit sad that it’s over. There’s something about a plan that is really comforting to me, and realizing that the ball is in my court now feels like a lot of responsibility.


So it’s over. Now what?

Last time we did Whole 30, we had NO transition time. On day 31 I ran to the vending machines at our office and bought chocolate milk. I did not waste any time reintroducing food, and it took about a week for me to abandon any food goals I set for myself prior to the end of Whole 30. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it’s a bigger awareness of what my body needs, but this go around we’re trying to ease back into some foods, and acknowledging that we need to change some in our eating habits.

I’m realizing more and more that you can do Whole 30 two ways: You can do it for the quick fix OR you can do it to break habits, and create long-term balance. I almost hate to type the words, but Whole 30 changed my perspective around food. Not in a way where I am afraid of food, or I’m only going to eat Whole 30 from now on.

I think the cliche way to explain it, is Food Freedom. Spending 30 days towards accomplishing this goal gave me some time to experiment with making quick + nutritious meals that satisfied my unhealthier cravings. It gave me the time to invest in finding salads that I ACTUALLY enjoy as a MEAL. It gave me the space to realize that I can have self control and say no to midnight cravings. It encouraged me to find nutritious snacks that I can munch on without feeling guilty.

And as an added plus? I feel really, really good.

Here are some of the most noticeable physical changes I’ve seen

  • increased energy
  • clearer, more hydrated skin
  • weight loss. I lost about 8 lbs this go around that I wasn’t intending to lose, but that were within healthy bounds
  • increased strength—my muscles feel stronger pre/post workouts
  • changes in cravings (I’M CRAVING SALADS, Y’ALL)
  • no more heartburn

I also feel like during this round of Whole 30, I’ve experienced a holistic perspective on my health. I told you all about this in one of the recipe posts, but I’m finding myself reading more and more labels, drinking more water, and being more picky about the products I put on my skin or use in my household.


Eating Life

Now that Whole 30 is over, we are reintroducing foods every two days and jotting down how they make us feel (if we’re having an effect at all). For the time being, I’m completely okay with adding back in beans and whole grain rice. The verdict for us is still out on dairy and gluten. While I don’t believe we’ll stop consuming either of those all-together, they might be reserved for Fancy Friday’s for us.

Transitioning out of Whole 30 and into our own food choices, we’re thinking right now that we’re going to continue to eat and cook Whole 30 around our house Monday-Thursday (with the addition of rice and beans), and allow our weekend days to be times where we’re a little more flexible. Because we haven’t identified any heavy allergies, we’re wanting to have balance and not completely cut out any foods. While also recognizing that eating this way makes us feel a lot better than when we set no boundaries around food.


Blogging Life

As far as the blog goes, I’ll make sure to either specify when a recipe is paleo/whole 30 compliant. Because of the changes we’re hoping to implement in our day-to-day, you might still see those on here from time to time.

That having been said, over the next few weeks I’m going to be trying out some gluten free recipes on the blog. One of the most frustrating things for me in the food world, is how expensive and inaccessible some health foods are. It’s really discouraging for me to see this trend, because I don’t think it should cost a lot of money to eat food that is good for your body.

While we aren’t cutting gluten totally out of our diets, we do want to try to eat a little less of it, because we honestly feel really good when we’re not eating it. Unfortunately gluten free foods are one of those things that just end up costing a lot of money at the store, so I’m going to do my best to come up with a few recipes that are healthy, easy, and affordable. So far I want to try out making GF pasta, biscuits, tortillas, pie crust, and dinner rolls. If there’s something you’d like to see GF, I’d love to hear about it and work on a recipe! I really want to be making foods that you want to eat.


Whole 30 Tips

If you’re currently on the fence about whether or not to do Whole 30, or you’ve decided to do Whole 30, I have some tips for a successful round!

  • Don’t do it alone. There is strength in numbers, y’all. Something about having someone to commiserate AND celebrate with, is just incredibly encouraging. I’ve heard stories of friend groups that do Whole 30 and do lunch swaps at work, or group dinners together to keep things social. It’s also just super helpful to have someone with you to help keep you accountable. If you can, recruit your partner, spouse, parents, coworkers, or friends to join you. Just having one other person to walk through this experience with is super helpful.
  • Spend some serious time meal-prepping. I talked through this some in this blog post but it is so important to have a weekly plan for your meals, as well as ready-to-go meals and snacks. Before every grocery shopping trip, we made a list of our meals for the week. We spent time thinking how we could reuse the leftover ingredients from meals early in the week, to later in the week. It was essential to helping us stay within our budget, and to make sure we were never in a place where we were out of Whole 30 food options (the most dangerous time to cheat).
  • Pack snacks! At any given time you should have a bag of almonds or a larabar in your car, at your desk, or in your backpack/purse. Sometimes you don’t have control over where you’re at, and it’s important to have food options on the go. Y’all, I almost caved in the LAST WEEK of whole 30 because I was out running errands at Costco and it was 2 PM and I hadn’t had lunch.
  • Surround yourself with inspiration. Whether it’s the Whole 30 Facebook page, or instagram feeds, it’s important that you fill your social media feeds with accounts that offer compliant recipes. Why? Because when we get bored, we scroll, and when we scroll we get hungry. Even if it’s just for those 30 days, it will be so much help to have accounts with beautiful food ideas and recipes to keep you on track, and to help balance out all the other food accounts that show you too many things you can’t eat.
  • Fill your schedule. One of the most helpful things for us during Whole 30, was to be busy and not isolate ourselves. We took on a few projects so that we had things to do in the evening, and invited friends over (true friends will eat Whole 30 with you for the night, y’all) to make sure we weren’t killing our social lives while on Whole 30. We didn’t go out to eat much last month, but we did hike multiple times, we grilled out with friends, and hung out around PDX. It was definitely a little more work to pack our own food/snacks when we were out and about, but at least we weren’t resenting Whole 30 for making us home bodies.

Whole 30 Tools

If nothing else, y’all, Whole 30 will turn you into a kitchen champion. It’s a really good way to get your feet wet with meal planning/prepping, and learning to make basic staples in the kitchen. Your future self will thank you when you’re off whole 30 and know all about making homemade hashbrowns and poached eggs.

 

Here are a list of the kitchen tools that were LIFE SAVERS in this round of Whole 30:

A Handheld Cheese Grater

I know that sounds counter intuitive when you can’t have cheese, right? Wrong. I used this to make fake parmesan cheese for my ‘pasta’ dishes + it’s PERFECT for shredding potatoes for homemade hash browns (see above). The exact model I have is no longer for sale because we got it two years ago and the world just keeps improving, but this is almost exactly the same as what we have. It comes with two grating drums so you can choose between fine grating, and shreds (better for the potatoes). As an added plus, when you finish Whole 30, you can buy fancy blocks of fresh cheese to add to your food (soooo much less processed than bagged cheese, with no fillers!).

 

Vegetable Noodle Maker

This vegetable noodle maker combination. Honestly, this is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I used this to spiral my carrots (because shredded carrots are more picture worthy and are a super easy salad topping), and my zucchini and squash into noodles. I love that it comes with a little brush to help clean it out, and a peeler. I love that it’s hand-help (a little elbow grease never hurt anyone), because it makes it easy to store when you don’t have space for a standing one. I use the peeler to make vegetable ribbons like the cucumbers and carrots in these meals:

 

A Food Dehydrator

Full disclosure: we bought our food dehydrator off of Craigslist, because we live on a budget, y’all $$$. But this is the exact model we got. This dehydrator is worth it’s weight in GOLD, mi gente. We used it to make homemade jerky, dehydrated apples, and other fruits. Our hiking selves LOVED us when we finished hiking Dog Mountain (seen below, and the hardest short hike we’ve done) and we had a half a pound of carne asada jerky to munch on. I’m also super stoked to use this to make dehydrated food for our upcoming backpacking trip. On that same note, I’m pretttttty sure Ben ate about 4 pounds of homemade jerky this round of Whole 30? It’s SO GOOD.

 

A Lodge Pre-Seasoned Mini Skillet

Okay, y’all. I got my lodge as a gift from my mom. I have this 5″, a 10″ and a 12.5″ skillet and they are some of my FAVORITE cooking tools. If you can get all the Lodge cast irons, DO IT (speaking of another undervalued wedding registry item). Nothing else cooks your eggs to crispy perfection. The only reason I’m highlighting this size, is because it’s the easiest when cooking for 1-2 people and it’s usually what I cook most of my breakfasts in. If you’ve got a small space, this guy is easy to store/clean/upkeep. I usually cook all my breakfast hashes/scrambles in this, and then cook my egg in it at the end, so it soaks up all the extra flavor.

seriously, check out the drool-worthiness of the crisp around those eggs!

 

Some other items I would recommend to have on hand would be:

 


As you can tell, this round of Whole 30 was so much more of a holistic health experience for us. I think a lot of the reason it was a more successful round, was because we were just better resourced with time to put into making good food. I recognize that this isn’t an option for everyone, which is why I want to share as many resources as possible from our trial and error process, so that you can have quick and accessible resources to plan your Whole 30 experience. If you have any questions that haven’t been answered in our blog series, please ask! We’re not trying to keep any secrets over here 🙂

Also, for all my omnivores out there who have kept up with our blog while we’ve been navigating Whole 30: THANK YOU. Your support and encouragement means the world. Some of my favorite comments to see this round were from folks who were COMPLETELY anti-whole 30, and who began opening up to the idea of it.

While Whole 30 isn’t for everyone, pursuing a healthy life should be a part of all of our eating experiences. If this series has accomplished that for at least one person, I’ll consider that success.

 

Love & Balance,

Mary-Beth is a creative, food-obsessed, Georgia transplant living in the PNW. She is proudly and fiercely Latina. You can usually find her wandering her house in pajamas staging the next social justice revolution in her head, or eating her way through Portland with her favorite people. Her life is a constant juggling of chasing joy, learning about rest/work balance, pursuing justice, and loving her crew deeply. Also tacos. Her life is full of really good tacos.

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