This year my sister Ruth and I decided to kick off our new year by attempting the Starve30—I mean Whole30 diet! So far it has been a pretty delightful process, though admittedly there have been a couple instances, especially at first, where Ruth and I both sat on our couch at the end of a day and concurred that all we wanted were some fries. Of course, we didn’t go out and get fries. In fact we have both, for the most part, been pretty steadfast with this diet. One awesome result of this diet is that it has got us buying and eating a lot of fresh produce as well as cooking a lot more! Instead of settling for convenient, quick foods, we are taking time to make fresh, wholesome meals. We still have a ways to go before we make it all the way through this diet, but I wanted to share a few helpful tips that have really worked for us so far.
During the Whole30 diet you will probably find yourself eating a lot more frequently and seemingly eating a lot more in general. You might even feel hungry a lot, especially at first. While Whole30 is not at all about counting calories or pounds on a scale, it might be helpful to keep a calorie count of the foods you eat, just to make sure you are eating enough, especially at first.
Should you find yourself feeling hungry...
The first few days, it seemed my sister and I were perpetually hungry. I think this was due to a lack of carbohydrates in our diet as well as a major decrease in sugar intake. The first thing to do when you feel hungry, especially in the middle of the day, is drink 8 oz. of water. The feeling of hunger can often be a result of dehydration. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated during this whole process.
Also, keep healthy snack food at hand. Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, and pecans), fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and some Lara bars are excellent choices for snacks. I personally love avocados, bananas, and apples for snack-time.
Wait, I have to actually cook?
Ruth and I grew up in a household where we were expected to cook a lot. Also, due to our family’s many dietary needs and health issues, we grew up eating a lot of “strange” food (quinoa, buckwheat, tofu, etc.) so we are not easily deterred when we have to cook and eat foods we are not used to. If you are not used to cooking very much, you had better learn quickly if you want to succeed with this diet! Rest assured that cooking is often a lot more intimidating than it is difficult. Also, cooking fresh meats and veggies does not necessarily have to be incredibly time-consuming.
In the evenings, sometimes all I do for dinner is bake some chicken and then fry up some sweet potatoes, kale, and green beans (yum, yum!) My sister and I also love making curry with chicken, assorted veggies, canned coconut milk and curry spice. This is an awesome dish because you can add a twist of variety with each batch, if you like. Omelets (cheeseless omelets) also make for a fantastic, easy, wholesome meal. Speaking of omelets, eat a lot of eggs during your Whole30. They are a fantastic source of protein and make for very substantial meals.
Chia seeds in everything!
Chia seeds are an awesome natural source of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. They are not very flavorful and their texture is very subtle so they blend well into all kinds of things. Even when I am done with this diet, chia seeds will definitely remain a part of my regular meals. I first discovered chia seeds in a Synergy drink at the grocery store (kombucha tea with chia seeds!) last year but you can put chia seeds in pretty much anything—water, juice, kombucha, tea, smoothies, coffee (well, maybe not coffee)—and you can even make pudding out of chia seeds! The possibilities are endless. I prefer mixing them with diluted fruit juice in the mornings to kick-start my day.
Add a flare of spice...
While my sister and I are not consuming processed sugar or any kind of sweetener during this diet, our food is certainly not without flavor. Whole30 is a chance to examine seasonings and flavors in your food that you might otherwise overlook. It is also a chance to simplify your food and appreciate the flavors in your veggies and fruits simply for themselves. One of my favorite ways to flavor food is with fresh lemon or lime juice. Fresh basil is also pretty fantastic. Fresh any-spice (cilantro, parsley, thyme, rosemary) is awesome. The world is full of a plethora of spices and flavors. You should never feel limited to salt, pepper, and sugar. Now is your chance to experiment and have fun. You might feel limited and hungry for a while, but the further you get into the process the savvier you will become at cooking and experimenting and before you know it a whole new world of food will have opened up before you!
Overall, my sister and I are eating so much more good food than we normally do. We go through two cartons of eggs every week and our supplies of potatoes, fresh veggies and fruits rapidly dwindle away in the space of a few days. It’s awesome because before I have always been wary of getting too much fresh produce—if you don’t eat it, it goes bad and then you waste money. But when you orient your whole diet around fresh produce, fresh eggs, and fresh meat, it disappears quickly and food-going-bad and wasting money on groceries is suddenly not a problem. For more information on the Whole30 diet, see their official website at the following link. If you have ever attempted the Whole30 diet or are currently attempting it, I would love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!