I tried Whole 30 and here’s my honest review. See my tips and find out what happened after 8 days–plus my favorite food finds! This post contains affiliate links to help support the blog, but is not sponsored in any way.
Okay, okay. I know you’re thinking 8 days…isn’t is supposed to be 30?! I’ll explain. A few weeks ago I was super excited to start my journey with Whole 30. Since it’s not really a diet, it seemed completely do-able. If you’re not familiar, Whole 30 is a 30 day program which essentially detoxes your body. I have been super lethargic and losing weight has become difficult. To ensure I don’t have any unknown dietary issues, I thought this plan would be PERFECT!
So what is it, exactly? A lot of people compare it to Paleo, but it is a bit different. You can’t have: dairy, alcohol, legumes, grains or sugar. All fruit is a-okay and vegetables are all acceptable, except for corn, peas and edamame. It focuses on having three larger meals a day and no calorie counting since all of the food is whole and healthy.
The book is SUPER informative and it has a ton of great recipes. All of the rules are easily explained and you really know what you’re ready for. The recipes are relatively easy and nothing is super time consuming. I tried quite a few of the condiments–roasted red pepper sauce is going to be a staple for Sunday prep days! SO good!
- The food is delish. Although it’s hard to completely cut out carbs and beans, our dinners were very delicious and filling. More about our week’s meals coming up!
- The website has all of the help you’re going to need! There are forums and you can easily find answers to any questions you might have.
- It’s truly eye opening. There is soy and sugar hidden in everything. It really makes you re-evaluate your regular pantry staples, especially salad dressings and sauces.
- Encourages you to try new veggies! At the farmers market, we picked up kohlrabi and were really excited to try it. I spiralized it to make a crunchy topper for our turkey burgers and it was a hit!
- It can be budget friendly! Despite what most people think, it CAN be done on a budget. Not all veggies have to be fresh, chose some frozen favorites. Also, shop seasonally and what’s on sale. I found coconut flour in the bulk bin and it was a fraction of the pre-packaged price!
- Lemme see you prep, prep, prep, prep, prep. Seriously, TONS of work is involved. While everything is delicious, it’s also time consuming. I had my week pretty well prepared on Sunday and I was still making dressings, condiments, chopping and more. It’s starts to consume your life. To successfully prepare everything, be sure you have a chopper, blender and a nice skillet. Also spices are key. Mason jars were super helpful for storage, too.
- No smoothies allowed. This rule is still quite strange for me. My morning smoothies consist of everything that was approved, yet they don’t want you to drink your calories. Hence, no smoothies. Without my daily go-to, I kept forgetting to eat in the morning chaos.
- Get ready to second guess EVERYTHING you put in your mouth. You’re going to have to read every label. The Sunday before, I removed all un-approved spices and condiments from the kitchen and I still had to think about EVERY bite, especially when cooking for the girls. I unconsciously eat quite a bit more than I realized!
- Going out to eat is kind of a pain. Almost impossible. There are some restaurant finds on the forums if you absolutely have to go out to eat, but it sounds like such a pain. We have a vacation planned next week and it would have been almost impossible to eat on-plan for 4 days.
Obviously, it was too time consuming for me. I think maybe during the school year, it would have been much easier. But with the 3 kiddos at home and a super busy end of summer schedule, I was spending way too much time prepping and cooking. Plus, it was SO hard to resist sweet summer corn and a cold craft beer.
Honestly, I felt AWFUL for quitting at first. I was so excited to start and I felt like a failure. I truly wanted to see if this could work. What I did take away from the Whole 30 plan is that I can adapt it to fit my lifestyle as a change in diet completely, not just for 30 days. I want to cut back on sugars and carbs, also limit alcohol to a Saturday glass of wine. I truly think that is a do-able way to live our busy life.
My favorite food finds.
- Turkey Meatballs w/ zoodles. I used the organic marinara from Aldi, zucchini noodles and make super simple meatballs, which used coconut flour instead of breadcrumbs, plus egg, onion and Italian seasoning. I should have doubled the batch, we gobbled them up!
- Grilled Steak with Chimichurri. The chimichurri recipe is available in the book and I made a batch, freezing 3/4 in an ice cube tray. So tasty with green onions, parsley, cilantro and vinegar. On Whole 30, you’ll learn how to make potatoes in various ways–these are baked wedges.
- Slow-Cooker Pork. This was delicious and I froze half for later. Mid-week I was really craving some comfort food and I served it with mashed sweet potato/red potato mix. For mashed potatoes, I used ghee and a little bit of coconut milk. You can also use a compliant veggie stock.
- Fajita Veggie Salad. During Sunday prep, I made a huge batch of fajita veggies for the week, seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin and garlic powder. They were so handy to have for quick meals!
- Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Thighs. This was SO good, I had to type up the recipe. It’s going to be a staple in our house, FOR SURE. One night, I was trying to figure out what to do with chicken thighs and this recipe happened by a fluke. Don’t you love when that happens?!
- 8 Bone-In , Skin on Chicken Thighs
- 2 Tablespoons 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joe's)--or Grill Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon fresh or dried Thyme
- 1 whole onion , thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup whole green olives
- Optional Gravy: 2 teaspoons coconut flour + 1/2 cup veggie stock
Preheat oven to 375º
In a small bowl, combine 21 Season Salute, garlic powder, smoked paprika, thyme and salt + pepper (to taste). Rub chicken thighs with spice mixture.
Heat a cast iron skillet (or any oven friendly pot) over medium high heat. Place half of chicken (4 pieces) into pan, skin side down. Slightly brown for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and do other half of chicken. Remove from pan after browning.
Add entire onion to bottom of the cast iron skillet. Arrange chicken on top. Add sun dried tomatoes and olives.
Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
To make gravy, remove chicken from pan. Sprinkle in coconut flour. Stir for 1 minute.
Slowly pour in veggie stock, adding more if needed. Whisk until a smooth gravy is formed.
Serve with a side veggie and mashed potatoes.
To ensure it's Whole 30 compliant, read the ingredients on the veggie stock to check for any hidden sugars. Also, for mashed potatoes use coconut milk and ghee.
Whew, now I have that off my chest! Like I said, I was feeling SO GUILTY for quitting, but I did want to share some of the good that came from my 8 days on Whole 30. I would love to hear your stories if you’ve tried it!