Whole30 Challenge Tips: Beginners Survival Guide

Whole30 Challenge Tips Beginners Survival Guide

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Trying to survive a Whole30 food challenge is not easy but these tips I am sharing, really helped me keep my head above water. 

My goal was to focus on eating healthier and losing weight.

Are you overweight and frustrated from trying to lose those extra pounds?

Do you lack energy and feel tired and sluggish?

You are not alone, believe me. I have tried to lose weight but nothing has really worked or been sustainable for me.

Every time I start to diet, I lose a few pounds and gain it right back or I just lose interest and feel self-defeat very early on.

Recently, a friend and I were talking about working out and I mentioned that I wanted to lose some weight to feel better.  She encouraged me to do a Whole30 Challenge with her.

I stopped for a moment and thought to myself, “this is probably one of those fad diets.” But ok, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and hear her out.

Some of my friends had told me about the Whole30 Challenge but I never really paid any attention. Quite honestly, I didn’t want something else that didn’t work. All right, I plead ignorance here or laziness….

After some questioning, she told me that she had done it several times and not only lost weight but FELT AMAZING! I thought, what have I got to lose. She told me to read up on the program and find out what was involved and what I needed to do to prepare.

What is The Whole30 Challenge?

The Whole30 challenge is a 30-day, clean-eating nutrition reset for our bodies.

It emphasizes eating only whole foods in order to reset unhealthy cravings and habits.

You cut out all dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, alcohol and any other processed foods that could have a negative impact on your health.

The Founder of Whole30, Melissa Hartwig, says that the Whole30 promises to change your life in 30 days by resetting your health, habits, and relationship with food.”

My WHY for doing this?

Why? Because I felt miserable.

Personally, I have been frustrated with unwanted weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, and interrupted sleep.

Certain foods were having a negative impact on my health but there was one culprit in particular.


I knew this because I felt the awful side effects of sugar when I ate it, especially with my sleep.

Yes, SUGAR was the one big addiction that I needed to get control over.

It was time to take charge. This was not going to be easy for me because I felt like I had failed miserably so many times before.

First, read the entire Whole30Book. 

My friend had two books she recommended, 

“It Starts Here with Food” and the other one “The Whole 30.”  

Both of these books really helped answer my questions and directed me in the right steps.

Plan and Prepare

Planning is the key to having success.

Do your research and find out what foods you need to have on hand and what to avoid.

Before you start your Whole30 Challenge, plan your meals for the week, put together your shopping list and get all your shopping done in advance.  

Have an emergency stash of Whole30 snacks that are compliant in case you need something on the fly. It’s much better than grabbing junk food on the run and regretting it after.

Check out this Whole30 compliant shopping list to help you get started.

Find it here.

Friends Helping Friends

That’s why I started this challenge because a friend asked me to join her. I have to admit I was excited because it’s so much easier when you have the support of friends and family.

Just think of them as your own personal cheerleading squad.

They are behind you 100% and want you to succeed.

You can share your resources with each other to better equip yourself. If you find an aspect of the program challenging, talk it over with a friend, especially if they have done the program before.


Don’t Overcomplicate Your Whole30 Meals

Not sure about you, but I like to keep things simple. Especially if I am short on time and need to get a meal together in a hurry. I love one-pot meals.  They have been a lifesaver, not to mention, less of a mess to clean up later.

Quiches are a super easy thing to make for breakfast. Just add all your favorite veggies in a cast-iron skillet add your eggs, and pop it in the oven. My mother always used a cast iron pan for cooking our meals growing up.  The possibilities are endless and it’s pretty much foolproof.

As you learn the ropes you can be more creative with your meals.


Clear The Junk from Your Cupboards

This is so important if you don’t want to make the mistake of binging on junk food in a weak moment.

If the junk food is not there then it won’t give you the stare down every time you open the cupboard door or go in the fridge.

My go-to snacks when I got hungry were sliced cucumbers, carrots, celery, apples or almonds. I had these available to grab so I didn’t binge on something I would regret later.  So stock up on your favorite vegetables as snacks and it will help you stay on track.

This has happened to me so many times and I would end up grabbing whatever was easiest, and usually the unhealthiest, just to satisfy my hunger.


Make Meals So You Have Leftovers

This is so important if you don’t want to make the mistake of binging on junk food in a weak moment.

If the junk food is not there then it won’t give you the stare down every time you open the cupboard door or go in the fridge.

This has happened to me so many times and I end up grabbing whatever is easiest, and usually the unhealthiest, just to satisfy myself because I was famished.

Recognize Your Limitations and You Are Human

Changing your eating habits and relationship with food can be a struggle. If you eat or drink something not on the plan, don’t beat yourself up. Life is not perfect and neither are you, so don’t sweat it.

Focus on one day at a time and get through that.

Just try and stick to the Whole30 rules as best you can. Think about your why for doing the program and what you want your end results to be. If you are struggling with something don’t be afraid to ask for help and pat yourself on the back for all your small victories along the way. Remember, you can do it! Give yourself a high five.


Where Do I Get Recipe Ideas?

Where does anyone find recipe inspiration? Well, one of my favorite places is PINTEREST of course.

When I decided I was going to do this program I had no idea what I was going to eat or how to properly prepare my food according to the guidelines.

I had a lot of homework and reading to do.

You will find a variety of recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that are all Whole30 compliant. A lot of the recipes are quick and easy and can be made on a budget. The possibilities are endless.

My favorite recipe is called crackslaw.  The name says it all because it truly is addicting.  There are numerous variations you can find on Pinterest but here is the recipe that I have recommended to my friends and they love it.  Of course, you need to make slight adjustments and leave out the SUGAR.

Another place for more recipe inspiration and tips is found on Whole30.com where they provide a wealth of valuable information to help you be successful in doing the challenge.

Benefits I Received from Whole30:

  1. Weight loss. My clothes were definitely fitting looser.
  2. Improved digestion. I noticed a huge improvement in my bowel movements. I was going sometimes twice a day (happy dance) instead of every other day.
  3. Improved sleep. My quality of sleep was better and I woke up less often.
  4. Sugar cravings gone. Surprisingly, I didn’t have the sugar cravings I expected.
  5. Found out what foods didn’t like me. For sure dairy and pasta made me feel more bloated. I have since switched to coconut yogurt and pasta is now a treat.

Mistakes I Made

  1. I failed to read the books before. If I had read about the Whole30 program in advance in order to be successful, I would have been more prepared.
  2. “Not to re-create junk foods, baked goods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients.” Yup, it’s right there on page 209 in the It Starts Here with Food book. Most people make this mistake their first time according to the book – I did.
  3. I did not weigh myself at the end. Prior to starting Whole30, I did weigh myself.  My clothes were looser, and I could fit into things I could not before, so I did lose weight. I just did not want to equate my success with a number of a scale, but next time I will do the math so I know what I lost.
  4. I ate food that was not Whole30 compliant.  If I had been more prepared, this would not have happened but I am not going to beat myself up over this.

My relationship with food has changed. I am more aware and in control of what I eat.  

It has helped me to focus on the consequences of my actions if I don’t control my eating.

I learned valuable insight into my eating habits and my relationship with food.  Whole30 is a game-changer for me and I am thankful.

  • What Whole30 Challenge tips would you like to share?
  • What challenges have you faced?
  • What lessons did you learn?