Whole30: Days 1-5

When I started my Whole30 journey, I thought I’d just capture the best part and the biggest struggle of my experience each day. Then I realized that taking pictures of the food that I was eating could be a useful accountability tool. By day 3, I made the switch to trying to capture all that I was eating. I wasn’t always successful with recording every item in photos, and that’s okay. Documentation perfection was not my goal, instead I wanted to use the act of taking pictures as a prompt for mindfulness.

My pictures can serve the dual purpose of giving you an idea of how my Whole30 progressed. For example, I ate a lot more snacks in the beginning as I struggled with getting the right amount of fats with each meal, and I think that’s clearly evident in what you see.

Tip: Document your Whole30 in a way that works for you. It’s hard to remember what happened each day, but if you find yourself needing to troubleshoot your Whole30, having notes or visuals can be helpful! You don’t have to post it or make it public; this can be just for you.

 w301 Day 1
Highlight: Eat the rainbow!
Lowlight: Realizing I have 29 more days before I can crack open this wonderful birthday present (wherein “meh” is really all I can do to keep from crying).
 w302 Day 2
Highlight: Still eating the rainbow.
Lowlight: What the rest of the family had for dinner. Chick-Fil-A is my kryptonite!
 w303 Day 3
Highlight: Purple cauliflower (or, as my daughter called it, princess flower).
Lowlight: None. It was a pretty great day!
 w304 Day 4
Highlight: Savory sweet potatoes are the bomb.
Lowlight: Poor planning led to ugly plates. And too few veggies. And really I had two apples. And 4 sausage patties. And I could go for a Blizzard.
 w305 Day 5
Highlight: Veggies are back and I really did miss them! Not pictured: pecans for a snack.
Lowlight: I love leftovers, but I need some new leftovers. I still have one more day to go on these leftovers though. Sigh.

Whole30: Food Planning Tips

In all likelihood, sticking to the Whole30 rules means you’ll be eating at home A LOT. The only way to know what you are eating is to prepare your own food. Sorry y’all. While meal planning goes a long way and will keep you from getting bored, make sure you have some staples around so you never find yourself in a jam!

Here are some strategies that set me up to make good food choices on a day-to-day basis.

  • Batch cook protein—I have some nifty Pyrex dishes with lids. These made it really easy to bake batches of protein, cool them off, and then stick them directly in the fridge for meals throughout the week. Breakfast casseroles and chicken thighs were some of my favorite items to do this with.
  • Prep a large salad—Having the makings of a salad readily available saved me on more Whole30 days than I can count. I have a very old 26-cup Tupperware bowl that I filled with good lettuce and chopped up, hardy veggies. I didn’t pre-chop and add tomatoes (too much moisture) or onions (too much odor) to the bowl; those I did on-demand. I found I had to re-fill this bowl about twice a week.
  • Hard boil eggs—When you’re running short on time, grabbing an egg or two on your way out the door, or chopping them and throwing them on your salad can keep you fueled until you can get a better serving of fats and protein. Peel them and keep them in the fridge until you need them.
  • Ready-to-go snacks—Even though a Whole30 goal is to keep snacking to a minimum, keeping compliant, healthy snacks within easy reach is a must. In addition to easily-portable things like apples and bananas, I always had various nuts, single-serve black olives, and my favorite Epic Uncured Bacon Bites nearby. Higher fat and protein levels helped to keep me satiated until I could get a decent meal.


Whole30 at 37: Changing My Fuel

I decided to do a Whole30 starting the day after my 37th birthday.

Whole30 is a strict version of the Paleo diet that serves as a reset for your body. The hope is that you can clear your body of foods you negatively react to, in most cases without even realizing it, and slowly reintroduce foods with the opportunity to examine your body’s response.

I’ve dabbled with Paleo since 2011. My newborn daughter and I had a pretty good case of thrush, and I immersed myself in trying to rid us of it. The anti-fungal medication doctors gave us didn’t help. Most of the holistic things I tried didn’t help either. Then I tried two things in conjunction with each other, out of desperation: Paleo and probiotics. The thrush cleared up very quickly after that. For what it’s worth, when my second daughter started showing signs of thrush, I skipped all the headache and went straight to paleo and probiotics. The pediatrician was surprised it cleared on its own.

I mention my dabbling with Paleo only to set the stage for why I think I was able to stick with the Whole30 on the first try. I’d been slowly, slowly moving me (us) toward Paleo for almost 4 years. There weren’t a lot of new, fancy ingredients or gadgets I needed to buy. And mentally, I already bought into the fact that simplifying what I ate was a very good thing.

But what brought me to this very strict, fundamental version of Paleo? The reasons are varied and numerous; these are some:

  • Granuloma Annulare—It sounds scary but it isn’t. I have an autoimmune condition that causes rash-like splotches on my skin. It manifests primarily on my feet and one arm (so far). It’s not contagious and it’s not life threatening, so there isn’t much money or research put into figuring out what causes it. My visit to the dermatologist resulted in a steroid gel that puts the rash into submission, but as soon as you stop applying the gel, the rash returns. Because it treats the effects of the condition, not the cause.
  • Joint Pain—For a while now, more time than I can recall, I’ve had pain in my knees, my hips, my elbows. Probably other places that I don’t recall today. Before my birthday, I really wondered how I could feel this decrepit at 37. When I potentially have 50 more years to live in this body, I became a little worried about what those years might look like if this pain increased incrementally as had already been the case.
  • Other mystery pain/experiences in my body—Having two kids puts a bit of strain on the body. Most days, since my youngest was born a year ago, I’ve felt like body organs must have completely changed locations and were thinking about just straight up falling out. I couldn’t run any amount of time without having abdominal discomfort (okay, feeling like my baby carrier was going to literally hit the pavement).  Truthfully, the discomfort existed intermittently even when I walked or sat. Any number of joggling steps was just a dependable trigger for it. And the number of Depends I would have needed to go through to even jog to the mailbox? No thanks. I didn’t really think that eating magical foods during the Whole30 would fix these issues, but I did wonder if losing some weight might help.
  • Enough is enough—I had a general feeling that something just had to change. I had to commit to do something differently because I deserve to live better than I had been. My girls, my husband, they all deserve to have me present and living in a positive(ish), interactive space. I. Needed. Change.

Upcoming posts will document my Whole30 experience, which I completed very recently, as well as my results.


  • Paleo—There are many paleo/primal resources out there. In the future, I’ll pull together the resources I’ve incorporated into the changes I’ve been making. In the meantime consider checking out the sites or books by: Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (Book: It Starts with Food), Diane SanFilippo (Book: Practical Paleo), Mark Sisson (Book: The Primal Blueprint). These books focus on the thought/science behind Paleo. And, most Paleo superstars started off with blogs and then expanded to books, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding their web presence.
  • Whole30—Dallas and Melissa Hartwig are THE Whole30 resources. There isn’t any reason to go anywhere other than their site.