Starting the Whole30? Whether it’s your first time or maybe your second (or third) attempt at actually finishing all 30 days without slipping, these tips from the Whole30 founder, Melissa Hartwig, will serve as your 10 commandments. If you’re ever having a “screw this” moment, just come right back here and remind yourself that if you follow these tips, the Whole30 will be a helluva lot easier.
1. Announce your commitment.
Having accountability will keep you on track and makes it easier for you to recruit friends and family for support along the way. Share your “I’m starting the Whole30!” graphic or announcement on your blog, social media, a whiteboard at work, or our free Whole30 forum… bonus points if you inspire someone to do it with you!
2. Recruit your support team.
You’ll need motivation, encouragement, resources, and maybe some tough love along the way, so ask key players for exactly what you’ll need. Task your mom with daily encouragement, your best friend with a butt-kicking when you need it, and your Whole30-savvy co-worker with recipe inspiration if you get bored. For even more support, connect with the Whole30 community on social media and our forum.
3. Clean out your pantry.
If your Whole30 excitement is high, you may be tempted to skip this step, thinking, I don’t even want this stuff—no need to remove it! But future you will thank you for getting the chocolate out of easy reach when you’re cranky, tired, and craving it on day 5. Give it away, donate it to a local shelter, or box it up with (lots of) tape, and stick it in the garage for a month.
4. Plan some meals.
Having a robust plan for the first few days will help you alleviate stress and keep you on track when days run long. Subscribe to Real Plans, use your favorite recipes from The Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook, or follow the 7-day meal plan in The Whole30. Plan on writing down at least the first three days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a post-workout meal and optional snacks just in case.
5. Stock up on emergency food.
During the Whole30, you can’t grab candy out of the vending machine if you’re in a pinch. Having plenty of “emergency food” on hand can help you work around getting stuck in traffic, travel days, and late meetings. Hard-boil some eggs, prep a protein salad, stash some Whole30-approved jerky or an RxBar in your desk at work, and roast a double-tray of veggies on Sunday night so you always have some on hand.
6. Create if/then plans.
The brain loves a plan and succeeding on the Whole30 means thinking about more than just the food. Think of a few potentially tough situations you may encounter in the first week (a business lunch, family dinner, or travel plans) and how you’ll handle them using the “if/then” structure. “IF I get stuck at the airport on a travel delay, THEN I’ll eat the jerky, carrot sticks, and almond butter I brought in my carry-on.”
7. Don’t turn into a Whole30 hermit.
Meeting the team for a happy hour or going out for brunch with friends may feel intimidating at first, but don’t turn into a Whole30 hermit. Be confident ordering soda water and lime at the bar, research the menu ahead of time and ask questions of your waiter, and attend the party with your own compliant side dish or shareable bites. Being social will feel good, as will waking up the next morning bright-eyed and clear-headed.
8. Stay connected to the process.
Use Whole30 Day by Day or your own journal to reinforce your growth mindset, create some accountability, and document your progress. Seeing small changes every day can be motivating, and writing down your favorite meals, if/then plans, and emergency food strategies will help you stay on track if things get bumpy.
9. Stick to the rules.
We know it’s tempting to eat “just one bite” or step on the scale “just this once,” but don’t do it! First, the elimination portion of the Whole30 only works if you completely eliminate the foods to which you may be sensitive—so yes, even a small piece of pizza or one glass of beer makes a difference. More importantly, you made a commitment to yourself: 30 days of Whole30, 100 percent by the book. Honor that commitment and prove to yourself that you can do hard things.
10. Don’t blow off reintroduction.
It’s tempting on Day 30 to celebrate with a meal full of all the things you’ve been missing (pizza, chocolate, beer… ), but when you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck, you’ll understand why reintroduction is so important. You’ll miss half the learning experience by skipping this step, so use our resources to plan and enact a careful reintroduction plan. What you learn here will help you create your version of food freedom, so be patient and take good notes.
Melissa Hartwig is a certified sports nutritionist who specializes in helping people change their relationship with food and create life-long, healthy habits. She is the co-creator of the original Whole30 program and a four-time New York Times best-selling author (It Starts With Food, The Whole30, Food Freedom Forever, and The Whole30 Cookbook). She has been featured by Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Details, Shape, Outside, and SELF, and ranked #27 on Greatist’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness in 2017. Melissa has presented more than 150 health and nutrition seminars worldwide and is a prominent keynote speaker on social media and branding, health trends, and entrepreneurship. She lives in Salt Lake City, UT.