Whole30 is a very popular diet to do in January as it helps reset your health goals for the new year and takes 30 days to do. It’s not an easy diet to take on (not that any of them are). Since it eliminates a lot of our daily food habits, it can be expensive and takes a lot of planning.
As a result, I’ve heard parents hesitate to try it because they don’t know how to cook using Whole30 guidelines and ingredients their family loves at the same time. I’ve done Whole30 twice before and it truly helped transform health, so here are some tips and suggestions so that you can make the Whole 30 diet family-friendly.
What Is the Whole 30 Diet?
Whole30 is a diet that’s been around since 2009. It’s defined by Melissa Urban, the Co-Founder and CEO, as “thirty days of self-care.” Its purpose is to quench the cravings we have based on the processed foods we eat most of the time. As a result, it increases your daily energy, digestive issues, and helps you lose weight without sacrificing nutrients.
What Does Whole 30 Eliminate?
Whole30 eliminates one major thing off the bat: carbohydrates (other than natural fruit). While on the diet, you cannot have any sugar whether it be real or artificial. You are also not supposed to eat grains or gluten. Alcohol of any and all forms is on the list of nos.
This might be hard enough already, but Whole30 also eliminates dairy, legumes, and carrageenan or sulfites, which can be in processed foods.
What Can You Eat on Whole 30?
The short answer is “real food.” Whole30 has a goal of getting people to eat healthier, whole foods. For example, fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, nuts (aside from peanuts), eggs, and other whole foods are fueling, healthy foods they want you to use in your meals.
In my experience, you’ll actually eat more protein in this diet than ever before. This is how it can become filling, especially at the beginning of the diet when cutting out your normal foods feels challenging. It is for this reason that it can be extra difficult for vegans or vegetarians to do this diet.
Check out: 15 Best Nut Butters for Keto Diet
What Is the Key to Being Successful on Whole 30?
There are a couple of key tips that can help you be successful throughout these 30 days.
Start in January or February
I recommend starting in these months because the temptation is low. A lot of people do dry January, so eliminating alcohol won’t feel as isolating if you tend to enjoy a cocktail on the weekends. It’s also a cold month for many, which means social plans tend to be a little more spaced out. This is a good tip in case you don’t feel great during your first week or two into the diet.
Lastly, there are not any food-related holidays in January or February. Well, except for Valentine’s Day, but you can always postpone your celebration this year. I find that the rest of the year leads to more food-related events because it gets warmer outside in the Spring and Summer and then the Fall runs into several holidays.
No Take Out (with some exceptions)
While take out can be a savior some nights, it’s best to avoid during the time you and your family do Whole30. This is because restaurants often cook with extra ingredients that are not listed on their menu. You can’t be 100% certain that there is no dairy or butter in your meal unless you specifically ask the restaurant.
The best example of this is salad dressing. Dressings can have added sugar or dairy, so even ordering a salad topped with protein at a restaurant might not be Whole30 compliant. That being said, I have known some people who take their family out to eat and specifically order something on the menu that they can request to be adjusted for Whole30 guidelines. If you’re careful, this is the best exception out there.
Get a Family Member or Friend to Join You
It’s always helpful to have a buddy in this process. If your partner or family members are interested, you can all help keep each other on track. It can also become a fun activity to cook new recipes together.
Since this diet eliminates a lot of foods, it’s best to plan out your meals to keep on track. For example, if your family is doing Whole30 and usually eats a lot of cheese for snacks, I recommend planning out new snacks over the course of four weeks.
If you grocery shop before you start the diet and create a loose plan for weekly meals, you’ll feel prepared each morning. It’s also important to keep readily available snacks like pre-cut vegetables or hard boiled eggs in the fridge so you can reach in and grab something without having to cook a new meal every time you’re hungry.
What Can My Family Expect on Whole 30?
This image is both funny and true. In my experience, this timeline was exactly what I felt because I cut out so many foods I usually eat. However, after day 7, you start to adjust and feel amazing. I woke up every morning totally energized and went to bed feeling full.
Their biggest tip is to work on mentally eliminating cravings. This is hard all the way through the 30 days. It’s a mindset that you can carry with you after the diet is over. But how? Keep busy and try to focus on other things until the cravings pass.
What Brands Sell Whole 30 Products?
Whole30 actually came out with their own dressings and sauces such as buffalo sauce and house ranch. These can be used to transform a burger, salad, or other key recipes.
Most of the Primal Kitchen mayos and dressings are Whole30 certified. For example, their mayo made with avocado oil, garlic aioli, unsweetened ketchup, and more.
All of the hot sauces, seasonings, and enchilada sauces are Whole30 friendly. Siete Foods also has some tortilla products that are Whole30 compliant because of their clean, grain-free ingredients.
Where Can I Buy Whole 30 Products?
You can buy Whole30 ingredients at any grocery store, but those Primal Kitchen, Siete Foods, and Whole30 specific products can be found at Whole Foods, Thrive Market, and Amazon Fresh Delivery.
The best way to tell if something bottled or packaged is Whole30 certified is by checking for the Whole30 stamp. It looks like this:
Do Restaurants Participate in Whole 30?
This depends on your location. As I mentioned earlier, you can always ask restaurants if they can make something like a burger without a bun, cheese, or sauce. You can order a salad without beans, dairy, and croutons with dressing on the side.
However, the good news is that there is one chain that participates. Chipotle’s Wholesome Bowl is certified Whole30. If there is a Chipotle near you, this is a great option in a pinch that is also very family-friendly. The Wholesome Bowl has their Supergreens, Chicken, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and Guac.
Can I Do Whole 30 on a Budget?
In my experience, one of the best things about Whole30 is that it saved me money on eating out or getting take out for those 30 days.
I also recommend shopping at Trader Joe’s, which is known for their affordable pricing, or Whole Foods with your Prime App for extra discounts. This is important because it can get really expensive to buy organic, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fish and meats. Another benefit to Whole30 is that you can eat potatoes as the base of your meals, which are an affordable option that keeps you full.
Can Children Do Whole 30?
First and foremost, it’s important to make the decision that works the best for your family. You can always cook Whole30 meals for yourself and make a side of rice or pasta to serve your children to make sure they get the meals they need.
However, this is a very healthy diet that children can eat. Whole30 offers a guide for children dietary recommendations so that it will be family approved. There are also lots of recipes on their Instagram page and cookbook so that you can customize your meal plan and include things your children will enjoy eating.
Best Whole30 Recipes Straight from the Source
1. Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Mimicking a traditional tuscan chicken recipe, this one by Paleo Running Momma on Instagram is cleaner and both paleo and Whole30 friendly. I’ve tried this recipe before and can confirm that it has a ton of flavor.
2. Whole30 Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili
Chili is one of the easiest things to make while doing Whole30 and your family will love it. It’s satisfying, filling, and child-friendly. The main difference from most chili recipes is that you cannot add beans and instead, add bacon for extra protein.
3. Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers
This recipe uses two of the Whole30 sauces from their own product line. It is very reminiscent of buffalo chicken dip, which can be a warm and comforting meal to eat during this diet. It also sneaks in a few extra veggies without sacrificing protein.
So, Is the Whole 30 Diet Family-Friendly?
Ultimately, I think you can make a few adjustments and make the Whole 30 diet family-friendly. It’s a temporary mindset change that focuses on eating whole, healthy ingredients to feel better. I like that it’s main priority isn’t weight loss, but can often lead to this result.
If you commit to this lifestyle for 30 days, I think you’ll be surprised how many things stick with you for the rest of the year. You’ll also be surprised how much more you might eat because it is mainly protein and vegetables fueling you. It’s never a bad thing to get your family to eat more vegetables, so it can be a great diet for that reason alone. Be sure to use your resources and make any adjustments you need to in order to be successful.