If you’re new here: hi! I’m Caroline. I’m a recipe developer, cookbook author, author of a weekly recipe newsletter that I call my “non-cookbook”, and online culinary instructor. More importantly, I’m a wife to my amazing husband, George, and mother to two little maniacs, Mattis (2) and Calum (6 months).
George and I have completed three Whole30s since 2017. We love Whole30. It makes us feel sharper, more alert, better rested, and genuinely like the best versions of ourselves. We preach Whole30 to anyone who will listen. We also love margaritas and IPAs. And grilled cheeses. And all of the other delicious things that are most definitely not Whole30 compliant. Between our margaritas and grilled cheeses, we genuinely instill many of the things we’ve learned from Whole30 into how we eat. But, because we are human, every now and then we just find ourselves feeling sluggish, bogged down, and in need of a reset. That’s where the Whole7 comes into action.
First of all, what the hell is Whole30?
Ah yes, let’s start there. Whole30 is a 30 day reset / elimination diet in which you eat only real, whole foods and eliminate a few of the major food groups that cause inflammation / allergies / issues for many people. You do not weigh or measure your food. You do not restrict calories. You just eliminate all of the foods on the “no” list and eat three meals a day filled with protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. More specifics on that are below.
The “No” List
- Do not consume added sugar – real or artificial (except fruit juice)
- Do not consume alcohol of any kind – not even cooking with it
- Do not eat grains
- Do not eat legumes
- Do not eat dairy
- Do not eat carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
- Do not consume baked goods, junk food or treats with “approved ingredients”
- Don’t have “sex with your pants on”. This is a hilariously written rule that really helps guide my eating while on Whole30. Any food that is a “problem” for you — avoid trying to recreate it with Whole30 compliant ingredients. No sweet treats or pancakes made with almond flour. No hot chocolate made with dates. If you think “ooooh this is naughty I can’t believe I was able to make it Whole30!” Then it’s probably not, in fact, Whole30 compliant.
The fine print — click here to learn more specifics.
Ok so if it’s a 30 day reset, what’s a Whole7?
TLDR: it’s not a real thing. I made it up. But if you google it… a lot of other people have made it up too! Whole30 is 30 days, no shortcuts. But shorter stints where we avoid everything on the “no” list still make us feel great, so we do them often.
The founder of Whole30 recommends doing a mini-Whole30 as a mini reset only after having completed several Whole30s. If you haven’t first completed a Whole30, you won’t know what you’re looking for (in terms of that mental clarity and “best version of yourself” that I mentioned above). But: the founder of Whole30 (hey Melissa!) also knows that life happens. Maybe you can’t do 30 days straight right now, but you’re dying to kick your sugar addiction, or your reliance on dairy at every meal . I highly recommend just going for it and doing the full Whole30, but a Whole7 is better than no Whole at all! Seven days is arbitrary – do as many days as you can! Sometimes I even just intentionally have ONE day that is completely Whole30…aka a Whole1… and even that serves as a great little mini reset for me.
Do I have to cook every single meal?
No! You can totally eat out. You just have to read the menu carefully, ask the restaurant to eliminate anything from the “no” list. Our first Whole30 we stressed over eating out so hard, but Whole30 wants you to be able to live your life and complete a Whole30 without stressing over every move. So, if the restaurant uses an oil that isn’t Whole30, no biggie as long as the rest of the meal was compliant.
My favorite restaurant meal during Whole30: go to a Mexican restaurant and order the fajitas without any tortillas or sour cream. YUM!
Speaking of Mexican… Chipotle has a Whole30 menu that you can order from!
How do I prepare?
Hide things on the “no” list:
If you are really tempted by foods on the “no” list, hide them. Go through your pantry, pull out any processed goodies, peanuts (yep, they’re legumes), beans, etc and put them in a big box and hide them in the garage until your Whole30 or WholeHoweverManyDays is complete. I do not need to hide the beans and peanuts, but I will 1000% be clearing all of the sugary treats out of my cabinets, fridge, and freezer.
Meal plan. You don’t have to meal prep, but you do need to do a bit of planning. Why? Because when noon rolls around and you are suddenly STARVING FOR LUNCH but have NOTHING READY, you’re going to reach for something quick and easy like crackers and hummus, or chips and salsa, or a Trader Joe’s peanut butter cup, if you’re anything like me. Having your meals planned out so that you know how much time they’re going to take to prepare is really helpful so that hanger doesn’t derail your Whole7.
It’s not hard:
One of my favorite things that the Whole30 founder says: this is not hard. It’s not! Having a baby is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. Eating clean for 30 days (and especially only for 7 days) is not hard. It takes preparation, and it takes the will to want to make some changes in your body. Those two things are easy! You can do it.
Wait, why should I do this…?
For me, it’s a health reset. It’s a kick in the pants to help myself recognize where my eating needs improvement. I eat whatever I want whenever I want with zero bad feelings about it, but it doesn’t make my body or mind feel as great as they can. I have been struggling with postpartum anxiety and kicking caffeine out of my daily routine has completely changed my life. No more scary thoughts, no more heart palpitations. Don’t worry — caffeine is allowed! I share this anecdote only because for me, it’s been such a reminder that what we put into our mouths really does cascade through our physical and mental well being so much.
Doing a Whole30 helps me to be more intentional about the food I’m consuming. Recognizing what makes me feel good, and what doesn’t. Recognizing what I do and do not need (do I actually need sugar in that meat marinade? Probably not).
With the Whole7 that I’m beginning on March 8th, I am attempting to defeat my “sugar demon” — as the Whole30 calls it. After Mattis’ and Calum’s births, my sugar craving has gotten absolutely out of control. I just ate an entire chocolate bar while working on this blog post! I have nothing against sweets, and I indulge whenever I want to with zero bad thoughts towards myself, but sugar, like caffeine, has direct links to anxiety, so I’m excited to have a structured way to give it up for an entire week, and see where that leads me.
Should I just do the Whole30?
Yep, you should. But if that feels intimidating to commit to, do a Whole7. On day 7 when you’re feeling absolutely incredible (sleeping better! thinking more clearly!) you can extend it another two days. And then another 5 days. See where it takes you. This is not the recommended path for the program, but they recommend doing what works for you, so if that works for you, perfect.
What do I actually eat?
Three meals a day. Try not to snack. If you’re hungry, snack. No one’s trying to starve you.
People really stress about making “Whole30 recipes” and doing all this crazy Whole30 prep — in my opinion, it’s totally unnecessary. Most of your favorite recipes can be made Whole30! Favorite tacos: swap in lettuce wraps for tortillas, swap in avocado for cheese. You don’t need to frantically google “Whole30 approved recipes” – just follow the meal template below! That’s the simplest, most approachable way to go about a Whole30. You want to get a nice balance of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats with each meal. That’s it. Print out the template below and stick it on your fridge. Make your plate look like that for each meal!
That’s a lot of food at one meal.
At first, it might seem like each meal is a lot of food. But, each meal should sustain you until the next meal for a lot of metabolic scientific reasons that I won’t get into here. No one’s forcing you to eat anything, but try to eat a big healthy plate full of food that looks like the diagram above. Half veggies. 1/4 protein. 1/4 healthy fat like nuts, oils, avocado, olives, coconut.
Ok, so do you have a meal plan for me cuz this still seems kind of hard?
OH, DO I EVER!!!!!! Click the link for your complete 7 day meal plan for the Whole30!
Love this! Thank you for making it approachable!
Hi the link isn’t clickable 😬
I know! Haha, read the text right after I say click here 🙂 it’s not ready yet… will be by tomorrow!
Love this. I’m in. Thank you Caroline. 😍
I seriously can’t wait!!!
Thanks for making Whole 30 less intimidating sounding. We are Ready !
Yes! Glad I was able to help! it’s all about the prep!