About Kelly Becker
A registered dietician and Whole30 Certified Coach, Kelly completed her first Whole30 in 2016 and a love affair was born. Below, Coach Kelly is sharing with us just how to set yourself up for Whole30 success with her tips and proven tactics to rock your round! Whether you struggle with mindset, keeping foods interesting and fresh, or breaking through those cravings that are bound to pop up, Kelly has nuggets of wisdom for everyone who's ready to learn how to overcome Whole30 challenges before, during, and after. Read more to see just what we're talking about and find out where Coach Kelly says "the magic happens."
Ok, Kelly. Give us the scoop on you! Share with us a little about your background and how you got interested in Whole30 and then ultimately became a coach. What was your journey like?
As a registered dietitian, I have always loved food and nutrition. I have been working in a hospital as a clinical dietitian for years, though always felt there was something missing about our traditional approach to teaching nutrition. What we were taught in school (such as “everything in moderation” or “eat this low-calorie snack pack when you are hungry”) just wasn’t working.
Then I completed my first Whole30 in October 2016 and loved everything the program encompassed: eating real foods, avoiding processed foods, and being mindful of our relationship with food. When the Whole30 Coaching program was announced, I knew it was my calling and could merge my love of Whole30 with my clinical nutrition background.
Nothing has been more exciting in my career than watching individuals learn how to cook, gain confidence in themselves, and improving medical conditions all thanks to the Whole30 program!
You mentioned this “traditional approach to teaching nutrition” that just wasn’t working. How does Whole30’s approach differ?
One thing that sets the Whole30 apart from other nutrition approaches is there is no need to count calories, points, or macronutrients. By focusing on the suggested meal template and filling our plates with real/whole/nutrient-dense foods, eating becomes intuitive and satisfying. You may have heard recommendations such as limiting saturated fat to 7% of our total calories or eating no more than 55% of your total calories from carbohydrates.
Quite honestly, I do not think these recommendations are realistic or easy to understand and implement. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it is feasible to walk around with measuring spoons and a calculator to make sure I am within those recommendations each day! I’d much rather fill up on delicious, real foods that I know are good for me and listen to my hunger cues to help guide my eating choices.
Another reason I love the Whole30 approach is that the program focuses on improving habits and relationships with food. It is way easier said than done to just tell someone to “eat this, not that” or “everything in moderation”. Many traditional nutrition approaches forget to acknowledge the tough journey of making permanent changes. In order to be successful, I think it is really important to gain some insight to ourselves and why we have certain behaviors. Identifying these patterns (for example, why we always turn to a carton of ice cream when we are upset) can help us face those issues head-on.
Lastly, I love that the Whole30 program offers tools to help find what foods individuals tolerate best. This approach is different than many “one size fits all” programs. We all have different personalities, body types, and lifestyles, so it makes sense that the Whole30 program embraces those differences and helps individuals find what works best for them!
As a dietitian, you have so much experience with food and nutrition. What advice about the Whole30 “rules” would you give someone who is new or not familiar with the program?
First, I’d recommend reviewing the rules and checking out the free materials on Whole30.com. There is so much great information, and knowledge is power. The more confident you are in the rules and skills such as label reading or dining out, the easier it will be to succeed!
I’d also advise new Whole30-ers to follow the suggested meal template. This will ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients and filling up on foods that will keep you satisfied for hours.
Lastly, I would reinforce that the reintroduction portion of the Whole30 program is where the magic happens! Discovering what foods you tolerate best can be the key to finding “Food Freedom”, so don’t forget to embrace the reintroduction!
So many people come to Whole30 with their own relationship with food. As a coach, how do you suggest people use/challenge their old ideas to be successful within the rules that Whole30 has?
A helpful activity to help break through old ideas or relationships with food is to reflect upon what barriers you have had in the past, and think of ways to overcome them. Making “if/then” statements can be really powerful, so I love talking through these with my coaching clients. For example, if someone has a habit of turning to a bottle of wine after a tough day, perhaps their “if/then” statement could be something like “If I have a tough day, then I will call a friend or go for a walk”. If someone relies on the drive-through often, their “if/then” statement may look something like this: “If work runs late and I am tempted to go through the drive through, I will instead eat a compliant jerky stick I have stocked in my desk drawer.”
Making changes in our diets can be a total mind game. Share with us a little bit about that mental piece of Whole30.
Food is so ingrained in our cultures, our habits, our emotions, and our social lives, so it is hard to make changes in our diets without addressing the mental piece of the Whole30 program. One tip I have to help embrace the mental game is to really get to know yourself and make your personality work towards your advantage. For example, if you know that you are a very organized person who falls apart in chaos or unpredictability, then make a detailed plan! You will feel confident and ready to take on the Whole30.
If you tend to thrive in spur-of-the-moment decisions and planning turns you off, then keep compliant ingredients on hand and challenge yourself to get creative in the kitchen on a whim! If you know you do best with changes when you know the science behind recommendations, then read It Starts With Food so you can find comfort in the information.
If you are not sure where to start when getting to know yourself better, I’d recommend doing Gretchen Rubin’s “Four Tendencies” quiz to determine how you respond to expectations. Other personality quizzes may help you identify some other traits, so have fun with it!
Some people suggest identifying a “Why” before/during a Whole30 round. Tell us about this!
I have my virtual Whole30 groups identify their “why” on day one! As we know, the primary goal of the Whole30 program is not weight loss, and using the scale is not allowed. Setting an intention at the beginning of the program can help create a bigger picture and a deeper meaning than just a number on the scale. When we stop focusing on weight loss and start focusing on healthy habits and relationships with food, THAT is when change happens!
As a coach, what strategies do you love to use to help combat cravings and manages those struggle moments?
While my first approach is to always make sure my coaching clients are following the meal template (staying fueled and satisfied can help prevent cravings), I know moments of weakness are likely inevitable. It is smart to prepare for these moments before they happen, so I love discussing these strategies. One approach I suggest is to write down a list of healthy distractions during tough moments, such as going for a walk, taking a bath, journaling, reading a book, or calling a friend. Before you know it, those cravings will be gone!
Another strategy to deal with struggle moments is to think of swaps or substitutions to our habits. Research shows we are more likely to succeed with habit change by replacing a habit, not eliminating or creating a new one. For example, if you always crave a glass of wine at your monthly book club meetings, bringing your own kombucha may be a successful approach instead of passing on a beverage completely and feeling deprived.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the Model Meals/Whole30 community?
There is no denying that the Whole30 is tough, but the Whole30 community has got your back! Don’t be afraid to reach out (to myself, to other coaches, to your friends and family, fellow Whole30ers, etc.) for support when needed. I have never been part of a more embracing community than the Whole30!
You can find Registered Dietician and Whole30 Certified Coach Kelly Becker on social media @nutritionwithkelly and on the web at www.nutritionwithkelly.com.
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