Whole30 101 | Getting Started With The Whole30 Program – Model Meals National

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Whole30 101: Everything you need to know before starting the Whole30

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Raise your hand ✋ if you’ve ever suffered from the following: nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, itchy skin, allergies, bloating, stomach pains… you get the picture. So do any of these ring a bell?

These are common symptoms that most of us have dealt with our whole lives. But, did you know that these could be caused by the FOOD you’re eating and not everyday excuses like “bad luck”, “I’m used to it”, or “runs in the family”?

Food is a powerful tool that can help us accomplish some amazing things. But, it can also cause us harm if we don’t use it correctly.

Enter Whole30.

Whole30 - Whole30 Challenge

If you’ve never heard of the Whole30 program before, don’t worry... we’re here to help! Whole30 is a 30-day program designed by our woman crush, Melissa Hartwig. The purpose of the program is simple: cut out “hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups, including sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains, and legumes”. We like to translate that into, “Cut out the bad junk you’ve been eating your whole life to help reset and heal your body”.

So why 30 days? Because it’s short enough to complete a tough program and long enough to heal the damage done.

Whole30 101

For 30 days, you will change your diet and the way you see food. By removing harmful and inflammatory food groups like dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, and alcohol and fuelling your body with protein, veggies, eggs, and some fruits, you can start to heal the damage caused to your body and transform yourself from the inside out.

If you’re interested in starting the Whole30 program (DO IT! 💪), we can help get you ready and share some advice on how to be successful throughout the 30 days. Follow our advice below and make sure you add your own advice in the comments!

The benefits of Whole 30

Now before you talk yourself out of it because sugar and alcohol are out the door… remember why you're looking into this in the first place.

The AMAZING benefits!

And boy is there a lot of benefits. Seriously check out this list.

Benefits of being on the Whole30 Program:

  • More energy
  • Weight loss
  • Clear head
  • Clear skin
  • Eliminate bloating
  • Better sleep
  • Waking up feeling rested
  • Digestive regularity
  • Cut out cravings
  • Better hair
  • Better workout results
  • Better organization skills
  • Become more positive (this takes longer for some people than others 😉)

I could go on, but I think you get it. Whole30 gives you some incredible results and benefits. Whenever you’re doubting your decision to start or stay on the program refer to this list! It’s all worth it in the end. I mean, it’s not called a “life-changing” program for nothing.


Getting Started with Whole30

So you’ve done it. You’ve decided to start your Whole30 journey. You are a BADASS! We are so pumped for you and can’t wait to help get you up and running.

Now that the decision is made you might be thinking, “Ok what next? Should I start tomorrow? What do I do?”

Don’t stress we’ve got you covered with some great getting started tips.

There are two ways to get ready for the Whole30 program:

  1. Prepare yourself mentally
  2. Plan your meals and groceries before starting

Whole30 - Prepping Your Meals

Prepare yourself mentally

This is often overlooked. People think it’s easy enough to start a new diet, but Whole30 is more than a diet. It’s a complete lifestyle change. And although 30 days may seem like nothing right now, trust us... It will feel tough at some point (if not multiple points) in your journey.

So, it’s crucial to prepare yourself mentally.

There are different ways you can do this. Not all of our suggestions will be right for you, so test them out. You know yourself better than we do, so pick the things you know you can follow through on.

Tip #1 - Research research research 💻

Whether it’s researching the goals behind Whole30, Melissa’s mission, or stories of transformation, knowledge is a powerful tool.

So do your research. Grab your laptop, iPad, phone, whatever floats your boat and get searching. Bookmark the pages that like, create a private Pinterest board for reference, or physically write down some of the points that you know will help you come day 15.

Don’t worry, research is actually FUN when you want to be doing it. It’s not the same as researching a paper for school.

Want some help on your research journey? Our CEO Danika Brysha, who is also a certified Whole30 coach, recommends reading It Starts With Food. It's a great book that helps you learn why the Whole30 program can help you change your life without being too scientific.

Tip #2 - Write down your goals ✍️

Go old school. We’re talking pen to paper old school!

Nothing feels as empowering or meaningful as actually writing down your goals. Having them in a book, on a whiteboard, on a chalkboard, or on a million sticky notes can help motivate you throughout the 30 days.

Take it to the next level by having your notes someplace you can see them on a daily basis. Personally, I’m the sticky notes around the house kind of person, but putting your goals on a board in your bedroom, kitchen, or office is such a great way to keep yourself on track.

You are your own coach with the right words that work specifically for YOU!

Tip #3 - Start a journal 📓

More pen to paper. Seriously, we believe in it that much.

If you want to keep your Whole30 plan and goals a bit more private, having a journal is such a great way to go.

Getting your thoughts out on paper and keeping track of how you’re feeling before, during, and after will help you become successful in your Whole30 journey and every day after that.

And if you're new to writing journals, you can use the Whole30 Day by Day journal to keep you on track. This book was designed specifically for the program and includes encouraging words from Melissa herself.

Whole30 - Whole30 Day by Day Journal

Tip #4 - Join the Whole30 forum 📲

This tip is gold!

If you haven’t already heard of the Whole30 forum, get on it. This is a safe place where Whole30 participants and “graduates” can go to ask questions, share tips, and chat with fellow Whole30 enthusiasts.

If you’re ever feeling alone in your journey, you’re not. Make sure you take advantage of the forum anytime you need an extra boost.

Hopefully one of these tips speaks to you because, from our personal experience, the mental preparation part can be the thing that helps you reach that 30-day goal. Especially on those tougher days when you may want to give up.

And those days happen.. More than you want them to!

Plan your meals and groceries before starting

This is probably the most important tip for anyone looking to start the Whole30 program.

Meal prep will be your best friend but seem like your worst enemy during the 30 days.

We totally get it, making meals ahead of time is tough, annoying, and time-consuming. BUT... It’s not as annoying as getting back from a long, tough day of work and realizing you have chicken and veggies to cook from scratch.

So bite the bullet, carve out time for yourself and your Whole30 goals and PREP THOSE DAMN MEALS.

Once you’ve picked your start date plan to do groceries 2 days before. This will give you time to clear out your fridge and cupboards of the bad shit you should avoid (or hide them at the very least), get your new yummy ingredients put away, and allow you time to meal prep for your first few days.

Our advice is to prep 2 - 3 days worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at a time so that you’re all set and have no excuses to slip up.

Whole30 - Cooking Your Meals

But having some grab-and-go extras in addition to your prepped meals will help curve those mid-afternoon and late night cravings.

Here are some grab-and-go things we love:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Avocados
  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Compliant bars like Bearded Bros and PATTER bars (in our add-on section!)
  • Dried fruit without added sugar (like Watermelon Road)
  • Nick’s Sticks
  • Nuts

Your first grocery run will be more expensive, especially if you’re getting staple items like Ghee. But remember, you’ll be saving money in the long run and you’ll be healing your body in the process. And there is no price tag for a healthy and cleansed body.

So when you’re ready to go on your first grocery run, print out that handy CAN and CANNOT eat list and your very own grocery list.

Your grocery lists will consist of veggies (all the veggies), meats, poultry, fish, some fruit, nuts, and hopefully lots of those handy extras we listed above.

If you’re in need of some grocery list help, here is an official Whole30 grocery list that will get you up-and-running.


Remember, the key to a successful Whole30 is proper planning. So take the time to plan out your meals, figure out exactly what you need and get a bit extra for those times when you’re a little hungrier than usual.

What you can eat on Whole30

Writing this part puts a giant smile on my face. This is the list you will live by!

And instead of focusing on the things you can’t have, we like to focus on all the delicious food you CAN have.

Whole30 - Whole30 approved foods

Here is the list of foods you can eat during the Whole30 Program:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables (the more the better)
  • Eggs
  • Fruits (moderate amount)
  • Natural Fats
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Seasoning
  • Vinegar
  • Coffee (black OR add in ghee and/or MCT oil, nut pods, collagen creamer to get the coffee creamer feel)
  • Green beans
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Snow peas
  • Ghee
  • Nuts

Want a print-friendly version for your fridge or wallet? Check out what Cheryl at 40 aprons put together.

What you can’t eat on Whole30

Ok, now it’s time for the negative part... And we really hate being negative.

In order for the program to work its magic, there are certain foods you need to steer clear of.

Here is the list of foods you cannot eat during the Whole30 Program:

  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Gluten
  • Sugar
  • Sweeteners (don’t try to get fancy.. No maple syrup, aspartame, honey.. nothing!)
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Items that have been modified to be “paleo friendly”
  • Junk food
  • MSG
  • Sulfites
  • Cornstarch

Another rule of thumb to live by during your Whole30 experience is “if you can’t pronounce it, it’s out!” The goal is to reset your body, so avoid those big scary ingredients and you’ll feel great.

This can be tough to remember when you’re getting started, so again.. You can use these printable versions until you have it memorized.

Making Whole30 easy with Model Meals

Feeling overwhelmed? We totally get it. The Whole30 program can seem intimidating and almost impossible, but it’s not- we promise.

As we mentioned earlier, planning your meals ahead of time is key to being successful with Whole30. But prepping all your meals can be a huge task without help. And that’s where Model Meals steps in.

Whole30 - Model Meals meal prep

So if you’re ready to change your life, make sure you check out our delicious Whole30 approved meals and Whole30 approved recipes.

And remember.. you’ve got this! If you’re ever struggling or don’t think we can do another day, reach out to the Whole30 community to chat with thousands of other Whole30 participants.

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