My Whole30

No wheat, no flour, no grains, no milk, no cheese, no yogurt, no black beans, no added sugar, no preservatives, no pre-packaged food for 30 days?  Someone was surely off their rocker.  When my dear friend told me what she wasn’t eating during January 2012, I thought it was an unrealistic way to live for 30 days.

But then we spent a month on the road this summer eating more fast food than we normally do in a year.  Hubs and I were both ready for something with guidelines, boundaries, and fresh food.  We felt lethargic and I simply felt.. gross.   The Whole30 came back to me we started on August 14, 2012.

The Whole30, designed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, makes an audacious claim: “change your life in 30 days!”  “Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.”  Sounded good to me.

After 30 days of eating fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry, I lost 12.7 pounds, and Mike lost 11 pounds.  Did you catch that?  I’m not gloating but seldom do women lose more weight than men, even on The Biggest Loser!  Now, a month later, I’ve kept that weight off.

My Homemade Ketchup and Mayonnaise!

Was it easy? Well, it wasn’t terrible.  Nor was it really hard.  But it did mean more time in my kitchen preparing food and washing dishes, as well as more time planning meals and making shopping lists.  Every weekend I’d search the internet for great recipes and then create my shopping list.  We ate (mostly) scrumptious home-cooked meals.  As a result, I now make my own mayonnaise and ketchup, as well as my own ranch seasoning.  I think my versions taste better, and since they don’t have added sugar or preservatives, I think they are healthier for me than the store bought versions I was accustomed to eating.

Once the Whole30 was over, we started slowly reintroducing our favorite off-program foods.  Mike noted that certain dairy products made him feel like his allergies were returning, I noticed headaches with greek yogurt and sweet treats.  Food really does matter!

Losing weight wasn’t the only benefit, but it certainly was something I had hoped for.  While on the Whole30 my skin looked great, my energy was consistent throughout the day, and my sleep was deep and restful.  Who knew I could drink and enjoy my coffee black?  Now I’m figuring out my new food lifestyle, and am very hesitant to return to some of the former foods.  I simply don’t need them anymore.

About ten days into the Whole30 I had an all-day video conference call.  My confession: I was so distracted by how great my skin looked on camera that I had to block the self-view option!

My mom did the Whole30 with us, and now two of my sisters are doing it, as well as a few friends around the world.  It was great to have companionship and Mom and I texted photos of our healthy and delicious meals to each other.  We both signed up for the Whole30 Daily emails and thought they were worth at least three times the subscription price!  So helpful, encouraging, and full of great ideas for recipes, eating out, and staying on track.

Today I don’t feel enslaved to my food cravings, I have the ability to resist formerly tempting foods, I’ve discovered how much I enjoy eating vegetables (so many of which I’ve never had before), and I’m experimenting with more spices and seasonings.  I’m inventing yummy recipes and sticking with a surprisingly healthy diet.  I’m happy, I don’t feel deprived, and I think twice about my food choices before eating.  Did I drink the Kool-Aid? No, because it’s not Whole30 approved (haha)!  My sister just sent me the new book It Starts With Food, and I’m eager to finish reading it. If I can do this, then seriously, anyone can do it.  The Whole30 is only a month, and I think the Hartwigs are right, it really can change your life!


I pinned the recipes I used on Pinterest, and even made up a few of my own.  Here are my weekly meals if you’re interested in doing the Whole30 (I’m sorry for the unattractive formatting. I’m not sure how to fix it!).

Week One


– Egg and Sausage Frittata: 1# sausage, 1 pepper, 1 onion, 1 container egg whites, 1 container liquid eggs.  season each serving to taste with hot sauce
–  Southwestern Frittata


– Tuna on Salad with carrots and EVOO
– Leftovers
– Chicken or Turkey on salad


Ina’s Chicken with cauliflower “rice”
Fish “Tacos” with broccoli
Blackberry (or Blueberry) Glazed Pork Chops with cauliflower mashers
Meatloaf w mushrooms with leftover mashers
– Steak with mushrooms and baked sweet potatoes
Baked tilapia with strawberry salsa and salad greens



– Egg casserole: 1# ground meat or sausage, any veggies, 12 eggs, salsa

Banana-almond pancakes (**NOTE: I later learned that while the ingredients are Whole30 approved, the concept of a “pancake” isn’t [emotional and mental food addictions].  This is terrific for AFTER the Whole30, but isn’t encouraged DURING it.)


– Tuna salad with homemade mayo

– Egg salad with homemade mayo (see link above)

– leftovers

– Salads


– Southwest Turkey Sliders with Avocado Slaw with homemade Simple ketchup and Mashed Sweet Potatoes (w vanilla and coconut oil)

– Balsamic marinade Steak with cauliflower “rice”

– Cuban Mojo Pork Chops with mashed cauliflower and cooked carrots

– Coconut and Herb Salmon with broccoli seasoned and carrot and cauliflower puree (Whole30-ified):

– Chicken stirfry chicken chunks with veggies and cauliflower “rice”

– Crockpot Mexican Chicken Stew over Cilantro lime “rice”


– Coconut Chips

– Sweet Potato Hummus

– Fruit and Nut bars



– Meat and Spinach Muffins

– Ranch Turkey Burgers with roasted cabbage and baked sweet potatoes
2# ground turkey (or beef, lamb, pork, bison, etc)
1 grated yam
1 diced onion
1 handful of kale, chopped
2-4 T homemade ranch seasoning
– “Best Whole Chicken with a Crock Pot” (and the i can make chicken stock!) with baked carrots
– Asparagus, Broccoli and Bacon Soup  (uses some of that chicken broth from the crockpot chicken) with Ranch “Fries”
– Beef Stir fry
– Pork Loin in Cuban Mojo marinade
– Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars
– Carrots and celery sticks

Comments (12)

  1. Kristin S

    Wow, that really is inspiring! You cut out all my favorite foods, dangit.

    So curious to know why black beans are on that list? I can so see the others but black beans? Why?

    Skin. I’d love that side effect for sure.

    1. Kim

      I was thinking the same thing about the black beans. And it sounds like you cut out rice too – curious about that as well.

    2. PaulaB

      Kristin S, legumes are one of the categories of foods recommended to be eliminated during the Whole 30 (and for many people, an ongoing no-no in addition to grains) because of their phytates and short chain carbs that aren’t properly absorbed, then acting as food for bacteria in the gut which can cause an overgrowth, leading to gut problems and systemic inflammation. The phytates are why you’ll see rinsing, rinsing, rinsing plus prolonged soaking and even sprouting and fermenting recommended to make beans more digestible. See The Legume Manifesto: http://whole9life.com/2012/09/the-legume-manifesto/

      1. Sarah (Post author)

        PaulaB, thanks for posting this! I wondered, too, but simply abided by the rule without researching the “why”. Very helpful.

    3. Joshua

      black beans are a legume I believe. A no no on W30

  2. Lauren L.
    1. Sarah (Post author)

      Thanks Lauren. I never read that manifesto while on the Whole30. Pre-W30, I’d add a can of black beans to nearly everything to add protein and fiber. Looks like that’s another practice I get to re-think in my post-Whole30 life!

      1. Lauren L.

        Yeah, I have fallen so off the wagon after my Whole 30, indulging in everything that I had before. I feel like I am making better food choices, but even this morning I ate flour tortillas, refried beans, and creamer with my coffee, not to mention the artificial sweetener. It has been a difficult few months for me stress-wise, too, which is kinda like one of those continuous loops, stress leads to poor decisions, which leads to stress and on and on!!

  3. Stacy

    Thanks for sharing about your journey as well as all those wonderful recipes!
    I’m embarking on the Whole 30 and really appreciate this!

    1. Sarah (Post author)

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did… and do! I wish you the best with it.

  4. Donna

    Hi there – May I ask how you made your ketchup?

    1. Sarah (Post author)

      Hi Donna… Here’s the link to the ketchup recipe I use.


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