Starting Whole30

by Health

Oops I did it again… I played with another fad and got lost in the game. In any event, if you are reading this you might be interested in Whole30, or you might be currently embarking on it. I started Whole30 on December 30th versus January 1st because New Year’s Eve was a joke this year and I tried to convince myself that it was not a trendy resolution trap I was falling into by starting two days early… hah.


What is Whole30? Well, if you do not know, it is a popular program out there that emphasizes real, WHOLE foods. It asks you to eliminate all the bad stuff from your daily consumption, which includes added sugars, grains, and other items listed on Whole30’s Website. The task is to eliminate these foods for a minimum of 30 days. However, if you read the fine print, it is actually 45 days of commitment you are signing up for if you do it right. Why 45? Well, it is 45 if you actually follow the format of “abide by the program for 30 days, reintroduce only ONE new thing on day 31, assess for two days, reintroduce a SECOND new thing on day 34, assess for two days” and so on. That final part is the inevitable part I always mess up every time I try something. I always just DIVE BACK INTO THE POOL after a cleanse as if it won’t completely jack up my body. This time, I am going to try to abide by the Whole45 not the Whole30 like I tend to always do. Yes, I always plan a big bash for the day after ANYTHING I try. This time I am scheduling that big bash for February 12th versus January 31st.


If you read “this will take me 45 days” and still want to try it, OR already have started it, great! I will give you some tips so that you can save time planning and prepping.


Kat’s Step 1: Start prepping two weeks before you want to actually begin Whole30.

  • Order the Whole30 book if you enjoy reading an actual book OR Join the Whole30 Website Community (I did both but then got immediately overwhelmed by the emails and amount of information out there; so, I decided to just stick with the book).


(Click our affiliate link photo above to go to Amazon)


1) Read pages 13-14 and page 196 if you just want to dive right in.


2) If you join the Whole30 Community online, you can ignore the rest of this post and follow the very nicely laid out website they have. However, if you are like me and get overwhelmed with too many choices and possibility, keep reading. 


  • The recipes in the book are really good and help tremendously.
  • If you try to wing Whole30, you will end up like me that one time I tried to do the Low FODMAP Diet…I ended up staring blankly at my stove for an hour sweating and confused (I will post about that experience in the future).


Kat’s Step 2: Do not print the Whole30 approved grocery list; instead, make a grocery list of your own that fits the week 1 meal plan they provide in the book.


  • The book does not provide a specific meal plan paired with a grocery list. Instead, they provide a list of all items at a grocery store you can choose to buy, which I have trouble with. If I was not careful, I would have taken that list and bought EVERYTHING on it just because it said “this is the Whole30 list” and there are check boxes on it (I love check boxes). That would have cost me $800, and the list literally includes every food on the planet you can eat. You can find that HERE.
  • In all seriousness though, the concept of no grocery list tied to a loose meal plan stressed me out for three reasons.


1) Because this is new for me AND I have no clue how to make Whole30 approved dinners, I decided to instead look at every recipe on the meal plan from the book, write down the items from that recipe I would need, cross-out items I do not like, and compile it into a list so I could go to the grocery store like a champ.


2) I do not have the funds to constantly buy only organic stuff; so, I tend to look for deals at my local Giant. This means that a lot of items I will come across in Giant will NOT be Whole30 approved as compared to a choice to go to Trader Joe’s or Wegmans. This means I needed to do some research on brands that would work at Giant and hope Giant had those brands.


3) The book also advises you to make your own bone broth, clarified butter/ghee, and other condiments that go with each of the dishes. So, not only are you making new food, but you also need condiments you have to make in order to complete the dishes. I did not have time for that. So, I just bought all my pantry items pre-made (which exists!) because I did not have the mental time to make my own. Up to you though.


  • To avoid you spending $800 at the grocery store and crumbling in a ball of confusion like I almost did, I have included the list I created for the grocery store, along with where to buy specific items and what brands of items to buy. Check out Kat’s Grocery List. Note: I don’t like salmon; so, I substituted that with shrimp.


Kat’s Step 3: Create shelves in your house of everything you can use. Leave everything you can use out on the counter or readily available. Hide or put on your roommates’ shelf anything that you cannot have.


  • This helps you avoid thinking about it all too much and just live your life. For example, the first time I went to cook Whole30 eggs, I reflexively grabbed the cooking oil spray can and sprayed the pan. I then realized that I couldn’t use that can of cooking spray. I quickly detoured and made my boyfriend’s eggs first, cleaned the pan, and then made my own eggs. I wish I hid the damn, non-compliant cooking spray and replaced it with the avocado cooking spray I could use.

Katarina putting up signs in pantry

  • Also, another big problem I have following programs is that I get SO STRESSED about doing it right. I then act like a robot every day all day checking everything, and then I end up not eating. NO GOOD. So, I decided to create shelves in my pantry and fridge of everything I could eat. I printed the Whole30 Additives List, which helps when you read labels and pasted it to my fridge (this list showed me I could eat hot sauce and deli meat, for example).
  • I also put notes on things to help my boyfriend know what to NOT eat of mine.


Kat’s Additional Tips (written live from the first three days)

  • Buy snacks even though the book tells you not to. If you work out a lot or even just enjoy snacking, Whole30 tells you not to snack. The premise is that you should learn to rebuild your habits around food. My only problem with this was that it was too much to take in all at once. I was changing my whole mindset and then changing all my habits in one fell swoop. Also, I work out often; snacking becomes a must for me. So, in my grocery list, I also included the snacks I bought and where I bought them.

  • If I work out later in the day, I try to eat an apple or banana with almonds or a scoop of almond butter before I go in. The fats keep me full and the carbs give me energy. The book says to eat something as a pre-workout 15-75 minutes before working out.

  • After my workout, I typically try to eat lunch or dinner. However, if I worked out at a weird time, I would try to eat some turkey slices and sweet potato for the protein and carbs. I would try to avoid fats. The book says to eat 15-30 minutes post-workout.

  • Sign up for Thrive Market (which is like Amazon for Whole30 Foods!). This is the best tip I got from the Whole30 website. Buy all the staples you want on your first order as an auto-ship. This is great for all the WEIRD stuff you do not normally buy. You do not need to worry about the ingredients you can find at any store, just the ones that will be a pain to find and be super expensive (i.e., ghee or coconut aminos). Buy all the condiments and snacks ASAP. Within the first three days, I used the Whole30-compliant ranch, caesar, buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, and habanero ranch. I love condiments and convenience.

  • Take some notes or journal about how you feel. It will be good to refer to if you ever wonder why the heck you did this in the first place.

  • Don’t be daunted by it all. You just have to be willing to try new things and be okay with some level of “newness”. The food has tasted great so far, and I do not feel like I am completely losing all sense of normalcy (easy to say three days in though).


Alright – that was a lot! Stay tuned for more. I will be posting each week about how this is all going and what is going on in my head as I encounter pitfalls or successes.



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Burnout Coach Kat Kiseli

Hi, I’m Kat

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