6 Tips For A Successful Whole30 Diet

by Dr. Paul Molina

As a healthcare practitioner, I am constantly educating and guiding patients to help achieve their goals. Watching patients reach their goals is what motivates me to be the best at what I do. However, each goal poses it’s own challenges. One of the biggest challenges I often see patients face is not just the physical - it’s food.

People are tackling their dietary habits not only for weight loss but for increased energy, blood sugar control, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain and gastrointestinal problems to name a few.

A popular program these days is The Whole30 diet. The Whole30 is 30-day program designed to transform your eating habits in, yup, you guessed it, 30 days. The program was created by Melissa Hartwig, a sports nutritionist, and her husband Dallas Hartwig, a physical therapist.  

To understand the diet’s “rules” it may be easier to explain what you CAN’T eat.

The “NO“ List:

  1. Alcohol

  2. Dairy  (clarified butter OK)

  3. Grains (no quinoa either)

  4. Sugar (no added sugar, that means you bacon)

  5. Legumes (tofu, beans)- green beans OK

  6. MSG, sulfites

  7. Do not re-create baked goods with approved list - “paleo treats”

The diet doesn’t stress quantity or calories which makes it simple. However, it does stress eating as many vegetables as you can. Fruits, yes, but limit them if you can and lean meats are encouraged. The diet does emphasize buying organic and grassfed when at all possible. In a nutshell this eliminates a lot of processed and pre-packaged foods.

whole 30 foods


Here Are My Top 6 Tips For A Successful Whole30 Diet:

  • Separation Is In The Preparation (as Russell Wilson would say) - The separation of those who do well with following “the rules” are those who prepare ahead of time. Make an effort to pre-plan meals, make large meals for leftovers and have a plan for the week. Challenge yourself to plan as many meals ahead of time as you can. Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the next 3,4,5 days or even a whole week. Doing this will greatly take away the stress when you catch yourself starving and surrounded donuts.
  • Snacks On Snacks! - Having healthy snacks around the home and office is a great way to fight those urges for quick and unhealthy habits. Start by trying to make them as healthy as possible, chopped raw vegetables, raw almonds, brazil nuts, but don’t feel bad if it’s fresh fruit or dried fruit (which is basically adult candy). In case of an emergency, I will use Whole30 approved RxBars (my favorite is the coconut chocolate).
  • Bring A Friend - Recruit a co-worker, friend, gym member, loved one or the whole family to join in on the action. Using the buddy system adds motivation and accountability. You can share recipes, tips and even have dinner parties or plan meals together.
  • Crock Pot - Experimenting with slow cooker recipes takes away the excuse of, “I just don’t have time to cook when I get home”.  Using a slow cooker has been a lifesaver for me. After a long day of work and working out, coming home to a house smelling of slow cooked pork is something that warms my little heart. Slow cookers are also great for those who claim they aren’t great in the kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and hard to mess up.
  • The Athlete - One important thing to keep in mind with dieting is the adjustment period. For some this may be a drastic change in how our body fuels itself and stores energy. This can lead to fatigue and low energy during workouts. The Whole30 is essentially a low carb diet which for some athletes can be detrimental to training, especially endurance athletes since they typically require more carbohydrates. One way to combat this is to use potatoes. Potatoes were initially banned by the Whole30 but later added back on. Using sweet potatoes or red potatoes on days of training is a good way to reduce the fatigue often associated with low carb diets.
  • Positive Mindset - This is the most important tip I can give. And, keep in mind, this is coming from someone who has done the Whole30 twice and “failed” once. For most people, breaking habits is hard to do. But don’t get discouraged, keep a positive mindset and continue to do your best. Don’t think once you eat a piece of cheese, or a bacon maple donut, or a glass of wine, that all is lost and it’s time to abandon ship. Whether it’s the first day or the 25th day, get back on the horse and continue to make healthier choices!! Your body will thank you. When I was the most successful with the Whole30 I followed the aforementioned tips and I didn’t obsess with being 100% strict. I was ok with being 100% strict 90% of the time. I had a couple of “cheat meals” and tequila for special occasions. To even this out I simply added on several days to the end of my 30 day time period. At the end of 30ish days I was happy with my progress both physically and mentally.  

At the end of the (30th) day, focus on the positives. And if at the end of the 30 days you ate one healthy meal, great! One thing I love about trying different “cleanses” or “diets”, is the fact it forces you to try something out of your normal routine. I think the most important thing that can come from this is learning to cook, or truly enjoying a new healthy recipe.

Here’s one recipe I learned along the way that has stuck with me beyond the 30 days.  Enjoy!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Don’t feel like you have to go at this alone  = )

Zucchini Pasta (Zoodles)

  1. Over medium heat, brown 1lb of grass fed ground beef.
  2. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, pepper and basil to taste.
  3. After meat is done, set aside to be added later.
  4. In olive oil and over medium heat add chopped asparagus, red onion, yellow zucchini, green pepper - saute for approx. 8 minutes.
  5. After vegetables are cooked add the ground beef and pasta sauce - bring to a light boil and remove from heat.
  6. Lightly saute the prepared zucchini noodles in olive oil with a dash of salt for several minutes.
  7. Plate the zucchini noodles
  8. Add your delicious pasta sauce and enjoy!
Zucchini Pasta