A few days ago, I posted about a really amazing breakfast bowl recipe I concocted on a whim during the final days of my first Whole30 challenge. Well that challenge ends today! For anybody who may be unfamiliar, the Whole30 challenges you to eliminate all heavily processed food for thirty days. This includes all grains (bread, rice, etc.), dairy products (milk, cheese – ugh.), legumes (peanuts, corn, beans), unnatural added sugars, many saturated oils, and alcohol (yup, you read that correctly). It’s main purpose is to train your body to “eat clean” for thirty days, then incorporate foods you used to eat back into your diet to see what affects you after you’ve reset.
I have struggled with my eating habits since I was thirteen years old and noticed my metabolism wasn’t as rapid as a prepubescent. I tried the crash diets in high school, college, and from time to time since moving to the city. Especially being exposed to many different routines in Manhattan, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a quick-fix solution. But the Whole30 Challenge is no quick-fix, it’s a lifestyle change.
My biggest reservation about challenging myself was the fear that my self-control would get the better of me. Luckily, I had already made many changes over the past three years in my diet – I’ve spent months going gluten-free, switched to almond milk in my lattes, and spent a great deal cooking with coconut oil. My struggle over the past twenty-seven days has been to avoid drinking alcohol. Not because I’m an alcoholic but, let’s face it, amongst the top ten phrases out of New Yorker’s mouths is, “Hey, wanna grab a drink?”
Today I’m sharing with you the things that helped me get through these past thirty days unscathed and without a cheat day to be had:
Excuse my language, but I fucking love sweet potatoes. And guess what? You can have as many as you damn well please on the Whole30. You wanna bake a potato and put some salt and pepper on it? You wanna mash em up and pretend like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner? You wanna make yourself some sweet potato fries at home? Live. Your. Life (but use coconut oil…). Truthfully, the Whole30 allows you to eat white potatoes in moderation, but sweet potatoes are just straight up better for you.
This stuff saved me from going out of my mind during this challenge. When I moved her in 2014, I became a crunchy peanut butter girl (Smuckers’ Natural PB if we’re getting specific). I put peanut butter on everything, so when Whole30 told me I couldn’t eat peanuts (they’re a legume, not a nut), I didn’t know what I was going to do. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is a perfect choice – there’s no added sugar, the ingredients consist of only Palm Oil and Almonds. Some will argue that the 2g of sugar on the nutrition label violate the Whole30 sugar intake. They’re wrong. The nutrition label and the ingredients are two very different entities. If added sugars are in your ingredients, it’s off-limits. If no sugar is added but natural sugars appear on your nutrition label, you’re safe.
Smoothies & Acai Bowls
While the Whole30 strongly urges you to avoid substitutions, we all have a sweet tooth we need to appease. Through the moments of wanting a milkshake or sorbet, I whipped out my Nutribullet at home and made this challenge drastically easier for myself. I also found myself at Juice Generation daily (who am I kidding? I lived there before this challenge too). As long as you know exactly what they’re putting in your smoothie, you’re in the clear. Same goes for their acai bowls – I avoid the hemp granola garnish like the plague. It tastes too sweet, and I don’t need it. Acai bowls are also a lot of fun to make at home because you know what you’re putting into your smoothie, and ultimately, your body. If I wanted to make the above recipe (which you can find here), I can be enjoying something sweet in minutes.
Do you love guacamole? Fabulous. Have at it on this challenge. Guacamole, if made correctly, is naturally gluten-free and vegan. I personally like to use bell peppers and sweet potatoes as a substitute for chips and make my guacamole at home. I found my recipe here on Official Whole30 Recipes Instagram. I also added avocado to my smoothies for consistency, and pretty much topped all my meals off with it, because I have a healthy addiction to avocado.
I wanted to include at least one “going-out” restaurant because making every single meal at home when you live in Manhattan is just not ideal. The Whole30 creators understand that and have made adjustments to their rules to accommodate eating out. My personal favorite is Bareburger. These restaurants are scattered throughout all the boroughs of New York City and will easily accommodate your dietary restrictions. They have many ingredients listed on their menu and pride themselves on being a very natural establishment. My personal go-to is the turkey burger on a collard green wrap with spinach, mushrooms and guacamole.
Bottom line, when it comes to any challenge, you have to want to do it. If you’re considering Whole30, you won’t complete it if you let your doubts or cravings drown out your desire to change your eating habits. It’s only 30 days – it sounds like a lot, but it flies. I know my relationship with food is very different than it was 30 days ago. I am excited to move forward knowing how food affects my body, and furthermore, knowing that I was able to complete this challenge for myself, even when I thought I couldn’t.