7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Starting Whole30

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1. Your Social Life Is Going to Suck

Cutting out drinking alone can make socializing difficult (even more so depending on your age and companions). Add the usual array of sugar and carbohydrates, and it becomes even harder.

enjoy that fruit juice

What you may forget to realize is that a huge number of social events revolve around alcoholic consumption or food consumption. And brewery BBQs, 25 cent wing nights, and burger battles are definitely not on the menu.

There are technically some restaurants that have Whole30 options, but they are few and far between. At best they are a headache to order at and at worst, they can ruin your entire program.

While you can still go to these food-and-drink-based social events as a form of self-inflicted torture, avoiding temptations is the easiest route, and your social life will greatly suffer as a result.

But hey, it’s 30 days. Real friends should still be there a month later.

 2. Friends Become Your Enemies

Some friends will be supportive of your Whole 30 endeavor. They will cheer you and say how impressed they are with you. Others won’t be so understanding. Some friends will take every opportunity to wave burritos under your nose and tell you to just “eat it already.”

whole 30 difficulties

They just don’t get it. They don’t appreciate that this new “diet” is making their beer-chugging, pizza-eating friend someone substantially less exciting. I think some of this attitude comes out of love; they want you to join in, to be part of the group, but you can’t – at least not for now.

Just be prepared for the naysayers.

3. Your Are Most Definitely Addicted

You may read other accounts of sugar withdrawals and think to yourself, “I don’t eat so much sugar, I should be fine.” Well, you know how they say sugar can be as addictive as cocaine? It shows.

When reading through what to expect with Whole 30, you’ll see that days 2-4 are often very hard for people. Your body goes into withdrawal and dammit, it wants that sugar (and bread)!

my old companion, cupcake

These withdrawal days affect people differently. Many note feeling exhausted and getting headaches.

For me, days 2-3 brought a cloud of heavy depression. I felt absolutely miserable and utterly hopeless. My life seemed ridiculous, I felt like a failure. I began seeking out counselors, frightened at how horrifically unhappy I was. After day 3 through, I felt considerably better, so I can only conclude that sugar had a pretty strong grasp on me.

Don’t be surprised when sugar plays the vengeful lover.

4. Don’t Tell People (At Least Not Right Away)

The first week into Whole 30, I was so excited about it that I would often explain to others (without prompting) why I was denying myself that red velvet cake my co-worker brought in, or why I had to forgo my usual vanilla latte.

It’s fine to share, but after explaining the project, when people asked how far in I was, I felt ridiculous saying, “oh, 4 days in.” It felt like forever, but I could see the mental eye-rolls in others. Of course good friends will be happy to support you every step, but for strangers, I’d say wait at least a week before you start touting the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. 

5. Your Relationship With Food Will Never Be the Same

I’ll be honest – I’ve never been a huge veggie eater. I like them and all, but next to heaps of pasta and rice, there was never a ton of room on my plate for veggies.

Cutting out my usual go-to foods made me re-examine the fruit and vegetables I often left by the wayside. Part of Whole 30 involves your taste buds changing, and never before had I realized how sweet tomatoes can be, or how satisfying a huge plat of veggies can be.

whole 30 food

I learned how to crack a coconut and eat it (I also learned that coconuts are in fact nuts, which I discovered after eating half of an entire coconut and looking up the fat contents). I learned a whole new assortment of recipes, how vegetables could become noodles, and how cauliflower could become rice.

My relationship with fruit and vegetables was revitalized.

6. You May Become a Grocery Store Cynic

Once you begin checking labels and discover that some form of added sugar is in nearly everything at the grocery store, you’ll feel pretty frustrated. Maybe even furious.

I felt duped. These foods calling themselves “healthy” were still packed with added sugar. I began to feel like much of the grocery store was my enemy.

The bright side is that Whole 30 cuts down your time in the grocery store by half, since you end up basically just hitting the perimeters and never even bother venturing down the dangerous no man’s land middle lanes.

whole 30 grocery store

If you really want to get cynical about the food industry, be sure to watch Fed Up (a fascinating documentary about childhood obesity and added sugars in processed foods, available on Netflix) during your Whole30 session. It will reinforce your eating choices, but will likely make you super angry as well.

7. Don’t Call It a Diet

We know it’s not a diet, but calling it a “lifestyle change” sounds a bit self-congratulatory in my mind. So what do you call Whole 30?

It’s definitely best to avoid the word “diet,” as diets tend to be thought of as disposable, half-hearted endeavors, with people jumping on and falling off bandwagons every day (someone should really install safety belts in those things).

I tend to explain that I’m cutting out certain foods for 30 days to better understand how my body reacts to dairy, gluten, etc. This sounds smart and reasonable – plus it’s also true!

If you’ve done Whole 30, what tips do you wish someone gave you before starting? If you haven’t done Whole 30, what’s your biggest roadblock?

it starts with food book
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about the author:
Meg Mars
Meg is a writer who is passionate about healthy eating. From Whole30 and South Beach Diet, to paleo and intermittent fasting, she's experimented with several healthy eating regiments and is passionate about helping readers find the perfect food plan match for their lifestyles.

24 thoughts on “7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Starting Whole30”

  1. Just finished Day 1. I know this is going to be tough! The main thing I can say about the first day is I feel like I am STARVING. I have eaten a ton, but I just don’t stay full. I enjoy seeing other people’s accounts and it give me the drive to keep pushing through.

  2. I think that I could do without the sugar if I could have the dairy and the grains. I miss getting to eat brown rice and pasta with veggies. Coconut milk is not a substitute for half and half in my coffee! However, it does make me realize just how much dairy and grain products I was eating on a daily basis.

  3. I don’t call it a diet. I call it a program. People take that more seriously somehow. Who knew?
    I’m on Day 6, and I’ve got the bloats. I didn’t binge prior to starting, either.

  4. I’m an awful eater. I eat a TON of sugar. Yesterday was my first day on Whole30 and I felt like I was starving. I went out with my fiancé and it was torture all day. I even dreamed of cake last night. Today was a little easier but I’m definitely going to need support throughout this endeavor. It’s going to be much harder than I had previously anticipated.

  5. I’m on Day 11, and I have had 10 days straight of extreme moodiness, fatigue, no sleep, mental fog, body aches, and digestive issues. I’m crying inexplicably and in a very dark place. No one warned me that I would feel THIS AWFUL! the food cravings are a cake walk though.

  6. Day 4 and loving it. This is a modified version of an allergy elimination diet that I had to be on for over a year, with tremendous benefits. I’m looking to reap the benefits of the Whole 30.
    Thanks for the assist.

  7. This is a great diet, or I should say, “new healthy way of eating”.
    It is very similar to other new diets being introduced; The Pegan Diet (Dr. Mark Hyman), the Paleo Diet, and the Ketogenic diet. They all eliminate sugar, the biggest culprit in obesity, inablility to lose weight, and ill health, that is now coming to light. The Food Industry knows this but relies on our sugar addiction to keep there profits going. It is time to take back our lives and our childrens lives.
    I lost 65 lbs. in 6 months, and don’t have sugar cravings between meals!

  8. I totally agree with all your comments. We are lucky in that our friends are very supportive. We have realized how much of our free time involved around drinking and eating! Our toughest time came this past weekend when we were in Seattle on a labor day weekend trip. Eating out was very difficult (in a restaurant). We actually stopped at two (like sat down) until we realized they had nothing Whole 30 compliant so we left. We finally found a nice Sushi restaurant that was willing to make our choices whole 30 compliant and the meal and appetizers were delicious! I wish there were Whole 30 restaurants available!!!!

  9. Week one was fine. Starting week two….I’m really hungry and it’s hard to feel satisfied with my meals. I just want some oatmeal! But I have come to read labels even more than I used to….and I am learning to cook with vegetables in different ways. So good things are coming from this process. Still….I’m hungry….even right now! Can you hear my stomach rumbling??!! : D

  10. QUESTION: I am not a big animal or egg eater. I enjoy more a meal plan of fruits, vegetables, and grains. What’s a gal to do??

  11. I did the whole 30 right after Thanksgiving until right before Christmas this year and it actually was 1) Not as difficult as I expected it to be and 2) Really incredible. When I had finished 30 days I wasn’t anxious to eat other foods that would normally appeal to me and I’ve largely maintained my new eating habits. I’ve always been a sugar and carb fiend but now find that I just don’t crave the unhealthy foods that I always used to. Worth a try for anyone as, if I can do it, anyone can!

  12. I’m on Day 30, and am continuing until the end of January (at least). By this point, I’m usually free of cravings, but I got hit with two in the past week that were really hard to deal with. One day I was fixing a grilled cheese cheese sandwich for my grandson and just wanted a piece of cheese, and I don’t even really like American cheese. Yesterday I just wanted something crunchy. Nothing else would do, and I didn’t have anything compliant that would satisfy me. I’m doing fine with no sugar, but I really miss the crunch of tortilla chips …

    • After doing Whole30 now for 4 months I had your exact feeling! I found a cracker that has no sugar and is made from almond flour that is made by Simple Mills. Definitely satisfies my desire for crunching something more than raw veggies!

      • Hey Jeri – crackers like that would definitely be considered SWYPO (https://whole30.com/2011/10/sex-with-your-pants-on/). The problem is that crackers feed those bad cravings you are trying to break in Whole30. As you say yourself, they “satisfy the desire for crunching something” – that’s the kind of habit you are trying to break. I’d suggest sticking to the raw veggies.

  13. We first started Whole30 as a sort of “cleanse” after a summer of overeating of cheese, sweets and crackers/bread. This was August 9. We loved how great we felt after 30 days that we just stayed on it! The hard part is that we are pescatarians and finding new recipes can be hard. Most recipes with chicken can be converted using fish but soup varieties can be more challenging, especially without legumes. This way of life is time consuming in meal prep but so worth it! Also it adds a little more work when traveling on vacation.

  14. My husband & I are on day 16
    We thought we ate healthy but now realize whole foods work …I missed cheese the most & he missed dessert
    Feelin lighter as week past ..
    Looking forward to a happier lifestyle
    My suggestion grocery shopping only shop outside aisle …label reading works


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