For the last three years, I have attempted a Whole 30 at the start of the New Year. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Whole 30 Program – you can read more about it here). My first attempt was half-hearted. Mike’s CrossFit gym (which is now mine as well) was hosting a gym-wide challenge. He had decided to participate – and because he cooks all of the meals in our house I ended up participating by default. We were strict for a few days, however, after a few minor “cheats” we were back to our old eating habits within the first two weeks.

Last year I tried again and did much better. I remained completely compliant for about 2 1/2 weeks until our vacation to San Diego. While I know that Whole 30 is about “no excuses,” we take such few vacations (only one every few years) I wanted to fully enjoy the experience (food included). I did notice a significant change for the time that I was following the program – but couldn’t muster up the motivation to try again once we returned back home.

This time is a little different because my motivation is different. Isabella has demonstrated a number of minor digestive issues that seem to be linked to certain types of food. My hope is that by eliminating many of the traditional “trouble” groups she will see some relief. Moreover, my own autoimmune issues are flaring up something fierce and since I am nursing I cannot take my normal medication and am hoping that such a diet will also help to reduce the inflammation. Because I am nursing, I have to be sure that I am still eating enough calories, which means adding in more snacks than I typically would otherwise.

To be successful with a Whole 30, the most important thing is to go in prepared. This means doing a grocery shop BEFORE starting the program. Although there are a ton of great Whole 30 recipes out there – food doesn’t have to be complicated to be compliant. Through my prior failed attempts I have learned that complicated meal planning increases the probability of cheating (because who wants to spend a lot of time cooking when they are hungry?) Our staple meals are fairly simple – chicken breast or hamburger patty, veggies, and/or potatoes. Compliant condiments or sauces help alleviate the boredom and keep things easy.

Today is Day 7 and I feel like I am starting to get into the grove. My cravings have subsided as I get more familiar with my options. Snacks continue to be the hardest – especially with a newborn. Whereas I typically would reach for gluten free pretzels or cheese sticks, my current snacks tend to require a bit more preparation. If I don’t have the time (or a free hand) I have found Lara Bars and homemade trail mix (walnuts, raisins, and unsweetened coconut flakes) to be easy options. I’m excited to see what the next week will bring!

Who else is doing a Whole 30? What are your favorite meals/snacks?