There are plenty of motivating reasons to take on the Whole30 challenge. Consistent clean eating can do wonders for your energy levels, gut health, and your overall relationship with food.
But it does take some careful planning, especially if you really want to get it right. So we tapped Alex Snodgrass (aka ‘The Defined Dish’), whose beautiful images of her Whole30-approved recipes, including tuna cakes with smoked paprika aioli and tikka masala meatballs, are always a welcome sight during an Instagram scroll sesh.
Here, she talks about how the Whole30 diet has impacted her life, the ultimate compliment she got on her clean gumbo, and where she stands when it comes to drinking during the diet.
How did you get into the Whole30 diet? Are you strictly Whole30 still?
I got into Whole30 because my sister had done it and raved about how amazing she felt. I was experiencing some post-children anxiety issues and had read that clean eating with Whole30 might help. Plus, I wanted to lose the baby weight while I was at it. I couldn’t believe how much it impacted not only my physical health, but my mental and emotional health as well.
Today, my anxiety has essentially vanished, and I am so grateful for what the program taught me about eating real, clean food, and nourishing your body. My current diet is very much centered around Whole30 and Paleo, but I love food and the exploration and adventure around it. I love trying new restaurants around town, traveling to experience other culture’s cuisines, and making pasta and sipping wine on the weekends (one of my favorite guilty pleasures). I’ve just found a balance that works for me. I’d say I eat Whole30/Paleo five days a week. Weekends and special occasions are for wine and pasta if I feel like it’s worth it.
How else did the Whole30 diet affect your life?
I am a huge self-love and self-care advocate. Doing the Whole30 challenge teaches you so much about yourself and, if you successfully complete one, you’ll feel so empowered and proud of yourself. I can attest. Being a mom, it’s easy to put yourself last because you’re so busy taking care of everyone else around you. Whole30 taught me to take care of myself. I have self-control around food and I don’t just mindlessly eat. I am so aware now about what goes into my family’s bodies. I truly feel that women need to take care of themselves first to be the best wife, mom, friend, partner… anything. You are worth it!
What are some of your favorite Whole30 recipes that you’ve made so far?
What are some of the most decadent Whole30 recipes you’ve made?
What’s your advice to anyone who is looking to get into Whole30?
It is a lot of work, but it is so doable. You get to eat real food, and plenty of it. Set aside 30 days that makes sense to you and fully commit. Do your research, prepare. and do it for you! Your relationship with food will never be the same and, you’ll feel fantastic!
Any tips for a successful month?
Read! So many people fail their first round of Whole30 because they’ve just seen their friend complete it, or someone on social media, and say, “Hey. I will do that and start tomorrow without knowing anything about it.” It’s a pretty complex program, and knowing what you’re getting into before you start, what to expect, and understanding the “why” behind the program will really help set you up for a successful Whole30.
Meal prep is also key. It’s hard to order out while you’re during Whole30, so you really do have to do a lot of cooking. Take time each Sunday to plan ahead. Make a big batch of chicken salad and a big pot of soup to take to lunches. Chopping some veggies and marinating your meats will make dinner easier to throw together. Make a yummy salad dressing to throw on greens to keep them from getting boring.
GOOGLE is your BFF. Maybe guar gum is in your favorite salsa, but you don’t know if it’s Whole30 compliant. Just Google “is guar gum Whole30 approved?”. It will come right up 99.9 percent of the time.
Do you think it’s okay to go all in on Whole30 except for the giving up wine part? (Asking for a friend.)
Ha, no. Trust me, I asked the same question before my first round. But here is the thing about the Whole30 diet: it only works if you do it 100 percent for 30 days. No “special occasions,” no cheats, nothing. A lot of the program is based on science, and just a small amount of inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle and totally blow your chance to experience the full benefits that the program has to offer.