Plan & Prepare
We want you to commit to the program now, but that doesn’t mean starting right this minute. First, you should take some time to do some planning for the month.
Don’t skip the planning process—habit research shows that when people get excited and jump from contemplation straight to action (skipping right over the “preparation” phase) they’re less likely to see the change through. As you’ll hear over and over again, when it comes to the Whole30, planning and preparation are key.
You may need just a day or two to prepare, or you may need a week or two to get your house (and your head) around the changes you’re about to introduce. There is no one perfect timeline—you’ll have to decide what works best for you.
Choose Your Start Date
Here are some general guidelines for choosing a start date:
- Start as soon as you possibly can, – while allowing appropriate preparation time, of course.
- If you’ve got a vacation, a trip to an unfamiliar location, or a wedding (especially your own!) in your imminent future, consider starting the Whole30 after those events. Navigating the Whole30 for the first time under those conditions may prove extremely difficult, and we don’t want you to begin your program stressed out.
- Likewise, if you’ve got an important athletic event in the coming month; consider starting the program after your event is over, as your performance may suffer during the first few weeks of the program.
- However, if what’s on your schedule during the next month is a family dinner, a business lunch, or a casual party with friends, we encourage you to consider it an opportunity to take your Whole30 skills out on the town! Building confidence by including those expected situations in your plan will help you when unexpected events arrive in the future. So don’t feel like having those things on your calendar means you need to push your Whole30 to another month.
Subscribe to Wholesome
Join the Whole30 email list, and you’ll receive the Whole30 Starter Kit right away. It contains a printable PDF of the Whole30 program rules, our Meal Planning Template, and 15 delicious Whole30 recipes to get you started. You’ll also see helpful weekly emails from Melissa Urban and the Whole30 team, including additional resources, tasty recipes, exclusive Dear Melissa articles, inspiring I Am Whole30 stories and special offers from our Whole30 partners. The Whole30 email program is an important way for us to support your Whole30 success, and we take it very seriously. We’ll never give your email address away, and we’ll never spam you.
If you’re already a Wholesome subscriber, congrats! You’re already one step ahead.
Once you’ve decided when you’re going to start… tell someone! Anyone! Everyone! Check out our downloadable social media graphics and use them to share your Whole30 intentions with the world. Print out our 30-day countdown calendar and hang it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.
And, you’ll want to connect with our Whole30 community for virtual encouragement and support. Follow Whole30 on Instagram to connect with other members of the Whole30 community, and drop us a comment or a DM to say, “I’m on board.” We want to welcome you to the community!
Congratulations! You are now officially part of the Whole30 community.
A poll of our Whole30 community revealed that 80% of people who tackle our program do so alone, without a Whole30 buddy or group. But habit change research tells us that taking on a commitment as big as the Whole30 requires accountability and community support. So, we’ve created ways for you to find the support you need, even if you can’t convince anyone to tackle the program with you.
Join The Whole30 Community
We often say that the Whole30 community is the friendliest, most supportive community on the internet, and our social media accounts prove it. Follow Whole30 on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or Twitter for daily resources and support; follow our Official Whole30 Recipes accounts on Facebook and Instagram for regular meal inspiration; and subscribe to our Whole30 YouTube account for extra support.
Subscribe to Daily Text Messages for encouragement and accountability
Whole30 CEO Melissa Urban has encouraged thousands of people through the program, so she knows exactly what you need to hear each step of the way. Sign up to receive twice daily text messages from Melissa, sent directly to your phone every morning (encouragement) and evening (accountability). Click to subscribe.
Prepare Your House
It’s time to get your house Whole30-ready. Don’t skip this step! Remember, planning and preparation is everything when it comes to making a dramatic lifestyle change like the Whole30.
Order the Whole30 Books
The official book of the Whole30 program is aptly titled The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. It walks you through the program start to finish; teaches you how to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally; and gives you a 7-day meal plan (complete with day-by-day preparation instructions); and more than 100 delicious Whole30 recipes to see you through.If you are ready to get going and don’t need the science details, this is the book for you!
If you want to fully understand the science behind how Whole30 was designed and why it works, we suggest It Starts With Food.
We also offer a companion guide, The Whole30 Day by Day. It’s a half field manual, half guided reflection, and fully designed to help you maximize every single Whole30 day. You’ll discover daily motivation, what to expect, tips, habit hacks, and resources. Three dedicated pages also help you track your progress, make plans for the coming days, and documenting your favorite meals. (Combine it with text messages from Melissa Urban to get an incredible duo of daily support.)
Looking for more Whole30 support and recipe? All of our books have been written to help you have the most successful Whole30 possible—and that includes creating delicious Whole30 meals! Our best-selling cookbooks can help with that: Cooking Whole30: Over 150 Delicious Recipes for the Whole30 & Beyond, The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook, Whole30 Friends and Family: 150 Recipes for Every Social Occasion, and The Whole30 Slow Cooker
Food Freedom Forever is Melissa Urban’s 3-part plan for continuing a healthy relationship with food in your life after Whole30, and It Starts With Food explains the food science behind the program (with more than 400 supporting references).
Still not sure which book is for you? Start with this guide.
Clean Your Pantry
First, toss the stuff you won’t be eating out of the house. Putting some distance between yourself and tempting food that isn’t part of your elimination process is a good strategy for success. So take time to clean out your pantry—toss the stuff you won’t be eating, give it to a neighbor, or donate it to a local food bank.
Or Create a “No Fly Zone”
If you’re the only one at home doing the Whole30, chances are your family isn’t going to take kindly to you tossing their favorite snacks and desserts. Dedicate one drawer in your fridge and an out-of-the-way cabinet for these off-plan items, so you don’t have to reach around them every time you need a can of coconut milk.
Plan Some Meals
Meal planning is an absolute must for saving time, money, and “What’s for dinner, again?” stress. Luckily, we’ve made this SO EASY for you by partnering with Real Plans, the official Whole30 meal planning service with more than 500 delicious, compatible recipes.
Fully automated right down to the shopping list, Real Plans lets you customize your Whole30 meals to your family size, meal prep schedule, and Whole30 start date and duration, and leaves out recipes with ingredients you don’t like or are allergic to. It was designed to take all the stress out of meal planning forever.
But keep in mind that your Whole30 meals can also be simple, with no recipe required—just take compatible ingredients and combine them in whatever way sounds delicious to you! Breakfast can be scrambled eggs, a side of fresh salsa, and a half an avocado. Lunch can be grilled chicken mixed with homemade mayo, celery, grapes, and walnuts over baby spinach. Dinner can be a grilled steak, fresh garden salad, and ghee-roasted sweet potatoes. Feel free to keep it simple!
Order Whole30 Meal Delivery
You’re in the middle of a life-changing journey to transform your health, habits, and relationship with food. Having the ability to just heat-and-eat a Whole30 meal can free up more time to enjoy your NSVs. That’s where Made By Whole30 meals or one of our other meal delivery partners can support you during your program and beyond. See your options for having convenient, compatible, delicious meals delivered to your doorstep.
Time to stock up on Whole30 foods! Use your meal plan to help you create a shopping list, then head to your local grocery store, health food store, farmers market, or co-op.
Hit the meat, seafood, and eggs first, as the first place your pennies should go is high-quality animal protein sources. Next, load up on vegetables and fruit (in that order). Although many produce items are available year-round, shop seasonally for the best price and taste.
Next up—healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, olives, nuts, and seeds. Finally, stock your pantry with the essential seasonings and sauces. This is where you might consider some speciality item. (No guesswork required, so you can just skip the label reading!) You can also check Thrive Market or Amazon for nice-to-have items you may not be able to find locally (like coconut aminos).
Plan for Success
Life happens, right? You’ll likely have something unexpected happen during your Whole30. Unfortunately, sometimes hitting an obstacle can make you want to quit, because you feel derailed. In those moments, having a plan to fall back on is your most powerful tool.
So start by thinking about the next 30 days and anticipate your obstacles. Then, make a plan for what you’ll do when you face them. We like using if/then statement when crafting our plans, so follow this template to map out your best Whole30 success strategies.
If…Then Your Way to Confidence
First, write down every potential stressful, difficult, or complicated situation you may encounter during your Whole30. Some examples include business lunches, family dinners, travel plans, a long day at work, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, or office gatherings.
Next, create an if/then plan for each potentially difficult situation: “If this happens, then I’ll do this.” We encourage you to write this down in a journal! Here are a few examples, but we give you a ton more starting on page 27 of The Whole30:
- Office gathering: If my co-workers give me a hard time about not ordering a drink, then I’ll say, “I’m doing this food experiment right now to see if I can make my allergies better, so it’s mineral water with lime for me tonight.”
- Travel day: If I get to the airport and my flight is delayed, then I’ll snack on the Chomps snack stick and pistachios I brought in my carry-on.
- Last-minute meals: If I don’t have time to grocery shop, then I’ll pull some ButcherBox meat and mixed frozen veggies out of the freezer, and mix in a compatible dressing or sauce.
Keep this list handy, and add to it as additional situations come up. Having a plan means you’re far more likely to stick to your commitment, and you’ll build additional confidence each time you use your plan to move through a challenge!
Toss that Scale
We take this rule very seriously, and you should too. There’s no faster way to sabotage your Whole30 than to subject yourself to weekly (or daily!) weigh-ins, but many participants find this rule the hardest of them all to follow.
We’re asking you to set yourself free from thinking about what the scale says for the next 30 days. But why are we so strongly against tracking your “progress” based on body weight? Let us tell you.
The Scale Says Nothing
Scale weight fluctuates wildly. Over the course of a day (or a few hours!) your weight can fluctuate by as many as five pounds—sometimes more—and that fluctuation isn’t at all representative of body fat gained or lost. Not only is it inaccurate, but weight loss isn’t the goal of Whole30 anyway, and here’s why.
Scale weight says nothing of health. Is gaining or losing five pounds moving you in the direction of better health? It’s impossible to say, because that number tells you very little about what’s going on with your relationship with food, hormones, digestive system, or inflammatory status. And those are the factors that impact your health far more directly than body weight.
By focusing so much of your attention on that number in the scale, you effectively miss out on observing the other, more significant, results of your efforts—which we call Non-Scale Victories. Those results (improved sleep, energy, mood, cravings, athletic performance, recovery, or medical symptoms) could be motivating you to continue with your new eating habits. But until you stop obsessing about gaining or losing weight, you’ll never be able to see the health progress you’ve actually been making.
Lastly, the scale maintains control of your self-esteem for many of us. It doesn’t feel good allow a number to influence your sense of worth, value, or self-confidence. And yet, that’s exactly what happens when your daily weigh-in determines whether you have a good day or bad day, and whether or not you feel good about yourself. If this is your scenario, consider ditching your scale permanently, because you deserve better.