My Third Whole30


After months of declaring that I’m going to do another Whole30 I’m finally doing another Whole30. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 it’s basically a paleo way of eating with very clear boundaries for thirty days. I eat seafood but no other meat so for thirty days I’m eating lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil. What I’m not eating is sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and legumes.

Why do a Whole30? My first Whole30 happened after a month of indulging on lots of bread, wine, and cheese in Eastern Europe. My second Whole30 happened after a winter of celebrating all the holidays with lots of caramel corn, brownies, cookies, and wine. My Whole30 results were amazing – my skin was glowing, I never felt bloated, and I had some hormonal stuff that seemed to sort itself out. But even so, after my second Whole30 I kind of decided I never needed to do another Whole30 again. That I was capable of practicing balance and moderation by eating paleo 90% of the time but still enjoy treats with moderation and mindfulness. Oh and then I got pregnant – and while I didn’t throw paleo eating out the window I listened when my body made loud, almost childlike demands for “YOGURT! OATS! IN MY FACE! NOW!”

So why another Whole30? This postpartum Whole30 is an attempt to get some inflammation in my body down and my stress hormones under control. In the mornings when I step out of bed my whole body hurts – I hobble to the kitchen for my heaping bowl of morning oats like a grandma. In the evenings I feel bloated and very-not-sexy. Also, I’m doing another Whole30 because it turns out I’m not so great at moderation. I spend a lot of mental energy discerning whether a day was good enough to celebrate with an entire bar of dark chocolate (or maybe just 2 pieces? Or 3. No, 4… see!) or hard enough to wind down with a well-deserved pint of dark oatmeal stout.

Furthermore, I’ve spent the last year letting cravings dictate what I eat – and that was completely valid given my context. My previous Whole30s actually allowed me to understand my pregnancy cravings and actually listen to my body. So when my body told me to eat oats in my last trimester of pregnancy I almost felt ashamed! Like I was betraying my paleo way of life. Little did I know oats help boost milk production so it’s my paleo way of eating no grains that allowed me to listen when my body started craving them. That said, with the extra stress my body is under (lack of sleep, hitting the gym hard, breastfeeding, and general stress) I’m craving lots of sugar and entire loafs of bread. And I’m feeling it.

What’s different about this Whole30? The biggest difference is that because I was already eating mostly paleo (aside from the morning oats, evening chocolate, and occasional glass of beer) going that extra 10% isn’t so hard. Attitude-wise I  have a lot more ownership over my choice to do this. I’m not a dramatic victim of the Whole30 (which is what it can feel like at times). And at just little over a week into it I’m learning that my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health. That said, this Whole30 is allowing me to take an objective look at where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I want to go with the things I consume and whether they make me more or less healthy.

Okay but what am I actually eating? Every morning I have sweet potato hash browns seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, and salt topped with two eggs sunny side up. I have two cups of tea with homemade hemp milk. For lunch I usually have leftovers from last night’s dinner which is typically some sort of fish and veggie dish like cauliflower rice. For snacks I eat bananas smeared with almond butter, a handful of grapes, and cucumber sticks with smoked salmon and boiled eggs. If I’m craving something sweet I’ll bake some diced apples topped with dates, nuts, and cinnamon. Or I’ll snack on some dried goji berries. That’s pretty much it!

I’ve also found it much easier to eat out on this Whole30 – I know how to modify my order to make it Paleo and without annoying the waiter too much. (Local OKC friends – The Wedge’s antipasto platter without cheese and fish and veggies at Kitchen No. 324 are safe bets.)

Should you do a Whole30? Anytime I share that I’m doing a Whole30 I get a slew of texts and direct messages saying things like “I want to do a Whole30. But I don’t know how I’m going to live without _______.” If you want to try a Whole30 just go for it. Maybe just try living without black beans or cream in your coffee or whatever for 30 days – one day at a time – and see how you do. Or don’t  – just because everyone and their dog is doing a #whole30 doesn’t mean you have to.


Full disclosure: Whole30 and Whole9 Life are a client of mine but I was in no way compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I was working with Melissa and Dallas Hartwig for over a year before I tried a Whole30 and it really did change my outlook on food.

  1. Do you find that doing a Whole30 costs more than your usual groceries? Do you have any advice for doing a Whole30 on a budget?

    • The way I Whole30 is really expensive just because I’m eating so much quality seafood and all organic fruits and veggies (whereas during a non Whole30 I can get more protein from lentils and beans). I don’t really have any advice for shopping on a budget just because groceries is where I splurge and spend most of my money. But Whole9 did a great post on it here:

      • I don’t know if I could ever have a budget for my groceries! I’ve never budgeted for that part of my life because I’d much rather put my $$ toward food now vs. medicines down the road (there’s a balance with it all, right?). We don’t eat out often (honestly that part is easy! the options are pretty “meh” where we live and I have allergies to dairy that make midwest chefs go “huh? no butter?” when making their dishes!). Commending Samantha if you can make it happen!

        Kathleen – love this: “my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health.” Such a a healthy approach and outlook. Our relationships with our health and food grow and change with us over a lifetime … as long as we’re equipped to roll with it we’ll be good!

  2. I like that breakfast idea. Lately, my breakfast go-to choices have been yogurt with granola or plain oatmeal. Blerg.

    My lunches have been 4 oz. of chicken, fish, or turkey with raw leafy dark greens, and my dinners have been 4 oz of chick, fish, or turkey with cooked mixed vegetables. Though I do a 6 oz steak filet once a week.

    Pieces of fruit when I’m hungry for something sweet.

    I drink, water, tea, or black coffee. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll have a La Croix.

    I don’t know if Whole30 allows chia seeds, but 2 Tbsp of chia seeds in a large glass of water completely squashes late night snack cravings. My personal trainer taught me that trick.

    • Hold up! Is this all you eat in a day?!

      I’m not sure if seeds are Whole30 compliant but I still eat hemp and chia seeds while doing a Whole30 – mostly because it is a good fat / protein source for someone who isn’t eating a lot of meat.

      • Pretty much, yes. I snack on raw veggies like carrots and peas when I need an energy boost in the afternoon. Otherwise I can be found munching on celery, broccoli, cauliflower, or eating baby spinach like potato chips.

        I lost 30 lbs. in 3 months last time I stuck to this nutrition plan, and I felt like a bajillion dollars at the end of it.

        • Have you ever made kale chips!? So good for munchies.

      • Kai

        Seeds are cool on the Whole30, but they’re removed in the more strict Autoimmune Protocol. Thankfully the Whole30 isn’t that strict – can you imagine doing it without cumin or mustard?? :O

        • I don’t want to do life without cumin!

  3. I thought that was a big blob of burrata, rather than an egg. Obviously, I didn’t read the title closely. It still looks delicious now that I realize it’s an egg, but now I want burrata.

    If oats (and stout!) help with milk production, do you have any concern that this will negatively affect your milk production? What paleo foods are recommended for that?

    • So confession time. Shortly after writing this – maybe 11 days in – my milk supply DID drop. I thought it was established enough but all the factors at play I just couldn’t keep up with the demand. I probably could have just boosted calories but I knew oats and a beer would be a quick boost. So oats it is. Otherwise, I’m still staying on track. Flexibility and context are key.

  4. Mickie

    So, is that why I hurt all over when I get up? I have been hobbling to the kitchen for coffee for way too long and figured it was because I was getting old… However, I have a feeling my stress hormones are off the chart too so that could be causing me some grief. I will happily do Whole 30 when you will make it for me and tell me exactly what to eat! That would lower my stress hormones for sure.

  5. Naomi

    “dramatic victim” … smiling on that one!

    I’m a #HAP myself … (half ass paleo) as I don’t want to give up my wine, but I think that’s the beauty of intentional eating. Knowing what you’re putting in your mouth and being aware.

    I’ve been paleo (ish) for a year now, but have done two serious #whole30 periods … about to start my third. It makes such a difference for me!

    I don’t eat eggs, so it limits my breakfast options, but there’s nothing wrong with an avocado and turkey for brekkie!

    • Ah, I feel limited not eating meat other than fish. I even considered trying it again (after 15+ years!)… But it hasn’t happened yet.

  6. Vanessa

    I’ve been wanting to try one myself since you posted about your first Whole 30. I might ease into it with Mel from The Clothes Makes the Girl’s suggestion of just doing 1 week at first. I’m definitely needing to reset from sugar after this (paid) internship. So many office meetings with baked goods.

    • Even three days is a good reset!

  7. Kathleen, I really enjoy following your blog. It’s hard to find content that’s both informative and relaxed… your tone is just the right blend, which makes for a great reading experience. I may skim other people’s blogs, but I always take a pause to slowly work my way through each of your posts when they land in my inbox. Your breakfast meal sounds heavenly… I may have to give that a chance! I think just going paleo for breakfast would be revolutionary for a lot of people… I always wind up going for oats and you’re so right, they leave you feeling nothing but bloated!

    Happy Whole30! 🙂

  8. Kai

    “And at just little over a week into it I’m learning that my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health.” I feel like this has been my overall experience with paleo, but I’ve only recently come to terms with it. You’re always going to be tweaking, but at least the paleo baseline gets you to 90-95%.

  9. JC

    I really like you straight forwardness with this post. I really think you hit the nail on the head about listening to your body and diet being something that evolves with you. I’m just beginning my journey and learning as much as I can, honest posts like this help a lot.

  10. Melinda

    Whole30 sounds a lot like the Candida Cleanse I did end of last year into this year that my doctor put me on. I felt the same way when it was over, thinking I could just make good choices and balance. Yeah, not so much. I was doing pretty well until I had my second miscarriage (I’m pretty sure the cleanse helped me get pregnant after 4 years of unsuccessful fertility treatments) and then I kinda just ate my feelings after that. Unfortunately, that food looks like cake and burritos, not salad and black coffee. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to do it again, but wow it’s hard to restart! Especially in the summer, but the first one was during the holidays and I don’t want to do that again so I’m thinking September’s a good month to give up all good foods! 🙂 Good luck with your Whole30!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Melinda. It is hard to restart. I especially get in a vicious cycle with sweets and treats too!

  11. I’m super late to this thread but wanted to tell you I’m wrapping up Week 1 of Whole 30. After you posted this blog the idea just sort of rattled around in my head for a few days and I spent last weekend figuring out the basics. I think I’ve thrown myself into a detox cold (::sniffle::) but other than that it’s been just fine. And I love that I can have coffee! 🙂

    • So glad you’re trying it! I had to ditch my efforts when my milk supply dropped. Oats and dark beer ramped it back up and it was a slippery slope from there. What I learned: even 10 days of a Whole30 will work wonders. I think I might start integrating smaller (and more manageable) Whole7s and even Whole3s into my months more regularly.

      • lauren

        Have you tried brewer’s yeast? I had the lowest supply to start with, but I tried every trick in the book and that seemed to help a bit.

        • Kathleen

          Oooh, I haven’t. How do you take it?

  12. Katja

    As a mostly vegetarian for decades, I believed in legumes and grains as the best foods but finally got it that they were behind that extra 30-40 pounds that would not budge despite serious exercise and counting calories. Woo-hoo, lost 15 and much puffiness, etc on my first whole30. Joint pain, gone! Clothes in back of closet like having a new wardrobe!
    I am 58, feeling 30!

    So much common sense – really appreciate it!

  13. lauren

    Love your blog and this post! I can really relate to this: “I hobble to the kitchen…like a grandma. In the evenings I feel bloated and very-not-sexy. Also, I’m doing another Whole30 because it turns out I’m not so great at moderation.” Ugh!
    The planning is tough! What are your favorite resources to meal plan? I know some people love the throw together meals, but sometimes I just want a “real” recipe, especially if my husband and 14mo will eat it.
    I did a few weeks last october, but the timing wasn’t great. I was going back to work, my little guy got an ear infection.
    Part of me knows that this is why my joint pain is “back” now that I’m running again…I was gf for a few years with success.

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