Now that I have completed my first Whole 30 I would love to tell you, “oh, it wasn’t that bad!”. I could tell you that, but I won’t. Because it wasn’t easy. It is definitely doable, but I’m sure I contemplated quitting and just eating a piece of bread about twice a day. It took some trial and error, but I was finally able to find some things to help me survive Whole 30.
What makes it so difficult are those times when you need to grab food in a pinch, on the go, or just for a snack. Of course, snacking in general is discouraged on Whole 30, but try telling my stomach that at 4:00pm (hint: it won’t go well). It’s also difficult to try to maintain some normalcy in your life, like having a morning cup of coffee or socializing with friends. Both are difficult when you can’t have cream, sugar, or wine.
It took me just about all 30 days, but I think I figured out how to get through just about all of those situations, like what to have for breakfast when you are running out the door, what snacks to keep in your purse when hunger hits, and how to feel like you are drinking without actually drinking (the most critical, right?).
Here are the 10 products that helped survive Whole 30 through those situations (and then some!). Sure, you can survive Whole 30 without them, but I promise they will make your Whole 30 so much more bearable.
1. Nut Milk Bags – As you know if you have even considered Whole 30, dairy of any kind is a big fat no-no. To add insult to injury, so is commercially processed nut milk (and non-canned coconut milk). The good news is it is SO EASY to make your own! I recommend buying commercial grade reusable nut milk bags if you plan on making your own, consistently. They don’t break and are easy to clean making them a much better value. You can also buy disposable bags at Whole Foods.
2. La Croix – If you are a big soda drinker, you will need to jump on the La Croix bandwagon ASAP. Even though I am not anymore, I needed something other than water and tea to drink to mix things up. Don’t expect a big flavor punch, these are flavored naturally and aren’t sweetened, but the sparkling water adds just enough to make your liven up your beverage choices. My favorite is the cherry limeade flavor!
3. A Paleo Cookbook (my favorite: Against the Grain) – Even though I had a copy of the Whole 30 book which had a whole meal plan and recipes inside, I needed some other recipe options to keep myself from getting bored. I had a copy of Against the Grain and turned to it frequently for inspiration (she inspired this Paleo Lasagna recipe). Since you basically have no other options other than to cook at home, having lots of options and variety will help ensure that you are successful.
4. Lara Bars – I had never had a Lara Bar before, but they were a life saver. I kept one in my purse, at my desk, in my pantry at all times. You never know when you will be stuck out running errands, not able to grab lunch, or running late to work when you need something quick and easy. Even though Whole 30 considers these “as close to a candy bar as you can get”, I say it’s still better than grabbing a bag of chips! Just be sure to read your labels, not all Lara Bars are Whole 30 compliant. My favorites are apple pie, cashew cookie, and cherry pie.
5. Kombucha – This one may be a bit controversial. Kombucha is a fermented drink that is actually made with sugar. But the sugar gets eaten up during the fermentation, so according to Whole 30, its fine. What’s great about the ‘booch, besides it being another water alternative and having probiotic benefits, is that it is naturally, mildly, alcoholic. And at least for me, it was a great substitute for wine or beer when we had friends over or I knew I was going out where people would be drinking. You won’t feel the alcohol, but at least you can trick yourself into think your drinking.
6. Epic Jerky Bites – Even though snacking is discouraged, you are probably going to do it anyways. My primary snack choices were nuts, apple and nut butter, and carrots. BORING. I probably ate my weight in almonds. Because I craved some variety in my snacks, I turned to jerky. Turns out about 99% of all jerky is made with sugar! UGH, sugar is EVERYWHERE! Fortunately, Whole Foods sells Epic brand jerky which is made with absolutely no sugar and is 100% Whole 30 compliant. By favorite is the bison jerky.
7. Justin’s Almond Butter packets – As I mentioned above, apples with almond butter was one of my go-to snack options. I probably had that combination at least once a day. But lugging around a jar of almond butter is cumbersome, so I turned to these almond butter packets which were must more convenient. If I’m being honest, Justin’s isn’t my favorite almond butter, but I haven’t found any other brands that have more portable packages.
8. Ghee – Ghee is essentially butter with the milk solids removed, making it the closest thing to butter you can get. It is great to cook with. You can slather steamed veggies in it. It is a must buy when you start your Whole 30. Fortunately, it was pretty easy for me to find. They carry it at Trader Joe’s near the olive oil and now I see it at just about every major grocery store near the oil or with the butter.
9. Chia Seeds – Yes, I am pretty sure these are the same seeds that you can make a Chia Pet with. Who knew they are actually pretty good for you. My favorite way to use chia seeds is making chia pudding (here’s my recipe for Cinnamon Roll Chia Seed pudding, which technically isn’t Whole 30 compliant). When the seeds are soaked in liquid overnight, they expand and form this gelatinous mixture. It might sound and look a bit unappetizing, but they have no taste and the texture is a lot like jello. When added to banana sweetened almond milk, they make a delicious dessert!
10. Acai Packs – Breakfasts were the hardest meal for me during the Whole 30. I can only eat so many eggs. So when I found these Acai packs at Whole Foods, I was thrilled! I started making acai bowls a couple times a week, which not only made breakfast more enjoyable again, but probably helped me see all 30 days through. I was this close to breaking down and having oatmeal a couple mornings. [Update: The Sambazon packs that I used now have soy lectin in them. I have re-linked another brand that is just acai and a bit of citric acid. If you want 100% pure acai, also try this freeze-dried powder and blend with some frozen berries.]
For those of you who are on or considering the Whole 30 challenge, I hope this helps you! Even if you aren’t or you are stick to a Paleo diet, I hope this has given you some great Paleo snack options to keep at home or work. Even though I am technically no longer doing the Whole 30, I will still continue to keep all of these things around to ensure I have healthy options when hunger strikes!