Whole 30 – How to do the Challenge!

I’m so glad you decided to join me on this Whole 30 Challenge! It’s so much easier and enjoyable when you have support from people who are going through it together :) I enjoy motivating others to challenge 

what they know about food and being healthy and try new things, such as this. You can read more about my story here…

Why Whole30?

The Whole30 program is a “nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” (source) It’s using food as medicine. “No other therapy – natural or otherwise – can come even remotely close to accomplishing all of these goals.” (source)

Pretty amazing right?! To oversimplify with my food and natural living philosophy, it’s simply Good In = Good Out. Once you eliminate the foods that have negative effects on your body, even subtle ones like achy joints or chronic sinus issues, you’ll realize how great you feel sticking to foods that support your body and don’t contribute to disease prematurely. You’ll also gain clarity on your relationship with food, introduce your palette to new foods and up your cooking game.

If you’re like I was during my first Whole 30, you have a lot of questions and probably some concerns before you start. What am I getting myself into? I can’t LIVE without cheese! Won’t this way of eating be expensive?? There are many excuses you could throw at me that I’m sure seem valid but in the end they are reasons to stay in your comfort zone. To reject change. Because change can be scary. But, think of the wonderful benefits you could experience! Don’t let a measly month out of your lifetime prevent you from having a positive and potentially transformative experience.

The “challenge” part of this 30 days is that you cannot cheat. Not even a tiny bit. One cheat and you’ll have to start over. Food is information and your body will respond to whatever you put in your mouth – you cannot fool it. Eliminating these foods for this length of time allows your body to reset and once you introduce them one by one, you’ll be able to tell pretty clearly which foods are problematic and causing any unpleasant symptoms and weight retention.

Let’s look at how to prepare for Oct. 1st!

When thinking about your meals and snacks, it’s tempting to go all Debbie Downer and dwell on what you can’t eat. It’s much more enjoyable to focus on all the tasty and satisfying food you can eat! This is how people used to eat after all, before you know, Doritos and Nutella. 


Protein Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb, seafood, eggs (check ingredients on prepackaged)

Vegetables (as many as you can eat!)

Fruit (in moderation)

Healthy Fats nuts & seeds, unrefined healthy oils (coconut, olive, avocado…and although vegetable oils are allowed I’d avoid using it at home)



No sugar of any kind, real or artificial  No maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.

No alcohol in any form, not even for cooking

No grains  This includes but is not limited to wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains, quinoa, bran, germ, starch, etc.

No legumes  This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter either. This also includes all forms of soy — soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways soy is snuck into foods (like soy lethicin)

No dairy  This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream…with the exception of clarified butter or ghee

No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites Carrageenan is a gut irritant and often used as a binder; monosodium glutamate takes many forms and is snuck into food to overexcite your taste buds.

No Paleo-ifyed baked goods, desserts or junk foods  Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days because that misses the point of the WHOLE30 entirely (back to the relationship with food…)



From the Whole 30 site, “You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer.” Focus on how you feel!



Clarified Butter or Ghee  The milk proteins have been removed

Certain Legumes Green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas are all allowed because they’re more Pod than Legume

Vinegar Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice vinegar, are allowed. The only exception would be malt vinegar, which has added sugar and contains gluten.

*Two points to consider: 1) if there’s something you eat too much of or rely on, it’s best to add it to the OFF LIMITS list. For example, I ate eggs every day for 2+ years and developed an egg allergy, presumably as a result. Or if you HAVE to have caffeine to function in the mornings, take it out! 2) I’d rather you have an occasional (1-2x max) Paleo-ified treat using approved ingredients like an Avocado Cocoa Coconut smoothie if it means the difference in completing the program or quitting. Relationship to food is important for sure, but I’m doing this more importantly to manage my health.


Read every.single.label.
Be sure to double check all your ingredient labels to make sure you’re not unintentionally eating something off limits. Deli meat can have carrageenan. Ketchup has a ton of sugar in it. Be vigilant. Still not sure what you can and can’t have? This is a good breakdown.

Keep to the basics
Pick a protein, add some veggies. That’s it. Add in variety by drizzling on a homemade sauce of choice and rotating in a side salad or soup. If you’re getting bored (around week 2) let variation come from preparation by steaming, roasting, grilling or eating raw veggies. Don’t make it harder on yourself by being ambitious about what you’ll eat each day. My first Whole30 was a lot of the same foods repeated with leftovers. Salad much?

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Set yourself up for success with one day each week devoted to planning and prepping your meals. I like Sunday’s since it’s relatively low key and you can wash, chop and cook everything at once for the week ahead. Yes, you can buy pre-chopped veggies if it means you’ll stick with the challenge. I won’t tell ;) Peruse my Pinterest board and pick maybe 2 new recipes to try each week (with enough for leftovers!) and then stick to simple meals for the rest. Pack snacks into tupperware or ziploc bags and take with you. Always pack snacks!! Life gets busy and things come up – you don’t want to be caught off guard when the return line at Target is 11 people deep and you still need to stop for gas but your stomach is eating itself and pretty soon you’re reaching for your phone to search for the nearest Wendy’s drive-thru.

Shop smart
Whole Foods and Earth Fare aren’t your only options for healthy food. Costco and Trader Joe’s have great options if you have access to those and even run-of-the-mill grocery stores have expanding organic and minimally processed options as well. Amazon.com, Vitacost.com, Vine.com and ThriveMarket.com are great for more specialty items too. Use your shopping list and read every ingredient label. You’ll be surprised at the amount of sugar, msg, and general crap that’s lurking in random foods. Also don’t shop hungry. Or with anyone else if you can help it! You don’t want the added temptation of someone who isn’t participating throwing non-compliant food in your cart.

Be kind to yourself
If you’re the only one in your household doing this challenge, clear a little space on a shelf in the pantry and the fridge that’s solely for you and don’t look anywhere else for food. Keep your social calendar as empty as possible and spend that extra time on self care – extra sleep, epsom salt baths, jogging to some Beyonce, yoga classes, coloring books for adults…whatever makes you happy! Write pep talks on your mirror. This month is about YOU so savor it in whatever ways fill your cup.


Whole 30 Resources

Meal Ideas and Other Extras
Lots of meal and snack ideas on my Whole30 Challenge Pinterest board!

Some of my go-to’s are:

  •  tuna or chicken and avocado salad: my “recipe” is 1 can of tuna in water, 1/2 avocado, pink salt to taste; mix together, done. Add sunflower seeds, celery and grapes or apples for texture if you like and plate over mixed greens
  • 30 second salad dressing: 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, squirt of stone ground mustard all mixed together
  • nut butter stuffed (pitted) dates
  • fruit infused water (get one of these bad boys)
  • La Croix – Target has the best flavors and are regularly 4 packs/$12
  • coconut milk as coffee creamer with dash of cinnamon or make your own indulgent, simple creamer
  • Dandy Blend if you’re trying to wean off the habit of coffee
  • bone broth* to sip each day – good post here on how to make
*I’d only use the bones from grass-fed or pastured animals. Otherwise you’re just reabsorbing the toxins from factory farmed animals into your body all over again


Shopping List Favorites

Online (or select health food stores)


Trader Joe’s:

  • Chile Lime Chicken Burgers
  • Frozen Turkey Burgers
  • Grass Fed Angus Beef Burgers
  • raw, unsalted nuts (check labels that it doesn’t contain oil)
  • Just Mango Slices (dried mango)
  • Almond Butter, Cashew Butter
  • Puttanesca Sauce
  • organic unsweetened coconut flakes



  • Organic Whole Chicken
  • Organic Chicken Thighs
  • Organic Chicken Drumsticks
  • Wild-Caught Shrimp
  • Wild-Caught Sole
  • Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon
  • Wild-Caught Halibut
  • Organic canned chicken (great for chicken salad!)
  • Carrington Farms organic virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (54oz. for $15!)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage
  • Wholly Guacamole
  • Fresh produce – avocados, blueberries, Earthbound Farms organic mixed greens, River Ranch baby spinach, Sweet Kale vegetable salad (omit the dressing/Craisins packet)
  • Frozen mixed berries
  • Frozen Spectrum tropical fruit blend
  • Frozen Normandy veggie mix
  • Silk Almond Milk 3 pack
  • organic eggs 18 ct.
  • Bare Fruit Apple Chips
  • raw, unsalted mixed nuts (check labels that it doesn’t contain oil)


Whole30 & Paleo Shopping Guide

























Just a fraction of Whole30 and Paleo favorites at Costco 


General Grocery found at most stores:

  • Applegate Farms prepackaged Turkey Bologna or Roast Beef or Oven Roasted Turkey that’s freshly sliced at the deli (prepackaged has carrageenan)
  • Lara Bars – compliant flavors are: Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Cashew Cookie, Cherry Pie, Chocolate Coconut Chew, Coconut Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Bar, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie.



This smartphone wallpaper I designed to keep you on track (’cause you know you check your phone 1,423 times a day!) Just click on the image, right-click and Save Image As to download to your desktop or phone

The Official Approved / Not Approved foods list from the Whole30 site

Alternative names for sugar and MSG

MyFitnessPal app – Great for keeping a log of your symptoms (or gradually lack thereof!) especially when you reintroduce



This challenge will be just as much mental as it is physical. Success comes from planning and support. I’ll be your personal cheerleader with lots of virtual high-five’s and snarky meme’s to brighten your day, but I encourage everyone participating to really engage with each other! Share your meal ideas and motivation with #whole30wellness on social media.

You might get some eye-rolls at the office or at home about your “weird eating plan” but this space is for the people who get what you’re trying to accomplish, without judgement.

animated gif of rebel wilson





I’m looking to balance my hormones (darn PCOS), identify any lingering sensitivities that may be contributing to my hyperthyroidism or otherwise, gain clearer skin on scalp and face, and improve energy and sleep. I want to get reenergized about meal planning and batch cooking. I want to remind myself that my word and commitment to myself means something. That I can set a goal and achieve it.


I’d love to hear your goals so I can better support you!



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