How to make Whole30 work for you: an interview with @Snackhappy

 Whole30 is currently a very popular food lifestyle with a focus on eliminating foods like sugar, grains, dairy, certain oils, alcohol and legumes that can be hard for our bodies to tolerate causing inflammation and imbalances of the gut, hormones and mood while including foods that promote wellness and reduce this inflammation and imbalance.  People who have done Whole30 report increased energy, happiness, weight loss and a healthier relationship with food and decreased issues associated with fertility and leaky gut including inflammatory diseases and food allergies/intolerances, to name a few. 
Sounds amazing, right!? The only problem is it's a whole 30 days of change which can be very intimidating to even consider let alone hard in practice...oh, and it's 30 days without alcohol.  So how do people do it? Below is an interview with three-time Whole 30'er Snackhappy who's informative and delicious Instagram feed and charming and upbeat personality are super motivating.  Julia shares tips and lessons that make Whole30 look very doable and even alluring.  Whether you're considering Whole30 or just looking to change the way you eat for the better, the below interview will leave you intrigued and inspired!

What really inspires you to do whole30? 
I was inspired to try my first whole30 three years ago when I was just getting into cooking and eating with a paleo template. I had never tried eliminating foods for extended periods of time and I was curious to see if I had any food intolerance. After completing the first one and going through the reintroduction phase I found that I didn't have any intolerance per se but I did notice a huge shift in my energy. I was sleeping better and my skin was brighter and clearer. I've continued to use January as my reset month because December has a way of becoming all about too many treats and more alcohol than normal. I also have done the past two rounds because I had friends and family members who wanted to try it but also needed the support. Doing the month along with them gave me some purpose outside of myself to cheer others on in solidarity. 

What changes do you notice in your health/energy/skin/mood etc?
The number one thing I always gain is more sustained energy. The first thing I noticed was how I wasn't reaching for an afternoon pick me up in the form of caffeine. I wasn't drowsy an hour after eating which was the first thing I encountered when I brought back grains in the form of tacos :). The energy also translated into waking up in the morning easily, with a clear head and feeling well rested. I haven't struggled with skin issues but I do notice that my skin is just brighter all around. But honestly the best take away is a healthier relationship with food. It is a time to focus on your health and well being, slay sugar cravings and be extra intentional about what and why you are eating. It's easy to let things go and either eat when you are not hungry or turn to sugar or alcohol when stressed. I use the month to give as much good as I can to myself. 

What do you snack on during Whole 30?
So I have to say I snack way less than I used to which is funny since I go by the name"snackhappy". The program itself doesn't encourage snacking but really focuses on eating enough for three meals. That said, if you are super active and have a moderate exercise routine I would add a snack pre and maybe even post work out. Epic & RX Bars are my favorite on the go snacks to have on hand and my daughter loves Lara Bars. If I need a snack, half an avocado with some compliant hot sauce really does it for me. A big spoonful of coconut butter is also a favorite. The thing both of these foods have in common is fat. This is my number one tip because I was not eating enough fat the first go around and I was often hungry because of it. When you switch to a naturally lower carb way of eating, upping your protein alone will not help. You have to retrain your body from being a sugar burner to a fat burner for energy. I think adding healthy fats is what makes all the difference. Every meals needs to include fat (and more than just a drizzle on your salad greens): mayo, avocado, coconut oil, duck fat, olive oil, ghee, olives, sardines, smoked salmon and bone broth are all forms of healthy fat that will keep you fuller longer if added to every meal in some form. I eat an earlier dinner than most, usually around 5:30. The most tempting time to snack for me would be after dinner when sugar cravings usually pop up. I found that having a variety of herbal teas helped keep me on track. I also enjoyed drinking some kombucha in a wine glass to make me feel like I was enjoying a fun cocktail. 
Any favorite resources/cookbooks etc. and any musts before you get started? 
By far reading It Starts With Food. This book is essential and I really can't stress it enough. I would also follow @whole30 @whole30recipes and @melissa_hartwig on Instagram while on the program. All three of these pages will give tips, recipes and encouragement. It really helps to know you are not alone and the whole30 community is really a supportive place. Speaking of support I would also find at least one friend to do the month along with you. Last year I had both my parents and one friend locally, We shared recipes, texted over cravings (like when you are missing the chocolate and wine!) and shared meals together. This year I had five friends locally who wanted to do it so we also planned two dinner party style meals and went all out which made it so fun! 
My other favorite blog resources are Nom Nom Paleo, Against All Grain & The Domestic Man. I love cooking through cookbooks but if you don't want to make the commitment they all have lots of free whole30 recipes on their sites. The other thing that can help is having compliant products to stock your fridge and pantry with...follow @whole30approved for a complete list. Primal Kitchens Mayo and Salad Dressings make meals faster. Pre cut cauliflower rice is such a great time saver and you can find the fresh and frozen variety at TJ's and Whole Foods. 

What about your daughter?  Any favorite Whole 30 complaint kid friendly meals and snacks
So my daughter used to eat everything under the sun but since turning two in September she turned super picky and especially when it comes to animal protein. The foods that do work for her are sweet potato fries, avocado, cucumber, carrots, sweet peppers, peas,cauliflower rice sometimes broccoli. I always serve these with ghee or a compliant mayo as a dip. She also loves the whole30 ranch that I make from Against All Grain (on her blog). She will also eat olives, eggs either scrambled or hard boiled and plantain chips and apples and bananas with almond butter. I buy the organic hard boiled eggs from Costco which have been a life saver and the roasted plantain chips from Trader Joe's. She also eats full fat dairy so I give her grassfed full fat plain yogurt and cheese. The other thing we can both eat is chia pudding which is nice for breakfast when you don't want eggs. (I have a recipe on my site.) 
Top 3 Whole30 meals?
I love breakfast and rarely tire of eggs and a good sweet potato hash, add some compliant bacon and I'm in heaven. 
Mexican Ground Beef or Bison Lettuce wrap Tacos with guacamole and Roasted Whole Chicken with vegetables like butternut squash with a chimichurri sauce. Make more than you need so that you can have leftovers for lunch! I know this is four but Cauliflower Rice bowls with Shrimp and whatever veggies you have on hand is also a favorite. 

Any Chicago restaurants and dishes you would suggest for Whole30?
Eating out on Whole30 is really hard and I didn't do it but I understand that's not possible for everyone.  I know you can order a pretty compliant meal from Chipotle: a salad with protein and bring along or ask for olive oil and balsamic.  Anywhere else you will need to ask the server how the food is cooked because many restaurants use vegetable oil and or butter to cook.  Kitchfix is a great local resource and they do provide Wbole30 menu items.  Sweet Green would also be an easy place to order from.  

Any super easy (if not so Instagram worthy) meals that were go-to's? 

Tuna Salad isn't pretty but if I dont have leftovers for lunch this is an easy go-to served with plantain chips or over salad greens. Deviled eggs or lazy devils which is basically cutting a hard boiled eggs in half and topping it with mayo and toppings like some good kimchi. I also enjoy canned sardines with beets (buy them already cooked) and avocado. And then a mixed plate of cut veggies, ranch dressing, olives, prosciutto or smoked salmon. I call this "no cook whole30 plate". 
What does it feel like to go back on your normal diet and what is that typically?

I have been eating mostly gluten free 95% for the past three years. The 5% makes up those times when I'm out and choose to indulge in some really great pizza, bread or baked treat but this is really rare because I feel better when I stay away from gluten. I can tolerate dairy in moderation. I don't eat it daily but I enjoy some cheese and full fat yogurt a couple times a week and some Jeni's Ice Cream occasionally. 

Its been two weeks since completing whole30 and I have added in some rice and corn tortillas but I notice that it does zap my energy so I'm not having it often and especially trying to save it for dinner so I'm not tired in the afternoon. My typical day starts with a Bulletproof coffee. I use Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil, Ghee, MacaCollagen Peptides. Since starting this back in the fall I find that I don't get hungry until lunch time. The days where I am hungry before lunch I will have two eggs, greens and kimchi or sauerkraut. Lunch is usually leftovers or tuna fish over greens and then dinner is different Monday-Friday and I leave my weekends open to eat leftovers or go out. 

Thank you, Snackhappy!!  I'm excited to share this interview with Green & Plenty readers and even more excited to see what you're making next!


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