I made a lot of mistakes my first few Whole30’s – I failed my first one, and survived the next two but didn’t change any of my habits. I want you to get ALL the life-changing benefits from this program! So, here are the top 10 most common mistakes I have seen in the over 1000+ clients I have coached, as well as working for Whole30.
**Please note: None of these mistakes include breaking any of the Whole30 rules…I am hoping that is an obvious mistake!
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH HEALTHY FAT
I get it, I grew up in the 90s, where fat was demonized and I bought low fat But, fat is king in keeping you satiated and full – giving you long-term stable energy (i.e. not the rollercoaster ride of energy crashes like sugar). This blood sugar stabilization helps SO much in sugar cravings.
Repeat after me: eating healthy fats will not make me fat, eating healthy fats will not make me fat. But won’t fat clog my arteries and give me a heart attack? FACT: 2010 – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed 21 studies on fat, with almost 350,000 subjects and concluded: “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD (heart disease)”
PUT FAT ON YOUR PLATE EVERY MEAL. Not just your cooking oil, things like olives, nuts + seeds, coconut flakes/chunks, nut butter, and avocados. I have had SO many clients tell me this made the biggest difference.
2. NOT EATING ENOUGH IN GENERAL
It’s easy to fall into the diet mindset, thinking being hungry is “winning” and that means your body is shrinking.
Being hungry, true stomach growling, would eat chicken and veggies right now, is a sign your body is undernourished. A car without gas doesn’t perform well and neither do you!
Not sure how much to eat? Please check out this Whole30 Meal Plan Template and make sure your plate is FULL of veggies (i.e. not a ¼ cup of carrots) and has that plated fat. If you are still hungry between meals, it’s a sign that you need to increase your meal size. Click here to read more about snacks on Whole30.
3. NOT DOING A PROPER REINTRODUCTION
I get it, isn’t is called the Whole30?! I know it feels like it should be a 30 day checkmark, but trust me the best part come after the 30 days! But actually, after the 30 days comes the most exciting part, the Reintroduction. This is a critical part! Melissa Hartwig Urban has said “There is no food freedom without reintroduction.”
Why does reintroduction matter so much if I feel good at the end of my Whole30 and I did the dang thing?!
Because reintroduction helps you know how certain foods interact with YOUR body and helps you answer the food freedom question, “is it worth it?” when there are no program rules to lean on.
I like to compare it to shopping for shoes. We all have to go shopping for shoes at one point or another. Once we find some we like the way they look, what’s the first thing we do? We check the price tag. It doesn’t matter if they are the best looking shoes I’ve ever seen, if they are $500, that’s out of my price range and out of the question. So unless it’s for a super special event like my wedding, it’s not worth it.
Same with food – how can you know if something is “worth it” if you don’t know the “cost” or the reactions like skin/sleep/digestive/mood problems that happen personally to you when you eat it? You can’t and you can’t know how often you can “afford” to include it on a regular basis in your long term nutrition.
A personal example – I struggled with adult acne for 2 decades, it was really embarrassing and frustrating and I tried all kinds of topicals and medicines. After a proper reintroduction, I learned that my chronic acne was highly correlated to dairy and refined sugar. If I minimized or eliminated those from my diet, my face had never been so clear. I then was empowered by knowing the cost and could actively choose if it was worth it to eat them, which generally it wasn’t.
Click here to read more about reintroduction on the Whole30 website. And also check out my blog post on the top 7 Reintroduction Mistakes and how to avoid them!
4. USING SUGAR CRUTCHES
I am a recovering sugar addict and my first two successful Whole30’s, I ate Larabars and RxBars and apples + nut butter as a “healthy” treat. Though I was staying compliant, my habits didn’t change. I wanted something sweet, I ate the most sweet thing I could find that was compliant = my sugar addiction habit cycles continued. When I finished those rounds I was so stumped as to why my old sugar addiction habits came back so fast. The reality? Because I had done nothing to rescript them.
More of a “salty” snack problem? The same thing applies – don’t be swapping out your chip habit with salted cashews!
Well, if I’m not supposed to eat a “healthier treat” what can I do with all those cravings?? Find other ways to soothe my friend! Check out this post on some specific options for you!
5. JUST MUSCLING THROUGH IT, NOT CHANGING YOUR HABITS
This one stands on the last point: anyone can “get through” the 30 days. But if you are not actually changing your habits – trying to learn new cooking skills, becoming a label reading ninja, finding other ways to soothe beyond food – you will quickly be right back to where you started. I strongly encourage you to find habits to build the rest of your nutrition on. Things like learning to meal plan and prep in a sustainable way, getting in the habit of reading every label, seeking out education and inspiration.
Personal example – I made the goal my 4th Whole30 to try a new recipe every week. I have done so ever since (that’s a few years worth!) and it has been so powerful in helping me build a vocabulary of recipes I truly love that make me feel awesome, on or off the Whole30.
6. BECOMING A WHOLE30 HERMIT
“I’m scared to eat out on the Whole30 or go to a party on the Whole30, so I just won’t.” I’ve heard it sooo often from my clients that I actually started giving them early on the assignment of finding 3 restaurants in town and sharing with me what they would order from the menu, so they felt empowered to go out. Again, it’s not sustainable to think you will stay home the rest of your life. Build sustainable habits!
7. NOT PLANNING FOR EVENTS
“I was doing great until I went to that party/wedding/work lunch/trip…” Oi. Ideally you have planned your Whole30 that none of the events in the 30 days are once in a lifetime events (i.e. your wedding). You are 1000% capable of navigating that event successfully. But, if you don’t have a plan in place, those odds get slim fast.
- First and foremost, unless you are certain there are compliant items at this event (because you asked), eat before you go. We don’t make great decisions when our blood sugar is low!
- Second, BYO something. Maybe that’s your own dressing because you know there will be a salad bar. Or a meat stick and some nuts in your pocket/purse to tide you over.
- Third ASK – call the restaurant, the caterer, the host…find out what is being served so you can plan accordingly. If you are calling a restaurant, try to call at a non-busy hour like 2pm so you can get their focused time and attention.
- Fourth – no one cares about what you are eating/not eating as much as you think and you deserve to take up space and have your needs met. Period.
As far as trips, it’s all about preparation and determination. Click here to read the Whole30 tips for traveling.
8. NOT ENLISTING ENOUGH SUPPORT
I didn’t tell anyone I was doing my first Whole30 because I wasn’t sure I could do it. I also failed my first Whole30 due to lack of support and preparation. Don’t be Autumn – tell your friends, family, social media, etc. Give them the opportunity to support you and cheer you on! Also, sharing it creates accountability to help you see it through.
9. NOT PLANNING ENOUGH
Again, this was the second reason I failed my first Whole30. I thought I could just take out the non-compliant stuff, right? Nope.
Here is my blog post on ways to prepare for a Whole30 (these can apply even if you have already started!)
10. NOT CELEBRATING ALLLL THE VICTORIES
In Whole30 speak we call these NSVs (non-scale victories) and if you want your Whole30 experience to be powerful, you need to see the whole picture (not just the weight or physical size changes).
I had all of my clients read through this extensive 2-page list of NSVs, indicate which ones they hoped to see changes in, and then review at the end of the 30 days to see which ones improved. They are always so empowered by it!
Here’s to your most empowering round of Whole30 yet, one that will truly change your health, habits and relationship with food!