Whole30: A Caffeine-Addicted Chocoholic’s Guide

The unfortunate truth is this: as women, we have all experienced some sort of feeling of shame about our bodies at one point or another. I don’t like that. I rebuke that. But we live in a fallen world, so it’s true, nonetheless.  

I will admit to you, then, that the first time I tried Whole30 last fall, it was because I was fed up with feeling fat. Most of my professional wardrobe had been purchased when I was 20 years old, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t fit into those clothes three years later. Despite my best intentions of training regularly to run a half marathon or cutting back to one Diet Coke a day (yes, even that would have been an improvement), I wasn’t making progress. If anything, my weight was only getting more out of control. I am normally a very confident person, but for the first time I could remember, I was experiencing severe self-criticism every time I looked in a mirror.  

I’m not saying that’s a bad reason to attempt Whole30. Wanting to regain control over your diet and addictions is not bad. But I can tell you that that was not the right motivation for me. I started Whole30 once after Thanksgiving and lasted 9 days. I caved when the time for my next CPA exam rolled around and I was positively going to die without Chick-fil-A for dinner. Womp womp. I started Whole30 again at the outset of 2017—new year, new me (ha). I lasted 3 days. I didn’t even have a reason that time. It was hard, so I quit. Throughout these few months, I had “quit” Diet Coke on and off about 4 times. I would go through the withdrawals, last for about a week or two with no caffeine, then hit a rough day and cave to the energy boost my body “needed.”  

When summer came, I had had enough. I had become a slave to my caffeine addiction, and its worst side effect was that it was increasing my already existent sugar addiction. I joke about my love for Cheezits and pretzel M&Ms, but y’all—I was going to the gas station every day after lunch to get a bag of M&Ms because I had exercised self-control at the grocery store on Sunday and refrained from buying the Oreos, but I still needed some sort of desert after every meal, for lawd’s sake. Something had to change. 

Friend, I’m here to tell you that if I can do this, you can definitely do this. After three attempts, I’ve learned what makes this feasible, as well as what sets you up to fail. There are several things that made this third (successful!) attempt at Whole30 so different, and I want to shout them from the mountaintops in hopes of helping other people achieve the same goal. Here we go:  

  1. Prepare well.

    Every Whole30 blog in the world will tell you that, but it’s SO true. I carved out 90 minutes from one day and planned out every single meal and every single grocery list I would need for those 30 days. All it takes is a legal pad and a Pinterest account. It is time consuming, but you will thank yourself when you aren’t having to question what to make for dinner to push that craving for Chick-fil-A aside.

    If you need recipe ideas, I’ve shared all of my favorites below! Look for a post soon with my entire calendar and grocery lists. It is hard to do Whole30 as a single person because you have to eat fresh food quicker (amazing what happens without preservatives…), but it IS possible!

  2. Look at the calendar.

    I chose a month where I knew I wasn’t traveling at all. This is a rarity for me—I am usually on a plane at least one weekend a month, and I’m driving to and from Dallas another 1-2 weekends a month. But, I had been looking ahead to July as a blissful full month at home, so I set that time aside for Whole30. I knew that I would have more time to cook and fewer meals that required me to eat out.   

  3. Curbside pickup is your friend.

    If I had to pick one thing that I would recommend to every human everywhere considering Whole30, this would be it. After planning out my grocery lists, I went online to heb.com and I ordered my grocery carts for the duration of Whole30. It stores your cart with your pickup time, so each week, I would pull up, they’d put my groceries in my car, and I’d go home and cook ‘em. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, PEOPLE. It saves you from buying things you don’t need, it saves you from the temptation of the Blue Bell aisle, and it is a great budgeting tool since you can see what your whole month of groceries will cost on the front end.

  4. Name your “why.”

    Y’all. This was THE key for me. “I don’t fit into my pencil skirts” wasn’t cutting it the first two times around, so this time I honed in on why this was important to me. I needed to prove to myself that food does not control me. I am genetically predisposed to addiction, and man oh man was it playing out in my relationship with Diet Coke. If I ever wanted to kick the habit, why not start now? There was this idolatry phenomenon developing with the way I thought about and treated my food, and it had to stop.

    In the days leading up to Day 1, I decided to treat these 30 days like a fast. I learned more about fasting as a spiritual practice earlier this year (if you haven’t read The Celebration of Discipline, I cannot recommend it highly enough), and wanted to incorporate some of that knowledge into this little experiment. One of the concepts that our pastor ties to fasting is praying for a breakthrough (you can read more here—again, highly recommend if you’re curious about the concept of fasting as a Biblical principle!). However many days you have set aside to fast, commit to praying over very specific breakthroughs over which you need the Lord’s guidance. The theory is that you spend mealtimes praying over that breakthrough rather than focusing on food (or social media, or TV…whatever it is you’re fasting from).

    I started a new Write the Word journal on the morning of Day 1, and as I sat down to journal, the Lord led me to this resolve. I was going to pray over one thing for 30 days and wait to hear His voice. That one thing had absolutely nothing to do with not eating sugar, but it added this element of prayer into the mix that has been kind of a second form of accountability. I heard once that it takes 21 days to form a habit—so imagine what can happen if you commit yourself to something so wholeheartedly for 30 days! It’s not quite time for me to share those prayers and breakthroughs yet, but I will say that it has been unbelievable to see the Lord at work when you’re really seeking to see Him at work.  

There you have it, friends! I am on Day 22, and I will finish strong. I have truly kicked my sugar craving and my caffeine headaches, I’ve learned some delicious new recipes, and, best of all, I have been drawn to the Lord in new ways through prayer. Those are three of the best reasons I could possibly think of to complete Whole30.

What’s Next?

I leave for vacation on Day 30, so I am not necessarily planning on following Whole30’s by-the-book re-entry method. But, I am planning on evaluating my meal choices at restaurants more closely. I’ve also already made my Paleo meal plan for August meals to cook at home. After Whole30, paleo seems like a breeze—give me alllllll the honey and peanut butter!

I’m committing to not drinking Diet Coke for a year. I’d be lying if I said that sentence didn’t terrify me, even after 22 days without it. I’ve learned that I’m an all-in kinda gal, and if I reintroduce it for one meal a week, it’s going to crop up at every meal every week very shortly. So y’all, say a quick prayer of intercession for Sonic, because they will likely see a dramatic drop in their profits from the restaurant on 6th Street in sweet Waco, Texas.  

Whole30 Chocoholic salmon salsa mango

Favorite Recipes 

I’ll organize these into a meal plan after I’ve finished Day 30, but here are a few of my favorites!  

  • Plantain carnitas nachos
    I used this carnitas recipe for SO many different recipes. It’s great to mix into eggs in the morning or top some cauliflower rice for dinner! 
  • Garlic salmon with watercress
    I can’t say I’d ever had watercress before, but this meal was delicious. Truly. 
  • Salmon with mango salsa
    I did not want this meal to end. This is probably the best meal I made the entire month. 
  • Blackened tilapia with cucumber avocado salsa
    I actually discovered this recipe one of the first times I tried Whole30 and kept making it even after the fact because it is that good. I’m not a fish person, normally, but clearly since 3 of these recipes are fish Whole30 has me whistling a different tune.
  • Detox cookies
    The day I discovered you could have 100% unsweetened cacao on Whole30 was, arguably, the best day of my life. I made several batches of these and loved them! 

You can see my Whole30 Pinterest board here for more ideas!


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