Dishing Up the Whole30

Craig & Monika Share Their Whole30 Experience and Recommendations


In the spirit of practicing healthy eating and not dieting, I wanted to learn more about the Whole30 program—especially after eating a delicious lime salmon dish a few weeks ago and hearing more about it. I reached out to my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, who agreed to meet with me and share their expertise. Craig is a pilot in the U.S Marine Corps and Monika is a Postdoctoral fellow in Cell Biology who has done the Whole30 multiple times. During the interview, I got an insider scoop on the Whole30, its considerations, pros and cons, tips to succeed, and how it can change your life.


In the hope that you can experience our conversation in the same (approachable, honest and entertaining) way that I did, here are my most memorable moments:

  1. "It’s a great project to explore your relationship with food."(C) The Whole30 is NOT about losing weight (although that might happen) or crash dieting. It is about discovering new foods, exploring healthy ways of cooking, and improving your eating habits. It is an elimination diet that teaches you how your body responds to various types of food; it’s a great way to overcome digestive issues, identify food allergies and figure out what may be making you feel tired, bloated or not-so-great.

  2. "My family craves Whole30 meals even though they have never done it."(M) To get the full benefit of the Whole30, you should try a variety of new foods and cooking techniques. There are tons of great recipes and food bloggers (@thedefineddish, @primal_gourmet, @nocrumbsleft) that you can follow for inspiration. Ideally, some dishes will become your ‘go-to’ meals once the 30 days are over and probably will become others’ favorites too.

  3. "Oh shoot, I can’t have ketchup."(C) If you decide to complete the Whole30, be ready for some shocking trips to the grocery store. The first time or two are the toughest because you’ll realize how much you won’t be able to eat. But it will get easier and you’ll discover sauces that are Whole30-approved—so yes, you will be able to have ketchup, just maybe not the brand you’re used to. Plus, there are tons of reference charts of what you can and can’t eat, and you can always utilize Google.

  4. "I had sugar withdrawals at day 5 or 6 and was hangry."(M) I can only imagine—I get hangry during ‘normal eating days.’ Luckily, there is a Whole30 calendar that is surprisingly accurate and will tell you exactly what to expect for the upcoming month (tiredness, energy surges, etc.). So while you will experience some highs and lows, at least you will know when your ‘food moods’ are coming and how long they’ll last.

  5. "You need to know that you’ll be doing a lot of cooking."(C) Whatever level of comfort you have in the kitchen, anticipate getting even more comfortable. You’ll spend adequate time selecting and prepping meals, and will be heading to the grocery store more often than usual. Taking the time to prep your pantry prior to starting the Whole30 will make your life much easier, as will preparing sauces (BBQ, mayo, ranch, hot sauce, etc.) ahead of time so you have them on hand.

  6. "All dressings have sugar and it’s not fun to go to a restaurant and order a plain salad for $14."(M) While you’re able to go to restaurants during the Whole30, it’s not always worth it. You can usually find things to modify and order, but it can be tough to find out and trust what’s in your food. It may be easier to invite people over to your home for a meal, or to transition restaurant outings to hikes or coffee dates. Oh, and get ready to explain your dietary choices and/or why you aren’t drinking alcohol to your family and friends.

  7. "I feel confident cooking for anyone with a food sensitivity."(C) The benefits of completing the Whole30 go far beyond learning how to properly fuel your body and feel your best. You will develop the ability to: compare food labels, know how different ingredients taste, make your own sauces and recipes, explore completely new types of cuisine, identify foods to reduce or eliminate from your diet, and learn about yourself and your relationship with food.

  8. "Expect to hear things like, ‘I could never live without cheese.’"(C) This comment has been cracking me up since the interview. Thank you so much Craig & Monika for taking the time to meet with me and share your Whole30 tips and suggestions. And I apologize for all the times in the past when I made comments like these!

Whole30 meals
Whole30 Meals by Monika

If you're interested in trying the Whole30, tell us below what you’re looking forward to. And if you've already completed it, make sure to share your favorite recipe or resource.