I wrote this post a while ago, but delayed hitting ‘publish’ because I thought one week after Whole 30 wasn’t long enough to really assess the benefits to it.  Now that a month has passed, I have a better idea of what Whole 30 did for me.  Spoiler – A LOT!


Here’s the original post about WHAT the Vegetarian Whole 30 entailed (it’s way different than regular Whole 30).


To recap, here’s WHY I did Vegetarian Whole 30:


I was eating way more junk food than I used to.  I was mindlessly eating, especially when I was tired or stressed.  And I craved sugar ALL THE TIME.  A large part of these new habits, I think, was having children…  I kept trying to change my habits with an ‘everything in moderation’ approach, which had worked for me in the past. But I wasn’t finding that technique successful in the slightest.  When I realized there was a vegetarian version of Whole 30, I thought – “Hmmm, this could be the food reset that I’ve been looking for!”  That’s kind of how I see it – a food reset.  Get back to the basics, eliminate processed stuff, and focus on real food.


Okay – so my big goal was an emotional and actual food reset


Verdict #1 – Whole 30 is AMAZING for the way it changes the way you think about food.  You eat a lot of wholesome, nutritious, high-quality food that makes you feel great, which reinforces the habit.  Truly – this is probably the biggest benefit to trying the Whole 30, and I’ve heard this statement from so many people.  For 30 days, I really had to thoughtfully grocery shop, cook, and eat all of my meals.  The “thoughtful” aspect of it was tremendously beneficial because, as mentioned, my eating had kind of devolved into “shoving in whatever is available” after Claire’s birth.


I still find myself falling into this trap occasionally – actually, as I write this, it’s 3:45 PM and my “lunch” was a bunch of crackers and slices of cheese and a peach that I mindlessly ate as I worked.  Vegetarian Whole 30 reinforced how important food prep is (more on that below).


Verdict #2 – I felt like I had higher and more stable energy levels on Vegetarian Whole 30.  This was mainly due to not eating a ton of added sugar, as I had before.  By the way – withdrawing from added sugar was really, really hard, but I quickly adjusted.  As a result, I slept better.  When I returned to eating added sugar after the challenge was over, I found I didn’t need or want as much as I would’ve before.   Cutting added sugar out completely helped my taste buds adjust.  <— A month later, this is still true. Some things still feel way too sweet.  I don’t feel like overdosing on dessert or CRAVE it all the time as I did before.  Basically, I got off the Sugar Train.


One month later, my new eating style has stuck around… for most meals (which I think is pretty awesome!).  I have Vegetarian Whole 30 meals at least twice a day (usually breakfast and dinner).  I also reach for a different type of snacks now.  I ate a lot of potato chips and granola bars for snacks after Claire was born.  Now I aim for protein-based snacks that have way more fat and protein than my old snacks did.  I have gone back to eating grains, especially in the form of rice, quinoa, and gluten-free goodies like crackers or pizza, but not as much as before.  Please note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with grains, but I have observed bigger energy spikes and drops when I eat meals where carbs are the focus.


Verdict #3 – I “discovered” a whole new way to eat. Most mornings, I would wake up and roast two huge cookie sheets of vegetables and potatoes so we could snack on them throughout the day.   I ate a lot – a LOT – of eggs.  Good thing I love eggs!  All of this food prep made it easier to stick to the plan when the day got hectic.  Here are some of my Vegetarian Whole 30 favorites:


Macadamia nuts


Coconut milk, as a base for sauces or mixed into coffee

Full-fat PLAIN Greek Yogurt <—totally discovered a new appreciation for this

Yogurt messes with unsweetened coconut, nuts, and cocoa powder

Roasted Yukon potatoes with tons of spicy brown mustard

Frozen cherries

Spices!  Cocoa powder (in savory dishes – yum), cinnamon, turmeric

Sunshine sauce <— the jam

Baby bell peppers, raw or cooked <—also a new obsession

Stir-fries with cashews mixed in <—warm cashews are the bomb


The only foods that I really missed on Vegetarian Whole 30 were cheese and yummy grab-and-go snacks.  I’m glad to have cheese back!  And I didn’t miss rice as much as I thought I would. 


Verdict #4 – Sticking with Whole 30 is really, really hardWhole 30 demands perfection, which is not something I am used to doing with my diet.  I’m sure some people will argue that I didn’t really “do” Whole 30 because I “slipped” a few times (pizza one night when I had nothing to eat and was starving, pizza again in Chicago, electrolyte powder and crackers the day after I spent an entire night puking my brains out).  I totally get WHY Whole 30 demands perfection, but that just wasn’t for me… I made an effort, I stuck with it 95% of the time, and I’m happy with the approach I took with Whole 30.


Verdict #5 – My skin looked amazing on Whole 30.  Seriously – amazing.  I credit a TON of plants – I ate soooo many veggies and fruits in the past month! – and better sleeping while on the plan.  The Husband even randomly said to me one night, “Your skin looks like it’s glowing!” And I didn’t lose weight on Vegetarian Whole 30 (I didn’t want to), but my body shape changed and I felt/looked stronger than I did before having kids!  Crazy what protein + plants and strength training will do! Here’s a pre-Whole 30 v. end of Whole 30 photo comparison:


(And yes, I photoshopped a more modest top onto myself! Hah.)


Verdict #6 –  All this yummy vegetarian food reminded me that real food is really delicious!  I loved spending so much time cooking and eating such wonderful, nutritious foods.  It was nice to take a month to focus on healthy eating.


Verdict #7 – On that note, this challenge made me realize that, at this point in my life, I make healthier choices when I have structure – kind of like a training plan for workouts.  I’m so busy and it’s nice to have guidelines to cook and eat under that make me feel so good.  This challenge also made me think about what “everything in moderation” means.  Moderation may be once or twice a week – it’s probably not every single day. 


And the big upshot of all of this… Vegetarian Whole 30 gave me a huge food reset that lasted well over a month since I stopped the challenge.  Taking time to cook balanced, healthy meals is hard for everyone with a busy life, but it is especially hard when you’re adjusting to life after your second baby.  Vegetarian Whole 30 taught me that when my plate is full of protein + plants, I feel really good physically, and that means the effort is worth it.  This eating style isn’t something I would want to maintain 100% forever and ever, but definitely influenced many of my meals and snacks as I continue to live post-Whole 30 life.  Grains certainly have a place in my life, as do processed foods and treats, but this allowed me to really figured out how to include these foods in a more balanced way. 


This challenge really helped me understand how the food that I eat influences my energy levels and mood, and that is a truly priceless lesson, especially when I need *so much* energy in my day-to-day life. The bottom line is that food is SO POWERFUL.  It has the power to make us feel strong, fit, alert, and patient.  It has the power to make us feel sluggish and sleepy.  I know how I’d rather feel!  Food is also fuel and medicine.  It can be pleasure, too, so it’s worth saying that Vegetarian Whole 30 was tasty, too.  Real food is pretty delicious! 


Have you done a Whole 30 challenge?  What did you learn from it?



  • Julie August 19, 2015, 7:03 am

    This sounds like something I should be trying. When you made the meals, did your whole family follow it too? I have a sometimes picky 2 year old, so I wonder how easy this would be.

    • Dottie (@crazyfitmommy) August 19, 2015, 9:17 am

      I’m curious about this too. I’m always having to fight with my kids to eat their veggies (or anything else besides hotdogs and chicken nuggets) and the hubby is a pretty picky eater. Did the whole house go Whole 30 with you or did you make extra meal options for everyone else?

      • Caitlin August 19, 2015, 9:27 am

        Henry ate some of what I ate but some other stuff too. You know how toddlers are. Henry’s picky one day and adventurous the next so it kind of went back and forth.

  • Erica {Erica@EricaDHouse.com} August 19, 2015, 7:16 am

    Okay – I definitely need to do this. My diet has gone to crap during the third trimester, and I’m feeling the ill effects of it. I want to be healthier and feel stronger for baby boy so I’m going to start working on doing a Vegetarian Whole 30 a week at a time.

  • Amanda August 19, 2015, 7:56 am

    Hi Caitlin!
    I had commented on one of your whole 30 pics a while back on Instagram! I’m on day 26 of whole 30 and love it! I feel great, skin looks great too, and definitely less bloated! I only hope I lost some weight bc my wedding is in 2.5 weeks! I definitely see myself doing an added 2 wks when day 30 is here( for the wedding) , and then carrying this over into ” real life”. I try not to snack… But usually end up once or twice a day. I feel less guilty ( no no on he plan) bc it is usually fruit and almond butter, nuts or deli turkey!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed August 19, 2015, 8:20 am

    I’ve never done a vegetarian Whole30, but I’ve done a couple rounds of the regular version. It is always so empowering! Cheese is the hardest thing for me to give up too, but it’s good for me to know I can take a break. I really want to start a round but I have so many things coming up that I know I’d set myself up for failure. I’m thinking I’ll plan one for the beginning of November… perhaps with a little hiatus for Thanksgiving! I’m with you… I think a perfect Whole30 is necessary if you’re trying to fix some kind of health condition (IBS, a food allergy, etc), but for me it’s just a great reset and I’m not going to beat myself up over a few missteps.

    Great review post! Congrats!

  • Jonna Green August 19, 2015, 8:45 am

    Hi Caitlin, great, informative post! Would you happen to have a recipe for that delicious looking coconut crusted tofu pictured at the beginning of your post? Thanks! Jonna

    • Caitlin August 19, 2015, 8:56 am

      Really simple – I mixed some egg whites with cinnamon and put it one shallow bowl. Then I put coconut flakes in another. After draining the tofu, I cut into squares and dipped in the egg mix and then the coconut. Bake at 350 for 25-30. That’s it!

      • Jonna Green August 20, 2015, 8:22 am

        Thanks so much Caitlin!!!!

  • Amina August 19, 2015, 8:46 am

    ive done 2 whole30’s but now eat 95% whole30ish…I used to think I was eating healthy, but once I did my first whole30 I realized how much “stuff” was in all the food I was consuming. I loved both of my whole30’s and credit it to teaching me how to cook too!

  • Olivia August 19, 2015, 9:07 am

    Yes! I’ve been looking forward to this post as my husband and I are currently 2 weeks into our second, consecutive Whole30. I had a baby in March and my weightloss had stalled. He has severe sleep apnea and his doctor told him to loose 60lbs. With two little ones and full-time jobs outside of the home, the amount of exercise we were able to eek in wasn’t cutting it. During our first Whole30 he lost 27lbs and I lost 14lbs. He’s sleeping MUCH better and has a better attitude because of it. I’ve stopped feeling the need to snack all day which I love since I no longer feel like food is in the forefront of my mind all the time. Our 3 year old, while not on an elimination diet as he gets his fair share of grains/dairy at daycare, is loving all the new foods we’re eating–he even declared lettuce his new favorite food! Three weeks in we decided to do another month of Whole30, and we will probably do a third before embracing a less structured Paleo diet that aims for a 80/20 balance of compliance on a long-term basis.

  • Adrienne August 19, 2015, 9:13 am

    I just printed off the Vegetarian/Vegan Whole30 shopping list. Your story sounds great!! I’ve been on a mindless kick for months now so a restart would be so so helpful.

  • Amanda August 19, 2015, 9:28 am

    Ok… I’m going to try this. My skin has been a wreck lately, and I know it has to do with my diet. Your point about your skin is what convinced me!

  • Leslie August 19, 2015, 9:35 am

    Hi Caitlin!
    Thank you for your perspective and your honesty. I have wanted to try this for awhile, but have struggled with the “perfection” aspect of it. As someone who’s struggled with an eating disorder in the past, I try to avoid any approach to food that is all or nothing. That being said, I think that an altered approach might be the best avenue for me. Thanks again! 🙂

  • Cassie August 19, 2015, 9:57 am

    I’d love to check out some of those recipes, but I’ve never done the challenge.

  • Mina August 19, 2015, 10:11 am

    So is there a vegan version???

    • Caitlin August 19, 2015, 10:48 am

      No. They don’t recommend it for vegans. That’s my understanding.

  • Mallory August 19, 2015, 10:21 am

    Caitlin, Thanks for sharing! This is a big challenge, so congrats on completing. I have thought about it ever since you explained that Whole 30 Veg was way more obtainable for us non-meat eaters that your traditional Whole 30. The results you shared may be the tipping point I need. And may I just say, while you let us in on so many “Non-scale Victories” that are amazing, you also look GREAT! Go mama of two!

  • Reenie August 19, 2015, 10:31 am

    WOW!!! You look amazing!!

    All that food looks so good ~ thx for the recipe on the Tofu.

  • Natalie August 19, 2015, 11:34 am

    I’m so glad to finally hear your results and thoughts! I did Whole30 in June, and took a similar approach (although I didn’t do the vegetarian version) to you in that I stuck with the rules 95% of the time (a friend said I was doing a Half30!). I too saw the most difference in my skin! I lost 4 or 5 pounds, but that wasn’t the goal. It was a complete re-set of how I ate and thought about food, even though previously I thought I ate really healthily! I had to completely re-evaluate what “moderation” meant for me. I’ve gone from pizza once a week to pizza once every 2 or 3 weeks instead, and kept a mostly gluten/soy/grain/dairy free diet probably 80% of the time (I am eating overnight oats with low-fat plain chobani yogurt right as I type this) and feel better than I have in years. I can’t encourage anyone thinking about trying Whole30 to do it enough! So glad to hear it worked so well for you, too. You look amazing!


  • Sara August 19, 2015, 11:48 am

    The photoshopping made me giggle.

    Did you read the books on a kindle, or do you recommend actual books?


    • Caitlin August 19, 2015, 3:04 pm

      You definitely want the whole 30
      One hardcover! It starts with food could be kindle.

      • Sara August 19, 2015, 3:45 pm


  • Kimmy August 19, 2015, 12:11 pm

    I have done two regular Whole30 rounds in the last two years. I have loved the way I felt during them, and my tri training was SO awesome while I followed the plan!! It’s very hard to maintain forever, but I eat about 75-80% now (cannot, I mean cannot, give up brown rice or quinoa as I really need the carbs for training). It definitely helps with mindful eating!

  • Tricia August 19, 2015, 12:45 pm

    We welcomed our second baby on February… our second baby in 15 months. Needless to say, it’s been just a whole lot crazy in the last 6 months. We needed a food reset too. We are doing the advocare challenge and both wish we did this challenge instead. We’re not really into all the supplements on the advocare plans. Anyway, I totally get it and I think you look amazing! But feeling good is so much better. Good job!

  • Andrea August 19, 2015, 12:47 pm

    Love the photoshopped bikini top! I may have to steal that trick 🙂 I’ve never done the Whole 30 but may think about it some more now.

  • Janelle August 19, 2015, 2:11 pm

    I’m a big Whole30 fan!

    Also, you look amazing. I’m pregnant with my first child now, and my body has changed so much (obviously, I guess, but it’s new for me!). You give me hope that I can look amazing post- children with some effort. haha.

    Finally, I love that you Photoshopped that picture of yourself – not because you need to hide at all, but because I think your modesty is sweet / refreshing.

    • Ada August 20, 2015, 7:51 am

      Me, too! Love your blog the most of all HLB blogs, and I’ve been a devoted reader to many since around 08. I appreciate the modesty and love how your posts actually inspire me to cook better and that you don’t just fill your blog with constant sponsored free products or nonstop vacations. I think you have a wonderful happy normal life and I totally relate. Excited to become a mama soon and share my healthier habits with a little one like you all!

      • Caitlin August 20, 2015, 11:08 am

        Thanks for reading, guys!!!

  • Breanne August 19, 2015, 2:40 pm

    Great write up! And timely too (for me at least!). I’m in serious need of a reset (for much of the same reasons you mentioned) and I know that if I do a planned time-driven reset I’m more likely to stick to it. I’ve never done Whole30, so I’d been considering that, but I was also considering doing the Les Mills 21 Day Challenge (a reset I’ve done before that is very similar – plants/proteins) because it’s shorter and I know I can do it. Haha. September being a 30 day month was a driving point as well, but with Labor Day so late, the 21 day option is nice too. I know that getting back to PREP is really what is going to make me successful.

  • Alan August 19, 2015, 3:18 pm

    Your pictures always make the viewer smile, with those cute kids and with your variety of activities. Your fitness pictures are, to me, unbelievable transformation. I do not understand any woman who can carry a baby inside then have their bodies snap back to shape–albeit with lots of work. I have been trying for ages to lose even 5 and my middle aged body doesn’t budge LOL. And I don’t even have a baby to credit (or blame).

    I am curious about the diet, though. I have read a few books over the last few years talking about dangers of added sugar, of diets in general, of antibiotic use, etc. To me–I have always struggled to know how much is too much or too little (in terms of anything–how much is too much focus on a specific diet or too much beer or too much X). And it is always after the diet period ends (your post 30 days) in which it is most challenging to get to a new normal. Your honest appraisal and description are refreshing to read, though your results tell us all that you are doing something right. More power to you and thanks for having this blog to share your personal things with us outsiders

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul August 19, 2015, 3:35 pm

    Girl you look great! Glad to hear it went well for you!

  • Dana August 19, 2015, 3:46 pm

    Wow, you look amazing! It’s crazy how sugar really settles into the stomach area.

  • Sara August 19, 2015, 6:18 pm

    Man I am so jealous of how smooth the skin on your tummy looks! After having two kids there is no way I’d feel comfortable wearing a 2 piece with all of my stretch marks :/ even if I were back down to my original weight. Congrats on completing the Whole 30, sounds like it was really beneficial!

  • Katie August 19, 2015, 6:39 pm

    Can you share a sample of your daily eats? Also, did it effect your nursing supply at all? Looking for something to get rid of those last few pregnancy pounds while nursing. Thanks!

    • Caitlin August 20, 2015, 11:10 am

      Do you want Veg Whole 30 eats or regular day eats? And no to impacting supply!

  • Bex August 20, 2015, 2:51 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m a veggie too and have read about the Whole 30 on lots of blogs but thought that it wouldn’t really be sustainable for me – it’s great to see that there is a veggie version and that it worked for you. Tempted to give it a go myself! Bex xx

  • Christine August 20, 2015, 7:25 am

    You look amazing! You might have mentioned this in another post somewhere but did this affect breastfeeding at all or your supply?

    • Caitlin August 20, 2015, 11:09 am


  • Hayley August 20, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Great review! Good for you for taking hold of your life and diet. I am curious if you noticed a change in your grocery bills?

    • Caitlin August 21, 2015, 7:17 am

      Thy were a little higher. I think they would be a lot higher in regular whole30.

  • Erica August 20, 2015, 8:50 pm

    I love your blog so much Caitlin! Thank you for being so relatable and inspiring! You look fantastic. I would also like to see some future posts on your daily eats (both when you were on Whole 30 and now). Thanks 🙂

  • Kinnereth August 22, 2015, 5:38 pm

    Love that photoshop! I admit, I was thinking, “What a cute bikini!” before I read the caption. 🙂 As a busty girl (even more now that I’m nursing), I always look for bikini tops that cover me. Wish it existed!

  • Alex August 22, 2015, 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing a recap. I’ve really wanted to try the whole 30 but as a vegetarian it seems really challenging. Does the book offer sample meals for vegetarians? It seems like everything is geared towards non-veg and the biggest challenge for me isn’t necessarily cooking but have to figure out what to make. A sample week of meals or something like that would be so helpful for this kind of plan.


    • Caitlin August 23, 2015, 12:01 pm

      Not really – some of the side dishes would work but the meals are mostly meat. I’m doing a “what i ate” post right now and will have it up tomorrow!

  • masala girl January 2, 2016, 11:46 am

    i would love to see some veg recipes for W30 using cacao powder!! most i’ve seen are for meat.

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