Whole30 Isn’t for Wimps. 5 Bloggers to Follow if You’re up for a Challenge

Desiree Stennett, TPH staff writer, takes a photo of her Whole 30 compliant lunch for Instagram in St. Petersburg, Fla., on October 26, 2017.
Desiree Stennett, TPH staff writer, takes a photo of her Whole 30 compliant lunch for Instagram in St. Petersburg, Fla., on October 26, 2017. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

For 30 days, I swore off bread. And pasta. And even cheese.

If you’re familiar with the strict rules of the Whole30 program, you know the list of no-no’s doesn’t end there. Eating according to Whole30 rules means no sugar, dairy, soy, grains, wheat or legumes while also avoiding a long list of artificial and impossible-to-pronounce ingredients that are shockingly prevalent in processed food.

Instead, you replace those things with unprocessed meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats for 30 days.

Assuming you can make it to the end, your skin will be clearer, your energy levels will spike, your pants will fit a little looser, and you’ll have a new and healthier outlook on your relationship with food.

Of course, as you start to pay a little more attention to the ingredients in the food you eat, the first thing you’ll realize is that eating out is nearly impossible.

The second thing will be the importance of cooking for yourself. Then the last thing will be how quickly eating baked chicken breast with broccoli starts to feel monotonous and uninspired.

At this moment, you’ll wish you had some Whole30 meal inspiration on hand to help you think outside the box to prepare delicious, compliant meals.

Now that I’m a Whole30 pro and I know exactly what you’re about to go through, I’ve compiled a list of bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers who will help make sure you can eat like a (healthy) queen.

There’s no reason to go broke as you get healthy, so while some of my picks may recommend extra kitchen tools and specific ingredients from time to time, most of what these gurus share will be within budget and only require basic kitchen essentials.

1. Whole30 and Whole30 Recipes

A Whole 30 compliant stuffed sweet potato.
Grace Brinton and Patrick Sporleder/Whole 30 Instagram

Obviously, @Whole30 and @Whole30Recipes are the two Instagram accounts run by the creators of the Whole30 program. These two accounts are a little different.

If you’re looking for a place where motivation and tough love are in great supply when you’re battling a Day Three headache or Day 10 doubts, follow @Whole30. If you are committed and just need some meal planning inspiration so you can wrap your mind around where to start, @Whole30recipes is the account you want.

Of all the food enthusiasts we suggest, these are the only places that will be 100% Whole30 every time. And don’t worry about getting bored. The food is always beautifully photographed, and @Whole30Recipes also routinely brings on guest posters to bring new approved recipes. It’s a great way to find new healthy foodies even after your 30 days have come and gone.

2. Nom Nom Paleo

Even if Michelle Tam didn’t give me the most beautiful photos of paleo meals all day long, I’d probably still love watching her Instagram stories to see what she and her family had to eat all day. She is just awesome and fun to watch.

I’ve found this to be the best way to navigate Tam’s universe: Start with her Instagram. When you see something tasty-looking pop up in your feed, head up to the link in her bio. It will take you to her page on linkinprofile.com, which serves up links directly to recipes in the order they are featured on her Instagram page with the most recent on top.

Along with having the cutest family ever, Tam is particularly awesome because she’s willing to walk you through everything that went wrong with recipes before she finally got them right.

Unfortunately, Tam does sometimes use relatively expensive kitchen gadgets, but she’s got lots of meal options that just require a pot or pan.

3. No Crumbs Left

A photo of a Whole 30 compliant dish.
No Crumbs Left/Instagram

I found Teri Turner and No Crumbs Left after another staffer here at The Penny Hoarder sang her Instagram account’s praises.

No, she’s not all Whole30 all the time, but she does a good job of mentioning if the recipes are compliant in the captions below her photos and videos. Another cool thing about Turner is that she seems to keep it simple with the gadgets.

While Tam from Nom Nom Paleo loves her Instant Pot, buying one of your own could cost you between $80 and $150. If you’d rather leave that money in your savings account, it’s good to note that Turner tends to rely on the oven and stove top that we all have.

Yes, my Whole30 is over now, but I still have big plans to try out Turner’s compliant pork shoulder when I’m feeling brave. She swears it’s easy.

4. Brothers Green Eats

OK, OK. These brothers are not at all on the Whole30 bandwagon but they are still worth a mention and a follow for all the Whole30ers out there. Yes, you may have to do a bit of extra work to scrutinize the ingredients they use, but what the bros lack in Whole30-compliant ingredients, they make up for by teaching you how to use your intuition.

Saying you’re going to be cooking a lot on Whole30 is an understatement. You’ll cook nearly every day. Some days, you’ll be in the mood to tackle that ambitious meal with 17 obscure specialty ingredients. Other days, you’ll just want to make due with what’s in your pantry.

The more you watch these brothers, the more confident you’ll be about substituting ingredients on the fly with no recipe or Google searches.

The best thing about these brothers is they are budget-conscious. They don’t want to scare you off from cooking, so they tend to keep their meals as inexpensive and easy to make as possible.

5. Emily Eats Real Food

A photo of a Whole 30 compliant meal.
Emily Eats Real Food/Instagram

I’ve followed Emily Eats Real Food on Instagram for just under a year now. She has four rounds of Whole30 under her belt. But that’s not the only reason to follow her.

Since completing her most recent round, she has adopted a practice of balance. According to her blog, her family eats mostly Whole30 meals throughout the week, but an occasional pizza night is also acceptable.

Like the others, not every ingredient she uses will be perfectly compliant, but with a focus on real food over processed foods, she gets pretty close. She also does a pretty good job of making it clear when an ingredient isn’t Whole30 compliant, so you don’t have to worry about getting accidently tripped up by an iffy ingredient.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.