After a month at home celebrating the holidays, eating sweets, and drinking wine like it was my day job, I decided that my body needed a reset. After searching for the best and healthiest way to do so, I stumbled upon the Whole 30 Program created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

The program is designed to be more than a diet; it's an opportunity to nourish your body with whole foods for 30 days. Similar to the paleo diet, it advises against anything packaged or processed and all dairy products, legumes, soy, and alcohol. Instead, you're eating meats, seafood, fruits, nuts & seeds, and vegetables galore. The website even provides you with plenty of guides to help you get started, like a shopping list, an extensive handbook outlining all the rules, and a meal planning guide. Easy enough, right?


I forgot that for the greater part of this program, I'd be back at school, living in residence. My meal plan provides me with 18 meals a week at any of the retail food outlets or cafeterias on campus. Without being able to prepare my own food, I learned that finding Whole 30-compliant meals on campus wasn't as easy as I initially thought.

The Lazy Scholar

sauce, rice, vegetable, salad
Jane Bradshaw

Lazy is infamous at Queen's for its 4-piece chicken fingers and curly fries. It's in the basement of Victoria Hall and is a go-to for frosh after a night out. What could I eat there? Not too much.

The burrito station has a salad bowl option, which meant I could build a bowl of grilled vegetables, lettuce and guacamole (unfortunately, I was told the meat was made with a sauce that probably had sugar and/or preservatives in it). They never give a large portion of the vegetables, so I was hungry about an hour afterward and regretting that I spent a full $8.75 on it. 

While the deli station is off-limits and the only Whole 30-approved item at the grill is eggs, I could still grab salads from the pre-made section. The options that fit the guidelines were the garden salad and the spinach, strawberry and chicken salad, although I couldn't have either of the dressings that accompanied them.

I ended up getting these salads often and adding 1/2 an avocado, seeds or a tin of tuna on top for extra sustenance. I also kept olive oil and balsamic vinegar in my room to use as dressing.

Location 21

vegetable, pepper, tomato, salad
Jane Bradshaw

Thank god for Loco. Not only does it serve as a haven when Victoria Hall has their weekly fire alarms, but it offers a wide variety of food options that I could have on Whole 30. The custom salad bar boasts a range of vegetables and proteins, but beware that getting a full-size protein option will eat up your flex dollars quickly.

Like Lazy, the dressings didn't have Whole 30-approved ingredients, so I often ended up eating my salad plain. I thought I would hate having bland vegetables, but surprisingly, I didn't even mind it by Day 30!

Jane Bradshaw

Other options at Location 21 include the egg white omelettes, grilled chicken breast, and occasionally some of the daily soups.

Lenny, Ban Righ & Jean Royce

Frosh certainly love to fight over which cafeteria is better, but when it came to finding food to eat during the Whole 30 program, I always stuck to Leonard Dining Hall. Lenny boasts a self-serve salad bar, a wide variety of fruit, grilled vegetables by the grill counter, plain tuna in the sandwich bar and plain protein near Simple Servings.

I'm thankful that Queen's posts the menus and ingredients of everything served in the cafs so I was able to check what I could (and couldn't) eat before each meal.

Other Retail Food Outlets

Out of the 19 other retail food outlets on campus, I could only eat at 4: CGC, Pita Pit, Khao and Market Street. All of these places offer Build-Your-Own-Salad options that allowed me to pick and choose what exactly went into my meal.

At CGC, I was also able to get an "unwrapped" version of my favourite burger items—salmon fillet and chicken breast—without the bun.

In My Dorm

oil, soup, herb, vegetable
Jane Bradshaw

The Queen's meal plan only allows you to have 18 meals a week, so if you're like me and eat 3 meals a day (or more), there are at least 3 meals that aren't provided through your meal plan.

I made smoothies, zucchini noodles, and even my own kale salads to eat when I couldn't make it to a food outlet or ran out of my weekly meal allowance. I also found some amazing dehydrated banana brownies that are sold at the on-campus grocery store which let me indulge my sweet tooth without breaking any rules.

I feel very lucky that I came prepared in September with my own vegetable spiralizer, a plethora of Tupperware and a trusty Nutribullet, because they really saved me over the past 30 days.

onion, broccoli, pepper, salad, vegetable
Jane Bradshaw

Overall, I found the Whole 30 Challenge to be exactly what it's supposed to be: a challenge. It made me more aware of what exactly I'm putting on my plate and how few "whole foods" are actually offered to students on a meal plan.

The Whole 30 helped me rediscover the magic of nourishing my body through food. Over the course of the month, my skin cleared up, I was sleeping better, and I had more energy to face the day. I realized that I'd overlooked the importance of nutrition after being overwhelmed by the workload, exam stress, and pressure to socialize every weekend.

Would I do it again? Not until I move out of my dorm and have a kitchen to cook in, but I'll definitely be more cautious of what I'm eating. Plus, I have a newfound set of skills to help me navigate the meal plan in order to get the most out of the food I'm eating.