by Stephanie Greunke, Registered Dietician and Whole Mamas Program Manager.

Are you struggling with Food Freedom? Maybe you’ve completed one (or many) resets and structured reintroductions, but are still confused about what works best for your body. You may find yourself feeling a little lost without the black and white rules of the Whole30.

Not familiar with the concept of Food Freedom? Click to read all about life after the Whole30 from Melissa Hartwig Urban.

It can be tricky navigating Food Freedom when you’re constantly inundated with new diets and conflicting information. In order to reduce confusion and overwhelm, I’d like to introduce a strategy to help you focus in on what is most important to you.

Three Big Rocks

Steven Covey describes the concept of “big rocks” in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ll briefly explain it here, but if you’re a visual learner, check out this short video. He fills a jar with small pebbles, and then doesn’t have space to put in large rocks. Then he starts over, placing the big rocks first, then pours the smaller pebbles around the rocks. His intention is to help individuals prioritize their most important life commitments (the “big rocks”) and sprinkle in “extra” tasks where they fit. You can use this concept to avoid overwhelm when creating your optimal diet. This can also be helpful if you’re trying to eat well during your pregnancy or postpartum, but it’s not the right time to do a strict Whole30.

Using this framework, your three “big rocks” are the three most important features of your diet. They’re going to be different for every person, helping you set a healthy foundation. It’s unrealistic to prioritize everything. Instead, highlight three nutritional attributes that you know set you up for daily success. Once you’ve established your three nutrition non-negotiables, you’re able to objectively state whether or not you’re reaching your nutritional goals. When you focus on just three habits, it becomes more realistic that you’ll accomplish them since you’re requiring less decision-making and willpower.


Lets look at a few examples of what this could look like depending on how far along your Food Freedom journey you are.

“Every day I…”
Drink 2 cups of water upon waking.
Avoid soda at home.
Have vegetables at each meal.

“Every day I…”
Drink 80 fl oz. of water.
Eat at least one large salad.
Have protein at every meal.

“Every day I…”
Avoid gluten/dairy at home, exercising my food freedom if it’s “worth it” in special occasions.
Eat 30 grams of protein at breakfast.
Avoid caffeine.

Do you see how these are realistic and specific? You can make your “big rocks” as simple or specific as you’d like, but they must be something you can commit to on a daily basis. By consistently doing them, you will feel much better mentally and physically. If you’re doing well with your nutrition, you can apply this technique to different areas of your life. After all, consistency is key when it comes to sustainable behavior change and seeing results.

Is This Enough?

You may be wondering if this is enough. It’s not that you can’t do more than those three things, but the “big rocks” simply guide your every day choices, providing a foundation and a checklist that rebuilds self-confidence you may have lost along your health journey. If you’ve been following a Whole30-inspired diet for months or years, then your “big rocks” might look very different than someone who is constantly fluctuating between dietary extremes.

This model also lends itself nicely to the confidence/competence loop. You just need a starting place. As long as the “big rocks” are realistic and you commit to doing them, your health and self-efficacy will improve. As your confidence is boosted, you’ll be empowered toward finding Food Freedom. If you find that you’re consistently failing to reach your goal, then readjust to something that is realistic for you. You can continually advance your “big rocks” at a pace that works for you. There’s no finish line! You decide what makes you feel good and you always have the power to adjust those goals.

Do you see this framework as helpful? What are your big rocks? Join the conversation on our Instagram page.

Header Photo: Amanda Rydell

Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice,