Whole30 in Korea

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Warning: This has nothing to do with travel, and everything to do with living healthy in a foreign country. Oh, and weight loss.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Whole30?   I first read about it on the blogosphere before I came to Korea. Basically, you can eat fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and eggs(and drink coffee and tea without sweetener or milk). That’s it. It’s the sort of eating plan that is easier to explain by what’s allowable than what isn’t.

Ick, I thought. No one can live without peanut butter, milk, or toast. Especially not a girl who eats peanut butter toast with a pot of coffee every morning for breakfast. That’s right, pot, not cup.

Fast forward to around May of last year,  and I was in very poor shape. Too many green tea lattes and cream cheese pretzels had caught up with me.  I had gained about ten pounds since I landed in Korea. Worse still, my skin was itching.

I gave the whole30 a shot, and my acne and itchiness went away.  It was awesome. Turns out, I probably have a milk allergy!

And while you are not supposed to count calories or step on a scale while on the whole30, I did start trimming down.  In fact, from June to August I lost twenty pounds!  I’m now at the lowest I’ve weighed since middle school. Crazy.

You want proof?


This is me in June, 2015. Not feeling so healthy here.


And this is me in December of 2015. Feeling much better, although I’ve slipped. Honestly, I can’t really see a difference, but I have gone down two dress sizes.

But wait! Things have taken a turn for the worse. Oh, the drama.

Chocolate chip scones and ice cream have slipped back into my life. A little is okay, but three times a week is not.  Plus the lattes. Oh, the lattes. The dairy adds up- and my skin is showing it. I’m doing another whole30 again in January to get back on track before my February vacation.

Which leads me to this-how to whole30 in Korea.

At the supermarket:


No matter where you live, the produce section is your friend on the Whole30.


In Korea, seasonal produce reigns supreme. Sure, you can buy out of season or exotic fruits and veggies for an exorbitant price tag. Why though?

Buy in bulk! Cannot emphasize this enough if you want to be thrifty in Korea. They are selling family size quantities for a much more reasonable price than the individually wrapped foodstuff. I’m not one to be bothered by monotony. I can eat apples and sweet potatoes for weeks without growing tired; but if you do want a change of pace, prep meals in advance and freeze them.


Korea loves it’s mushrooms. Go ahead and put them in your omelet.


Cucumbers, different varieties of squash, leeks, and daikon radishes are also available.

imageAnd Korea loves it’s greens. Stock up on cabbage, different varieties of lettuce, and spinach. The spinach is a favorite of mine as a side dish.

Useful Supermarket Vocab:

얼마예요 (eol-mah-yeh-yo): How much is it? If you want to ask for something specific, put the noun in front of this verb. So, ‘How much is this apple?’ is ‘사과 얼마예요?'(sah-gwah eol-mah-yeh-yo).

고기 (ko-gi): meat

달걀 (dal-gyal): eggs, although everyone should understand “egg-uh”

과일 (kai-il): fruits

야채 (yah-cheh): vegetables

고구마 (ko-gu-mah): sweet potato

호박 (ho-bak): pumpkin

시금치 (shi-keum-chi): spinach

사과 (sah-gwah): apple

배 (beh): pear, stomach, and boat

딸기(ddal-ki): strawberry

If you’re interested, I’ll post updates on how this second whole30 goes! Thank you!



4 thoughts on “Whole30 in Korea

  1. This is great! Thank you! I’m going to need you to teach me how to eat once I’m back in South Korea, because honestly it is something I’m nevous about.

    And I hear you about milk! I notice the difference during times I have milk in my coffee vs. avoid milk. My skin really shows it!


    • Will do! I’m the laziest healthy chef ever, but I do know how to shop! Can’t wait to go market trawling together!

      My family told me recently that I did test for a mild milk allergy as a kid, so it’s not all in my head.


  2. Yay vocab! I also think I may have a milk allergy…Oh, Ice Cream, why must thou desert me! Great to hear your healthy eating habits, and you do look good!


    • I hope the Korean has been going well. Ice cream is a favorite of mine too. Especially the awesome Baskin Robbins flavors they have in Korea. Soooo good. I can wait a month for ice cream though!


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