UNDERSTANDING WHOLE 30
What is Whole 30?
Whole 30 is a short-term (30 day) regimen developed to provide a nutritional reset for your body. It is based on the idea that certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Whole 30 is designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits (think sugar and carbs), restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
While following the Whole 30 plan, you remove all of the potentially inflammatory foods and beverages in your diet (think: added sugar and sweeteners, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods and beverages, baked goods, and junk foods) and eat three “clean” meals a day, made with Whole30-approved ingredients (think: meats, seafood, veggies, and eggs).
At the end of the 30 days, you begin systematically adding some healthy options back into your diet and measuring how your body responds to having those foods once again.
What foods are allowed on the Whole 30 plan?
In simple terms first and foremost, eat real food that is not processed, with very few ingredients. Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. There are wonderful resource lists on the official Whole 30 website (CLICK HERE) plus numerous helpful articles, infographics, and lists on my Pinterest board which you can click to at the bottom of this page.
What foods should be avoided while on Whole 30?
Here is a list of foods to avoid per the Whole 30 website and books:
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking.(And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do notconsume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it is made with coconut flour.
Completely omitting these foods will help break the cycle or cravings and also help identify any “problem” foods for you as you re-introduce them back into your diet.
Is it safe?
As with all diets, PLEASE consult your doctor and/or health care provider before starting any nutritional plan. This diet contains higher amounts of sodium/cholesterol/fat and lower grams of carbohydrates which may NOT be recommended for people with specific diseases and/or taking certain medications.
Remember– this is a 30 day plan! It is not intended to be followed as a long term diet.
The most daunting question…does it work?
First, let’s “call a spade, a spade”. This is NOT an easy diet regimen to follow. It requires lots of prep work, lots of patience, and lots of support and perseverance, but it can be done. I know numerous people who have successful completed 30 days and have done it more than once.
It should be noted that U.S. News & World Reports ranks diet annually, and Whole 30 was last in 2017 and 37th out of 42 in 2018. You can see the full report HERE. The expert panel of over 20 registered dietitians, academics, and medical doctors found the program unsustainable and potentially unhealthy, since, among other issues, it restricts certain food groups and is high in sodium and cholesterol.
Keeping that in mind, many people (and I mean MANY) report a variety of positive results after completing the program such as: less bloating, clearer thinking, better looking skin, more restful sleep, much more energy, and report generally “feeling better.”