So what is the Whole30 diet anyway? Isn’t it just a version of Paleo? Whole30 is a diet based around the complete elimination of any sugar (real or artificial), grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, baked goods, and junk food, to see how your health improves over the course of 30 days.
You don’t weigh yourself or take body measurements for 30 days. The ultimate goal of Whole30 is so you learn how to make healthier food choices over the 30 day period and no matter what happens, you DO NOT CHEAT, and no snacking, at all. These are vital to your success.
Whole30 and other similar diet programs are becoming very popular as people are becoming more health-conscious than ever before. We are monitoring the foods we buy, we are becoming more aware of the ingredients of the foods we consume, and we are taking charge in our existing health crisis. If it makes it any easier, think of Whole30 like a body “reset” diet.
Prevention is better than treatment.
How did the diet start? Is the Whole30 Diet more of a “Diet” or is it a “Lifestyle”?
Whole30 is more of a diet. This program lasts only for 30 days. After the 30 days, then the program leads you to make healthier food choices for the rest of your life. Once you see how great you feel during those 30 days, you really don’t want to go back. So the first 30 days are a diet. From 31 days on, it’s a lifestyle. The plan helps you to create a food freedom plan so you can turn Whole30 into a realistic lifestyle. The first 30 days are not the end-all, be-all. All the #NSVs (non-scale victories) aside, you will understand what it means to remove food and alcohol as a method of self-soothing and will find other ways to do that. You will also see that you feel and sleep better, have more energy, are happier, and can focus better.
30 Days, Are you kidding me?
Yes, its really not all that difficult. It takes at least 30 days before your body starts to heal, form habits, and change your taste of food. The psychological and emotional relationships you have with food will also likely be reset during this time which a vital part of this process as well. While it is only 30 days, day 31 onward is up to you to stick to it.
What are the benefits of the Whole30 Diet?
See the post here for some amazing reasons to try whole 30.
From shedding weight to saying goodbye to sugar addictions or other food sensitivities.
Will I lose weight on the Whole30 diet?
Most people do but don’t go into the 30-day challenge with the sole aim of losing weight. This is not a weight loss plan. This is more of a reset to get your body back to its optimal function.Depending on how healthy you’re eating now, you may not be shedding all the pounds you want, but you can still trim the fat so to speak and lean out a bit. Start saying goodbye to your belly fat, it has a tendency of thinning out.
The fine print of Whole30 – What can/can’t I have?
Eat REAL foods
- Natural fats (coconut oil, avocados etc.)
- Herbs, spices, and seasonings
- Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
Do NOT eat (avoid for 30 days)
- Do not consume added any sugar. No maple syrup, agave, Equal, Splenda, etc. At all. None. Even foods with added sugar. Gone.
- Do not consume alcohol or tobacco in any form. That fan favorite Ala Vodka sauce – gone.
- Do not eat grains. No breads, or any flours etc.
- Do not eat legumes (absolutely no beans, peanuts or peanut butter, lentils, soy & soy sauce, miso etc.
- Do not eat dairy – no milk, ice creams, cheeses, kefir, sour cream.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. Check all your labels.
- No “approved” ingredients – if a pancake is compliant, it’s still a pancake just made with different ingredients, and those are not conducive to changing your habits. Whole30 is all about changing habits, and the aim is not to recreate the same foods from the SAD diet.
- Don’t weigh yourself or take measurements for 30 days. Focusing only on body composition makes you overlook how you feel, and how energetic you become. It’s not about the number the scale shows or how much body fat you lost. It is advisable to take pictures from day 0 and 31 to see the difference.
So, what you’re saying is, I need to eliminate everything.
I did say it was an elimination diet. We aren’t eliminating EVERYTHING, just most things that comprise a Standard American Diet (SAD). Most parts of the Standard American Diet are unfortunately not Whole30 compliant. All of these foods and beverages will need to be cut from our diets. You’re health is worth it, isn’t it?
What can I drink on Whole30?
While most of the normal favorites such as dairy, soda, Gatorade, etc. some Whole30 favorites include:
- Infused water / Selters
- LaCroix (La-Kwah)
- Unsweetened Fruit / Vegetable Juice
- Unsweetened Coconut Water
- Unsweetened Iced Tea
- Black Coffee (No Milk/Sugar), You can add nutpods which are Whole30 Approved.
- Almond Milk
Will I get the Carb Flu?
While I can’t say for certain, I would venture a guess to mention most people will experience some form of this, in various levels of comfort. It may be slight aches and pains, headaches, or it could be your whole body is aching and you feel drained of all your energy like you have the flu. You can eat a sweet potato a day to help with the drastic cutting of carbs.
Some other feelings of the carb flu include:
- Brain fog
- General malaise
- Mild digestive issues (bloating, irregularity)
That sounds brutal, is Whole30 safe?
Yes! This is one side effect of the transition of the SAD diet to clean and healthy eating. This is how painful it is to get your body back on track. Do you really want to go through this again and again? Low-carb flu doesn’t happen to everyone.There’s a lot you can do to make it less painful or potentially avoid it.It doesn’t last forever. Yes, it’s painful while it lasts, but that short-term pain paves the road to long-term success.
Should I avoid carbs altogether?
No. We are avoiding processed foods, sugars, etc. We can still consume carbs by eating vegetables, sweet potatoes, etc.
I have children, can children follow this diet?
They can follow it much easier than we can. Children won’t know why they don’t feel exactly 100% the same as they did, but rest assured they will feel much better than they did before.
Where are the “cheat” meals?
I know you want me to say you get two cheat meals per day. Ok, if not two, just one cheat meal per day? Just kidding. There are none. It is a very slippery slope, and even a small indulgence can set you off with thoughts like “Oh, it’s just one piece of candy, what’s the worst that’s going to happen?”
The truth is, once you indulge, its more difficult for you to rationalize afterwards and you’re more likely to keep going. It’s a mental game. If you do happen to cheat (knowingly or unknowingly) re-affirm your goals and tell yourself that it was the last time, and move on with yourself.
Aside from the mental effects, let’s talk about the brain fog, the bloating – it all comes back. Carb flu is tough enough, do we really want to go through it multiple times?
How do I eat outside my home while being “Whole30”?
It is possible. Eating out is typically difficult as you don’t know all the ingredients. You can be fooled by a server not knowing all the ingredients, or if the ingredients contain things you can’t consume on the Whole30 diet. While this is sometimes a pain, it still is possible to eat at restaurants.
Typically anything with a sauce, marinade or dressing is out. They will contain forms of sugar which are a big no-no on Whole30. Even some of the meats will be cooked in oils that are non-compliant.
You need to be very thoughtful to check every label, but when in doubt, pass on it. Some favorites include burgers (if nothing is added to them), salads (salad bars where you can pick the ingredients), steaks cooked with compliant oils (some restaurants cook with soybean oil, canola oil, bran oils etc.).
Another option is to have steamed or grilled seafood and vegetables. It’s better to be that person asking so many questions and being compliant than it is to be non-compliant because you didn’t ask enough questions.
The more expensive restaurants are typically more tolerant to dealing with these complexities as everything is cooked fresh. The cheaper restaurants will usually be less likely to cater to your needs. You can always look ahead when possible and check the menu out to see what you can have.
BE STRONG. YOU GOT THIS!
How do I hit the ground running to ensure I have a successful Whole30 journey?
I would advise you to plan your journey and start eliminating foods and drinks a week to two weeks before you plan on starting. This will ensure the beginning isn’t such a rough start and if you were to get the carb flu, you’d be past it for the most part (depending on how many things you’ve eliminated from your diet).
I would start by prepping your kitchen. Look through all your food stores and get rid of as much non-compliant food as possible. You won’t be eating it and it will likely be going bad. If the food isn’t going bad after a MONTH, do you really think its healthy for you? Toss it.
Make a weekly meal plan and shop according to the plan. We aren’t looking for random foods or beverages to add to our cart. No more impulse shopping. Food shop with a purpose. We are home cooking most, if not all meals, and we need the right foods to be in our reach. Again, be careful and check labels.