If you have questions about what the Whole30 program this is the place for you. We’ll talk about the basics of what is Whole30, how to do it, and if it is right for you!
It is hard to avoid seeing Whole30 if you spend any time on Pinterest or around recipe blogs. At first glance it might look like a typical fad diet. But the beauty of Whole30 is that it’s not a diet at all and it is not even meant to be maintained indefinitely, though some people do continue to follow the strict protocol after the 30 days.
The short answer is that Whole30 is a 30 day elimination diet. The purpose is to reframe your relationship with food and find out what foods might not mix well with you. The program is more than just about what you eat. It is also about how you eat. For myself personally I think that was the most important lesson I took away.
What can’t you eat on a Whole30?
We can start with want you can’t eat. After you stop yelling, that’s crazy, we can cover all of the amazing things you can still eat.
- No Added-Sugar or Sweetners: This means absolutely nothing that doesn’t have sugar naturally occurring. Obviously cookies, candies and sodas are out. But you will be surprised at the number of random things that have sugar or sweetners added.
- No Alcohol: No drinking it and no using it in cooking. The exception to this rule is vinegar like red wine vinegar.
- No Grains: The biggest ones of this group is wheat, corn, and rice. But it also includes all of the gluten free grains like quinoa, barley, rye, oats, etc.
- No Legumes: All beans are out including peanuts and peas. Soy is also in this group. Rice wine vinegar is the exception to this rule. Just double check that it doesn’t have sugar added! Green beans are also allowed as they are more pod than bean.
- No Dairy: All dairy products are out in every form. Including everything that comes from cows or goats. Ghee is a clarified form of butter and is allowed.
- No Carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites: These usually appear in the form of processed meats and packaged products.
- No Recreations: In the spirit of retraining yourself to not need constant sweets and treats nothing that resembles a baked good or junk food even with compliant ingredients is allowed.
What foods are Whole30 approved?
I suggest rather than focusing on the things you aren’t allowed to eat, you focus on all of the amazing nutritious food you can eat!
- Vegetables of all kinds! You can do so many things with vegetables and there are so many that you probably have never tried before. I like to choose a new one a week and try it out. Just to see if I’m missing out on something amazing.
- Meat that is unprocessed or minimally processed is allowed. As long as it doesn’t have sugar added it is free game. Many Whole30 meals are quite meat-centric so this is a difficult diet for vegetarians or vegans.
- Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts, and many sauces are all allowed and highly recommended to be added to every meal.
- Fruit is allowed in its whole form (no fruit cups) but don’t make it a staple. It should be treated as a snack or something to compliment your whole meal.
What else do I need to know?
- Three Meals a Day: All eating on Whole30 should be intentional. That means sitting down at a table without distractions for each meal of the day. Focusing on eating will help you notice your body’s cues when you are full and keep you from distracted eating which usually leads to over eating.
- No Scales: For the whole 30 days you don’t step on a scale or think about your weight. It is about reshaping your relationship with food for the long term not for losing a few pounds (though you probably will).
- No Slip-ups: The way the program works it is an absolute ban on everything that is not allowed. So there is no have a piece of cake and still continue to call it a round.
- Don’t Skip Reintroduction: At the end of the 30 days you will reintroduce each food group separately to see how your body reacts. This will give you a better idea moving forward of which foods you should avoid.
- Meal Template: Stop thinking of meals as breakfast or lunch or dinner that can only be specific foods. Every meal of the day should be 2/3 vegetables, protein the size of your fist, and serving of healthy fat.
- No Calorie Restrictions: Don’t even think about counting calories! Eat until you are full. But when half of your diet is vegetables you don’t have to worry to much about the calories.
Is Whole30 right for me?
If you are trying to kick a sugar addiction and refocus on eating healthier foods and making healthier lifestyle choices than this program is completely for you! It forces you to learn so many new recipes, pay attention to labels, and really think about where your food comes from.
I would NOT recommend this program for anyone that has current or past struggles with disordered eating. I think a super restrictive diet is probably going to help lead you down a dangerous path. Obviously, what you eat is your own personal choice, but it my personal experience this doesn’t do well for people that get hyper focused on food.
I would also NOT recommend this program for vegetarians or vegans. At least as it stands now. There is basically just not enough protein options without legumes and soy. The Whole30 website discusses a modified version adding back in some of the “banned” categories to make it possible for those that do not eat animal products.
This is a basic rundown of how the program works. There are certain things I didn’t cover in this post. But if this sounds like a challenge you are interested in doing I would highly recommend reading It Starts with Food. It’s a much more thorough explanation of the reasoning behind everything the program asks you to do and offers some tough love about changing your health.
You might also like: