What is WHOLE30?
The WHOLE30 is a reset in which you temporarily eliminate commonly problematic foods and create new healthy food habits. At the end of the 30 days, you systematically reintroduce the foods you missed eating and evaluate how they affect your body. Think of it as a science experiment on yourself to learn how the food you eat affects you. Then, you’ll make informed decisions about what, when and how much you eat in order to feel your best. The ultimate goal is to change your habits and relationship with food so that you take control over the food you eat, instead of it controlling. This is known as “food freedom”.
Why would I do a WHOLE30?
Besides being able to make informed decisions about how what you eat affects you, WHOLE30ers have reported a long list of Non-Scale Victories (or NSVs), including improved skin, sleep, energy, confidence, and many more physical, emotional and lifestyle benefits. In addition, many report losing weight, but that is not the focus of WHOLE30. The WHOLE30 program helps you take control of the food you eat, instead of having it control you. Only you can determine the best foods for your body so you can be your healthiest. The WHOLE30 is a temporary 30-day elimination plan; it is not intended to be a long-term food plan or lifestyle. There’s no food freedom in following a restrictive set of rules.
What can I eat during my WHOLE30?
You will eat real, whole, nutritious food:
- Moderate portions of meat, seafood & eggs
- Lots of vegetables
- Some fruits
- Healthy natural fats
- Herbs, spices & seasonings
What is eliminated?
You will eliminate:
- Added sugar, real or artificial
- Alcohol in any form, not even in cooking
- Grains (wheat, oats, corn, rice, quinoa, …)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, soy, chickpeas, peanuts, …)
- Dairy (milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, ice creams, …)
- Carrageenan, MSG & sulfites (common additives)
- Baked goods, junk foods or treats made from “approved ingredients”
Are there any exceptions?
There are some exceptions. These are allowed:
- Ghee or clarified butter (the only dairy allowed)
- Fruit Juice
- Green beans, sugar snap peas & snow peas (the only legume allowed)
- Vinegar, except malt vinegar
- Coconut aminos (often substituted for soy sauce)
Yes, one final thing (and this can be the hardest for some):
Do NOT step on the scale or take body measurements during the 30 days!
What can I expect during my WHOLE30?
Everyone is different, and no two Whole30s are the same, even if done by the same person. With that said, this timeline was created based on common trends found from clinical experience. Your Whole30 also varies on how you’ve eaten up until you start the Whole30; typically, the greater the change, the more adjustment your body may require. But again, everyone is different. The first week of my first Whole30 was rocky – no energy and “hungover,” but before that, I was eating a low-fat, low-protein, grain based diet. It was all worth it when that Tiger Blood kicked in the 3rd week!
Also, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” Whole30. As long as you follow all of the rules for 30 days, it’s a successful Whole30. Whatever works for you. Some people like to whip up different gourmet meals every day, while others have no problem eating the same breakfast 3 days in a row. Some prefer to have meals planned and prepped in advance, while others like to keep basic ingredients stocked and try various combinations based on what sounds good at the time. I’m somewhere in between – some prep on Sundays, some sort of salads for lunch during the week, ingredients for go-to meals on hand, and try a new recipe or 2 each week.
What happens after the WHOLE30 reset? Reintroduction!
Congrats for getting through the entire 30 days! Feel proud. Celebrate with non-food rewards. And don’t worry, the training wheels aren’t gone yet. The 30-day elimination is actually only the first phase of your Whole30 – the reset.
Now that you’ve eliminated commonly problematic foods from your body, you’re ready for the next phase of your Whole30: reintroduction. Whatever you do, don’t skip this phase. Be patient and don’t waste all the hard work you did to get here. This is your opportunity to discover critical information about how foods impact YOU. There’s no one-size-fits-all food plan. You will use what you learn from the reintroduction to decide what to eat going forward.
There are 2 types of reintroductions available: the Fast Track and the Slow Roll. If this is your first Whole30 or you’ve never done the reintroduction step, the Fast Track reintroduction is recommended and that’s what we’ll focus on here. It’s the fastest way to gain a lot of information in a short amount of time. More information about the Slow Roll reintroduction can be found here.
You will systematically reintroduce one of the eliminated food groups at a time and evaluate the impact of those foods on your body. Again, the Whole30 is like a science experiment on yourself. The 30-day reset was setting up the experiment. Whole30 compliant food is the control. You know how those foods affect your body. Day 30 is a good time to revisit the NSVs you’ve been experiencing and make sure you have a complete list. You’ll use this list when evaluating the reintroduced foods. The variable in the experiment is the food group being reintroduced. This is why we’ll only reintroduce one food group at a time; otherwise, if we stuff our face with pizza (grains and dairy) on Day 31, we won’t know if the grains or the dairy caused the digestive issues we’re experiencing.
What is life like after WHOLE30? Food Freedom!
Life after your Whole30 reset and reintroduction is called food freedom in the Whole30 world. The Whole30 is designed to be an experiment for you to learn more about how food affects your body. It is not intended to be a long term lifestyle; following strict rules is not sustainable and you’re not truly in control of the food you eat. Everyone’s food freedom is different. Based on the results of your Whole30, you determine:
- the foods are ok to eat anytime because they don’t have a negative impact on your body,
- the foods that you never want to eat because the response from eating them was so horrible you never want to experience that again, and
- the foods that affected you negatively, but you’re willing to accept the consequences because the food is so delicious or meaningful. You evaluate these foods on a case-by-case basis and deliberately decide if it’s “worth it”.