You may have heard people talking about going on the Whole30 program. But do you understand what that means?
Whole30 is not a diet. The creators of the system are very specific about that. It’s a lifestyle change first and foremost.
Whole30 challenges us to take 30 days to stick to a strict diet of mostly whole foods. You need a good deal of discipline and time to do this successfully. It was created in 2009 and since then it has become a hot-button issue with dieticians and medical professionals the world over.
But what is Whole30? What are the benefits and detriments of it? What can you eat on the Whole30 program?
Let’s find out together.
What is the Whole30 Program?
Whole30 challenges you to eat more whole and organic food. (Hence the Whole in the name) The program goes on for a full 30 days. (Hence the 30…)
One of the creators, Melissa Hartwig described Whole30, saying, “ You can think of the Whole30 as pushing the reset button with your health, your habits and your relationship with food.”
Over a 30-day period, Whole30 participants remove foods that the creators describe as “commonly problematic.” Throughout the course of that time, you’re supposed to examine your sleep patterns, mood, cravings, energy, and see how all of it relates to what you eat.
One of the worst questions to ask someone that’s super serious about Whole30 is, “How much weight have you lost?”
The creators say repeatedly that this is not a diet or a weight loss method, and it should not be viewed as such. While weight loss is a common side effect of the program, it is not guaranteed. In fact, one of the main things they tell you on Whole30’s official website is not to weigh yourself or take any body measurements for the full 30 days.
“The Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and to focus only on body composition means you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer,” the creators say on their website.
What Happens After Whole30?
A common question posed by curious Whole30 bystanders is, what do you do when the 30 days are up? Do you just go back to eating as you had before?
You could…but that kind of defeats the purpose. The point of Whole30 is to show you what healthy living feels like, in the hopes that many who try it will adopt a more organic lifestyle.
As such, they recommend slowly incorporating non-Whole30 compliant foods back into your diet. They’re hoping that after the program, when you indulge in something that is not particularly healthy, that it will be a once in a while thing and that the changes made throughout the program are a permanent part of your lifestyle now.
What Can You Eat on Whole30?
Whole30 cuts out all dairy, sugar, alcohol, legumes, and grains. It encourages a diet comprised mostly of vegetables, meats, fruit, and eggs. One interesting addition to Whole30 is potatoes, which are typically kept out of most mainstream healthy eating programs.
Some exceptions to the no-no list are ghee, green beans, snow peas, all forms of vinegar, coconut aminos and salt.
Whole30 is strict. I can’t stress that enough. They have a zero-tolerance policy for “cheat days” or slip-ups. If you decide you’ve been good for 20 days and can have a donut, the Whole30 program recommends that you start the 30 days over again from scratch.
“Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a pizza, there is no ‘slip,’” the official Whole30 website states. “You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days.”
It’s serious business and it is not easy. I did the Whole30 once, and I found it to be incredibly restrictive. There were results, but I was miserable every day.
If you’ve got questions about Whole30 as it pertains to certain foods, that’s the whole reason this site exists.
Take a look at some of our Whole30 articles and see if these foods are Whole30 Compliant.