The Whole30 diet has taken the fitness and nutrition world by storm. A simple search on Instagram yields over 2 million images and there are even products dedicated to help those who are following the plan. Even if you haven’t heard of it, we are here to explain what it is all about.
What Exactly is the Whole30 Movement About?
First off the designers of the Whole30 plan would prefer that we do not refer to it as a diet, in fact, it is more of a movement or a body reset plan. It is designed to be utilised for a lifestyle change with the focus being on your health and not just a number on the scale.
The whole30 plan is essentially a food, lifestyle and nutritional reset button. The plan is designed to be followed for 30 days (hence the name). 30 days of strictly sticking to the guidelines, no cheating and no excuses or you need to start the challenge again.
Essentially the Whole30 plan can be thought of as a combination of the Paleo diet mixed with a stricter elimination diet. It cuts out similar food groups as the Paleo diet and the point of this is getting in tune with which foods agree with you and which foods are sabotaging your health.
So as we have mentioned the Whole30 plan is to be followed for 30 days straight. Absolutely no cheating even if it is your best friends wedding etc. If you do fall off the wagon the idea is to begin your 30 days again from the start.
RULE #1: For 30 days you are to eliminate the following:
- Grains: No wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice etc etc
- Added sugar: including any artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes-ditch them all!
- Alcohol: not even for cooking
- Legumes: no beans or lentils at all, no peanut butter or soy products like soy sauce
- Dairy: no dairy products which come from a cow, sheep or goat (clarified butter is allowed)
- Tobacco: no cigarette or cigar smoking
RULE #2: Do not weigh or measure yourself, the idea here is that the Whole30 plan is not about weight loss but about health
A more comprehensive list can be found on the actual Whole30 website, but the main idea is to cut out all processed foods as well. Any food that is ‘packaged’ like bread or pasta, shop bought sauces, additives, and flavorings, which are not pure spices. During this period it will be essential to read labels to ensure that you are not inadvertently consuming sugar or something else which is on the no-go list.
Why Eliminate These Foods?
The foods which are on the no-go list are thought to be inflammation causing and harmful to some people. The side effects of eating these foods could be experienced by you on a daily basis. Symptoms of intolerances can include difficulty losing weight, low energy, mood swings, trouble losing weight or even more serious problems like fertility issues or skin conditions (?).
The idea is, that by cutting out these specific foods your body is able to heal itself naturally. Then by re-introducing them (slowly) you can figure out which foods or food groups affect you personally.
So What Can I Eat?
Having a look at the no-go list is a bit scary as you might start to wonder what you are actually allowed to eat during the 30 day period.
The good news is that there is actually a lot that you can still eat.
- Unprocessed protein: eggs, chicken, beef, pork, fish, lamb, seafood, turkey etc
- Good quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil, nuts, avocado
- Vegetables-any vegetable you desire, the more variety the better (no peas)
- Starchy vegetables like butternut, sweet potato, pumpkin and white potatoes
- Drinks: soda water, coconut water, mineral water, tea, 100% fruit and vegetable juices
- Condiments: fish sauce, mustard (sugar and additive free), tomato paste etc
Sounds Good, Where do I Start?
Not so fast. The Whole30 diet is not something to start overnight without ensuring a bit of grocery shopping and forward planning.
Start today by clearing out all the processed and junk products in your fridge and pantry. Next, have a look at all the resources over at the Whole30 website. They have loads of free, printable downloads which will help you plan a menu for your first week of the challenge.
As soon as you have a bit of a plan for the week ahead write out your grocery list – this is to make sure you stick to the ‘allowed’ foods and don’t go rogue due to hunger or cravings.
Lastly, have a look at your calendar and make sure that you are starting your Whole30 challenge at a convenient time. Obviously trying to follow the plan during the holidays or on vacation would not be smart. Ask a friend or a family member to join you as statistically you will have more success if you are not going it alone (?).
As for whether you should try it? The Whole30 diet is not a magic cure or fix for an unhealthy lifestyle or bad diet. It is also not supposed to be used as a tool for ongoing weight loss. What it does promise you is help to regain control of your cravings and your diet.
What we can say is that it could be effective as a temporary reset tool when you feel that your diet and health are out of balance and you are needing a nudge to help you get back on track. Remember however that simply going back to old habits after the 30 days are up will only land you back in the same position.