Do you want to feel healthier, lighter, and more focused? Do you feel like you’ve tried every diet known to man, but nothing really seems to stick? If you answered yes to either of those questions, Whole30 might be the perfect option for you! Starting a new diet always comes with its challenges, but Whole30 isn’t technically a diet. Sure, it restricts certain foods and permits others, but it’s not actually meant for weight loss (although that usually is an added benefit).
The goal of the Whole30 challenge is to alter your eating habits to help you determine if you have any food sensitivities. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually incredibly easy to follow. At the end of the 30 days, you can slowly begin reintroducing the restricted food groups back into your diet to see if any of them negatively impact your health.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about Whole30 and whether adopting this plan can benefit your health. Hint: It probably can.
Everything You Need to Know About Whole30
Whole30 is, first and foremost, an elimination diet. It restricts several different categories of food commonly associated with food sensitivities. It’s called Whole30 because it focuses on meals and snacks that are built around whole foods or ingredients that have not been altered. These foods contain all their original nutrients, no additives, and most of them are naturally lower in calories (so you don’t have to worry about calorie tracking).
Foods and Ingredients to Avoid
This list may sound a bit daunting, but eliminating the following foods from your diet for the next 30 days is simpler than it seems. Plus, doing so can help you reap all of the benefits that Whole30 has to offer. Foods to eliminate for the next month include:
Added sugar – This includes artificial sweeteners and real sugar. Some examples are Splenda, Equal, stevia, coconut sugar, honey, agave nectar, and more. If a food contains any added sugar, it is off-limits for the next 30 days.
Alcohol – You must refrain from consuming any alcohol, even in cooking. This means no red wine or cooking wine either. Obviously, liquor and beer are out, too.
Grains – This is a big one, and possibly the most difficult. You must avoid all wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, quinoa, corn, millet, bulgur, amaranth, buckwheat, bran, germ, and starch. Believe it or not, this list is not comprehensive, so if there’s any doubt in your mind whether an ingredient is Whole30 compliant, look it up. Don’t guess.
Most legumes – This includes, but is not limited too: Beans (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, cannellini, lentils, mung, black-eyed peas, and garbanzo beans also known as chickpeas.), peanuts (including butter and oil), and soy (including tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk, soy sauce, soy protein, and miso). Of course, any foods that contain these ingredients are also off-limits.
Dairy – Any dairy products that come from animals (cows, sheep, goats) are to be avoided for the next 30 days. This includes milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, and kefir.
Additives – This is probably a given, but your meals and snacks should not contain any additives including carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites.
Processed foods – This includes any snacks or food that is processed, such as baked goods and junk food, that contain any of the ingredients listed above and even “approved ingredients.” If it’s processed, it’s out.
A Few Exceptions
You may be thinking, “Okay, that sounds like a lot of restriction. What do I really have left to eat?” There are still a wide range of foods you can eat, including a few exceptions to the rules above.
Ghee – While dairy is excluded, ghee (or clarified butter) is acceptable on the Whole30 eating plan.
Fruit juice – Whole30 recipes will sometimes call for the use of fruit juice (like lemon or lime) as a sweetener or ingredient.
Certain legumes – Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are three legumes that are permitted on Whole30.
Vinegar and extracts – As long as the vinegar or extracts you’re using are not malt-based, they are acceptable on Whole30.
Coconut aminos – This is a great replacement for soy sauce.
Salt – Most table salt contains a little bit of sugar, making it the only exception to the “no added sugar” rule.
Coffee – The good news is that you CAN drink coffee, but you’ll need to drink it black.
What Can You Eat on Whole30
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself the question, “Does it come with a nutrition label?” If not, you are generally allowed to eat it! For example, fruits, vegetables, seafood, and meat don’t typically come in packages with labels.
Meat – It doesn’t need to be organic, although organic is a better option for Whole30. It does, however, need to be unprocessed, so no jerky, hot dogs, or deli meats. Permitted options include chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, and duck.
Seafood – Salmon, shrimp, tuna, grouper, crab, scallops, and pretty much every other creature you’d find under the sea is acceptable to eat on Whole30 (just don’t go slathering them in unapproved sauces!).
Eggs – You can eat as many eggs as you’d like on Whole30. Scramble them, fry them in ghee, or hard boil them.
Fruit – Fresh fruits are going to be one of your main sources of carbohydrates, but they do need to be limited because we’re still trying to reduce sugar intake. Limit your fruit consumption to two servings per day.
Vegetables – Eat all of the fresh vegetables that you want, including potatoes. Just be wary of canned and frozen options. They often contain additives that this diet plan does not permit.
Nuts, seeds, and oils – All nuts (with the exception of peanuts) are permitted on Whole30. Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc…) and oils (coconut and olive) are great natural sources of healthy fat.
Herbs, spices, and seasonings – Fresh herbs can add a tremendous amount of flavor to Whole30 recipes, as can spices and seasonings. Just be sure to check the labels to make sure there are no additives.
Why You Should Try Whole30
This covers everything you need to know about Whole30. Once you finish the 30 days, we truly believe that you’ll feel like a whole new person! As you begin reintroducing the excluded food groups back into your diet, you’ll be able to determine if they’ve been dragging you down. If they make you feel bad, keep them out of your diet. If you don’t notice a change, feel free to welcome them back with open arms!
Whole30 is all about learning to eat mindfully. Paying attention to what you put in your mouth and realizing how it makes you feel can greatly impact your health and weight in an extremely positive way!