The Whole30. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve heard of it before, and you’ll even see their logo on a few pre-packaged products these days. Some people think it’s a radical diet for weight loss, and while many people lose weight on the Whole30, it’s designed for a totally different purpose. (In fact, to emphasize the life changing benefits outside of weight loss, you aren’t allowed to step on a scale while doing the Whole30).
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30 Days, Every Single Bite
The Whole30 is a commitment for 30 solid days to avoid eating a solitary bite any of the following common inflammatory foods in your diet: sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains, and dairy. You can find the full rules by clicking here. (Before I lose you… Whole30ers eat a ton of protein, healthy fats, veggies, and some fruit. To show you how delicious it can be, I am including some photos of real Whole30 meals from their Instagram page below.)
Why so drastic? Because if any of these potentially inflammatory foods are irritating the lining of your gut, they may be causing you problems you didn’t even know you had.
The program was developed after the co-founder discovered that an aching shoulder that had agonized him for 18 months went away after he removed legumes from his diet. That was a category of food causing him consistent, silent inflammation. Many people who Whole30 report feeling *amazing* by the end, with tons of energy, no cravings for sugar, and significant improvement in everything from eczema or IBS to diabetes as they get that inflammation in their bodies under control.
Following the 30 days you reintroduce one food group at a time to see how your body reacts. A person can figure out what foods make them feel tired, groggy, or anxious, or even which foods cause physical issues like headaches, eczema flares, bloating, or stomach pain. This gives you the power to know what you to eat to feel your best.
So, you may complete the Whole30 and find that you feel completely fine with consuming all of the reintroduced categories except say, legumes and dairy. When you have that knowledge you can decide how often, if ever, eating from those categories are worth it.
Also, for a lot of us we are eating so many sugars in the forms of sweets and simple carbs that we are overproducing insulin which blocks our brain from receiving certain signals our body is trying to send it. This prevents our brain from knowing we are full, and also causes intense cravings that are so hard to say no to.
Because no sweeteners of any kind are allowed under the “sugar” category, including natural ones like honey or maple syrup, you go through a process of what Whole30’ers calling, “slaying your Sugar Dragon.” I hear it’s rough as you withdraw, but once you have broken free of the sugar cycle for a while, most are actually able to better enjoy treats when they do decide its worth it to have one, because they aren’t ruled by cravings and unable to stop themselves from eating trigger foods uncontrollably.
It’s a HUGE Movement
When I first brought this up to Ethan he thought like five people had heard of the Whole30, but it is a huge movement. Millions of rounds of the Whole30 have been completed, and I haven’t once talked to a person who didn’t say it didn’t change their life for the better.
You will find their website is full of amazing information, and if you join over 1.6 million followers between their main Whole30 Instagram and their Whole30 Recipes Instagram, you’ll find endless inspiration for super delicious, satisfying, nutrient dense foods. (I also follow along with their Instagram for Whole30 mamas who are pregnant or nursing)
You can definitely accomplish the Whole30 without buying a thing, but I would recommend buying or at least borrowing the following from the library:
If you’re going to buy or borrow one book, make it this one, The Whole30 – The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. This goes into a decent amount of the science and reasoning behind the challenge, answers lots of FAQ’s, and has info on meal prep along with lots of recipes.
The Whole30 Cookbook is just that – a quick overview of the rules and a bunch of amazing looking food!
It Starts With Food is the book that delves into the science behind the Whole30. It is a really easy read and I got a lot out of it!
So I am just using books from the library with one exception right now – I did order The Whole30 Day by Day journal. This is a book to use for each day to help you chart your health progress, read tips and tricks for being successful, encouragement to keep going, and more. Ethan and I want to make sure every night to sit down and fill it out together as we navigate the emotional ups and downs of such a daunting month!
My 3 year old, Philomena, has had eczema almost all of her life. She is allergic to eggs and peanuts, and while her skin is manageable, it is not healed and I want to help her as best as I can. While eczema can certainly be related to environmental allergies, in our case, food is the culprit. Even though we eat a pretty clean whole-food diet and avoid any foods she has tested positive to for allergies or sensitivities, something is still irritating her gut. It’s a leaky gut and is letting food into her bloodstream and causing this itchy inflammation in her skin.
It is our hope that the Whole30 will help us discover more about her body, work on intensively healing her gut, and help her feel as wonderful and healthy as possible.
And Ethan and I could use it too. Even though we rarely ever eat refined sugar, we definitely love our honey and maple syrup sweetened coffees and treats and feel that a bit of a reset would be good for us to help break some of our *needs* for sweet things, slaying that sugar dragon!
Are you interested in doing an August Whole30? I already have a few people interested in doing it starting August 1, so I’ve created a little Facebook group where we can encourage each other and work together. You’re welcome to join even if you aren’t ready to do one yet so you can follow along with what we are eating and our health improvements along the way. To join us, click here.
Have you done a round of Whole30 before? What health improvements has it brought you?
2 thoughts on “The Whole30: What It Is and Why We Are Doing It”
I did one way back in 2012. My husband and I were super strict and completed the entire 30 days with no cheats. . and that was when you couldn’t eat white potatoes!!!. I didn’t eat a lot of sugar to begin with, but it really increased my ability to go without sugar . . . which continues to this day. It also taught me to eat much more greens and vegetables than I ever had before and I discovered many more quick and healthy whole foods to enjoy . . .like sweet potatoes as a base for other veggies and sardines right out of the can. Fortunately, I did not notice any bad effects, so I still get to eat everything, but I eat differently because of it. Best of luck!!!!
This is encouraging, Jen. Thank you!