Ever feel like totally starting over when it comes to your eating habits? Maybe it’s because you’re dining out way too many times a week, or maybe you’re feeling sick all the time with little to no energy.
The Whole30 diet can help. Although it’s been around for nearly a decade and boasts lots of potential health benefits, the specifics of the program might seem a little murky to someone who’s just starting to do research about the diet. Don’t worry—we’ve got all the details you need! Here is what you need to know about Whole30, the popular diet program designed to change the way you eat—and feel—in just 30 days.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is a lot more than a nutritional reset. The program requires you to remove things from your diet that are commonly linked with food sensitivities, cravings, disrupted hormones, poor sleep, and a host of other issues.
According to the program’s founder, your food choices could be behind that sluggishness you feel throughout the day, or even those low-key aches or pains you can’t explain. And one way to find out which food could be the culprit is to completely remove the potentially problematic ones for 30 days to see if you feel better. After 30 days, you slowly introduce them back into your diet to see how they affect you.
But is it a diet?
Here’s where things can get a bit confusing. Technically, the Whole30 is an elimination diet—basically, it is designed to remove certain food groups and then reintroduce them after a period to determine possible food sensitivities.
What You Can’t Eat on Whole30
This list may feel like a punishment, but it’s not. And it’s just 30 days! You can do it!
This means no cheese, cow milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream, kefir, and butter. The only exception to this rule is that you can have ghee.
This means no corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, rye, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, or sprouted grains.
No alcohol for cooking or drinking is to be consumed while doing Whole30. This includes vanilla extract. You can have something like kombucha, however, which includes a very minor amount of alcohol (as long as there isn’t added sugar from anything other than fruit juice).
For 30 days you can’t eat beans of any kind, soy of any kind (including tofu, soy sauce, miso, edamame), chickpeas, peas, lentils, and peanuts. These are known to lead to bloating and stomach pains, especially in large quantities.
Don’t consume artificial sugar for the 30-day period. This includes honey, maple syrup, agave, Splenda, xylitol, and Stevia. When it comes to grocery store finds, this one might be the trickiest to avoid. Common household ingredients — like Sriracha — include added sugar. Make sure to check the label on everything. Eliminating sugar will be difficult at first, but your body will adjust, and you’ll be grateful for the cleanse.
Carrageenan, MSG, and Sulfites
Avoid processed foods while doing Whole30. If you see these three things on any ingredient list, it’s out.
This means that you can’t recreate your favorite junk food or baked good recipes even if they use Whole30-compliant ingredients. This is less to do with your physical reactions to food, and more to do with the mental relationship you have with your food.
What You Can Eat on Whole30
After that pretty exhausting list of foods you can’t eat, it might seem a little daunting to start the program. But there’s still a bunch of delicious ingredients that can comprise a great meal.
Eat vegetables — including potatoes! — to your heart’s content.
Fruits are allowed, in moderation. Remember that you’re trying to limit your sugar intake during the 30 days.
Sausage is still okay, but check for added sugar and other off-limit preservatives.
Fish and shellfish get the Whole30 nod of approval.
Eggs will become your new breakfast bestie.
Nuts and seeds
All nuts and seeds are okay, with one exception: peanuts, because they are a legume.
Oils (some) and ghee
Just say yes to olive oil and coconut oil. Ghee, which is a type of clarified butter, is also allowed.
Yes, you can have coffee while on Whole30, but you can’t add any milk products or sugar to lighten it up. Try making your own almond milk instead (with no sweeteners).
The Golden Rule of Whole30
The most important thing to remember when doing Whole30 is to check the label on everything you buy. A lot of everyday condiments and prepackaged goods have added sugar or additives that you might not be aware of. When in doubt, choose whole foods, especially vegetables, but also fruits, nuts, meats, and seafood.
Have you tried the Whole30 or are planning to? Let us know in the comment section!