Gateway To Better Health? – A Whole30 Overview

Whole30 is probably a program you’ve heard about. It’s an extremely popular plan for those looking for a way to improve their eating habits. I’ve even tried it myself. This Whole30 overview will help you decide if this plan is right for you.

What’s The Whole30 All About?

Whole30 is a plan developed by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig about 9 years ago. The basic idea is to eliminate certain foods/food groups that may be harmful to your body. After 30 days, you will slowly reintroduce foods to determine if your body tolerates them. If not, you’ll see how your body reacts negatively to that food so you can make an informed decision about whether to continue to exclude it from your diet.

The book explaining the method is It Starts With Food. After reading the book, you’ll understand what foods to include and exclude for the next 30 days. It explains the reasoning behind cutting out certain items as well as what to expect during your program experience.

Whole30 Diet Rulesstop light

For thirty days you will not eat any foods containing

  • Sugar! (including fruit juice)
  • Grains and “pseudo-grains” such as rice, corn and quinoa
  • Legumes (peanuts and beans)
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Soy
  • Artificial stuff like MSG, carageenan, artificial coloring and preservatives

Also you aren’t allowed to weigh yourself. No cheating whatsoever or you’ll have to start over at day 1. And no making any type of dessert items with allowed ingredients. They call this “sex with your pants on” and it’s a no-no.

What The Whole30 Is/Is Not

The Whole30 program is a way to

  • clean up your diet
  • discover unknown food allergies and sensitivities
  • jump start a permanent change to a healthier diet
  • completely cut out harmful food for a short period of time
  • change your eating habits
  • learn how to properly fuel your body
  • break bad habit by learning new habits
  • get yourself cooking at home instead of relying on takeout

The Whole30 is not

  • a permanent solution
  • a quick fix
  • for the wishy-washy
  • flexible
  • a long-term diet/lifestyle

How To Get Started on The Whole30

Reading the book is the best step to take first as it explains the entire program along with the reasoning behind it. Once you have done that, check out the official Whole30 website for helpful printables, meal plans & recipes, testimonials and online support.

meal prepYou’ll need to create a meal plan and shopping list to get you through your first week. Begin by cleaning out your kitchen, throwing out any food on the excluded list. You won’t want any added temptation in your cupboards. After your shopping trip, try to prep your meats and veggies as much as you can for the coming week. Spending an hour a week on meal prep will be a life-saver later on.

The web is loaded with approved recipes you can try but I suggest getting one of the official Whole30 cookbooks.

Support For Your Journey

The Whole30 website has a forum where you can post questions and read other people’s stories. A quick online search can also get you connected to groups that are planning to start a Whole30 within the coming month so you will have others doing it along with you, day by day.

Get your family on board with you so they won’t be caught by surprise by the changes going on in your kitchen and your meal plan. If at all possible, get the entire household to do the program with you so you can keep off-limit foods out of the house. If someone else wants to cheat, make sure they do it somewhere else!whole30

A great resource to support you each day is the new book The Whole30 Day by Day.

It includes valuable tips and tricks to get you past the daily changes you’re going to experience. On a bad day, you’ll want all the help you can get to make it through!

My Whole30 Experience

My sister was the first to introduce me to the Whole30. A large group of her coworkers had decided to try it together and she invited me to follow along in their Facebook group. I had been looking for some way to clean up my diet and keep myself motivated to stick it out.

The first time I tried it, I had a great experience. Not that it wasn’t difficult to stick to (it was!) but I learned a lot about myself and about nutrition. I picked up some new recipes that I still use today and discovered products I never would have tried before- like coconut milk and avocado oil. I even made homemade mayo for the first time! healthy meal

It was the first time I experienced what it was like to go without sugar for such a long period of time. I found out where my weaknesses were and learned ways to cope with cravings. It was enjoyable to share experiences and recipes with the group, to see how the program was changing us.

Confession- I didn’t do the entire 30 days perfectly. I cheated on like day 27 (I don’t even remember what I ate but I know I cheated). And I admit I made some dessert-type items with allowed ingredients even though we weren’t supposed to. But overall the experience was well worth it! Even though I cheated a bit, and I didn’t do the reintroductions part exactly as instructed, I did find out that my body has an issue with milk.

I don’t remember how much weight I ended up losing although there was some loss. Mainly I lost the bloating and puffiness, and my skin cleared up nicely too.brain

The benefit I enjoyed most of all was getting rid of my brain fog. When I eat clean, I can think clearly even in the afternoon when I’m usually in an energy slump. My mind just isn’t as sharp as it used to be (maybe because of all these kids running around!). But on the Whole30 I felt more like myself. Like I could think and function as a normal human being and less like a tired and stressed-out Mom.

Can The Whole30 Help Me With My Sugar Addiction?

Absolutely! I highly recommend using the program to jump start your sugar-free life. Although it seems harsh at first, you’ll be forced to completely eliminate all sugars and most carbs (except for fruits and veggies). You’ll be able to experience what that feels like and reap its benefits. The thirty-day timeline feels more doable than a lifetime. You’re getting the experience and tools to cut sugar forever but in a more manageable chunk of time.cooking

Once you complete the 30 days, you’ll be better equipped to continue your journey without sugar for the long-term. It will no longer seem like an impossibility!

Share With Us

If you’ve done the Whole30, we would love to hear what your experience was. Would you recommend it for sugar addicts? If you’ve never tried it, have you considered it? What’s holding you back?

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34 thoughts on “Gateway To Better Health? – A Whole30 Overview

  1. Wow what a great article. You were very thorough explaining the Whole30. I have heard of it but I did not realize what exactly it was. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I have recently started the keto diet and by eliminating many items I did realize I have an issue with wheat. If I eat bread, I have discovered, I get heartburn and sometimes I throw up, so that is a very good reason to stay far away from bread.  Thanks for sharing

    1. Isn’t it amazing how we could go so many years and not know how certain foods affect us? I used to always wake up with a sore throat and thought it was allergies or something. I learned it was caused by milk!

  2. hey Anna, Thanks for sharing your exprience with the whole30. It seems like a worthy product that can help people to eat healthy. Thanks for clearing some of the doubts about it and for sharing what this product cannot do. But is this product also help people who have thyroid problems? My wife suffering from that for now.

    1. It would certainly be a helpful tool for your wife to try. We often don’t fully understand how our diet is affecting our bodies until we eliminate things. Sugar and soy products could be worsening her thyroid problems because they effect our hormones. It’s worth taking a month to try it and find out. 

  3. Hi Anna,

    Thanks for this article. I really enjoyed reading it. The Whole30 diet really looks interesting and I might give it a try. The diet seems to be a good way to kickstart a new healthier lifestyle. You mentioned that it isn’t necessarily a permanent solution. However, it is definitely seems to be a good diet to get used to not eating so much unhealthy foods. 

    Do you have any recommendations for a diet after the Whole30 diet?

    1. If you follow the Whole30 and the re-introduction phase, you will find out if there are any foods that your body reacts badly to. For instance, you may find that soy makes your skin break-out or something like that. From there you have a better idea of what you want your diet to look like long-term and you can go from there. I believe paleo would work well for most people.

  4. I had no idea about this program, I had never heard of it, but I have read some programs that are similar to these, but I have to say that it looks much better, I liked everything that it contains and easy explanations. and I think it will help a lot to people who are interested in having a better nutritional control, a better quality of life.

    Great recommendation

    1. It really is a fairly easy program to understand and follow. Epsecially if you read the book first. And the amount of online resources and support are incredible.

  5. Hello Anna,

    Thanks for sharing this diet. It sounds interesting and healthy.

    I think it is really hard not to drink alcohol and not to eat the most delicious stuff (and unhealthy) for 30 days but the fact that it is just for a short period makes me believe that I can go for it. You did a wonderful job to keep the diet for 27 days in a row. I am not sure if I can go for more than that. But I will start this Saturday and see how long I can go without cheating 🙂

    Best,

    Albert

    1. Best of luck to you Albert! I hope you find success in your journey. You will discover new things about yourself and your relationship with food when you go through the program. Make sure to read up on the resources I mentioned so you have the best chance at victory!

  6. Hi there!

    Thank you for such a great review! I myself right now am trying to lose weight and become healthier! I have had one experience where I went 9 days with out sugar!

    I did a cleanse with a company called Isagenix! Holy smokes after 9 days I could tell a huge difference in my energy levels! I was waking up at 4:45 without trying ready to go for the day!

    Long term, I would love to be able to cut our sugar from my diet! Thanks again for the great post!

    All the Best,

    Chris

    1. I’m glad to hear you have had some victories along the way already! Sound like you’re working your way towards your goal. Every experience you have in your attempts to reach better health are worthwhile. What you learn along the way is so valuable. 

  7. I’ve never heard of this nutritional program. I do think that cutting certain foods for a limited time can really give you a boost in the right direction, it’s when you cut things out cold turkey that you run into problems. Giving things up for 30 days can be difficult but it’s definitely doable. However, when you try to cut something out that you’ve eaten everyday; that takes more time. You have to ease into it. I do think that when you do it in a group setting, you’ll have a higher probability of sticking to a program and actually finishing it because you have the support and accountability from everyone. 

    -Vic & Steph  

    1. Good point, there are some people who may do better with small changes over time. The great part about removing all the potentially harmful foods at once is that you can reintroduce them one by one afterwards to see how they affect you individually. That’s powerful information you can use to make better nutritional choices for your future. 

  8. Hey Anna,Good stuff on the whole30 experience!  It only make sense that when we eat more “raw” foods and stay away from processed stuff we are on the right track.  I didn’t know that dairy was on the list of no-no’s.

    Was wondering if Greek yogurt is considered “dairy” under this plan?  I know some paleo diets allow it but seems to be in a gray area.

    I like how this is a 30 day test drive to see how your body reacts.  I know for me staying away from anything deep fried works wonders.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Greek yogurt is a dairy product so it isn’t allowed during your 30 day period. Many people, myself included, have sensitivity to dairy that they don’t even know about until going through an elimination like this. 

      Just wondering if you’ve experimented with the fried foods? I often make chicken ‘nuggets’ with an almond flour/arrowroot breading and fry them in avocado oil. Perhaps something like that would be ok for you. Only way to know is to keep experimenting!

  9. Never heard of the Whole30 program before, I guess that is not unexpected as there are so many different diet styles these days.

    What I like is your explanation of the process of the diet and why it is important to do the whole 30 days before you add any food types back in.

    You did well to get to day 27 before you cheated except for of course your dessert-type items and you now like coconut milk and avocado oil, must be a special diet to get you to that point.

    Seems like a well thought out plan, something strict for the average person to follow, unlike a lot of other diets which let you meander your through the month without so much direction.

    I find that “strictness” to be a big selling point for the Whole30 program.

    1. Yes I think so to. Most diets allow some sort of cheat meals or cheat days. For a person with an addiction especially, the idea of being allowed to cheat will sabotage our overall effort to be healthier and in control of our eating habits. 

  10. I’ve not heard about the whole30 program before, but I must say it is an interesting concept. Of course, stop eating products that are considered to be unhealthy for 30 days is easier said than done.

    I know from personal experience that when you stop eating greasy foods for a few weeks, you will not feel that craving anymore. And the first time you eat that same greasy food you’ve been accustomed to for so many years, your stomach will actually protest. That said, your body gets used to it again, very quickly, so there in lies the danger… and the so-called yo-yo effect…

    So it is very important to have people that support you is this diet. You need to have like minded people who you can talk to and even find solace with. 

    But overall, I think the whole30 program is one of the better diets one can easy jump into.

    1. Yes, you will have some initial discomfort when you go back to junk food after eliminating them. If you choose to keep eating them anyway, your body will adjust. It’s better to steer clear and stay clean!

  11. This the first time I have heard about the whole 30 diet.  It does make sense since sugar tends to be added to so many prepared foods we no longer know how it affects us.  We just keep consuming it without any thought. Going without it for 30 days should get it all out of our system.  Other types of foods we eat on a daily basis could also be affecting us negatively without us knowing it.  The whole 30 diet sounds like it is worth trying for that reason.

  12. Hey, this looks great and I’ve tried many food restricting diets over the years, some successful and some not. It looks promising and very cleansing, but I have one concern. As a vegetarian, is it possible to do this? Here it says that you should prep your meat after a shopping trip, but can you offer an alternative to meat that could be successful in this plan?

    Thanks, Richard

  13. Hello, I am so glad I have seen your site. I am about to start my diet, which if I’m honest consists of cutting out all the junk food I usually eat. But I know I need to be eating  the right stuff too. It could be I use this method for 30 days and see how my body reacts to it. 

    I know it’s not a long term solution but I think it’s very interesting. Your visuals are excellent and really bring your site to life. Thanks again, Kenny 

    1. Sounds great Kenny! You didn’t say exactly what program you’re starting but it sounds like you’re on the right path by cutting out the junk.

  14. A great no nonsense review. My favorite style!

    How amazing you managed almost a whole month on Whol30 plan. 

    I’m having a problem with the sugar cravings at the moment so this plan could work for me as well, I am quite disciplined when I put my mind to it. Maybe the key to a successful overhaul of one’s diet IS to avoid all those groups of food and see what works and what doesn’t. 

    As we can see there are no shortcuts in you want to improve your health, but it’s hugely rewarding when you see and feel the results. 

    1. The rewards are definitely worth the effort. If we just give ourselves the time and grace to see it through to the harvest of our efforts.

  15. The term “you are what you eat” is very true as all the nutrition goes into every Cell in our bodies. 

    The whole 30 diet is ideal especially for tasing food tolerance as we are not all built the same are we.

    I have already cut all sugars out of me and my kids diet and also I have stopped buying bread before I came across your website.

     We feel less bloated now and less lethargic because of it. I have also encouraged all to drink more water and its amazing how quickly the kids adapt when other sugary snacks and drinks are not about any more.

    How have you found the diet and how long did you do it in order to change any eating habits you had?

     

  16. The idea is great and for some it works.  I know this type of system as an elimination diet.  I have done the whole30 to see if I could finally deal with IBS, but it didn’t work.  That’s not to say it’s bad, nothing has worked so far.

    I really do like these elimination type diets because you really can narrow down what you need to lose.  I have even done it with our dog (not whole30) modified heavily of course and it worked.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Stew. I’m sorry you haven’t been able to figure out the cause of your IBS yet. I pray that the next option you explore will lead you to the root of the problem and you can finally find healing.

  17. Thank you Anna for your great article.  I have never herd of the Whole30 plan before and I think that I will try it.  I have done other low carb diets before like the ketogenic diet but it was hard to maintain for the long run.  I did feel better while staying away from sugar and I don’t know why I went back to my old way of eating but I am pretty sure that I have some food allergies.  It sounds like this diet will help me find out what my allergies are and I am hopeful to eliminate these foods from my diet.

    1. I can almost guarantee that you will figure out which foods are giving you trouble if you follow the Whole30. I pray you have great success in your search for wellness! 

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