(see my Whole30 page for details on what I ate and how I felt throughout!)
After Finn was born I ate a very low carb (with the exception of the occasional pastry), high vegetable and protein diet. I felt great, had tons of energy and lost a ton of weight (in tandem with running at least 12 miles a week, a little yoga, walking and in-home easy peasy workouts). After Charlie was born, or if I’m honest – during my pregnancy, I went off the cliff of health and straight into the La Brea pits of carbs and sugar. Seriously. I don’t think one day has passed in the last year that I have not consumed sugar, whether it was a few chocolate chips or eight cookies. I have a huge problem. And I’ve felt the repercussions: energy dips, sluggishness, fatigue, digestive upset… On top of that I have an arthritis condition that, when I eat healthy and work out goes away and when I don’t it becomes painful. So all of that, landed me here. With the Whole 30 plan. I know a few folks who’ve completed a Whole 30, or who eat Paleo in general and are loving it. Anyway, I thought I would share this experience with you. Some of you are going to read the restrictions and say, “What? That girl has lost her mind!” And you might be right, but I’m all sorts of motivated, so we’re just going to go with it, okay?!
What is a Whole 30:
A Whole 30 is a very pure Paleo based diet that focuses on only fueling your body with foods that makes you healthier. On their website and in their best-selling book “It Starts With Food,” Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig explain how the many foods not allowed during a Whole 30 have negative effects on our blood sugar, hormones, digestive system, recognition of satiety, immune system and emotional relationship with food. You’re probably curious about the extensive list of things one cannot eat during a Whole 30, so let me just get it out there:
(Copied from their website)
Our Whole30 program, as outlined.
Eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
- Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. Yes, we said corn… for the purposes of this program, corn is a grain! This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
In addition, no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.” This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no coconut-flour pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.
One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements duringyour Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
The Fine Print
A few concessions, based on our experience, and those of our clients. These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30. Including these foods as part of your varied healthy eating plan should not negatively impact the results of your Whole30 program.
- Clarified Butter or Ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.
- Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products will use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re okay with a small amount of fruit juice as an addedingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice! Refer to your Shopping Guide for clarification.
- Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
- Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.
Processed foods. Minimally processed foods like canned coconut milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, chicken broth or canned olives are all acceptable on the Whole30 – but remember, avoid anything with carageenan, MSG or sulfites. We’ve singled these three additives/preservatives out because they all have potentially nasty side effects – and you can easily find processed foods without them. (Refer to It Starts With Food for details on why we exclude these three in particular.)
If you would like to know more about the scientific and research based reasoning behind these eliminations, read the book. The academic in me appreciates a well researched and thoroughly cited book, about food nonetheless (another thing I appreciate!)
One thing I will add here, since this is my “Getting Started” post, is that I was not able to clean out my pantry as Whole9 suggests. My family is not quite on board with making this a group event. However, the husband is super supportive, despite the fact that I won’t be baking for him any time soon. My kids will eat just about anything so I am a lucky Momma! However, my fear was that I would grab something out of a cupboard or from the fridge that was not Whole3o compatible and consume it willy nilly. So, I re-organized my fridge and my cupboards making only the appropriate foods easily accessible. I’m glad I did this, because on Day 1 I intuitively reached for the butter when I was cooking breakfast and had to rethink my meal! I also made a sign for the fridge just so I would remember and follow through. So you don’t have to do this as a family. If your partner or husband is not going to give up ice cream or beer, that’s okay. He just might want to when he sees how good you feel!
(see my Whole30 page for details on what I ate and how I felt throughout!)