The focus of Whole30 nutrition is to eat whole, real foods. The purpose of Whole30 is to remove foods that can be inflammatory for 30 days and then to reintroduce them systematically to see which are your specific foods to avoid. There are a number of foods that are on their “do not eat” list and this is because of the feeling that they can not only cause intense cravings, but also lead to some not-so-fun side effects (think poor sleep, digestive issues, allergies, or headaches) for some people. As you begin to reintroduce foods to your diet, you could find that some make you have migraines, others fatigue or irritability, while others may lead to some some unappealing GI shifts (i.e., constipation, diarrhea or bloating). Those are the foods you would then aim to remove long term, or at least limit. The reintroduction phase is a huge part of the process that people often leave out, and in my opinion, unfortunately prevents achieving those long-term amazing benefits the program can provide.
If you’re starting or considering a Whole30, I would say to focus on all of the many, many foods that you can have during this time. When we over-focus on foods that are on the “avoid” list, it can lead to issues, including binging. Or we just get frustrated and give up.
So give me the deets: what is incorporated in Whole30 & what should I avoid?
According to the Whole30 site, here are the do’s & don’ts:
Enjoy animal proteins (i.e., meat, fish, eggs), fruits & veggies, good-for-you fats (like extra virgin olive oil, avocados & coconut oil), and spices like garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt & pepper. Pre-made sauces are often loaded with funky ingredients, but Whole30 provides a list of delicious and approved options! In general, the focus is on eating whole, real foods.
Added sugar, and that includes artificial or natural sweeteners (including stevia & monk fruit)
Grains: this would include, of course, basic wheat bread and cereal, but also quinoa, rice, and oats. Corn is also included as a no-go in this category.
Legumes, which not only means beans but also peanuts (they’re actually a legume, not a nut!). Soy is not OK on Whole30 (coconut aminos are often used as a soy sauce alternative here, which is cool on Whole30). Green beans & a majority of peas are OK, as per the program.
Dairy, with the exception of ghee. Cow’s milk products (i.e., conventional yogurt, milk and ice cream) are off the table, as well as sheep’s and goat’s milk versions of these foods.
Carageenan, MSG or sulfites. Check your labels for these inflammatory ingredients!
Another important point that Whole30 makes is that you don’t want to just replace your “unhealthy” foods with “healthy versions”. On their site, they use the example of: “a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.” The community also encourages members not to weigh themselves or take bodily measurements during the 30 days, as the goal is to create change that is beyond physical.