Before I officially start this post, I feel obligated to say that I have never actually completed a Whole30. I embarked on my paleo journey by doing the GAPS diet – a paleo-based healing protocol – and have found the version of paleo that works for me since then. Having said that, my diet is almost always Whole30-compliant because that is how I like to eat and I am a huge fan of the program for reasons I will explain in this post.
SO: Whenever someone expresses interest in trying the paleo diet, I always recommend that they try the Whole30.
What is the Whole30?
The Whole30 is a 30-day program that focuses on eating real, whole foods and eliminating any foods that may be negatively impacting you. For 30 days, you eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, eggs, and healthy fats from oils, nuts, and seeds, and free from all grains, dairy, added sugar, alcohol, legumes, certain food additives, and treats of any kind. The Whole30 is specifically designed to eliminate foods that may be negatively impacting your physical and mental health while encouraging you to nourish your body with real food and empowering you to understand how the food you eat affects your body
and mind. Click here for more information about the Whole30, including the program rules.
Why should I do a Whole30 rather than simply trying a paleo diet for a while?
The beauty of the Whole30 is that it gives you very clear rules to follow so you won’t be tempted to have just one bite of your sister’s burger or feed your sugar dragon with 4 paleo cookies. If you commit to doing a Whole30, you know exactly what you can and cannot eat and the logic/science behind it all. The Whole30 provides the structure that you need dive headfirst into the paleo lifestyle and learn how to make it work for you.
Can I do a Whole23? Or a Whole30-minus-my-cousin’s-wedding-and-my-trip-to-Mexico?
You really need to do all 30 days of the Whole30, without cheating and without exception.Even if you accidentally eat veggies cooked in soy sauce on day 24, you need to start over. If you know that you have a special event or trip when you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t do your Whole30 around that time. The primary reason I absolutely agree with Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig on this point is that you have to eliminate all of the possibly problematic foods for 30 days in order to ensure that they are totally out of your system. This will allow you to feel your absolute best at the end of the 30 days and pinpoint which foods were causing you problems in the first place.
Can I do a Whole30 except drinking alcohol?
No. Sorry, but absolutely not. If you feel the need to ask this question, alcohol is probably
impacting you more than you know. I went through the majority of my college years without drinking; sometimes it is hard, but you can do hard things. Suck it up and try it for 30 days – I guarantee you won’t regret it.
For more tough love, check out Melissa Hartwig’s post about following the Whole30 rules.
What will I gain from completing a Whole30?
Where do I even begin on this one?! I would be willing to bet that the Whole30 will offer you the following benefits (in addition to many others):
- Health: Warning, completing a Whole30 may lead to less joint or muscle pain, clearer skin, deeper sleep, weight and/or fat loss, more energy, stronger nails, healthier hair…the list is seriously endless! No matter what your health complaint may be, I would challenge you to see if the Whole30 can at least help it, if not eradicate it.
- Knowledge of Food: Most of us have absolutely no idea what we put into our bodies. Can you tell me all of the ingredients in a pretzel? An oreo? Your salad dressing? Probably not. The Whole30 teaches you to pay attention to the food you eat, where it comes from, and how it affects you. Even if you choose to eat foods that are not Whole30-compliant when the program is over, you will choose to do so with full knowledge of what you are eating. Knowledge is power, people.
- Knowledge of Self: This is, in my opinion, the single most important benefit of the Whole30. The Whole30 forces you to confront aspects of yourself that you have probably been ignoring for a while now, particularly your relationship to food. Why do you feel the need to eat something sweet at the end of every meal? Are you using alcohol to make yourself feel more comfortable, even when you are with your close friends? Do you feel pressure to eat the way everyone else eats? You may never have asked yourself these questions, but now you have to. The Whole30 is technically about food, but the benefits extend far beyond that – to gaining a whole new knowledge of and respect for yourself.
Where do I start?
The Whole30 website obviously has TONS of free resources, but I would highly recommend that you invest your time and money in reading It Starts With Food, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s book about the program. Also check out my next post about my favorite Whole30 resources and tips!