Whole30 is a popular monthly meal plan designed to reboot your body. The basic philosophy is that by eliminating problem foods such as alcohol, sugar, cereals and dairy products, you will rebuild your body. By gradually reintroducing foods, you can learn which ingredients affect your metabolism, digestion, energy levels, mental health and more.
Following the Whole30 meal plan may seem a little restrictive, but variety is the key to sticking to your diet.
Even if you can’t eat dairy, sugar, legumes, grains and soy in the Whole30 plan, there are plenty you can eat-such as meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, eggs and nuts.
Although the creators of Whole30 don’t consider it a “diet,” you should keep in mind that you can only eat certain foods for 30 days with a list of specific foods that are not allowed.
Unlike a regular diet, one miss means starting over, so it’s best to know what you’re getting before you start. As always, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting any diet.
What You Can’t Eat
These foods are prohibited during the Whole30 meal plan 30 days. Don’t eat them or drink them-even a bite or sip will throw off the whole experiment.
A good general rule of thumb is that if a food product has a long list of ingredients on the label, it probably does not meet the Whole30 standard.
The focus is on eating real whole foods and avoiding convenience foods filled with preservatives. The meal plan also encourages you not to emulate unhealthy foods like pancakes and pizza, even if they are made with Whole30 compatible ingredients. This will help change your attitude toward food after the month is over.
- Alcohol: no beer, wine or liquor, even for cooking.
- Added sugar: eliminate added sugar and artificial sweeteners of any kind, including popular sugar substitutes such as honey, agave, maple syrup and stevia.
- Dairy products: no dairy products from any animal, including cow, goat and sheep. This includes cheese, cream, and butter.
- Grains: every kind of grain out, even if it is gluten-free. This includes oats, wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, barley and more. Note that ingredients made from grains also count as germ, starch and bran.
- Legumes: no beans or peas of any kind, including soybeans and soy products such as tofu, soy sauce and miso. No peanuts or peanut butter.
- MSG, sulfites or carrageenan: Be sure to read all food labels carefully and avoid preservatives and high-performance ingredients.
- Packaged foods: Foods that may technically qualify for Whole30 but are clearly unhealthy, such as baked goods, chips and fries, should be eliminated from your diet.
What You Can Eat
Although some key food groups are excluded from the Whole30 meal plan, there are still many tasty things you can eat.
- Vegetables: All vegetables, including carbohydrate-rich potatoes, are allowed throughout Whole30. A healthy mix of different vegetables, both cooked and raw, is recommended. Sugar snap peas, green beans, and snow peas are allowed.
- Meat and Poultry: All meats, including beef and pork, and poultry such as chicken and turkey are allowed. Watch out for processed meats such as luncheon meats and sausages, as they may sometimes have added ingredients such as sugar.
- Fish: Fresh and canned fish, including salmon and tuna, are great to eat while dieting.
- Eggs: protein-rich eggs are a healthy food.
- Fruit: since added sugar is not allowed, fruit can help curb sweet cravings. However, eat in moderation, since fruit contains many natural sugars. Unsweetened fruit juice is also allowed in small amounts.
- Nuts: All nuts and seeds are allowed, except peanuts. If you plan to consume nut butters or nut milks, check labels carefully to avoid added sugars and preservatives.
- Fats, Oil and Vinegar: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and even animal fats such as lard and Schmaltz are okay. Melted butter also complies with Whole30-which makes it the only dairy product allowed. Vinegar, as long as it’s not malt vinegar, is also good.
- Salt: Use non-iodized salt whenever possible.
- Coffee and Tea: Caffeinated beverages, which many people cannot live without, are allowed on Whole30, but in moderation. Just don’t use any sweeteners or dairy products.
Why Try Whole30?
Following such a strict meal plan with no room for cheating may seem like a daunting task, but it’s only for 30 days. Once you get used to reading labels carefully and asking questions at restaurants, you’ll get up to speed. Some Whole30 participants report better sleep, clearer skin and more energy. And while this is not the focus of the program, some people are losing weight. At the very least, you’ll change the way you think about what you put into your body.