Ok so a lot of you have probably started to hear the term “Whole 30” thrown around the place in relation to food. I thought we’d spend this post clarifying exactly what this is and why anyone might want to put themselves through such a thing.
The term “Whole 30” was coined by husband and wife team Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9Life who designed a 30 day food plan designed to cleanse and reset the body.
This is NOT some sort of weird fad “diet” designed to make its creators a lot of money. I would never ever advocate a fad diet of any kind. Every single scrap of information about it is entirely free on their website, and there are no fancy shakes or supplements they’re trying to get you to buy. It is also not about counting calories or eating less. It is all about encouraging people to find optimum health through eating real, unprocessed food. Nothing more. And this is why I would 100% recommend this to everyone. And because it will literally transform the way you feel and think about food. It will also help you shift some pounds (if you need to), but it is more about health. Sham and I have completed several of these and eat a slightly less strict version of it the rest of the time, and I can tell you from our own experience, it completely transformed each of our athletic performance, body composition and health.
The whole point of it is that it eliminates all potentially allergenic, psychologically addicting, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory foods from the diet for a period of 30 days, during which time the body is given a chance to reset, heal and recover from the effects these foods may be having on the body.
Clearly, if you have any form of gut/digestive issue, it would be obvious to try something like this, but most of us have other issues we would never have even guessed are related to food – fluctuating or low energy levels, trouble sleeping, headaches, other aches & pains, joint issues, weight that is hard to shift, skin conditions, allergies, fertility problems, etc – just to name a few.
All of these issues could be impacted or caused by food groups such as sugar, grains, dairy and legumes, but we would never know without trying a period without them to see how our body reacts.
Often we are so used to feeling sub-par all of the time that we have forgotten what it is like to enjoy vibrant energy, glowing health and ideal body composition.
So exactly what does it involve?
For 30 days, eat real, whole food, as close to its natural form as possible. This means meat, seafood, lots of vegetables, eggs, some fruit and healthy fats like clarified butter, olive oil, tallow. Download a full list of what to eat here.
More importantly, during this 30 days, avoid inflammatory, gut-disrupting foods. This includes sugar of any kind, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and industrial seed oils of any kind (canola, grape-seed, safflower oil etc etc). Avoiding these foods will allow your body to reset and your gut to heal.
After 30 days you can reintroduce certain foods one at a time and see how your body reacts. It’s a great way to really understand which foods work for you and which you are better off without. Some foods, such as raw organic dairy, are well-tolerated by many people, so I would say to definitely try to add this back to see how it affects you because it is a great source of many nutrients. Other foods (such as wheat, refined sugar, soy, industrial seed oils), I would say to avoid, where possible, at all times, since there really are no upsides to these foods.
It is strict – any sort of elimination plan like this has to be strict, but it is for 30 days. Anyone can do anything for 30 days – it really is not that long or that difficult. And if after 30 days you do not feel significantly healthier, fitter, and better looking, then you can always dive head-first back into a plate of pizza with the knowledge that at least you stuck through a challenge.
I have yet to meet anyone who has stuck with it and not felt significantly better afterwards.
In terms of it being tough, I love how the Whole9 team phrase it:
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”
It does require some effort, planning and discipline. And making sure you are eating enough. But it is perfectly doable, and the rewards are substantial. I can happily guarantee that you will agree with me once you complete it.
In the meantime, hats off to a few of our members – to Ashley and Shanielle who recently completed it, and to Rhiannon, who’s been pretty much doing a Whole30 for the last couple months, Luke who is on a strict Paleo plan, and to Jessica who is in the middle of hers right now and has been writing an awesome blog to document her progress.
If anyone else wants to try this, please let us know and we’ll be happy to support you through it.