In 2017 I heard about a 30 day “cleanse” which was helping people lose weight, and take control over their food addictions. What caught my eye about this was that it had helped many people with their illnesses, particularly invisible illnesses, as well. So I decided to do some research on what it entailed before deciding to move forward with trying to complete it.
The Whole30 – Is it a diet?
The author of the Whole30 makes it clear that the goals of doing the Whole30 should not be to lose weight or to even consider it a diet at all. You don’t weigh yourself or measure your body for the entire 30 days that you are doing it. Instead you focus on the non-scale victories (NSVs). For 30 days you are removing certain ingredients and food groups from your diet in order to eliminate potential inflammation causing foods, and then at the end of 30 days you will reintroduce them systematically back into your diet in order to see how they affect your body.
For those of us who have invisible illnesses, this can be a huge deal because it can allow us to truly see what our food triggers are and to avoid them. In my journey with fibromyalgia and IBS (the two with the most triggers), caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup, dairy (soft cheeses, milk and cream), as well as sugar in general seem to be items that cause the biggest flare-ups. That said, I know there must be more that I have not identified and therefore I want to find more so I can live a more whole life.
What Does it Entail?
There are 7 rules for the Whole30 which I will summarize below, however if you choose to do the Whole30, I would highly suggest that you consider buying the Whole30 book and the Whole30 Day by Day book**. These will be your references. You’ll want to read the Whole30 book at least a couple weeks ahead of your desired start date so you know exactly what it entails, and then use the Day by Day book to help you stay on track during your 30 days. I have heard that there is a Whole30 Fast and Easy cook book but I have not used this so I am not sure what its content is other than that it is full of recipes.
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial.
- Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even in cooking. Ideally no tobacco products of any sort either.
- Do not eat grains.
- Do not eat legumes.
- Do not eat dairy.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites.
- Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved ingredients”.
- Bonus rule – Do not step on a scale or take any body measurements during the 30 days.
- Dairy, except ghee. But even cultured dairy like yogurt is not allowed.
- Sugars, in any form. Be careful to watch out for names used to trick you, they’re still sugars. 40aprons has a great blog that lists all non-compliant sweeteners.
- Grains (rice or wheat) pseudo-cereals (quinoa), and gluten.
- Alcohol, in any form.
- Legumes (lentils, garbanzo beans (AKA no hummus), black beans, and peanuts)
- Nightshades – white potatoes
- Junk food, even “technically compliant” (if you have to say “technically compliant” then it’s not compliant)
- Paleo-ified baked treats or recreations of non-compliant foods.
What CAN I eat then?
It can get a little overwhelming when you look at only the things you can’t have, but when you look up Whole30 recipes, you will actually be eating a lot of foods and are allowed to have a great variety of foods. The goal is to eat whole and natural foods rather than artificial stuff that is not good for us.
- Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs.
- Vegetables. This will be the largest portion of what you consume during the 30 days, ideally.
- Fruits. In moderation. You can eat fruits, but they shouldn’t be a cornerstone of your diet. The high natural sugar content makes it easy to simply keep the “Sugar Dragon” at bay, rather than slaying him altogether.
- Natural fats. Plenty! Make sure you’re eating enough good fats, like ghee, avocados, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, tallow, bone broth, lard, chicken fat, etc.
- Coffee. Coffee is fine in moderation, as long as you use compliant creamer, like coconut cream or almond milk.
- Ghee. The exception to the dairy rule, ghee is essentially clarified butter and has no potentially allergenic lactose.
- Vinegar. All vinegars are allowed, unless they include sugar (like some rice wine vinegars do). Even vinegars, though, that have non-compliant ingredients in the title, like white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar, are OK.
- Spices and seasonings. So long as your spice blend doesn’t include non-compliant preservatives or sugars, use these plentifully!
- Fruit juices as sweetener. This is OK on a limited basis.
- Green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas. The exception to the no-legumes rule.
This list is much longer than the can’t haves and in order to succeed and have the best results, I highly suggest you focus more on the positives than the negatives of this 30 days, you’ll thank me in the end!
Whole30 – Round 1 – October 2016
I completed 3 weeks of generally compliant Whole30 Round 1. I had only read bits and pieces of the book before jumping in and therefore was pretty unprepared. I was also unprepared with a support system and planning on what I would do in tempting situations. So I have a couple suggestions for success:
- Read the whole book and get the day to day guide
- Plan out the month – what important dates, birthdays, or holidays are coming up that could make this more difficult?
- Join a support group. I am starting my next round on January 1st – you can join this group!
- Meal plan – do this at least a week in advance
- Meal prep – pick at least one day a week to get a great deal of meal prep done
- Figure out healthy “snacks” to tide you over when hungry, do this before you’re hungry so you’ll be less likely to give in
- Have FUN with it, don’t think of it as a diet!
Although I only completed 3 weeks, I had a lot of NSVs, lost 10lbs, and 3 inches in just my belly. I can’t wait to see what the full 30 days will bring me this time around!
My NSVs from Round 1 included:
- Lessened under-eye circles
- Brighter skin
- Fewer blemishes
- Fresher breath (this is how I discovered that the tonsil stones I always suffered from were caused by too much dairy. After 3 weeks they had completely cleared up)
- Flatter stomach
- Thinner face
- Clothes fitting better
- Less bloating
- Less joint swelling and painful flare-ups
- More confidence in appearence
- More optimistic
- Less anxious and stressed
- Less mood swings
- Fewer sugar cravings
- Decreased PMS symptoms
- Less migraines
- Less stomach aches
- Less fatigue
- Improved attention span – this is a big one for us FMS and CFS sufferers
- Improved memory
- Better sleep
- Woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day
- More energy