How Does the Whole30 Work, Anyway?
The two ways the Whole30 changes your gut health.
If you’re reading this, we’re going to guess you’re already considering making a shift in your diet.
First off, props to you – it’s not an easy choice! Our founding team was so blown away by how difficult it can be to eat well in our modern food system that they literally changed their lives and formed a company to try to simplify things.
So we get it –– we get all of the time constraints and the burnout and the confusion about nutrition. But understanding the Whole30 is probably way easier than you think.
Here’s the main premise:
Eat real food, and take a break from all of the packaged goods masquerading as food (and then some).
This is the first way the Whole30 experience works: By swapping certain foods that could be contributing to inflammation and poor digestion with nutrient-dense, whole foods, the plan is designed to give your gut a total reset.
Committing to the Whole30 journey is like conducting a science experiment on yourself. You’re going to figure out what foods work for you, what foods don’t, and how you can optimize your diet everyday (think: beyond the 30-day mark!) to live your best life.
As Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30, said:
“For 30 days you’ll eliminate foods that have been shown to be commonly problematic to varying degrees across a broad range of people. You’ll pull those foods out to see what happens to your energy, your sleep, your mood, your cravings ... all of these things that can be associated with your diet in ways you might not expect.”
At the end of the 30 days, you can reintroduce some of the foods one by one, in moderate amounts, to isolate which foods have a negative effect on you. When you’re eating so many potentially irritating foods at once, it’s impossible to know what specifically could be making you lethargic or bloated or irritable.
(I discovered that peanut butter and dairy are not my friends, for instance.)
There’s nothing fancy, crazy, or groundbreaking about building your diet off a base of lean protein, vegetables, some fruit, and healthy fats.
But it can seem revolutionary when the foods not included in the Whole 30 seem like they’re being pushed on you at every turn. Here are the “nah, pass” foods to avoid:
• Added sugars (did you know sugar could impact your mental health?)
• Alcohol – even that cooking wine!
• Grains – wheat, quinoa, oats, etc.
• Legumes – beans, peanuts, soy sauce, etc.
• Dairy – moo, bahh, and all the other farm animals
• MSG, carrageenan, and sulfites – check your labels
• Junk food, baked goods, or treats creative bloggers make with “approved” ingredients
You can get a more detailed list right here.
We already mentioned that this is designed to calm down inflammation, which a growing body of evidence suggests is associated with virtually every disease.
The second way the Whole30 works is by helping you create new habits. So if you were surprised by that last point about not eating treats even if they have “approved” ingredients, this is the reasoning: if you just try to recreate your old meals, you’re not really creating new eating habits.
Let’s be real – that “Whole30 pizza” is never going to be a Chicago deep dish. It’s just going to make you feel like you’re depriving yourself of the tastier option, and after your 30 days are up, you’re going to want to go right back to the “real” thing. If, however, you ditch the deep dish for something next-level, like this Chili Lime Chicken, you’re going to open up a whole new world of satisfying flavors.
Deprivation is not our thing, and we’re guessing it’s not yours either. Discovering our ideal diet – that one that’s going to help us live happier, more energetic lives – that we are all about. That’s why we’re going on this 30-day journey with you and not just paying it lip service: to create a more delicious, vibrant life.
For us, the Whole30 is basically just an excuse to eat awesome food, have fun with a personal challenge, and set an intention for being better-functioning, happier humans.
Away we go!