The Whole 30 Diet is essentially a cross between an elimination diet and an extreme Paleo Diet. It was designed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig to help users reset their whole bodies, both physical and mental. The Whole 30 Diet eliminates foods that cause our systems to operate at less than their full potential. This includes many foods that are perceived to be healthy. It is a short term challenge, a very strict program lasting 30 days.
Studies have shown that short-term use of the Whole30 diet can be an effective way to break bad eating habits and establish any food sensitivities you may have (1).
The diet is being used worldwide and has a large following of participants, from adults, to teens, to families with young children.
The Whole30 Diet: Before and after pictures
The Hartwigs have identified a number of food groups which potentially affect almost every aspect of a person’s wellbeing. These include sugar or any of its extracts, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG or sufides. A whole thirty days, yes, you read that correctly, a whole month of no bread, butter, breakfast cereal, beans, sandwiches or cheese. And those are just a few of the every day items you have to give up.
One tiny little slip up, a tiny spoonful of cereal, a bite of birthday cake or even a single legume and you have to restart your thirty days again.
While there are lots of things that are off limits, the things that you can eat while completing this challenge include real, preferably whole foods. Fresh seafood, lean meats, lots and lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruit are all on the menu. The emphasis is on eating clean and healthy with as little processing as possible.
And while the extensive list of prohibited foods is, well… extensive, there are some exceptions to the rules. You can have clarified butter, salt, vinegar, and fruit juice as a sweetener. Green beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas, while technically a legume, are also allowed.
The emphasis of this program is on health rather than weight loss, in fact, one of the program rules is that you do not weigh yourself while on it (although they do recommend you do a before and after weigh in). Testimonials of past participants report that the diet helped them to improve symptoms of numerous diseases including acne, migraines, PCOS, allergies, behaviour disorders, narcolepsy, diabetes, to name just a few.
While the diet is quite restrictive, the developers of the Whole 30 diet have created a thriving community supporters and participants who share tips, ideas and recipes. Getting creative with a limited diet has become an art form and the Whole 30 diet has endless Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook posts to attest to that. Participants can also purchase an official Whole 30 recipe book.
There are pros and cons to doing the Whole 30 Diet.
The Whole 30 diet allows you to eliminate foods out of your diet that make you unwell, but more importantly to gain an understanding of how your own system interacts with those foods. It’s a challenge, but by sticking with the diet, and listening to your body, you will be able to develop your own personalised list of food (rather than a general, all-purpose diet created for the masses) that leads to your healthiest state.
The Whole 30 diet can be a great way to start a healthier lifestyle if (and it’s a BIG “if”), you have the willpower, determination and strength to complete it.