The Good and The Bad of the Whole30 Diet  

"Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard... "

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The Whole30 diet program is a restrictive dietary program that was created by formerly married couple Dallas & Melissa Hartwig.

The goal of the Whole30 diet program is total wellbeing. To achieve this goal it focuses on eliminating foods that have been found to be problematic for most people from your diet for a period of 30 days. The foods can be reintroduced back into your diet but now come with the added knowledge of how they affect your body.

Why 30 Days

30 days is deemed long enough for you to see results, yet short enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the commitment required to begin.

What You Can Eat on the Whole30 Diet

  1. Vegetables
  2. Fruits – in moderation due to their sugar content.
  3. Unprocessed Meats – Sausage is still okay if it does contain sugar and other off-limit ingredients or preservatives.
  4. Seafood
  5. Eggs
  6. Nuts and seeds – All nuts and seeds are okay, except peanuts, because they are a legume.
  7. Some oils and ghee and clarified butter.
  8. Coffee – Black coffee only but you can use unsweetened almond milk.

What You Can’t Eat

  1. Dairy – This includes cheese, cow milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream, kefir, and butter.
  2. Grains – This includes no corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, rye, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, or sprouted grains.
  3. Alcohol – No alcohol for cooking, baking or drinking.
  4. Legumes – No tofu, soy sauce, miso, edamame, chickpeas, peas, lentils, and peanuts. You can have green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.
  5. Added Sugar – No real or artificial sugar or sweeteners.This includes honey, maple syrup, agave, Splenda, xylitol, and Stevia.
  6. Processed foods – No foods containing Carrageenan, MSG, and Sulfites.
  7. Baked goods, regular junk food or junk food made with Whole30-compliant ingredients. For example, no cauliflower pizza crust or pancakes made out with eggs and banana.

The Good

Whole30 does not focus on weight loss  – Even though you will lose weight on Whole30, that is not the focus. Whole30 participants are not supposed to weigh themselves or take measurements of any kind. They are also not supposed to count calories.

You can build better eating habits – Limiting your sugar and alcohol intake and generally being mindful what you eat can result in the creation of better eating habits.

Planning ahead increases your chances of success – The programs’ creators stress preparation as the key to the diets’ success. You’re encouraged to pick a start date that works with your schedule as opposed to picking a Monday start for instance. You are also encouraged to remove temptations from your kitchen and stock it with Whole30 approved foods. This is essential because when you begin to read nutrition labels you will be surprised to find out for instance, how many healthy foods contain sugar and other banned Whole30 ingredients.

Whole30 is a well-developed diet program – As Whole30 is a well-developed diet program there is plenty of support to see you through not just during the 30 days but after as well. From recipe books to help you create delicious meals to instructions on how to create a snack pack to help you keep your snacking in check to help on how to stick to the diet when you have a cold or the flu.

Support also comes in the form of participation from supermarket chains like Whole Foods. Whole Foods indicates which of the products in their stores are Whole30 approved and this can help you save valuable time and undue stress when you’re shopping

The Bad

Whole30 is a zero-tolerance diet – There are no cheat meals or cheat days allowed in the Whole30 program. If you slip up, you are meant to start the 30 days all over again. Excuses are not tolerated and neither is lamenting how hard the program is.

As the diet’s creators note on their website, “Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and 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.”

Whole30 is a restrictive diet – Restrictive diets can have serious health complications and can result in nutritional deficiencies. Participants are encouraged to check-in with their doctors prior to beginning the diet but few do.

Whole30 can mess with your sense of self – Due to its zero-tolerance policy and the creators’ stance of what is defined as ‘hard’, participants who falter during the 30 day period tend to beat themselves more than participants in diet programs which allow for more wiggle room. This message conflicts with their focus on total wellbeing as how you feel about yourself, is not just a physical thing but a mental thing as well.