Let’s Check Out the Whole30 Plan

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When I Decided to Eat the Whole30 Way During 2016


An image of a plate of green beans wrapped with bacon.
An image of a plate of green beans wrapped with bacon.

Recently, I’ve been reading more posts in the various groups I frequent about those who have decided to change to the whole30 way of eating.  This is certainly a change I can agree with and I must say that I decided to eat this way during 2016 and I lost 30 pounds that year which I attribute to the Whole30 way of eating.

What is Whole30?

Whole30 is a clean-eating plan created by Dallas and Melisssa Hartwig which is based on an initial 30-day nutrition plan that emphasizes healthy, whole foods and getting rid of foods that tend to cause negative health issues in people.

In the Preface of their first book, you find these statements:

“We eat real food—fresh, natural food, like meat, vegetables, and fruit. We choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important—we are careful about where our meat, seafood, and eggs come from, and we buy organic, local produce as often as possible.

“This is not a ‘diet’—we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat both plants and animals. We get all the carbohydrates we need from vegetables and fruits, while healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and olive oil provide us with another excellent source of energy.

“Eating like this allows us to maintain a healthy metabolism and keeps our immune system in balance. It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mood, attention span, and quality of life. It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food. It also works to minimize our risk for most lifestyle-related diseases and conditions, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and autoimmune conditions.” —Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, “Nutrition in 60 Seconds”

The book is called “It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

Eating Clean for 30 Days

The Whole30 premise is for you to commit to eating clean and healthy for 30 days.  This includes eliminating certain foods from your diet completely during the 30 days.  These foods which are eliminated are those that:

  1. Cause an unhealthy psychological response.
  2. Disrupt your normal hormonal balance, promoting leptin resistance and insulin resistance (and all of the negative downstream effects that follow), disrupting glucagon’s energy-access function, and elevating cortisol levels.
  3. Directly promote intestinal permeability, leading to a less-than-intact barrier that lets foreign substances get inside the body (where they do not belong). Not healthy for the gut.
  4. by creating intestinal permeability (or directly promoting chronic systemic inflammation), these foods force your immune system out of a healthy balance.

Here’s the list of foods to be eliminated:

  • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because food manufacturers sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize or even imagine.
  • Alcohol. In any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains, and quinoa. This also includes all the forms in which wheat, corn, and rice are added to our foods: bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy—soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame—and all the ways soy is sneaked into foods (like lecithin).
  • Dairy. This includes cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream, with the exception of clarified butter and ghee.

The book goes into lots of detail about each of these foods to be eliminated and why.

On first look, this is a pretty radical departure from our standard diet and requires a  true commitment for the 30 day period.  They do state this in the book:

“Our way of eating is sometimes referred to as “radical.” (That’s the nice way of putting it—we hear “crazy” pretty often too.) But when you take a look at the foods we think make you more healthy, how radical is it, really?

We want you to eat meat, seafood, and eggs. You know—the stuff your great-great-grandparents ate, like beef, chicken, and salmon. You don’t have to eat liver and tongue (although you can if you want to), and we are not encouraging you to be carnivores. But including some high-quality, nutrient-dense protein with each meal doesn’t sound that radical to us. We want you to balance that protein with plenty of plant matter—namely, vegetables and fruit. You don’t have to “juice” or take super-green pills or replace one meal a day with a smoothie—we just want you to eat your veggies. A dietary plan that recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious vegetables and fruit isn’t that unusual either, is it? Finally, we’re going to include healthy fats in your meals. Not fast-food-cheeseburger fat, not seed oil fat, and not fake-plastic-butterlike-foods fat, either. Healthy sources of fat to provide energy and keep your metabolism humming. Nothing too crazy there, right? As you read through this section, close the door on all the things you won’t be eating. Instead, think about all the things that you get to eat. Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.

We want you to balance that protein with plenty of plant matter—namely, vegetables and fruit. You don’t have to “juice” or take super-green pills or replace one meal a day with a smoothie—we just want you to eat your veggies. A dietary plan that recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious vegetables and fruit isn’t that unusual either, is it? Finally, we’re going to include healthy fats in your meals. Not fast-food-cheeseburger fat, not seed oil fat, and not fake-plastic-butterlike-foods fat, either. Healthy sources of fat to provide energy and keep your metabolism humming. Nothing too crazy there, right? As you read through this section, close the door on all the things you won’t be eating. Instead, think about all the things that you get to eat. Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.

Finally, we’re going to include healthy fats in your meals. Not fast-food-cheeseburger fat, not seed oil fat, and not fake-plastic-butterlike-foods fat, either. Healthy sources of fat to provide energy and keep your metabolism humming. Nothing too crazy there, right? As you read through this section, close the door on all the things you won’t be eating. Instead, think about all the things that you get to eat. Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.

As you read through this section, close the door on all the things you won’t be eating. Instead, think about all the things that you get to eat. Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.

Instead, think about all the things that you get to eat. Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.

Delicious, whole foods, rich in nutrition the way nature intended. Meals that satiate—leave you full, satisfied, and well nourished, not hungry, wanting, and craving. Foods that encourage a healthy relationship with food, keep your hormones in balance, make your gut healthy, and minimize inflammation.”

An image showing a healthy saladThe book includes great information on choosing healthy foods and what you can eat.  I lost my beloved cheese, but I can eat as many healthy eggs as I want.  Fruit juices are taboo, but the coffee and teas I love are acceptable.  Choosing natural, whole (unprocessed) food is a big part of the plan.  You are told how to pick healthy meats from naturally raised and fed sources (grass-fed, pastured, wild-caught, and organic), and find brands that are minimally processed with ingredients you can pronounce.  You are also provided information on choosing vegetables, some of which should be organic.

Of course, there is a lot of information on what “good” fats to eat and why.  I stopped using butter substitutes and started using ghee or unsalted, Kerigold butter.  I also began using more coconut oil for cooking, along with my olive oil.

As for fruits, a variety of fresh fruit is encouraged; although, as a diabetic, I did tend to go easy on the fruit (choosing the lower glycemic ones) and totally eliminated fruit juices.

I did become really good at reading labels to see what was in the food I was purchasing.  You will be surprised how much sugar and soy and wheat is added to many foods.

What Results Will You Receive From the 30-day Eating Plan?

Most people will feel much better just a few days into the 30-day plan.  For myself, I noticed a big difference by day 3.  The inflammation in my body (especially my hands and feet) was noticeably reduced.  The pain from my fibromyalgia was almost totally gone.  And after the first week, I had begun to lose weight.  I think I lost almost 12 pounds during the 30 days of eating clean and avoiding the “bad” foods.  My husband, Mel was supportive because he has wanted to get natural meats and lots of vegetables for years, ever since his heart surgery.  This was

My husband, Mel, was supportive because he has wanted to get natural meats and lots of vegetables for years, ever since his heart surgery and to follow recommendations by his cardiologist.  This was good because he approved my purchasing healthy meats like bison and grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and eggs along with organic vegetables, which do tend to cost more.

You can check out testimonials from many who have tried the Whole30 plan here:

What Happens during the 30 Days?

Dallas and Melissa include a description of what to expect during weeks 1, 2 and 3-4.  Their goal is basically to promote a healthy body, not necessarily to lose weight.  But weight loss is often a result of these changes in your diet, as well as reduction of inflammation and other benefits.

They suggest that if you are still craving “bad foods” at the end of 30 days, to continue on to whole 60, whole 90, whatever it takes to get the results you want.  They make this statement:

“Your body is slowly reverting to a healthy hunger cycle and metabolism and to having a happy (intact) gut, reduced systemic inflammation, and a balanced immune system. And as this happens, you will notice a reduction in cravings, a shift in body composition, an improvement in energy, and a reduction in symptoms—but it takes longer for some people than for others. So stick with it, for as long as it takes.

You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your body. But let’s also address one really important point right here. This is not just about your body. This is also about resetting your brain.

So if you’re still feeling the same way about food after your initial thirty days, if that relationship is still too dysfunctional to feel healthy…hang in a little longer. Allow your body and your mind to catch up to this new way of eating, this new way of being. This thirty-day program is the kindest thing you’ve done for your body in a long time, and your brain simply may not know what to do with that. Be patient, embrace the intention and spirit of the program, and allow those new habits, patterns, relationships, and tastes to change right along with the changes you are seeing with your body.”

The “Re-introduction Phase”

When you have achieved the results you wanted with a Whole30, 60, 90, whatever, you then begin the Re-introduction phase of the plan.

In doing this, keep the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant during while you re-introduce foods.

  • Day 1: Reintroduce and evaluate legumes.
  • Day 2: Reintroduce and evaluate non-gluten grains.
  • Day 7: Reintroduce and evaluate dairy.
  • Day 10: Reintroduce and evaluate gluten-containing grains.

 

You will slowly re-introduce the foods you would like to try eating again.  If there are some foods you do not want to consume again, (like alcohol or sugar), skip those and only re-introduce foods you really would like to eat again.  This is done slowly and in food groups.

As you begin adding these foods back to your diet, take note of how your body reacts and how you feel.

There are specific details provided on how to transition and deciding whether you should begin eating a food again or remove it totally from your diet.

There are lots of tips provided on how to deal with the temptations, issues, questions that come up as you participate in a Whole30 way of eating. Also included are great cooking tips and recipes.  In fact, there are totally separate books (a set) with tons of recipes you can purchase also.

In Summary

All in all, I am very happy I came across the Whole30 plan and worked with it during 2016.  I learned a lot about how certain foods affected my body, the inflammation and pain I experience and how to choose clean, whole and healthy foods for my diet.  I am very happy to say I lost 30 pounds (actually maintaining that loss for the first time in decades too) during the year.

You can find out more about the Whole30 plan at these links:

Comments

Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.  I send out a monthly newsletter around the 1st of each month.  If you would like to receive that email newsletter, you can sign up here.

– Shirley

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Check Out the Whole30 Plan

  1. Hi Shirley, Thank you for all this information in this article. There is so much to think about but it certainly makes a lot of sense.
    All the best,
    Jill

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