6 September 2012
I got lots of yeses and intrigued questions yesterday when I asked who’d be interested in seeing Whole30-style menus or even doing a Whole30.
So we’re doing it! Starting on Monday, September 10, I’m hosting a Whole30 challenge right here on Your Healthista!
30 days. You. Me. HEALTH.
I completed a Whole30 starting in July and I’ve literally never felt better about my diet, my body, or my health. Let’s do this thing! You probably have a lot of questions, so I’ve created a little FAQ based on materials from the Whole9 website. Remember, you can always check out the site if you have more questions. I also highly recommend Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s book It Starts with Food. I bought it myself and re-read parts of it all the time.
What is the Whole30?
It’s 30 days of eating real food: meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruit, oils, nuts and seeds. It’s eating foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.
I already eat pretty healthy. Why should I try this?
I’m going to quote the Hartwigs for the answer to this one:
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely. This will change your life. The next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food. It will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. We know this because we did it, and thousands of people have since done it, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion.
Sounds like there’s probably a long list of things I can’t eat.
Yup, but I promise it’s worth it. While on the Whole30, do not consume:
- Sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Alcohol, in any form, 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 all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. Yes, we said corn… for the purposes of this program, corn is a grain! This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of 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 we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Dairy. This includes cow, goat 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 or ghee. (See below for details.)
- Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- White potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
Um, that’s like everything. That sounds way too hard.
I promise it’s not as hard as it sounds. I’ve been through it. And now let me quote directly from the Hartwigs again:
Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Giving up heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles.’ 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.”
Okay, well, if I’m going to commit to this, I’m probably going to see some INSANE weight loss right?
You might, but you’re not going to get on the scale to verify. NO WEIGHING YOURSELF AT ALL during the Whole30! This isn’t about weight, it’s about health. Success isn’t defined by a number but by your compliance. You’re going to miss out on all the amazing things that happen during this month if you’re focused on weight, body fat, or body composition. You can weigh yourself before and after.
Any cheat days? Any exceptions?
NO CHEAT DAYS, CHEAT MEALS, OR TREATS! In It Starts with Food, the Hartwigs use the analogy of someone who’s allergic to cats. This person has ten cats and decides to get rid of nine of them. Yes, she might feel better, but her symptoms won’t ever fully disappear. Having a treat or cheat day is like keeping that tenth cat!
There are a few exceptions, though:
- Clarified butter or ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program.
- Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products will use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re okay with a small amount of fruit juice as an added ingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice!
- Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
- Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar (like white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice), are allowed during your Whole30. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.
- Processed foods. Minimally processed foods like canned coconut milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, chicken broth or canned olives are all acceptable on the Whole30 – but remember, avoid anything with carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. These additives have potentially nasty side effects, and you can easily find all of these foods without them.
Okay, okay, I’m in. What should I expect?
The first week or two will be pretty tough, depending on what your habits are like now. But please, please, please keep at it! You WILL feel better, and as the Hartwigs say, eventually, the magic will happen.
Expect to deal with people who don’t agree with the way you’re eating, don’t think it’s healthy, don’t get it, or think it’s too restrictive. Remember that you never have to eat ANYTHING you don’t want, and a “No, thank you” will always suffice.
This isn’t going to be incredibly easy, but nothing worth doing is. You’re totally capable of eating this way for 30 days. You know it. I know it. You just have to do it!
How do I join the Healthista Whole30?
On September 10, I’m going to ask all the participants to comment or reblog a specific post as a pledge that you’re IN.
What do I get if I finish?
Besides your health, tons of energy, and freedom (no, seriously, I felt so free at times), I’m going to feature links to all the finishers’ blogs right here on Your Healthista. You’ll get a link to your blog along with a picture and a couple sentences to talk about your experience. I’m excited to get to know you! I’m also going to randomly select one participant for a 45-minute phone consult with me.
Enough talk. Look for an initiation post on September 10, and in the meantime, you can grab the image in this post to let people know you’re participating. I’m going to be posting lots of my meals, recipes, tips, and answering your questions as best I can during the Whole30 month!
Please check out the Whole9 website if you have more questions on why this is something everyone should try. They can explain it better than I can, and there are forums where they answer any questions you could possibly think of.