Monday, April 29, 2013

Whole30? What is that?

There are many 30 days plans out there.  What is Whole30, and what makes it so different?

Whole30 is a Paleo-based nutritional 30-day challenge focused on real, whole foods.  This challenge helps reset your system in many different ways, but especially through the healing of the digestive system.  While many people can and do lose weight on the Whole30, the ultimate goal of this challenge (and the Paleo diet) is not weight loss but, rather, optimum health.  If you are seeking to lose weight, this is a healthy way to do it.

Usually, when people ask us what our challenge is about, they tend to hear a lot of "can'ts", but the off-limits section is important because it's not just about what we eat, but what we don't eat as well.  The following was taken from (because they say it better than we can)!

Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
  • Do not consume added 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.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat 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.
  • Do not eat 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).  (Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are an exception to this rule.)
  • Do not eat 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. 
  • Do not consume 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.
  • Do not eat 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.  (Sweet potatoes are allowed.)
In addition, no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.”  This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no coconut-flour pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.
What else?  Oh yes, the "last and final" rule of the Whole30 is that you are not supposed to weight or measure yourself during the challenge. They do encourage before and after measurements, but recommend that you skip all that during the 30 days. Obviously we didn't listen very well to that.  I rather enjoyed following our process with photos throughout the 30 days (a photo every week, typically).

Remember that Whole30 is a stricter form of Paleo.  The Paleo diet typically allows for stevia, maple syrup, honey and natural sweeteners, but we are trying to break sugar addictions and transform our bodies, so it is necessary to remove it for your diet for these 30 days.

What else do I need to know? These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30. Including these foods as part of your varied healthy eating plan should not negatively impact the results of your Whole30 program.
  • 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. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.
  • 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 addedingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice! Refer to your Shopping Guide for clarification.
  • 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, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. 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 carageenanMSG or sulfitesWe’ve singled these three additives/preservatives out because they all have potentially nasty side effects – and you can easily find processed foods without them. (Refer to It Starts With Food for details on why we exclude these three in particular.)

So now we've gone through the OFF LIMITS list, and you may be in a little bit of a panic.  Do without grains and legumes?  No rice and beans at your favorite Mexican Restaurants?  No tortilla chips? What???  But really, if we can do it, so you can you because, believe us, we really have a passion for many of the foods that are now off limits.

Fear not, because your meals do not have to be boring.  For thirty days you are going to making good food choices. You are going to be reading labels (and finding that so may foods have some strange, weird ingredients in them).  You don't have to weigh your food or count calories.  And while grass-fed, organic, and free-range meat/eggs are best, you don't have to throw out the Whole30 if you cannot afford those things.

For 30 days you are going to focus on eating healthy, whole foods. No cheating. No slip ups. No off-days. No special occasions. The folks at Whole9Life said it best:

The only way this will work is if you give it the full thirty days, no cheats, slips or “special occasions.” This isn’t Whole9 playing the tough guy. This is a FACT, born of education and experience. You need such a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle – one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30 day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button. You must commit to the full program, exactly as written. Anything less and we make no claims as to your results, or the chances of your success. Anything less and you are selling yourself – and your potential results – short.
It’s only 30 days.

Your goal may be to lose weight, but the more important factor here is to give your guts some love. Give them time to heal and stick with it for 30 days.  Healing your gut is key to healing your body.  I guarantee you will find other problems going away. (Freight-train snoring? Itchy rashes? Hot flashes? We saw all of these things disappear!)

There is plenty you can eat, so don't feel deprived.  Learn to season your food properly. It does not have to be bland.  Grill meats and veggies. Marinate steaks. Look up recipes and try new things. You never know, you might fall in love with this way of eating like we have.

There's no shortage of awesome Whole30 friendly recipes. You can make fancy meals or you can go simple.  Sometimes my brain cannot process much so it helps to think, "All I need is meat, and then I fill the plate with vegetables."

Here are some great links for those interested in the Whole30 challenge.

Introduction to Whole30 from

The Whole30 A-Z Testimonial Page-  Real life testimonies from people who have experienced life-changing results from this program.

Paleo Poor: Your Guide to the Grocery Store- Paleo/Whole30 does not have to be expensive. Really. We feed a family of seven (Granted, one of those seven is a baby, but they all eat a good bit of food!), and we are actually spending less money than when we were vegans/vegetarians and are more satisfied!  Whole9Life also offers a printable grocery list to help you out!

Whole30 Facebook Page- Join the community!

And of course, it helps to purchase the book It Starts With Food. This has been a great resource for us! (See top right column for a link!)

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