If you’re not familiar with the term already, Whole 30 refers to a 30 day elimination diet that is done with the intention of reseting your health and reprograming bad habits. The guidelines are to remove dairy, grains, legumes, sugar and anything used a sweetener, as well as any processed food that contains ingredients that are not whole foods.
Now you’re probably wondering what in the world you are actually supposed to eat!…it’s pretty simple. Meat (preferably grass-fed and pasture raised), vegetables, healthy fats such as ghee (butter with the milk solids taken out), olives, avocado oil, nut butters (excluding peanut which is a legume), nuts and fruit!
The slogan of the people behind the Whole 30 program is “Let us change your life”. Here are 3 ways that doing a Whole 30 can be life changing to you!
1. Discovering food sensitivities - The first time I had ever heard of Whole 30 is when an entire family I knew was doing it in order to try to see if one of their children, who was struggling with health issues, would improve when they removed most of the common foods that people may be sensitive to or may cause inflammation.
At the time this was a bit of a foreign concept to me but in the back of my mind I began to wonder if maybe my knee pain was related to a certain food I was eating.
The goal is not to find a food sensitive and avoid those foods forever. In order to heal your gut (the root of allergies, and sensitivities) you must first remove the stressors (the foods you’re reacting to) and then strengthen the defenses. When I did Whole 30 the first time I found out I was very sensitive to all dairy products and that if I avoided them my knees wouldn’t hurt anymore! This was a great relief for me and while, at first I missed eating cheese and yogurt the absence of the pain was well worth it. Raw dairy products can be a healthy source of nutrients so after a few years of healthy eating and gut healing I’m happy to be able to eat most raw dairy products with no pain! I removed the stressor while working on strengthening the defenses.
2. Reprogram bad habits - Do you ever notice yourself grabbing for a piece of chocolate after lunch every day, craving dessert every night or dumping boatloads of cream and sugar into your coffee every morning?
There are things we all do that may be a hinderance to our health but we’ve been preforming these actions or eating these foods for so long we don’t even think about the routines that have become normal. Taking away all added sweeteners (zero calorie sweeteners like stevia and sugar alcohols included) forces your brain to break the habit of just grabbing for a treat here and there. On this last Whole 30 I did in October of 2018, I noticed that for about the first two weeks I wanted chocolate every night after dinner. When not on Whole 30, I usually eat a small piece or two of 80% dark chocolate, which is very low in sugar and is not really a detriment to my health. Breaking the habit of feeling like I NEEDED the chocolate was my goal!
3. Focusing on gut healing, health promoting foods - When I’m not eating things like ‘healthy’ chips, gluten free crackers or protein/fruit and nut bars (because most of those are not Whole 30 approved, and the ones that are should only be used for emergency) for snack, I am forced to concentrate on finding other things to eat like more veggies, an avocado, bone broth, or a handful of olives. All of these things have health boosting properties and help to strengthen the defenses. If you do a Whole 30 (there is no try, only do), focus on finding food like bone broth, ghee, kombucha, fermented veggies and healthy fats that all help to heal leaky gut and therefore promote the healing of things like…chronic pain, allergies, brain fog, food sensitivities, and fatigue.
When I did my first Whole 30 I knew almost nothing about healthy fats and therefore was not stocked up on enough resources before starting the program. I quickly found out that without fat in a meal you are less satiated, and have less long burning energy. This is a big way in which my first go around with Whole 30 changed my outlook on food and since then I eat a generous amount of healthy fat which keeps me full and happy and supplies me with fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) which promote healthy hair, skin and nails, good mood, protect against cavities, support the immune system and protect against inflammation!!! It’s a win, win!
In summary 3 ways that doing a ‘whole 30’ can change your life are…
You will have a chance to find out if you have a food sensitivity! If, before the program you struggled with constant fatigue, brain fog or pain which is relieve while on the program, you may notice that adding a certain food back into your diet, triggers these symptoms. If this is the case for you, it would be best to avoid that food until you have focused more on strengthening the defenses.
You will be more aware of wether or not you were are unconsciously consuming sweets, or junk food before Whole 30 and will be able to fight against it once your finish Whole 30.
You will have more experience preparing whole food meals and will be better equipped with knowledge on how to discern between processed foods and whole foods!
If you are curious and want to learn more about Whole 30 or want to try it, I highly recommend reading a book that explains the program more in detail before you start. The best options are ‘It Starts With Food’ (more in depth) and ‘The Whole 30 Guide’ (a shorter, more condensed read).
If you want to know more about how to Remove the Stressors and Strengthen the Defenses check out the ‘Book A Session’ tab and consider signing up for a Nutritional Therapy session with me to create your personal game plan!