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The whole truth about Whole30

Posted on Mar. 26, 2015 ( comments)
Whole 30 Foods Collage

With new diet trends emerging on what feels like an almost daily basis, it’s difficult to separate fact from fairytale. One of the most popular diet trends we’ve seen in 2015 is the Whole30 program.

Designed by husband and wife paleo blogging duo Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, Whole30 was first featured in their 2009 cookbook It Starts with Food and the diet has grown remarkably popular in recent years.

What is Whole30? It is a paleo-based diet that eliminates all forms of processed foods, and a few others, for 30 days.

On Whole30 you eliminate:

  • Sugar — real and artificial
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts – with the exception of green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas)
  • Soy (including soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame and soy additives in foods, such as soy lecithin)
  • Dairy (all cow, goat and sheep’s milk products – with the exception of clarified butter and ghee which are allowed)
  • Carrageenan, MSG and sulfites
  • Treat-type foods — even when made with approved ingredients

In addition to not consuming the above foods, you are also not allowed to weigh or measure yourself while on the program. However, you are encouraged to do so before and after completing the program.
At the end of the Whole30 diet, forbidden foods should be slowly reintroduced to see how each one affects your body — similar to an elimination diet one might do to discover food intolerance or allergies.

So what can you eat on the Whole30? Some fruits, tons of vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs and healthy fats from oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.

What are the benefits? The Whole30 program focuses on total body transformation. Instead of focusing on weight loss, Whole30 is designed as a “reset” button to reprogram your body, and move forward on a healthy and healing path.

When on a Whole30 diet, even those who are already diligent about the foods they eat will consume less processed foods, sugar and junk foods. This will naturally result in some weight loss and improved energy and mood. People who have plateaued with weight loss, or are suffering from gastrointestinal issues, autoimmune disease, allergies, thyroid issues, insulin resistance or other health concerns, may benefit from a program like Whole30 to reset the body and food cravings.

The whole truth

While the Whole30 program may be beneficial for certain individuals, it not is for everyone. Followers should proceed with caution. The diet may be helpful to eliminate junk foods, but it is equally important to replace those junk foods with nutritionally dense foods like green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and healthy fats. A great deal of meal planning and forethought is needed to ensure that nutritional needs are being met on Whole30. 

Additionally, eliminating whole grains, legumes and dairy products like yogurt may not be necessary — or beneficial — for everyone. Some users may struggle to be compliant with the limited food choices, while others may find the diet makes for a grocery bill that exceeds their food budget.

In conclusion

Whole30 is a drastic diet that is in most cases best suited for people already following a strict whole-foods based diet and who want to go a step further in improving their health if they have unresolved issues or want to reset their sweet tooth.

For those currently following a standard American diet, a simple switch to a whole-foods based diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, eggs, whole grains, lean dairy, and healthy fats, while limiting junk foods, sweets/sugar and processed/packaged foods may be all that the dietitian ordered.


The MultiCare Center for Healthy Living offers nutrition services for general wellness, sports, and weight management. Our registered dietitians are here to provide you with tools to help you reach your goals on your journey towards better health. Learn more.

Posted in: Healthy Living

About The Author

Chelsey LIndahl Chelsey Lindahl, RD, CSSD, CD

Chelsey Lindahl, RD, CSSD, CD, is a wellness dietitian program manager at the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living, which helps educate children and families in Pierce County about healthy lifestyle choices through programs such as “Ready, Set, Go! 5210.” If you have questions, call Chelsey at 253-301-5095 or email [email protected].

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