What is the Whole30 plan?
The brainchild of two sports nutritionists, Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom was published in 2009 and became a best-seller. The plan is set up as a challenge to eliminate inflammation-promoting foods from your diet for a full 30 days to see how your body feels. At the top of the list of Whole30 rules: No alcohol, added or artificial sweeteners, dairy, grains of any kind, soy, legumes, food additives, or processed junk food for 30 days.
The plan’s claim—for which most nutritionists say there is little scientific evidence—is that a diet heavy on these foods contributes to out-of-whack hormones and harmful inflammation that impact general health as well as blood sugar, cravings, and body weight. (Most registered dietitians recommend avoiding diets that restrict entire food groups and instead opt for lifestyle changes and patterns of eating that include a healthy mix of food and can be maintained over time.)
Converts say the diet helped them sleep better, get rid of cravings, heal myriad gut-health problems, control autoimmune flares, and ultimately make beneficial long-term changes.
There is a Whole30 community
courtesy Judith Forman
When Judith Forman says her life changed because of Whole30, she isn’t joking. The first time she tackled this tall order, she was inspired to push past her post-pregnancy weight gain and collect control on her body and health again. “What I discovered during that first round was that when on Whole30, I felt the best I had ever felt in my life. My thinking was clear, my energy was sky-high, my sleep was deep and rewarding, and my fitness levels exploded. I could run faster, jump higher, squat lower, and lift heavier when I was on Whole30,” she shares. And she says she couldn’t have done it without the good vibes from the Whole30 Facebook support group, of which she’s now an administrator. Racking in more than 38,000 members (and growing), she now eats, lives, and breathes Whole30 (she’s completed five 30-day rounds of Whole30, and one 60-day round), and serves as a guide and cheerleader for newbies. “It is one of the first things I talk about when I meet someone and I am always recruiting people and coaching them along when they decide to jump in,” she shared. “I am teaching my four-year-old daughter about the importance of eating healthy and that, to me, is priceless. It’s given me my strongest, leanest, and happiest body yet—at age 41!”
Use these tricks to become a more mindful eater.
Celebrate the non-scale victories
Courtesy Laura Gonzalez @lgsworldcrush
As life-changing and inspiring as traveling the world is, Laura Gonzalez knows what an impact it has on your body. Six months into her trip around the world via the digital nomad program, Remote Year, she realized what a toll being constantly on the go was taking on her overall health and wellness. Her energy levels were dropping, she was always hankering for sweets, and her psoriasis was acting up. That’s when a fellow traveler on her trek suggested she try Whole30 as a way to recenter, balance, and prioritize her health. She ended up pulling off an impressive feat: completing Whole30 not once, but twice—first in Spain and then in Colombia. She’s now trying it for the third time and coaching others who are first-timers.
Shedding weight was motivation, but she’s also learned how to celebrate victories that don’t translate to the scale. “When someone changes their eating style for the better, a main driver might be weight loss, but there are multiple victories that should be acknowledged throughout the process. These smaller victories keep you focused on overall health and happiness versus losing a few pounds,” she says. (For Gonzalez, it was the added benefit of watching her skin clear up and having more energy.) “I now focus on consuming foods that contribute more energy to my body than they require to digest, which helps me maintain extraordinary levels of energy all day long.”