What is Whole30? Simply put, it’s the program that makes you aware of every ingredient in your food, allows you to identify how your body reacts to certain foods, and one that will change your life. Since my first Whole30 in March 2016, I have learned to see food in a whole new light: why manufacturers produce foods they way that they do and how certain foods can wreak havoc on our bodies. After combating stomach issues for years, I have found that I feel my best when following a Whole30 and paleo lifestyle.
If you’re asking yourself what’s the difference between paleo and Whole30, here’s the answer: they are quite similar but do have a few important difference. Like paleo, the Whole30 program pushes the consumption of natural, whole foods. Each program, encourages foods with few ingredients or none at all, which translates to a whole food. Additionally, you follow the rules of no gluten or grains, no added sugar, no dairy, no legumes, or processed foods. Both programs also restrict industrialized and seed oils, which are known to cause inflammation in the body. How the Whole30 differs from paleo is very important.
The Whole30 program encourages you to eliminate these foods because they are known to cause harm to the body and can be negatively impacting you on a daily basis. Lack of energy, acne, digestive programs, and aches and pains are all things associated with the foods we eat. By eliminating these foods for 30 days, you’re allowing your body to heal and reset. After the 30 days, you will introduce each type of food back into your system one by one to identify how your body digests and absorbs it.
Besides eliminating certain food to evaluate i its effects on your body, the Whole30 program also works to eliminate cravings and bad habits. Many of us, myself included, find ourselves snacking on food merly to curb a salty/sweet craving, not to satisfy actual hunger. It would be easy to find paleo-approved baked good recipes online and recreate your favorite sweet treat and count it as Whole30 compliant. The problem with this practice is that you would not be breaking the habit or craving, you’re only strengthening your sweet tooth using different ingredients. You would be trading one form of sugar for another. Also, by day 31, instead of grabbing your technically compliant Whole30 snack, there’s a good chance you will fall back into the old routine and grab the real stuff instead. The Whole30 does not allow you to recreate baked goods or have different forms of chips (ex. Potato and plantain chips) with compliant ingredients for this reason.
To plan for my next Whole30, I make sure I go back to the many resources there are to refresh myself on the rules and recommendations and the philosophy behind the program. I will reskim my The Whole30 program book and also It Starts With Food. Another great book to use throughout your Whole30 is the new book, The Whole30 Day By Day, which just came out this month. This book acts as a handbook to keep you motivated and on track, day by day. If you understand why it is so important to do the program, you will be more inclined to follow it.
It All Starts With Food is a great read to get in before you start the program because it explains exactly why the Whole30 eliminates the foods it does. I find this makes the program so much more meaningful. I am also sure to visit the resources provided on the Whole30 website. Here you will find so many great tools including the rules, a pantry stocking guide, names for sneaky sugars, a common additive cheat sheet, and speciality shopping lists- just to name a few.
Once I familiarize myself with the guidelines and philosophy of the program, the next steps are going through my pantry and refrigerator to separate any non compliant ingredients, condiments or snacks. This is not only for an “out of sight, out of mind mentality”, but also because I do not want accidentally add in noncompliant ingredients while cooking. For example, using the wrong chicken stock or tomato sauce- yes, these days sugar really is in everything!
The next important step when planning for a Whole30 is recipe research and meal prep. Look out for my next blog post, “How I Plan For a Whole30: Part 2” – coming next week!