Want to try Whole30? Here’s how to get started

Ellie Conley
·5 min read

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Adopting a healthier eating style isn’t always about losing weight — it’s about fueling your body to feel and perform at its best. That’s probably why Whole30, the healthy eating program, launched in 2009, is still incredibly popular.

Whole30 is all about eating real, whole foods for 30 days straight (hence the name) — no processed foods or sugar. Its website reads: “Your only job during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, count calories, restrict calories, or purchase everything organic or grass-fed. Your only job is to stick to the Whole30 rules for 30 straight days – no cheats, no slips, no ‘special occasions.'”

If you’ve wanted to give Whole30 a try, here’s everything you need to know.

What can you eat on Whole30?

As mentioned, you can eat most things that are unprocessed. That means meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruits with natural fats, herbs and spices. Everything you eat should have a brief list of recognizable ingredients, or no ingredients at all (like a chicken breast or steamed veggies).

What is not allowed on Whole30?

The list of restricted foods is a bit more complex. It includes those that often cause inflammation in the body — like refined sugar and alcohol. The full list of foods to avoid on Whole30 includes:

  • Added sugar: real or artificial

  • Alcohol

  • Dairy

  • Grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat

  • Most forms of legumes: beans, peanuts and soy

  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites

Whole30 also suggests no baked goods or treats made with “healthy ingredients.” So, no dairy-free, grain-free pancakes or sugar-free, no-bake cake pops.

“Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compatible) is missing the point of the Whole30 and won’t lead to habit change,” the program’s rules read.

This list has a few exceptions (like green beans). You can find the rules in more detail on the Whole30 website.

What is the point of Whole30?

While some people do lose weight, Whole30 is all about building healthier habits. The program advises against stepping on a scale to weigh yourself or taking body measurements for 30 days — that’s not the point.

Whole30 is an “elimination diet” that’s goal is to help you find your food sensitivities. But to do it correctly, you absolutely cannot slip up or have a “cheat day.”

“To accurately test how your body responds in the absence of these potentially problematic foods, you have to completely eliminate them,” the Whole30 site says. “One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one sip of beer within the 30-day period, and you’ve broken the ‘reset’—and have to start over again on Day 1.”

Food shopping and meal planning for Whole30

If you’re just starting, you’ll want to get The Whole30: A 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. The book serves as a guide to the program and provides easy recipes for keeping on track.

Shop: The Whole30: A 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom, $14.98

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Below are some more helpful tools and foods for completing Whole30. If you need motivation, remember: It’s only 30 days. You’ve got this!

Shop: Thrive Market Whole30 Pro Kit, $47.53 (Orig. $66.43)

Credit: Thrive Market
Credit: Thrive Market

Online grocery retailer, Thrive Market, has a section dedicated to Whole30-compliant foods (and kits like this one) if you’re having trouble identifying what you can and can’t eat while following the plan. The Whole30 Pro Kit includes mayo (made with avocado oil), coconut oil, coconut aminos, canned salmon, fish sauce, Greek vinaigrette and a marinade and cooking sauce.

Shop: Primal Kitchen Build-Your-Own Bowl Bundle, 10-Pack, $89.99 (Orig. $99.99)

Credit: Thrive Market
Credit: Thrive Market

Don’t have time to cook? Primal Kitchen’s Whole30-approved frozen meals include a Chicken Pesto Bowl, Chicken Panang Curry Bowl and a Beef & Mushroom Bowl. Build a bundle of one, two or all three options for heating up when time is tight.

Shop: Hungryroot Meal Subscription, $59.94+

Credit: Hungryroot
Credit: Hungryroot

Hungryroot is a “personalized grocery service.” Choose the meals you want to make and it will deliver the ingredients, or simply choose the foods you want to eat and make your own recipes. You can filter foods and meals to make them Whole30 compliant by choosing dairy-free, soy-free and peanut-free.

Shop: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, 6-Quart, $79 (Orig. $99.95)

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

The Instant Pot can help make meals fast, from soups and stews to tender meats and steamed veggies. When you have easy to make meals, you’re more likely to stick to the program — and the Instant Pot can definitely make things easy. This one can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté, sterilize, warm and make yogurt (but dairy-free, of course).

If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to read about 7 kitchen tools that can make sticking with Whole30 easier.

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