The Whole 30 diet has been around since 2009 as a spinoff of the Paleo diet. It hit its popularity peak around 2015 when social media feeds blew up with pictures of bento boxes and Whole 30 meal plans raving about the benefits of this 30-day diet. The creators of the Whole 30 meal plan are sports nutritionists looking into the inflammatory properties of certain foods to correct chronic shoulder pain.
The Whole 30 Diet
The Whole 30 meal plan is a one-month-long pattern of eating, hence the 30 in the name, that boasts of physical and emotional health benefits. Followers of this diet are encouraged to follow a unique set of Whole 30 diet rules that consists of cutting out processed foods and replacing them with whole, clean foods.
The sports nutritionists that developed Whole30 began promoting it as a way to reset the follower’s relationship with food and their metabolism simultaneously. This is based on the idea that specific food groups can be damaging to your health because they cause low-level chronic inflammation. Therefore, the Whole 30 diet plan has followers remove foods in these food groups so the body can recover and become healthier long-term.
Over time the Whole 30 diet plan has picked up traction as an elimination diet, which is used to identify food intolerances. This works by eliminating all the restricted foods and then slowly reintroducing them into the diet group at a time. If the symptoms return, then the most recent reintroduced food is likely causing the issues.
As with most diets, there is a weight loss component to the Whole 30 diet plan. This is a result of the new clean eating pattern, removing pro-inflammatory foods, and cutting out sugar and unhealthy fats. Because of this, many people will turn to Whole30 simply to lose weight.
Foods to Eat
So, what is allowed on Whole30? Simply put, minimally processed foods. Whole 30 approved foods can even be purchased on a budget. An easy trick if you’re in doubt for those items that may be canned or frozen, as with some vegetables, opt for the items with the shortest ingredients list with names you actually recognize.
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Deli Meat
Nuts & Seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Pine Nuts
Fats & Others
- Olive Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Beef Tallow
- Duck Fat
- Coconut Oil
Foods to Avoid
The Whole 30 diet plan requires that certain foods be avoided entirely throughout the 30 days. By removing these foods for this period, you are taking out foods that are either known to cause health problems, are pro-inflammatory, and known allergens. Following a Whole 30 meal plan doesn’t allow for cheat days.
- Maple Syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Cow Milk
- Goat Milk
- Processed Foods
- Protein Shakes/Bars
- White Potatoes
- Soy Sauce
Whole30 Meal Plans
A Whole 30 meal plan doesn’t have to be difficult to implement. There are two different approaches to creating a Whole 30 meal plan simply while still enjoying what you’re eating. Whole30 can also be easily made vegetarian as well.
Rotate Meals: You can either rotate dinner and lunch by creating a double portion of your dinner recipe and having it for lunch the next day. Another is choosing 3-4 primary lunch and dinner meals and using them throughout the week. This cuts down on cook and prep time.
Budget-Friendly / Bento Boxes: These can be separate or one and the same. It is possible to follow a Whole 30 meal plan on a budget by integrating shelf-stable and frozen food options after verifying their ingredients meet the standards of the Whole 30 diet rules. Bento boxes make following a Whole 30 diet plan simple. All you have to do is decide on a few different Whole 30 diet recipes, create them in bulk, and place them in your box. This can also be done without recipes by using easy whole foods throughout.
What to Drink
Following the Whole 30 diet rules doesn’t mean you can only drink water for 30 days. The beverage rules have the same parameters as the food rules, including no alcohol. Drinks can continue to be hydrating and flavorful, including seltzer, infused water, coconut water, hot or iced tea and coffee, almond milk, kombucha, and even fruit or vegetable juices in their pure form.
Snacking is another part of your life that doesn’t have to go on the back burner while following Whole30. There are two incredibly convenient options to find compliant snacks; Thrive Market and Barefoot Provisions. The best part of these two companies is their Whole 30 meal delivery options like meal bars, chips, and condiments.
Thrive Market offers grocery delivery for the best organic and non-GMO foods for affordable prices. They make it easy to find Whole30 compliant foods and snacks. Barefoot Provisions specializes in Whole30 along with Paleo, AIP, and Keto compatible foods delivered to your door.
Many diets put stressful parameters in place that make it difficult to eat out. A Whole 30 meal plan has room for eating out during special occasions. Make your orders with specific directions like dry steak, steamed vegetables, salmon without sauce or butter, and plenty of meal salads packed with eggs, avocado, and veggies.
Whole30 Diet Meal Plan
Our Registered Dietician has created a 15-page full week of meals for the ideal Whole 30 Diet meal plan, including:
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, & Snacks for each day of the 7-Day meal plan
- Full Macronutrients for each day of the week including calories, protein, fats, and carbs
- Diabetic Diet recipes
- Shopping List
Whole30 boasts of many health benefits, many of which are common concerns. Cutting out grains and sugar while adding in fiber-rich vegetables makes the Whole 30 diet beneficial for diabetes prevention. Removing processed, inflammatory foods cuts back on calories making weight loss more obtainable. By removing refined grains that feed bad gut bacteria and adding in more fiber through produce, which feeds the good gut bacteria, improves digestion, and corrects many gut issues.
The Whole 30 diet plan has benefits for just about anyone that gives it a shot. It only takes 30 days to find out what Whole30 can do for you and your health. Because the diet removes processed foods that increase inflammation in the body, many will find health improvements in almost every area – energy, mental clarity, weight loss, gut health, and reduced risk of chronic disease. Who doesn’t have 30 days to see how they can improve their lives?
Trista K. Best, RD
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian and has worked in Public Health for 10 years focusing on nutrition and health promotion. As a Dietitian she seeks to provide her clients with the skills necessary to take control over their health, one decision at a time.