What is a Whole30?

This past month I’ve been posting all the delicious whole30 recipes I’ve been eating on Instagram (@drkaleigh) and one of the biggest questions I received was “What exactly is Whole30?”

The Whole30 is a 30-day commitment to clean eating. It’s a free program you can access online at whole30.com for all the details, but essentially, it’s a program where you cut out the most inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days to reset your body, improve your relationship with food and start to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

The basic idea is to eliminate all the potentially inflammatory foods for 30 days, and focusing on eating real healthy unprocessed foods. Afterwards we re-introduce the various food groups you’ve removed one at a time to see how your own body reacts to these foods. It’s similar to an elimination diet, but has a more paleo focused diet for the 30 days.

So what do you eat on whole30? Lots of veggies, fruit, protein and healthy fats. Rather than focusing on anything I can’t have – I really like to focus on all the delicious food I can eat. The rules are simple – for 30 days you commit to eating only the foods on the approved list, and none of the foods on the avoid list (like sugar, dairy, grains, etc.). You must commit to 30 straight days, and if you go off plan, you need to restart your count. It’s a tough love program, but it truly works if you follow the 30 days as its set out.

When you cut out sugar alone from your diet for 30 days, amazing things start to happen. At first, I’ll be honest, the first few days can be tough with cravings and feeling lethargic, but after a few days to a week your taste buds reset, your energy is better and more stable, and you notice you no longer crave those sugar laden treats you used to reach for at 3pm to give yourself an energy boost. When your taste buds reset – its pretty awesome, fruit is now the sweetest thing you’ve ever tasted and no need for junk food to get you through the day.

With resetting your body and relationship with food, it allows you to be in control of what you put in your body for fuel and nourishment. It allows you to notice the subtle changes when you do re-introduce a food at the end of the 30 days to feel how it affects your body. If you can pin point the food that upsets your stomach, brings on those headaches, or makes you feel tired – it’s now easy to avoid them since you now know the culprit. You get to be more in tune with your body and make better choices so you can feel radiant and energized all day long.

What does life after the whole30 look like? I always refer patients to read the book “Food Freedom Forever” by Melissa Hartwig (the co-creator of the whole30). It’s all about using the whole30 as a reset and really honing into what works for you post whole30. Avoiding the terms “bad” and “good” foods – just foods that work for your body, or foods that don’t right now. It’s all about experimenting with creating a sustainable lifestyle where you learn to listen to your body about your food choices. No, we don’t want to live on Whole30 forever – it’s just too strict to ever be sustainable long term. It really is designed to be a 30 day reset. And you might need to do it again. I’ve now completed 5 whole30s starting with my first one in July of 2014. Each round I learn more about my body and learn more delicious recipes that are healthy and delicious.

So, if you’d like to learn more about the whole30 – check out the website. There is a whole community out there waiting to welcome you. The program is online and free – so accessible to everyone. There is a forum to meet other whole30ers. There are also lots of Whole30 books you can buy or rent from the library for more details on the program and recipes. There are also a ton of amazing whole30 food bloggers who have created your favourite dishes to be whole30 compliant! So get exploring, get inspired and let me know if you want to start a whole30!

Best in Health,

           Dr. Kaleigh

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Dr. Coolsaet will be closing her practice at the end of December, 2023.

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