I really don't understand meal plans. I mean, conceptually, I get it. When you're starting a new eating plan, an expert tells you exactly what...Read More
30 Reasons To Whole30
Over the years, I’ve done a handful of Whole30 re-sets, and everyone of them has (a) been different from the others and (b) incredibly eye-opening and helpful in some way. Sometimes I take on the Whole30 because I desperately need to clean up my act (after a European vacation fueled by schnitzel and beer, for example). Sometimes, like now, I go after it because I want to make progress. There are all kinds of good reasons to embark on a Whole30; feel free to share your motivation in the comments below!
If you’ve never tried giving up your evening glass of wine or your Saturday morning pancakes—or you live in a household where other people don’t eat paleo or aren’t taking on the Whole30—I know it probably seems very daunting. And I’m not going to lie: it can be very uncomfortable at first. But change is always uncomfortable—and we can’t evolve if we don’t ride out the discomfort.
Giving up some of your favorite foods—and having to explain to others over and over again why you’re doing it — might very well be uncomfortable. But I encourage you to do it because you will heal your body; you will learn new things about how and why and what you eat; and you will ultimately, feel so much better than you do right now.
These are the things that I’ve experienced myself and loved about the Whole30. Not everyone’s experiences are the same, and you might not enjoy all of these things during your month (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t experience them every day of the month… some days are just hard). But I can pretty much promise you, if you tackle a Whole30 and really commit to the spirit of the whole endeavor, it will change you and your perceptions of yourself and the world for the better. That’s a tall order, I know! But it’s also true.
In no particular order…
1. You’ll sleep longer & more soundly.
When sugar is out and protein/fat is in, you sleep the sleep of the righteous.
2. You’ll enjoy consistent energy.
Forget energy that peaks and drops like a roller coaster, you’ll become a bullet train.
3. You’ll wake up feeling optimistic and alert.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than waking up with a smile and open heart.
4. You’ll say goodbye to digestive distress.
Forget about farts and tummy rumbling and… let’s call them “uncomfortable bathroom experiences.” You might have a little discomfort at first if you’re not used to eating lots of veggies, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.
5. You’ll be happier.
No joke. When blood sugar is stable, life is happier. Period.
6. You’ll be more peaceful.
The swirly thoughts and anxiety that can be brought on by the sugar joyride vaporize and leave calm in their wake.
7. You’ll be more clear-headed.
Goodbye, brain fog and tip-of-the-tongue syndrome! Hello, Mensa!
In no particular order
8. You’ll drink more water.
Sugary drinks are out, so you’ll naturally find yourself drinking more water – which is a brilliant thing for making your body function at optimal capacity.
9. You’ll eat more vegetables.
Get ready to eat like a bunny! You’ll be eating about two to three cups of veggies per meal. Per. Meal. Think of all the nutrients!
10. You’ll savor your food more.
For me, shining the spotlight on quality food makes me appreciate its nutritive power and flavor more than usual. I slow down, enjoy every bite, and think about how it’s making me strong while it tastes so damn good.
11. You’ll feel the difference between emotional appetite and real hunger.
You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger – the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat – kicks in. It feels so good.
12. You’ll find new favorite foods.
Who knows which vegetables, spices, and meat preparations will become your favorites?! It’s exciting to think about, no? There’s so much room in your kitchen and on your plate for new taste sensations when you banish the grains, beans, and dairy.
13. You’ll have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
The Whole30 is essentially what got me into the kitchen and playing with recipes. I was inspired to see what I could do with veg+meat+fat, and I encourage you to do the same. Let the Whole30 and Well Fed 2 help you play with your food!
14. You’ll become more organized.
To some degree, the Whole30 requires you to embrace planning to ensure your success, and that level of organization can trickle into other areas of your life, too.
15. You’ll Know True “willpower.”
Most of us tend to blame ourselves for “lack of willpower,” but the truth is that much of our mindless eating is driven by our hormones. When we manage our hormonal response by eating the right foods, the correct messages about hunger are delivered through our bodies. No superhuman, self-control required!
16. You’ll learn about yourself.
By focusing on your habits for 30 days, you’ll learn all kinds of things, including what triggers your appetite, who’s part of your support system, what you need for self care, what time of day you go to the bathroom, and more!
17. You’ll slay the Sugar Demon.
Vanquish that bad guy! And then, later, if you tangle with the Sugar Demon again, you’ll know that it’s within your power to take a sword to his carotid when the time comes.
18. You’ll make new friends.
There’s a huge community of Whole30 participants online and offline, and during your Whole30, you can tap into their support, knowledge, sense of humor, successes, and challenges.
19. You’ll positively influence others.
Yes, you’ll inevitably get the “You need to eat whole grains.” argument from some well-meaning acquaintances, and that will be annoying. But if you quietly stick to your program, you’ll also have a positive impact on the people around you when they see your results. I can’t tell you how many people were envious of my Whole30 packed lunches in my office, and that’s a non-combative way to open the door to a great conversation.
20. You’ll learn more about how your body works.
This is a two-fold win. First, by understanding the principles of the science behind the Whole30, you’ll learn a bit about how human bodies function, and second, you’ll learn how you – a special, special snowflake – work in particular.
21. Your skin will be brighter.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar = clear, younger-looking skin.
22. Your hair will be shinier.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar = glossy hair. (And stronger nails, too.)
23. Your tummy will be flatter.
The end-of-day bloat from dairy and legumes is gone, baby, gone!
24. Your workouts will feel invigorating.
Workouts fueled by real food are the best.
25. You might get a PR.
PR stands for “Personal Record,” and it’s cause for celebration. Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar = a physically stronger, faster you.
26. You’ll feel accomplished (Or maybe even smug).
I’ve stopped pursuing discipline for discipline’s sake, but
I wholeheartedly believe that committing to a short-term program like the Whole30 helps develop mental toughness that is valuable in all aspects of our lives. And yes, I do enjoy feeling smug about that once in a while.
27. You might lose weight. or gain muscle. Or both.
If losing body fat is your goal, a Whole30 can be a great way to start that process. Just don’t cheat yourself out of a lot of joy by making that your only focus. Look for the fresh glow on your skin, the smile on your face in the morning, the disappearance of afternoon headaches – as well as looser jeans and the return of cheekbones.
28. Your body image will improve.
There is an undeniable connection between treating ourselves well and how we feel about our bodies. If you look at the Whole30 as an act of self care, then affection, love, acceptance, and celebration of your body – how it feels, what it can do, the amazing things it carries you through every day – will surely follow.
29. Food will become both more important and less important.
I used to be very attached to food. I was sad at the end of the day when eating was over until tomorrow, and when faced with my favorite foods, I wanted to eat them until I was stuffed, just in case I never saw them again. But when I got my blood sugar under control with the Whole30, that changed. Food is both more sacred: It nourishes and sustains us. And less sacred: We get to eat again in a few hours! The emotional triggers attached to the food on my plate are gone. Don’t get me wrong: I still feel deep affection for favorite foods, and I love to eat, but now I feel that there’s a world of abundance out there. Fear of food – and fear of not having favorite foods – is gone.
30. You’ll stop dieting and just eat.
This might be the best reason of all. When you take out the non-food food and replace it with real food, you can stop over- analyzing how much you eat, when you eat, and where you eat. Yes, quantities still matter to some degree, but you can throw off the shackles of calorie counting and denial, and just eat. Peacefully. Healthfully. Robustly. With joy and pleasure and laughter. And cumin.
More Ideas & Support: Free
My Whole30 Experiences
Here are direct links to previous several of my Whole30 daily updates and recaps, plus bonus posts from two of my favorite paleo people.
October 2012: Whole30 + Autoimmune Wrap-Up: Links to my daily recaps of my Whole30 Self-Care Edition
My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: The recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
August Whole30: This post explains my motivations for tackling the Whole30 over the summer while I was experimenting with my thyroid hormone medication.
Holly Would If She Could: 10 Tips To Make Your Whole30 a Success
Holly is a Whole30 veteran and this list of advice is enormously helpful.
Nom Nom Paleo: Whole30 Rundown
Recipes and support from Nom Nom Paleo, another kickass Whole30 vet.
More Ideas & Support: Whole30 Daily
Once you’re committed in your heart, you might want to load up on some additional resources to help make your Whole30 an even better, more rewarding, more fun experience. Here are some not-too-pricy investments that can make the whole month feel a little bit easier. (But not easy, am I right?!)
Have you ever wished that someone would check in on you every day to see how you’re doing with your goals? Someone to ask… What’s your motivation like today? Did you sleep OK? Are you having trouble with cravings, or are you kicking ass? Someone to offer just the right piece of advice — or a kick in the keister — when you need it?
That’s just what the Whole30 Daily is designed to do. If we want to get all official about it, it’s like this:
The Whole30® Daily is a newsletter and daily check-in system to prepare you, motivate you, and ensure your success, every single day of your Whole30 adventure.
The content in the daily emails goes beyond the rich information already found on the Whole30 website (for free). With Whole30 Daily, you get 32 robust emails—one every day of the 30 days, plus a kick off and close out message—and it costs less than 50-cents a day.
More Ideas & Support: Well Fed Cookbooks
My cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2 are both officially Whole30 approved—and Well Fed Weeknights also follow the Whole30 guidelines. Between the three of them, there are almost 500 recipes that are compliant with the guidelines of the Whole30. (An recipes that are not Whole30 approved are marked so you won’t accidentally eat something that’s off-program.)
Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less
Bursting with vibrant flavors and foolproof recipes, the third installment in the best-selling Well Fed cookbook series puts 128 complete paleo meals on your table in 45 minutes or less. The recipes were inspired by takeout classics, food trucks, and cuisines from around the world. Basically, it’s stuff I’ve eaten—or read about—and wanted to recreate at home. All of the recipes are free of grains, dairy, legumes, and soy.
Every complete meal—a healthy serving of protein with plenty of veggies and luscious fats—is thoroughly tested and easy to make, with affordable ingredients you’ll find at your regular grocery store. And all of the recipes include the popular “You Know How You Could Do That?” variations, as well as Cookup Tips to help shorten meal prep time.
I’ve included instructions for a Mini Cookup with step-by-step instructions for cooking six paleo kitchen staples in under an hour. Cook once, and fancy-up your meals all week long with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, homemade mayo, and more.
Debuting in Well Fed Weeknights are fun and flexible Food Court Recipes: blueprints of your favorite dinner themes, like Meat & Potatoes, Burger Night, Velvet Stir-Fry, The Ultimate Salad Bar, and more, all offering basic techniques and creative variations to satisfy your personal cravings.
Help yourself to a free 70-page preview of Well Fed Weeknights—or just go ahead and buy it now!
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat
My cookbook Well Fed is packed with recipes to make you want to smash in your face with joy and all but one of the recipes are Whole30 approved for use during your Whole30. In addition to recipes for dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Scotch Eggs, Chocolate Chili, and Bora Bora Fireballs, Well Fed also includes lots of information for how to cook without a recipe — lots of ideas for ways to combine basic protein, veggies, and fats into something special that ensures you won’t get bored and you won’t spend all of your free time in the kitchen. (If you’re curious, the “offender” recipe is a fruit crisp that uses Whole30-friendly ingredients, but is too dessert-y to comply with the spirit of the Whole30. That recipe, however, is just fine for when your Whole30 is complete, and you want a sweet treat.) Help yourself to a free 30-page preview of Well Fed—or just go ahead and buy it now!
Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat
Well Fed 2 is packed with even more recipes and ideas to keep your taste buds happy and all but two of the recipes are Whole30 approved for use during your Whole30. In addition to recipes for dishes like Deconstructed Gyro, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Old School Italian Meat Sauce, and West African Chicken Stew, Well Fed 2 also includes tons more “no recipe required” meal ideas, 15 meatball recipes, 8 dressings and dips based on my homemade mayo recipe (the most popular recipe on my site!), and adaptations to make more than 100 of the recipes compliant with the autoimmune protocol (AIP) of paleo. Help yourself to a free 35-page preview of Well Fed 2—or just go ahead and buy it now!
Context matters, so if you’re not familiar with my checkered past, you might want to read these previous posts about my hormone situation and how the Whole30 helps me manage it all:
- Here I Go Again: My latest adventures in functional medicine and a Report From The Midst
- The Thyroid Experiment and Update on the Experiment
- Weight & Body Image Stuff: I Love My Body and Why is Thinner Better?
- N=1: or why self-experimentation is a pain in the butt but the only option
- My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
More Like This...
It occurred to me that new readers might not be familiar with my long, loving track record with the Whole 30. It's not a success...Read More
I will be starting my Whole 30 on January 13th. It might be an odd time to start, but I still have a few more holiday parties to get thru. I am using this time to create a meal plan for the month, in order to be well prepared.
I’m doing this because I am tired of the belly bloat. I would also like to get a handle on the sugar cravings. A bonus would be if my psoriasis settles and the split inside my nose goes away!
Happy New Year, Melissa. I appreciate all the hard work you have done in order to create recipes that are easy to prepare, and are delicious!
I think I’m going to start tomorrow. No need to wait. To be honest this past holiday was the first that I didn’t go crazy and only indulged in something if it was REALLY worth it. But that being said I’d like to have a good clean 30 days to launch off the new year. 🙂
My husband and I are starting a Whole30 January 1 to combat all of the holiday overindulgence. The motivation is definitely to get back to feeling our best after slacking off on the dietary end of things. Luckily for us Santa brought four new Paleo cookbooks (including WF and WF2) to get us back in the kitchen and away from the cookies. 🙂
I am starting my 2nd Whole 30 actually on Dec 30th. I wanted it to not be about the new year but about wanting to do it for me. (Plus day 6 and 7 aka the carb flu will be on the weekend so I can relax and not try to work while feeling like I am under 6 G’s of pressure)
Thank you for putting this up so that it reminds me of why I am doing it. I really feel amazing about ten days into it and experience the items listed on your list.
Have a great new year Mel! And I am still thinking about that paleo Arroz con Pollo recipe we talked about!
Going for my second Whole30 January 1 as well – for many of the terrific reasons already posted. Biggest for me I think is to get with a committed group for support and this looks like a very popular kickoff date!
Happy & Healthy New Year to us all!
P.S.: Mel, your holiday “treats” from Thanksgiving saved me from the sugar-wheat-cookie demons flooding my workplace!! Mel-iciously so!
tackling my first whole30 in january…hopefully leading to a whole year of health! (i’m also getting married next january, and eating well seems like a better option than personal trainers, facials, and fancy hair treatments).
Suzanne, I wish you the best of luck on doing your first one! The biggest advice is to plan so it is not overwhelming and you don’t get caught when temptation is at its greatest.
The first two weeks are the hardest for meal planning but then you get into a groove and it becomes really easy.
I carried a really large cooler with me ( I got a ton of stares) so I had food with me no matter what. RX bars also saved me a few times when I didn’t have a chance for breakfast. Oh, and anything can be eaten for breakfast….I don’t care to eat eggs every morning!
You are going to enjoy the benefits of the Whole 30!
I started my Whole 30 in mid November to give myself a kickstart and make some changes before the Christmas silly season. My goal was to beat the sugar demon and it worked… by the time the Christmas parties stared I was so far into my Whole 30 that I didn’t dare stuff it up for a christmas cookie. I have just enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with my family, we ate delicious whole foods and I made some healthy choices for all of us. (Delicious CoYo ice cream and berries for dessert was an absolute hit!) I have enjoyed a little chocolate treat and a little cheese but otherwise I have stayed true to my Paleo quest. I dropped 5.5kgs at the end of my Whole 30…
I am now committed to continuing and expanding my whole foods experience and feel proud that I didn’t blow it completely over Christmas.
Starting my second Whole30 tomorrow. Cannot wait until next week to get back on track. Did my first Whole30 in September – felt amazing, slept through the night, and lost nearly 20 pounds. In the last month, I’ve made “off-roading” into a sport I enjoy in the moment but not in the long run. Wrapped up traditional Italian Christmas with the family and am now ready to feel good and sleep well again. Perusing my favorite cookbooks today (Well Fed and Well Fed 2 with an assist from Nom Nom Paleo) and going food shopping tomorrow. Yay!
Thank you for re-posting this. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I am currently dealing with a flare up from autoimmune urticaria and angioedema. I had been 1 yr symptom free and out of the blue all the symptoms came back. I am on 3 different meds, one being cyclosporine (immune suppresent) and still haven’t found relief. It is very frustrating! I didn’t want to do the AIP but I think I might have to give it a try. I am desparate at this point. I think I might use some of your ideas from when you documented your whole30/AIP on my blog. I think it will help me keep myself on track during the 3o days.
By the way, I love your blog and have bought both of your books!!
I will be doing my 3 or 4 Whole30 starting January 2, along with my partner and a good number of online and real life friends. My partner thinks he’s pretty paleo, if you don’t count his daily donut and triple triple coffee and sandwich… Lol! He did one last January with me and liked having no pain in his joints.
I’m doing it because my neurosis around food is back again and running my life. As are the 15 lbs I had lost previously. I still haven’t figured out all the food issues (AIP much?!) so my W30 may well be a W90 or more until I can tell exactly what foods are tripping me up. No eggs and no nightshades in addition to the rest of the no-nos. I just want to live a normal life and not need to nap every single day. Towanda, everyone!!
I’ll be doing my 3rd whole30 starting Feb (I did one in August,& November), but will most likely do the AIP version of it, damn you nightshades!
I am actually starting today, figuring my two days off are the best days to detox from the sugar that slowly crept back into my life. It started with having “a little bit on hand for recipes” and devolved into loads in my coffee just like the old days. Sugar is a drug for me. There needs to be none in the house.
I’m starting for the first time on January 6th with a co-worker. I’m so excited to have found this site with so many knowledgable people! I am off for another week so I can plan ahead and organize meals. I am doing this to get healthy and get energized! I’m super pumped about the recipes on this site!
I will be starting my first one on Jan 1st. I’m so excited!
My motivation is my son. Over the last few months I have been feeling worse and worse physically and emotionally. It pretty much hit home a couple days ago that I need to get my shit together because he needs me around for a long time yet.
And I need to feel better for myself. I can’t continue to go through life feeling the way I do.
I’m a little late getting on board but will start the Whole30 January 19; I’m still reading. Gearing up tomorrow with my weekly shopping at the farmer’s market and your shopping list (Thx). The fridge is just about purged so it’s a great time to get started. Thank you for all the valuable info, the lists, and recipes. I look forward to becoming healthier, happier, and more energized in 2014!
Congratulations on Whole30-ing! I hope you’re off to a great start!
Reason 15 really resonated with me. “You’ll Know True “willpower.”
I am on day 16 of the whole 30 and I feel GREAT. I sleep like a log (I have been suffering with insomnia for years … I thought it was impossible to fix)
Thanks Mel for the great recipes and ideas. I really love the Moroccan dressing. I put that stuff on everything.
And once you see the impact of managing sugar and hormones … you don’t even want to cheat.
That’s been the biggest eye-opener of all.
Congratulations 16 days of being awesome! Isn’t the sleep just the best?! Very happy for you — and I’m glad my recipes are making your month a little tastier!
Oh and the Sunday cookfest is the absolute best. Last weekend I made a potroast, roasted beets and a spaghetti squash, while I chopped up the veggies and cooked the ground beef for the week. I got my husband involved, and we did a pile of stuff within an hour. We are reaping the rewards of our prepared food ever since.
And I have totally embraced the protein bowl for breakfast. This morning, it was Moroccan ground beef with cilantro/ras el hanout and our sweet potato hash combo (sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery) with swiss chard. And half an avocado on the side, with your Moroccan dressing. Sweet, savoury, hot and cool. DELICIOUS!
My best tip for quick and wholesome ready-to-cook meals is to prepare a big container filled with a combo of raw diced vegetables (zucchini, sweet potato, carrots, turnips, celery) that I use for a morning hash, but also as soup vegetables for our nightly broth. I then scoop out the 1-2 cups of what I need for that meal, add my protein and adjust my spices to suit my purpose.
Prepping the food in advance provides us more variety and versatility because we can reallocate our time to working creatively with the ingredients! And we don’t need to stick with the old staple recipes for lack of time.
Do you know how else you could do that? Yes, of course! I’m well fed. 🙂
I love everything about this comment. Have fun in the kitchen!
I have a quick question though. Three big meals and no snacks is making me wake up hungry at night or not being able to go to sleep because of hunger. I get up and eat a lot of good, whole30 approved food, but i definitely surpass the three meals by at least two more.
What to do???
If you’re hungry — actually HUNGRY, not just jonesing for a snack — you should definitely eat. Try increasing the protein in your meals by a little bit during the say; that might help. But if you need a before-bed snack, definitely eat one. Protein and a little fat are the best bet.
So I am on day 27 of the whole 30. It wasn’t my intention to actually do the whole 30 but just to go super squeaky clean paleo and see what happened. But then I started reading blogs and books and before I knew it I am here! Your blog and Nom nom are life savers and I feel AMAZING! My kitchen has been getting a workout for sure and I’ve been having fun. My husband was a little shocked when I decided to do this and said, “But it’s the holidays!” and my response is that there is always SOMETHING, and why not give myself a challenge? Day 27 and I’ve lost 7 lbs. My skin is clearing up and best thing is I’m HAPPY, like genuinely happy. Easy to be around and not just waiting for the day to end for my glass of wine! This is amazing to me. I thought the first thing I would want on day 31 is a glass of wine but I think now i’m going to go 35 days without alcohol, why not? And make a paleo friendly desert instead. Thanks for your inspiration Mel!
Congratulations! It sounds like you’re doing SO AWESOME! I’m really happy for you. What a kickass gift to give yourself heading into the holidays. It’s going to be your best year ever. Enjoy!
I am planning to start The Whole 30 on January 1, 2015….such a good place to start. I have researched the program/rules/shopping list and menus. I read somewhere not to say “diet” but rather, “experiment”…so that is what it will be.
God willing success will come after many, many years of trying every diet under the sun.
Wish me luck
I LOVE that! I call my stuff “adventures” for the same reason… makes it more fun! Have a wonderful month.
I am on day 11 and I have not seen any of the changes whole 30 is supposed to bring. I do not sleep through the night, I am super tired all day, foggy brain, etc! I have enjoyed the new foods and have not slipped at all. The daily whole 30 I guess is no longer available. Any suggestions?
Hello! I’m sorry you’re not feeling the magic yet, but sometimes, it’s takes a little longer. Everyone’s Whole30 is different. But don’t give up hope! It’s 30 days for a reason—hang in there!
I do have a few suggestions… or actually, questions… for you:
1. Are you eating enough? When you take out a bunch of foods that you usually eat, you need to make up at least some of those calories somehow. Be sure you’re getting enough protein, fat, and carbs to support your lifestyle. This might be helpful to you: http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-meal-planning.pdf
2. If you workout or are stressed, be sure you’re getting enough carbs. You might try 1/2 a sweet potato at dinner; that should help with sleeping issues.
3. Are you eating enough for breakfast? You want at least 4 ounces of protein to get you started.
The Whole30 Daily is still available. Here’s the link: https://daily.whole30.com/
You might also want to post some questions on the Whole30 forum—lots of helpful info and people there:http://forum.whole30.com/
I hope this helps! Don’t give up! From what you’re describing, it sounds like you just need to eat a little more. Give that a shot.