Did you know that the Whole30 diet can help you reset your metabolism, break your addiction to processed foods, and crush sugar cravings? Let’s take a look at how the Whole30 can help you reset.
Why the Whole30 Works
Let’s start by discussing the food list restrictions on the Whole30 diet.
Why so many prohibited foods? Because Whole30 seeks to eliminate the foods that may be causing health problems.
The restrictions aren’t punishments. They don’t mean that the foods you’re temporarily avoiding are “bad,” either. The diet simply seeks to show you which foods trigger your body to react negatively.
To find out which foods cause your body problems, start by eliminating them. That way, you get a baseline idea of what you should feel like. Once you’ve gone 30 days without consuming any food triggers, start reintroducing restricted items one at a time to figure out what works for your body and what doesn’t.
Of course, the Whole30 way of life takes some planning and adaptations. So, let’s break it down into the simplest terms. We’ll start by talking about food triggers to avoid during the first 30 days.
What You Need to Eliminate
Avoid these food triggers during the first 30 days of the Whole30 Diet:
- Junk food
- Processed food
- Foods with carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites
- All Dairy
- All Grains
- Alcohol (this includes extracts like vanilla that are made with alcohol)
- Legumes (not including green beans)
- Foods with added sugar
- Natural sweeteners (like honey and maple syrup)
Our bodies have become inundated by hyper-palatable, processed foods with little nutritional value. Many of these foods stoke appetite rather than satiate it. They can also trigger negative feelings and symptoms in your body.
Which foods could be making you sick?
The best way to find out is by eliminating them temporarily. Let’s take a closer look at why you should avoid certain foods and ingredients.
Cut Out “Fake” Food
The first two items on the list represent “no-brainers.” Junk food and processed foods contain the flavors you crave with little to no nutritional value. These hyper-palatable foods can get addictive.
They contain chemicals and additives that erode your health over time. Don’t attempt to engineer your favorite junk food recipes using Whole30-approved ingredients, though (read: no pancakes just because they use almond flour, or anything considered a “treat”). Instead, start fresh with new recipes and ingredients.
You want to do everything possible to break the mental and physical addiction you have to junk and processed foods. That means giving up the “idea” of them, too.
Carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites trigger many people in a negative way. By cutting out processed foods, you’ll dramatically slash your chances of consuming these items. But always read the labels on food containers, just to be sure.
More Foods that Make You Sick
Dairy and grains both cause an inflammatory response in the body. Because grains are acidic, they lead to an acidic reaction in your body causing pains, aches, and fatigue. As for dairy, lactose intolerance, proteins, and milk allergies both impact a large portion of the population.
Avoid drinking or cooking with alcohol during the first month of the Whole30 diet, too. That also means staying away from extracts such as vanilla. While kombucha remains permissible, make sure that you choose versions without added sugar from fruit juice.
Legumes are another “no-no”. Legumes contain phytates, which decrease your body’s ability to absorb essential minerals. Like grains, they trigger inflammation, too. One exception to the no-legume rule is green beans. These are the only allowed legume.
Finally, avoid foods containing added sugar. And by sugar, we mean everything from honey to maple syrup, agave to Splenda, xylitol, and Stevia. Since sugar gets added to a wide variety of foods (including ketchup and Sriracha), make sure you compulsively read labels at the store. Any ingredient ending in -trose, -iltol, or -ose (think “dextrose“, “maltitol“, and “sucrose“) are also other names for sugars and sweeteners. Avoid them like the plague.
Foods to Eat
Whew! Now that the hard part’s out of the way, let’s dive into the foods you can eat. These foods will nourish your body and help it recover from the triggers that disrupted it in the first place.
Foods that you can eat on the Whole30 include:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Unprocessed Meats (preferably grass-fed and pasture-raised)
- Certain Oils and Ghee
Now that you know what you can eat, let’s take a closer look at how to incorporate these foods into your daily regimen.
Basic Foods that Nourish & Heal
Eat vegetables without restraint or restriction. Whole30 even permits potatoes (including sweet, white, and red), so make tubers a regular part of your healthy diet.
Although you want to avoid sugar intake for 30 days when first starting Whole30, feel free to consume fruit in moderation, and be sure not to substitute fruits for treats and desserts (remember, we’re trying to overcome mental addictions and habits as well as physical). One of our favorite choices? Avocados.
Sure, most people don’t even know avocados are a part of the fruit family. But that shouldn’t stop you from diving in. Their high-fat content and rich flavor will satiate cravings while packing a nice punch of riboflavin, niacin, folate, lutein, beta-carotene, and more.
When it comes to nuts and seeds, there’s only one thing to avoid: peanuts. Why? Peanuts actually belong to the legume family. Send them packing and start indulging (in moderation) in cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts instead.
As you work through your first 30 days on the Whole30, make eggs a regular part of your diet. They’re a nutritious food that can be cooked in a variety of ways. From breakfast to dinner, change up your egg recipes by adding vegetables and unprocessed meats.
Foods that Make You Feel Satisfied
One of the greatest benefits of the Whole30 diet is that you’ll start to not feel hungry all the time. You can eat vegetables to your heart’s content. Combined with seafood and unprocessed meats, your meals will satisfy. When it comes to unprocessed meats, sausage even works, just make sure it doesn’t contain nasty preservatives or added sugars.
Whole30 is not a low-fat diet. It focuses on real food including oils such as olive and coconut. You may also cook with ghee (clarified butter), the only dairy allowed during the first 30 days.
Your Whole30 Shopping List
To make your shopping time go more easily, keep these tips in mind as you stock up for your first month of Whole30. Vegetables will become your new friends. So, don’t be afraid to branch out and introduce new ones into your diet.
Besides basics -like mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and bell peppers- add these more exotic selections to your Whole30 grocery list:
- Anise/Fennel root
- Bok Choy
- Brussel Sprouts
- Greens (beet, collard, mustard, kale, turnip, spinach, Swiss chard)
- Peas (snow, sugar)
- Squash (acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, pumpkin, spaghetti, summer)
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams
You can also eat a wide variety of fruits, including exotic fruit like quince and star fruit, in moderation. The only fruit to avoid is dried fruit.
Your Best Protein & Fat Choices
For seafood, choose sustainably fished, wild-caught fish. For red meats (beef, buffalo, lamb, elk, and venison), look for organic and grass-fed/grass-finished choices. When it comes to eggs, poultry, and other meats such as pork, go free-range and organic.
Again, label reading proves crucial here. You’ll want to avoid processed meats that contain added sugar, MSG, or carrageenan. Steer clear of factory-farmed meats, too.
Feel free to cook with animal fat that’s organic and derived from 100 percent grass-fed animals. Coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and ghee also make great choices.
The best fats to consume uncooked include:
- Macadamia butter
- Macadamia nuts
- Coconut milk (homemade is best to avoid thickeners)
- Coconut butter
- Coconut meat/flakes
Other nuts and seeds should be limited including almonds, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts.
Tips for Eating Veggies
Now that you’ve got a breakdown of what to shop for on the Whole30, let’s take a look at some easy Whole30 meal plan ideas. You can whip these foods up in a jiffy. They come rich in nutrients and flavor.
Cabbage is a cinch to cook and tastes amazing. Just stir-fry it in a healthy fat (we love utilizing saved bacon grease for this) with a little garlic for a savory treat. It provides a nutrient-rich punch of magnesium, the B vitamins, calcium, and iron.
Spinach makes a great addition to fruit smoothies and vegetable dishes. Throw a handful into your next soup or stir-fry to add bulk and up the nutrient value. Or, blend it with your favorite frozen fruits for a cool green treat.
Brussels sprouts can be halved and pan-fried with bacon pieces. Or, drizzle them with oil and roast them in the oven until they’re golden. They also make a great accompaniment to salad when shredded and tossed with lettuce and other greens.
Spaghetti squash offers another tasty way to approximate pasta without the inflammatory grains. Roast it halved in the oven until the “noodles” release when scraped with a fork. They taste especially delectable with non-dairy pesto.
Potatoes fill you up and provide a healthy dose of good-for-you carbs, so put them on your menu. Whether you opt for sweet potatoes or regular spuds, they’ll fill you up without breaking the bank.
Fruits to Eat
Since Whole30 requires avoiding as much sugar as possible, rely on these low-sugar fruits in moderation to ramp up your vitamin intake. Blackberries contain less sugar and more fiber than any other berry, and strawberries are low in carbs but boast a high amount of vitamin C.
Grapefruit contains less sugar than other citrus fruits, and it provides you with a huge boost in vitamin C. Kiwis boast another great source for vitamin C, and they contain a hefty dose of fiber, too. When it comes to apples, stick with green ones, which contain less sugar.
Finally, think outside of the box when it comes to fruit. Plantains or cooking bananas make a savory treat when fried in a little coconut oil. Just make sure they’re not too ripe or they’ll taste too sweet.
Avocados are a staple of the Whole30 diet. They fill you up and satisfy with a rich, creamy flavor. Fill your fridge with them to combat cravings.
Tips for Whole30-Approved Meats
If splurging for organic red meat on a regular basis is out of the question, select leaner cuts of non-organic meat. But when it comes to fatty cuts, stick with grass-fed, organic options.
For poultry, give chicken thighs a try. They contain more fat than breasts, which equates to more flavor. Just make sure you look for organic selections. We love to cook chicken thighs with veggies for a hearty meal.
Finally, when it comes to seafood such as salmon, keep it wild. Wild-caught salmon contains plentiful omega-3 fatty acids. Frozen and canned options packed in water and salt work, too.
Your Whole30 Food List
At first glance, the Whole30 food list can look restrictive and even intimidating. But with the right attitude and a little extra planning, you’ll beat cravings, improve wellness, and delight in yummy foods rich in nutrients. The Whole30 will help you ramp up your metabolism, cut cravings, and provide your body with healing nutrients.
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