Ways of Eating: the Whole-30 Program

Throughout the month of January, we’re going to look at several different types of popular contemporary diets, and share a few recipes that illustrate that particular way of eating.

This week, we’re going to look at the Whole 30 program. Whole30 is a 30-day / month-long diet (duh) which emphasizes whole foods and the total elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. The Whole30 is similar to, but differently restrictive than, the paleo diet. Unlike the paleo diet, Whole 30 adherents do not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. In fact, they don’t eat any sweeteners at all, or any grains or other “trigger foods.”

What do you eat? Foods allowed during the Whole 30 program include protein-rich foods such as meat, nuts, seeds, seafood, and eggs, along with vegetables, and some fruits, as well as plenty of natural fats (like olive oil); and herbs, spices, vinegars and (sugar-free) seasonings.

What’s (literally) off the table? The program’s creators believe that sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, and legumes* adversely affect a person’s weight, digestion, energy, and stress levels, so those items are completely “off the table” (literally) for the duration of the program.

But it’s not about weight-loss. While participants are doing the Whole30, they are encouraged not to count calories or to weigh themselves, as the program is less about weight loss than it is about resetting the participant’s “health, habits, and relationship with food.” Once the initial thirty days are up, participants can slowly re-introduce the foods they’ve eliminated from their Whole-30 diet, to determine whether those ingredients are of benefit.

A month without sugar, alcohol, grains (no bread, pasta or pizza?!?) and dairy (no butter or cheese?!?!?) seems like a tough prospect. However, Whole30 doesn’t present itself as a permanent diet or long-term prescription for eating. The thirty days of eating whole foods is presented as a way to “reset” your body, while practicing a mindful approach to food. And the inclusion in Whole 30 of flavorful ingredients like oils and balsamic vinegars, and dry seasonings and spices, insures that even the most basic, un-processed foods can still feel (and taste!) like delicious treats.

You can find lots of recipes in the AllSpice recipe database that fit within the Whole 30 guidelines, and here are some recipes we added specifically to help give you some “Whole 30” ideas.


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*no beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, or soy — but legumes that are “more pod than bean” (i.e. green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas) are allowed.