Whole30 101: What is it and Why do one?
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
I can still vividly remember the day my sister told me about Whole30 for the first time. It was about three years ago and to be honest perhaps like many of you, my initial reaction was “Not no, but Heck No! I could never give up bread for that long – besides, I don’t have a problem with gluten, it doesn’t affect my digestive system – and I am sure all of my health problems, which at the time included severe sinus congestion, weak immune activity which led to frequent infections, chronic anxiety/panic attacks and low back pain have nothing to do with my diet. I eat healthy. So, I thought.
Fast forward about six months later and I underwent nutritional response testing. My health problems were getting worse, and I was desperate to figure out WHY these problems were occurring in the first place. Turns out by body is highly sensitive to gluten and soy! To fill you in on a little more of the story, I had been a vegetarian for over a decade thinking I was so healthy, I ate low fat and didn’t eat meat or much processed food. Little did I know the “healthy” cereal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch on whole wheat bread, pretzels for a snack and soy-filled veggie burgers and meat replacements were wreaking havoc on my health. Side note - Did you know two slices of bread raises blood sugar more than 6 teaspoons of table sugar, not to mention the inflammation and damage gluten causes to our brain and our gut.
When the practitioner came in to discuss my results she said, gluten won’t be the most difficult to thing to cut out, soy will. I thought she was crazy as I immediately began thinking about all the things I knew gluten was in that I was going to miss. When I started looking at the ingredient lists on food labels, I realized she was right! Soy, like sugar, is in everything. Everything from salad dressings and tuna fish to tea bags and body wash. In fact, it is estimated that about 10% of all calories consumed by Americans are from soy and soy products (e.g. soy lecithin, soybean oil)! Come to find out, for some people, soy is inflammatory and causes joint pain. It also mimics estrogen which can lead to other health concerns and hormone imbalance.
After my first round of Whole30, I discovered that gluten was the culprit of most of my anxiety and sinus issues and soy was causing back pain. Just because gluten didn’t affect my digestive capability did not mean it wasn’t causing all sorts of harm elsewhere. Gluten is a highly inflammatory food and has been known to contribute to everything from leaky gut and leaky brain to anxiety, depression, and sinus congestion. After a few months of removing gluten and soy from my diet, my anxiety was almost completely gone, my sinus issues resolved, and I had zero back pain, which meant for less frequent trips to the chiropractor. Not to mention the improvements in my relationship with food, improved sleep and loss of stubborn belly fat.
So, what is Whole30? I get excited and passionate about most things related to health and well-being, but nothing excites me quite like talking to someone about Whole30 for the first time. I feel like an evangelist sharing the good news. Then there are cases where someone has heard of Whole30 when I first talk with them – oh, that weird cultish food group that restricts everything from their diet? Or those hardcore warriors against pleasure that don’t eat anything. Whatever it may be that you have heard – or not heard about Whole30 - there are a lot of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs about what Whole30 is and what Whole30 is not. I will aim to educate, empower and enlighten through my words below.
What is Whole30?
The Whole30 is 30-day nutritional reset designed to help calm inflammation, identify food sensitivities and establish a healthy relationship with food. It is meant to be done over the course of 30, and in some cases 60 to 90 days, depending on the person and the severity of inflammation or healing that needs to occur. The initial elimination period is then followed by reintroduction which ideally lasts a minimum of 10 days. The idea is to eliminate foods from your diet that are linked to inflammation and then reintroduce them back very methodically, listening to your body for any signs of concern. With a clean slate, you can really begin to tell whether you have sensitivities to certain foods. It is very likely certain foods like gluten, soy or sugar are negatively impacting your health without you even knowing. Just as I had no idea gluten, soy and sugar were so detrimental to mine. One of the best things about Whole30 is that there is no calorie counting! You eat when you are hungry, until you are full and then try not to snack between meals. One of my clients said, “I lost so much weight and ate such wonderful food and didn’t even feel like I was dieting.” It is worth mentioning here that Whole30 is not a weight loss diet; it is a life-changing nutritional reset, although most people do lose weight and inches from the waist.
For 30-days you eat lots of different vegetables, protein sources (e.g. eggs, meat, fish, nuts), healthy fats and some fruit. We eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy and some additives such as MSG, carrageenan and sulfites. Side not – Did you know MSG can raise insulin levels up to 300% after consumption! – Which can lead to weight gain and diabetes. MSG is found in so many foods. Start checking your labels (MSG also goes by modified food starch). After 30 days, you reintroduce each food group back one-by-one and notice how those foods make you feel, both physically and emotionally. The Whole30 reset will enable to you to become more aware of your habits and how certain foods are impacting your health. It’s a journey, per se, one of new-found knowledge and personal self-discovery regarding the correlation between poor health and inflammation, caused by the foods we are eating. It is an invitation to self-study and notice how food affects you and how it may be the very cause of your IBS, anxiety, infertility, diabetes, pain, sinus congestion, depression, skin issues, etc.
It is also an opportunity to examine your relationship with food; for many of us, food is a cheap, legal substance that we use and abuse, to numb, escape, cope, or even to celebrate, just like others choose drugs and alcohol. The Whole30 helps you to redefine your relationship with food and learn to value food as medicine. The books, Whole30 Guide to Food Freedom and Food Freedom Forever have helped change millions of lives, mine included, and will continue to do so. Anyone who chooses to do a reset will learn so much about their body, their life and their relationship to themselves and to food. It will likely lead to optimal levels of physical, spiritual and emotional wellness, all while nourishing the body in ways you could never imagine.
Please visit our client testimonials page to read about our Whole30 success stories and changed lives. Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) as we call them in Whole30-ville reported from clients following their Whole30 reset include: improved digestion, clear skin, less bloating, better sleep, more energy, less anxiety, less depression, reduced pain, improved focus, lowered A1C and blood sugar, increased sex drive, reduced flare-ups, improved sinuses, better moods and increased self-confidence – all while eating plenty and NOT dieting! Past Whole30 clients voice their confidence in learning how foods – even foods we think are healthy like whole grain bread, yogurt, cereal and frozen pre-made meals –are wreaking havoc on our health and immune system causing widespread inflammation, toxicity, and health problems. Whole30 teaches you how to eat real food and how to prepare it in the most delicious ways possible, all while not restricting and feeling satisfied with your meals. My Whole30 clients have experienced remarkable results. On average, in 30 days, clients lost 9 ¼ pounds and 3 inches from the waist, reduced triglycerides and cholesterol by 25 and 20 points, respectively, two-thirds lowered blood pressure and 70 percent lowered blood sugar. Not to mention all of the non-scale victories previously stated.
While many people do Whole30 alone, it is more fun and advantageous to do it as part of a group with a Certified Whole30 Coach and/or individually with their support and guidance. The comradery of the group, support and encouragement from others and 24/7 access to a Whole30 expert, increases your chances for success and makes the journey that much more enjoyable. If you are interested in a group Whole30, we offer Whole30 Groups twice a year typically in January and September as well as offer individual coaching year-round. Dr. Moring and Jennifer are both Whole30 Certified Coaches.
In Health and Healing,
Dr. Catherine Moring