Tag Archives: whole30 basics

Haters Gonna Hate (Whole30 Criticisms)

New? Check out this post to get caught up on what Whole30 is and why I’m blogging about it.

I get it. The Whole30 seems kind of crazy. It feels extreme, it looks very limiting, and it just doesn’t make a ton of sense from the outside. I’m here to tell you that I know exactly what you’re thinking. No, I’m not blindly following Whole30 and drinking the Kool Aid (because I can’t have any damn Kool Aid) without giving it any critical thought.

Tim and I have been incredibly lucky that our family, friends and coworkers have been supportive (and even cheerleaders) of our Whole30 experiment. But its not like that for everyone. I’ve been doing my research and compiled some of the main arguments against Whole30/Paleo/Whole9 along with my responses. These are my personal opinions and thoughts- all of which are subject to change as I move through the program.

1) Whole30 is a fad diet, just like Adkins or Southbeach or any other number of weight loss programs. It’s just a moneymaker for the owners.

I understand where this comes from. There’s been a lot of press lately about Whole30 as the “new hot diet trend” sweeping Hollywood, Instagram, etc (here’s one of the articles). To me, this comes from journalists who aren’t doing their research. If you spend any time at all on the Whole30 website or with It Starts With Food, you’ll immediately see that weight loss is not, and should not be, the main motivation for doing the Whole30. Yes, most people who do Whole30 lose some weight. But there’s no scales, no counting calories (I’m looking at you, MyFitnessPal) and no huge weight loss promises. I’m not buying Whole30 brand foods, endorsed products, supplements, attending hosted meetings or paying per pound I lose. The Whole30 program is totally free – you don’t have to buy It Starts With Food to do it. Yes, blog traffic probably equals money for Dallas and Melissa… but we all have to make a living somehow. It’s about giving yourself a nutritional reset, not melting fat. (But how could it be a surprise to ANYONE that eating healthy food= weight loss?)

2) The idea of basing your diet on what cavemen did is ridiculous. We’ve evolved since then and our bodies are able to handle modern foods. What, should I not use a cell phone because the cavemen didn’t use them either?

This is my favorite argument – because I used to say it ALL THE TIME. I’m a total hypocrite -I think I even said this just weeks before starting Whole30. This was my mantra every time someone even whispered the word Paleo in conversation. Turns out, I was just really, really ignorant. (Also, Whole30 is slightly different/more hardcore than Paleo, but let’s roll with this.) In my opinion, Paleo could use a new mascot. No one is saying that we should do as the caveman did, not really. The very best way I’ve seen to describe Paleo can be found on Nom Nom Paleo, in her post called Paleo 101. I highly encourage you to take a peek. She even has it in a cute little cartoon form. This should clear up all that caveman confusion.

3) Our bodies need the nutrients from legumes, dairy and grains. You’re not getting adequate nutrition.

To this I say… read the book! There’s a lot of science behind this topic that’s incredibly enlightening. In short: while these foods are sources for nutrients like protein, fiber and calcium, there are other ways to get these nutrients. And in reality, the human body is really bad at extracting nutrients from the previously mentioned types of food. It’s much more efficient and lower risk to stick to veggies, fruits, healthy fats and meat/eggs.

4) You’re starving yourself. There’s no way this is sustainable.

First off, if you’re starving yourself then you aren’t doing it right. There is really no limit to how much food you can consume on Whole30 but rather which foods you can consume. If you’re constantly hungry you need to adjust your meals. This has happened to me a time or two and I’ve learned that I need to eat more than I initially thought I did. I’m also eating high calorie fats with my veggie/protein intake such as avocado, nut butters, nuts and oils. And if I work out I eat five times per day instead of three. No one here is starving- not one bit.

To the second point: Whole30 isn’t MEANT to be sustainable. It’s a 30 day reset. A “cleanse”, if you must. When Whole30 is done you start to look toward your future and consider how to use these principles and learnings to find your optimal lifestyle. I don’t know what mine will be yet, but I do know I won’t be living 100% Whole30 forever.

5) This entire program is made up! The rules are arbitrary! (See main blog image that’s been blowing up on Twitter lately)

True! And the Whole30 program is totally transparent about this. There are some “yes” and “no” foods that make no sense and seem inconsistent. Such as: yes to white potatoes and no to corn (aren’t they both whole foods that are starch?!), no alcohol even in cooking, sugar from fruit is okay even thought other sweeteners are not, etc. Weirdly… this doesn’t bother me. Nothing in the world is entirely black and white, but you have to make some calls and draw lines somewhere. There’s a million foods and a million arguments for whether things should be included or shouldn’t be. To me, the important is how these pieces come together to make a whole. So while I don’t agree on every tiny detail of this program, I do believe in the overall idea. Whole foods = better health. It’s hard for me to find issue in that statement. And that’s really what it’s all about.

There’s a million additional arguments and issues floating around out there as regards to the Whole30 or the idea of “elimination diets”. But here’s what it boils down to, in my opinion:

  • It’s easy to attack something you don’t understand.
  • It’s convenient to attack something that you don’t like, or that intimidates you.
  • It’s easier to dismiss something than it is to actually try it.

And most importantly….


Click Me

Paleo 101 – Everything you need to know! In cartoon form!


Where’s the Food?! (Part 1)

I had a very important Whole30 epiphany this morning as I woke up thinking about melty contraband cheese:  there are essentially two ways to look at Whole30 eating.

Option 1: I can’t eat ANYTHING. Where is the damn food?!
Option 2: Look at all this brand-new-to-me food! I get to try eating all this weird stuff!

Survival depends on choosing option two.

Some of these foods have just entered my universe with the start of the program. Others are items I frankly thought would be boring or gross… but by necessity (and curiosity) I’m now frequently finding them on my plate. Here’s a roundup of some Week One discoveries:

Most surprising(and most versatile): Ghee

My initial thoughts were “Wtf is GHEE? How do I even pronounce that? Why is this butter shelf-stable? This looks disgusting.” In reality… ghee is great! It’s pretty much like butter with all of the dairy remnants (not an official description) taken out. Another term is clarified butter, but I have to admit I haven’t bothered figuring out the difference.


How I’m using it: Sauteing, mainly. Ghee is  ideal for when you want that butter flavor. My favorite use so far was my Day 3/Meal 3 sauteed shrimp as a garlic butter sauce. A few tablespoons of ghee + 3 gloves garlic + juice of one lemon = me licking my plate. I’m planning going to put that shit on everything.

Where to Find It: By the Indian/Asian foods. I couldn’t find it at Super Target, so I went to Lakewinds and picked some up there. Most coops should have it. Also available on Amazon.

 The little nut that could: Macadamias

I would tell you my previous thoughts on macadamias, but I never had any. I literally forgot they existed. Couldn’t have picked them out of a nut lineup. But they are one of the few “best” eating fats and holy crap are they delicious!


How I’m using it: Great on salads but even better all on their own. These little guys are deceptively amazing.

Where to find it: I got these at Super Target and was thrilled to see they didn’t include any added oils, sugar etc. I hear Trader Joe’s is the place to go for larger bags at a decent price.

Most borderline-acceptable item: La Croix

From what I’ve seen, this item is a hot topic for debate on whether or not it’s Whole30 compliant. Whole30 has a whole “sex with your pants on” (SWYPO) food metaphor and many people think La Croix fits into that bucket. I say a big ol’ SCREW IT. I gave up pop almost two years ago – I’m not using LC as a diet coke habit stand-in. The ingredient list check out so it’s staying.


How I’m using it: To keep my sanity when I just can’t drink another glass of plain water. I also plan to use as an alcohol stand-in at a birthday party this weekend. So far I’ve only tried coconut but plan to get a few others this week to keep it interesting.

Where to find it: Again, mine’s from Super Target but you can get this anywhere.

Best long-term potential: Almond Butter

I’m tardy to the almond butter party. I was too busy getting my peanut butter groove on. I have always loved peanut butter. My family loves peanut butter. Crunchy peanut but makes me think of my dad, without fair. He taught my sister and me that there’s nothing better than being the first to dig into a jar of peanut butter; that smooth surface reserved just for you. One of his favorite breakfast foods is perfectly brown toast with peanut butter dunked in a tall glass of milk, and drinking the milk with all the little floaty bread bits (don’t pretend you don’t like it). So clearly, I’m emotionally invested in peanut butter so I never gave almond butter a shot. Until Whole30.

Almond butter is so similar to peanut butter! I was shocked. The taste is very close, but it isn’t quite as thick.

almondbutterHow I’m using it: Primarily as a dip for sliced veggies. I’ve also been known to eat a spoonful straight up.

Where to get it: I’ve only tried the Target Simply Balanced brand. I like it a lot but plan to try another brand when I run out for comparison.

A huge benefit of this program has been the exposure to foods that sit outside my comfort zone. I have a few others in the pantry that I’ll experiment with and discuss next week!

Helpful Links

SWYPO Theory – from Whole30. Explains when and how to make Whole30-compliant versions of your favorite foods.


Somewhat-Necessary Disclaimer: Yes, I work for Target. No, that has nothing to do with my food choices or my decision to write about Target products. My blog is in no way affiliated with my employer. But I do like to use my employee discount, RedCard & Cartwheel so that Whole30 doesn’t make me go broke.


Back, Back, Back, Back It Up (Whole30 Rules and Resources)

I woke up with Cha Cha Slide in my head (How?! Why?! Is there no mercy in this world?) 

Since it turns out a few of you lovely coworkers and friends of mine are actually interested in what I’m doing/eating (bless your hearts) I realized it was time to back it up a bit. This post explains more about the Whole30, what the rules are and what I hope to accomplish. I’ve also included a series of links at the bottom for anyone who’d like to do some self-guided research.

Whole30 – The Low Down

Take a quick little trip over to my first post for a little bit of background on how I found Whole30, what I learned, and my first-pass at goals and assumptions. Below is my interpretation of the Whole30 and what it means to me.

Goals/objectives: To rid the body of excess sugar, chemicals, possible allergins and anything that doesn’t make it innately healthier. This is done by eliminating a series of foods (we’ll get into that in a min) that your body is not able to properly process or fully utilize, thus breaking your addiction and dependency on them. It’s not really a cleanse, it’s not really a diet… it’s a way of being extremely conscious of what you put in your body and how your body is able to respond to said foods.


  • Eat foods ONLY from the approved list.
  • Completely eliminate foods from the “no” list – absolutely NO cheats or you’ve essentially wasted your time.
  • Eat 3 meals a day and try to avoid snacking. The only exception is pre and post workout “bonus” meals.
  • Take time to eat – no more meals at the TV or on the computer. Make a connection with your food.
  • Eat a balance of protein, veggies, fats and (occasional) fruit at every meal.
  • No drinking alcohol. I’ll repeat, no drinking alcohol. This rule is the biggest bumskie, let’s be honest.
  • No calorie tracking and no scales.

YES Foods

  • Lots and lots of protein (aka meat, meat and more meat… and seafood)! The catch: protein should be certified wild-caught, sustainable, free-range, organic, grass fed, etc. This meat is damn FANCY, because we are what our food eats. And I’m willing to bet that the meat you’re currently eating is eating things that make me think it should be turning into zombies any time now.
  • Eggs! Lots of eggs! Again, these should be organic and as high-quality as possible.
  • Veggies. All of the veggies and A LOT of them. Organic where possible. [Sidebar: I considered calling it “veg” like every other country does but I just. can’t. do. it.]
  • Fruit. All of the fruit! Some are better than others, such as berries and melons. Fruit isn’t really as “unlimited” as veggies because sugar = sugar = sugar, no matter the source.
  • Healthy fats. This is the weirdest part for me because the list is less intuitive. This includes healthy cooking fats  such as ghee and coconut oil,  but also eating fats like avocados (being encouraged to eat unlimited amount of avocado makes me want to dance around in my underpants to a Spice Girls song) as well as most nuts and olives (barf).
  • Coffee (black). Water. Soda water.
  • Vinegars
  •  ….that’s pretty much it.

NO Foods

  • Alcohol. Cue my whiney pants.
  • Processed food, but that’s a given. But this does make things interesting because even some canned veggies have surprise additives like sodium chloride so they’re out. Read your labels – even on items you think you know.
  • Grains – gluten or gluten free. FAQs: yes, this includes quinoa. Yes, this includes flours. Yes, this includes corn tortillas, etc.
  • Starchy veggies, like corn and white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a-okay and they’re yummier anyways.
  • Dairy. Again, this is ALL dairy. That means butter, too.
  • Legumes and soy. This one is interesting and surprising, I think. It includes all beans (except green beans) and includes anything wit soy in it. That means a lot of condiments and edamame.
  • Oils. Canola, vegetable, etc. Again, this is in A LOT of foods. I couldn’t find ANY cashews at Target that weren’t roasted in a no-go oil. he exception here is EVOO.
  • Sugar. All sugar forms that aren’t naturally in your food. This means no added sugar (or corn syrup or similar substances) often found in flavored coffees, dressings, marinades, spice mixed, etc. This one is also really difficult to spot and requires a ton of label reading. And yes, this includes stevia/Truvia.
  • I’m probably missing something because it’s really almost everything you normally eat.

Note: I had to put away my Sriracha for 30 days. SRIRACHA = LIFE BLOOD. I just needed everyone to know what the real sacrifice is here.

What I Hope To Get Out of This Mess

There’s many, many reasons someone might choose to do a Whole30 program and It Starts With Food lays out a lot of them. Here are my (modified from my first post) goals:

  • Kick the sugar cravings and food “addictions”. This refers to my mid-afternoon snack at work which is rarely healthy as well as my post-dinner chocolate/ice cream kicks.
  • Stop the mindless eating. When there’s food I’m eating it- particularly munchies at a party or event. I just can’t stop, and don’t even REALIZE I’ve been eating so much until halfway through. It’s gross, and I’m totally over it.
  • Develop a deeper appreciation for healthy food options. I’m in a veggie rut and I’m pretty picky about my proteins. It’s time to expand my daily foods and incorporate natural flavors.
  • Learn to cook outside my comfort zone. Much like the bullet above. It’s time to branch out. I’d also like to cook more simply.
  • Get as healthy as possible. This is the number one. I’ve been getting into a great exercise routine but that’s only one piece of the health puzzle. It’s time to be as healthy as I can possibly be to help set me up for a healthy life.
  • Improve my mood and energy levels. I think a lot of my tiredness and moodiness is food related. Time to see if that’s true!

And that’s about it! My 30 days runs from Sunday, July 13th – Monday, August 11th. I’ll be trying to blog as much as possible in order to keep track of my progress and share learnings.

Resources (Trust me, you need these)

It Starts with Food – This book is the backbone of the Whole30. It’s great for those who like to know the “why’s” and the science behind it.

Official Whole30 overview and rules

Must-have Whole30 downloads (shopping lists, meal planning guides)

My Whole30 Pinterest board – meal ideas, tips, tricks, from around the internet