the Whole30: what it is and why i love it

If you want to really understand the Whole30, then you should go to and read about it, buy and read Dallas & Melissa Hartwig’s book It Starts with Food, and you might as well pre-order their next book, The Whole30.

But just so we’re on the same page until you do that, the Whole30 is basically a plan for 30 days to help you change and take control of your relationship with food. It’s designed to get you away from eating the millions of processed, as my husband Ty would say, “edible food-like substances” that we normally eat in the Standard American Diet. In the words of the Whole30 masterminds: “The GOAL OF THE WHOLE30 is to help participants find the diet that’s PERFECT FOR THEM–the one that provides OPTIMAL HEALTH, MAXIMUM HAPPINESS, and MINIMUM STRESS.”

You should definitely read the official rules of the Whole30, but the gist is that for 30 days, you cut out dairy, grains, legumes (all of which have the potential to cause gastrointestinal discomfort or other more serious problems), and you focus your diet on meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts that have been minimally processed without chemical additives. That’s it. You just eat real food. For 30 days. And you refrain from using foods that are part of the plan to make things that look like addictive “forbidden” foods, i.e. treats, pancakes, bread, etc. So no, you cannot take eggs and a banana and turn it into pancakes. And you cannot use cauliflower and make a cauliflower crust pizza. There’s actually a Whole30 term for that: SWYPO. It stands for Sex With Your Pants On. Don’t think about it too hard. It basically means that you’re following the letter of the law but violating the spirit. Another rule is that you need to avoid “Foods without Brakes.” If it’s a food that you don’t know how to quit or eat a reasonable amount of, just don’t eat it for the 30 days. Baked sweet potato chips? If you’re going to treat them like a substitute for potato chips, they’re off the plan.

That’s a very simplified version of the program. We’ve been doing it now for 26 days. Well, I’ve been doing it for 26 1/2 and Ty has been doing it for 28. And I love it. I don’t do meal planning, but I find that preparing meals is a lot easier. I just look at the ingredients I have on hand and think, “What can I make out of this?” and then I make it.

And the rule about SWYPO has been LIFE CHANGING for me. LIFE CHANGING. Previously, with any other dietary changes, the first thing I’d do is look for what kind of treats I could make. Raw food? Sweet, I can take some cacao, coconut oil, raw agave and make a chocolate pie. Or macaroons. Raw macaroons are delicious. Weight Watchers? Well, let’s see. I have 27 points for today, so how many cookies can I eat before I have to eat green beans for the rest of the day? With the Whole30 it’s different. You’re not allowed to use food as a coping mechanism. You’re stressed? You need a fix? You’ve had a hard day? You “deserve” a treat? Sorry. Dates chopped up with pecans and rolled in coconut flakes are off-limits for you, buddy. The rationale behind this is that if you don’t learn how to control it during your Whole30, you’re going to go back to eating the exact same way after your Whole30 but with other ingredients. And the whole goal is to learn how to eat in a way that makes your body run at its peak performance, puts you in control, and rids you of psychological reliance on food as an emotional crutch.

We have really loved doing the Whole30. I would and do recommend it to anyone. And we’re going to be doing this for the long haul. Eventually, I might like to make some foods that are typically considered SWYPO, but until I’ve changed the way I view food for good and I feel that the changes I’ve made are lasting and that I’m in control, I’m going to stay on the Whole30. We’re shooting for a Whole120 and I’m so excited! I’ll share some of the great things I’ve experienced and learned from doing a Whole30 in another post once we’ve completed all 30 days.