Whole30: It All Starts with Food

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We recently sat down with Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, authors and founders of Whole30.The popular program helps individuals identify how certain foods may be adversely affecting their health and well-being. Specific food groups are removed from the diet for thirty days and then strategically reintroduced.

Melissa says, “People have concerns about their health, their mood, their energy, their body weight, their self-confidence, and so many of those things are seriously impacted by our food choices.”

The Hartwigs have outlined four good food standards—the ultimate test by which they believe all foods should be judged. Melissa outlines them as such, “We think the food that you eat should promote a healthy psychological response. You should be in control of your food choices. We think it should promote a healthy hormonal response, so blood sugar regulation and hormonal balance. It should promote healthy digestion and not mess with the integrity of your digestive tract. And it should calm the immune system and not promote systemic inflammation.”

We asked these food gurus to break down the food groups excluded from their 30 days plan. We wanted to know which foods are likely to be causing issues, and why.

1. Sugar. Melissa says: Sugar is the one thing that most people say I’m addicted to. Sugar also plays a really big role in hormonal balance and helping you manage blood sugar, hormones like insulin, so we want to get that back in balance and not over consume sugar which sends that out of balance.

2. Alcohol. Dallas says: For us, talking about it from a psychological standpoint, it’s really obvious that alcohol doesn’t help you make really good choices. It also can be very inflammatory because it actually increases the permeability of your digestive tract, which kind of by definition increases how hard your immune system has to work to kind of keep the things out that need to stay outside.

3. Grains. Melissa says: “We eliminate wheat, rye, barley, corn, rice, oats and even the pseudo cereals like quinoa. What we find across a broad range of the population is that grains, especially when over consumed, can mess with your hormones. And there are proteins in grains, not just gluten, which everybody has heard of, but there are other proteins that may be inflammatory in the body in a similar way that gluten is.

4. Legumes. Melissa says: “Because we don’t know how these will impact you individually, just pull them out and reintroduce them.”

5. Dairy. Melissa says: “It can be difficult to digest, not just the lactose component, but also the protein component. and dairy has been really closely associated, in our clinical experience and in the literature with things like type 1 diabetes, asthma, and allergies.”

But the Hartwigs empasize the plan is not at all restrictive, but rather an opportunity to learn about your health while eating great food. Dallas says,”it’s an opportunity it’s not a hazing.”So we had to ask: what should we be eating during the 30 days? Dallas says, “Meat, seafood, eggs, nutrient-dense vegetables, a wide selection of fruit, and healthy naturally occurring fats.”

The entire plan is outlined in the Whole30 book. 

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