ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Rebooting Your System through the Whole30® Diet

Updated on April 5, 2016

Many people who go on diets are trying to lose weight and improve their appearance. Others focus on specific, serious health issues such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

But not all of them. I recently stumbled across a diet that goes beyond weight loss or life-threatening illnesses: the Whole30 diet. The theory behind it is that your body could have a problem with common foods, and that by eating them, you could be triggering allergies, joint pain, inflammation and other ailments. These problems may be mild and manageable, but the drag you down and have a negative impact on the quality of life. The tricky thing is that different foods cause different reactions in different people, so a food that causes problems in one person may not affect another. This makes a single, long-term diet plan impossible. Intrigued, I decided to look more deeply into this diet and share my findings.

Segment on Whole30 Diet on ABC's Nightline

The Whole30® Diet

The diet caught my attention with a big promise: to change your life in 30 days. How? By eliminating all foods that might contribute to inflammation or other health problems for a period of 30 days. After that, you re-introduce them, one-by-one, and observe the results. If a certain food type is causing you trouble, you’ll figure it out and can keep it out of your long-term diet.

The appeal is understandable. The Whole30 website summarizes the point of the diet in a simple, understandable way: "Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."

The woman behind the Whole30 diet knows her stuff. Melissa Hartwig, a sports nutritionist, co-founded the program in 2009. The program has been steadily growing ever since, with diet advice complemented by books, an online community, and a newsletter.

Inflamed toes

Ouch! | Source

What is Inflammation?

Whole30 targets food that could be causing inflammation. If you don't know what inflammation is, don't stress. Inflammation is what it sounds like – tissues that become irritated and swell up, for example, around a cut as it heals. Usually inflammation is a normal tool of your immune system: it is a sign that your body is protecting itself and fighting disease. It is an important part of the healing process.

But sometimes inflammation kicks in when there's nothing to fight against. It never goes away, and becomes chronic. This can lead to many unpleasant conditions, for example:

  • Joint pain, arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue

There are other, more serious ailments that can result from inflammation. For any problem you experience, it is best to consult your doctor for a professional opinion. But your doctor may bot pick up on a mild ailment. These are something the Whole30 diet might help you catch.

Implementing the Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 diet is straightforward and doesn’t involve calorie-counting or food-weighing – two tasks I find odious. Instead, you completely cut out the following foods for 30 days:

  • Sugar, and also artificial sweeteners
  • Anything made from grains, including bread, cake, rice, and pasta
  • Legumes – we're talking beans
  • Dairy products – say goodbye to ice cream
  • Alcohol – cry me a river on this one
  • Chemicals such as MSG and preservatives

Whole30's website provides more detail on what is allowed and what is not. Another recommendation is that you do not get on a scale or measure your waist size for the entire 30 days. That sounds harsh, but the main idea is not to lose weight - it is to eliminate foods that cause your body harm.

A Whole30 Meal

What You Can Eat

You might be thinking that there's nothing you can eat on the Whole30 diet. Not true! Your choices are limited, but that makes following the diet easier. Chow down freely on these food items:

  • Veggies: You can go to town on vegetables. My advice: stock up on frozen vegetables, especially spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans (these do not count as legumes).
  • Potatoes: You can eat potatoes! Just don't fry them or eat fries or potato chips. Bake them, boil them, but try to eat them with the skins, where the nutrients are.
  • Coffee: Without this Whole30 would fail, so enjoy! Just avoid milk and sugar. Once you go black, you'll never go back.
  • Meat, fish and poultry: All these are fine and in fact critical. Best to eat lean cuts, e.g. chicken breasts or lean meat.
  • Fruit: Yes, you can eat fruit. Just don't go crazy on it. You can also use fruit juices as a sweetener.

Diet Spotlight

Why would you consider going on a diet?

See results

Main Challenges and How to Handle Them

Cravings. In the beginning, your body craves food it’s not getting. One theory of cravings is that bacteria in your gut feeds off certain foods. When you stop giving it to them, they send signals to your brain that trigger cravings for that food. Not satisfying these cravings is the main reason diets fail. Fortunately, this is easy to combat. First, remember that the bacteria sending the signals will die off for lack of the food in question. The cravings will then stop. Second, you can fill up on a health food, like broccoli. This may not be fully satisfying but your stomach will eventually inform your brain that it is full, which dampens the effect.
Social. Another huge problem with restrictive diets is the social side. If you live and eat alone, this may not be a problem. But many people will eat with family who don’t go along with the Whole 30 concept, and if you want to go out with friends you’ll be faced with many opportunities to cheat. The short answer to this issue is not to start if you don’t think you can do it. Nothing’s wrong with that — you have simply decided that your social life is your priority. And that’s fine. But you will also find that explaining what you’re doing will generate understanding and sympathy. You might even find a friend or two who would like to join you on the Whole 30 challenge.

I Need My Booze

What to Expect

If the diet is successful, you will have lost about 7 lbs after 30 days. Many people report that aches, especially, in joints, disappear. Energy levels will be higher. Confidence boosted. Does this mean you should keep on the diet forever? No. The diet is too restrictive and could be denying your body nutrients it needs. However, if you feel much better then there’s a high probability that something you were eating was not good for your body. Now the challenge is to pinpoint what that was.

After the 30 days, you add one ingredient back into your diet every week. So, for example, you might add back dairy. You can even do it more slowly: for example, add only milk, then yoghurt. If you have the patience, this is a better approach. If no ill effect result, that food can remain in your diet. Then move on to the next food. Like beans.

My Whole30 Challenge

As a service to my readers who are intrigued by the Whole30 diet but not ready to take the plunge, I will embark on the Whole 30 Challenge immediately upon publishing this article. I will document the experience and post the results in a follow-up story. My stats:

  • Weight: 189 lbs (81 kg)
  • Belly circumference: 42 inches (107 cm)

Get the full scoop about the Whole30 program on their website.

Real Whole30 Video Case


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ptosis profile image


      2 years ago from Arizona

      Glad those aren't your toes! yeow


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)