Protection against obesity:treats, food fixations, and the scale

Over the years I’ve gone from one diet or plan to another. This vicious cycle turned into major body issues and an eating disorder. The Whole30 has been a huge part of my transformation in the fact that it has changed my relationship with food. I no longer struggle with binging and this is no longer a diet to me but just the way I prefer to eat. My nasty sugar tantrums are gone as well! That was probably one of my biggest issues when I struggled with the eating disorder. I had so much trouble with sugar and now I don’t want it at all.” —ELISE H., CITY/STATE WITHHELD If the ingredients are all compliant, why can’t I have baked goods or treats? The short answer: because a cookie is a cookie, and cookies (or pancakes, bread, or brownies) have no place in the Whole30. The longer answer: The Whole30 is about changing the behaviors that led you to persistent cravings, unhealthy emotional relationships with food, and feeling out of control with your food choices. (We suspect that’s a big part of why you’re here.) Do you really want to spend the entirety of your Whole30 eating the same highly rewarding, nutrient-poor foodswith-no-brakes you’ve been eating all along? If you come out of your program with the same habits, cravings, and food choices you had when you started, your chances for long-term, life- changing success are slim. After all, those very same habits, cravings, and food choices are what got you into trouble in the first place! Use the Whole30 to change your habits, break unhealthy cravings, and create a new, healthy relationship with food. Follow this rule and you won’t be sorry, as the new habits and patterns you create will stay with you for the rest of your life. But my pancakes are just made with an egg and a banana. Seriously, no pancakes. This is a rule. Please keep reading. Shouldn’t it be up to me to decide what’s offlimits? Well, technically, it is. You’re all grown-ups, and we’re not about to come into your kitchen and take away your pancakes. But we created the program rules, and those rules specifically state that certain foods are off-limits, and this is the program to which you committed. Signing up for the Whole30 and then complaining about the rules is like joining a soccer team and getting mad that you can’t use your hands. If you want to reap the psychological and physical benefits of the program, follow it exactly as designed, including avoiding those baked goods or treats that we specifically list as off-limits. Remember, it’s only 30 days. And we’d go so far as to say if you’re getting anxious at the idea of not eating pancakes for a month, there’s something there worth looking at. ✪TIP: The trouble with these foods is that they’re almost-but-notquite as good as the stuff you used to eat. Pizza with an almond-flour crust and no cheese just isn’t the same as the deep-dish pizza you love, but it’s close enough that it keeps your brain thinking “I want pizza.” If you keep eating these less satisfying knock-offs during your program, your brain will keep craving the reward that comes from junk food and treats. And one day, when you’re stressed, upset, or lonely, you’ll decide these poor recreations aren’t going to cut it, and you’re a grownup, and if you want real pizza, you should have it . . . and before you know it, your Whole30 is over, and you’re back to the same guilt/shame/reward cycle you’ve been desperate to break. It’s just not worth it . . . and it’s only 30 days. Besides bread, pancakes, and ice cream, what other foods are unacceptable under this rule? A few off-limits foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, bread, tortillas, biscuits, crepes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, pizza crust, waffles, cereal, potato chips, French fries, and this one recipe where eggs, date paste, and coconut milk are combined with prayers to create a thick, creamy concoction that can once again transform your undrinkable black coffee into sweet, dreamy caffeine. However, while this list is off-limits for everyone (even those who don’t “have a problem” with bread or pancakes), your off-limits list may include other foods. Wait, those aren’t the only foods that fall under this category? Not necessarily. These foods are expressly forbidden, but there are other foods that may be in that “gray area,” and we ask that you take some personal responsibility with those. For example, Cashew Cookie Larabars are technically Whole30 Approved, and a great choice for those running a marathon or hiking the Appalachian trail. But if you’re eating them as a substitute for your 3 p.m. candy bar, and find yourself slightly out of control when eating them (or after), we’d encourage you to identify that less healthy habit and say, “This food is not okay for me during my thirty days. It is a trigger food, and if I am trying to change my habits, I need to leave it off my plate.” Why are sweet potato “buns, ” kale chips, and zucchini noodles allowed on the Whole30? Aren’t you recreating less healthy foods there too? The real determining factor here is this: Are you attempting to recreate the exact look, texture, and flavor of the off-limits food? “Paleo” bread is designed to look and taste as much like real bread as possible; same with alternative-flour pancakes, brownies, or muffins. But sweet potato buns, kale chips, or zoodles are just a substitution for the bread, potato chips, or pasta they are replacing, not a recreation. Your brain isn’t going to think it’s still eating bread when it bites into a burger sandwiched between two sweet potatoes—which means you are effectively breaking your bread habit, not feeding it. How do I know if a food should be off-limits for me? First, ask yourself, “Am I trying to duplicate or recreate the exact look, texture, and flavor of something unhealthy I’m craving with approved ingredients, or am I merely looking for a healthier, more nutritious substitution for that food?” If it’s the former, just say no. In addition, if the food in question is something you’d turn to after a hard day at work or stressful event, it’s probably best to leave it out. While commercial mayonnaise isn’t the healthiest choice (because of the vegetable oils and added sugars), rarely does someone come home after a tough day at the office and drown their sorrows in a jar of mayo, which means recreating it probably isn’t an issue. Finally, when in doubt, leave it out. You can survive without this borderline food for 30 days—and if you feel like you can’t or get angry just thinking about it, you may want to take a closer look at your relationship with that food. But I don’t have a problem with pancakes. Still with the pancakes, huh? Here’s the thing: this is just another rule of the program, like “no grains” or “no added sugar.” You may or may not have problems with all of the foods we eliminate, but until you eliminate them for 30 days, you’ll never know for sure. You also may be surprised at the hold some of these baked goods or treats have on you—something you never would have noticed until you told your brain “no.” So please, just do the program our way for 30 days, and at the end, you can go right back to eating pancakes if you really want to. But we kind of suspect you won’t. I just started my Whole30, all I can think about is food. What to eat next, what to plan for tomorrow, what I can and can’t have . . . is this healthy? In the short term, yes. Eating this way is still new, so this is more an increase in awareness than an unhealthy obsession. You’ve jumped into a program that requires planning and preparation, detailed label reviews, and adherence to specific (unfamiliar) guidelines. It’s natural to spend the first week or so thinking a lot about food, considering you have to eat three times a day, and your menus probably look a lot different than they used to. To combat this, meal plan (see Plan some meals ) and batch-prep your food twice a week so that you don’t have to spend every day thinking about what you’re going to eat; familiarize yourself with the rules to easily identify what’s compliant and what isn’t; and buy simple foods with few ingredients on the label—or no label at all. With this approach, you’ll be cruising through your food choices with ease by Day 8. If I feel like I’m not in control when eating certain “approved” foods like nut butter, dates, or frozen grapes, should I cut them out during the program? Yes, yes, 100 percent yes. Sometimes program participants find that giving up brownies or pasta isn’t as hard as they think, then find themselves elbow-deep in a jar of almond butter every night after dinner. Those compliant foods that cause you to binge eat, excessively crave, or eat when you’re not hungry should be excluded from the program. Won’t restricting foods lead to cake-apalooza after your Whole30 is over? Junk food benders happen after many restrictive diets, but it’s not common on the Whole30. First, our plan doesn’t restrict calories—a common cause of the bounce-back effect of crash diets. Because you are full and satisfied every day of your Whole30, you’re far less likely to actually feel restricted. Second, our plan focuses on changing your tastes and breaking cravings, so by the time the Whole30 is over, the junk foods you used to love are suddenly far less appealing. Finally, you came into this for the long haul, not a quick fix. You want to change your habits, so you won’t spend all 30 days obsessing about what you’re not eating—which means even if you think you’ll be kneedeep in pizza, beer, and ice cream when your Whole30 is over, 76 percent of people* say they don’t even want that stuff when Day 31 actually rolls around. *Per a 2014 survey of more than 1,300 Whole30 participants. BACK Why can’t I weigh myself during my Whole30? The Whole30 isn’t a weight-loss diet. The program is designed to jump start optimal health for the rest of your life. The number on the scale says nothing about your overall health, and it’s part of what is holding you hostage to your unhealthy relationship with food. So give yourself a long-overdue, well-deserved break from your preoccupation with body weight. You deserve it. At the end of 30 days, if the number on the scale is smaller, bonus! But during your Whole30, focus on getting healthier, not reducing the pull of gravity on your body mass. Doesn’t some research show that the scale can be motivating in weight-loss efforts? It does, but our research and experience shows that the scale is more likely to encourage our participants to second-guess the program, and renders them blind to their non-scale progress. One simple digital read-out can cause folks to shrink their meals to unhealthy portions, spend more time in the gym than their energy levels will support, beat themselves up with negative self-talk, or give up the program because “it’s just not working.” If you find motivation in seeing continual progress, that’s fine— but let’s find a non-weight-related motivator for you to track each day. Try your sleep quality, energy levels, mood, or selfesteem—things that actually make a difference for your health! (And if you happen to notice that your clothes are fitting better, you’re allowed to give yourself a high-five.) But will I lose weight on the Whole30? Our nutrition plan will improve your overall health, and that is almost always reflected in an improvement in body composition. Meaning, if you focus on eating better, sleeping better, and making yourself healthier, your body composition will fall into line. So trust us, and be patient. We’ll get you there the healthy way—the right way—in a manner that you’ll be able to maintain for the rest of your life. Now, we’ll actually answer your question. In a survey of over 1,600 Whole30 participants, 96 percent reported they lost weight and/or improved their body composition during their program. The majority lost between 6 and 15 pounds in 30 days. So, there you go—proof that weight loss is built right into the program, without you having to think about it. I weighed myself. Does that count as breaking the rules? Do I need to start over? Well, that’s a tricky one. You see, our program guidelines are pretty darn clear. This is a big-picture, wide-reaching program designed to change many things at once. The goal is to increase your awareness of what you’re eating and the habits that surround your food life, and change those that are detrimental to your body and brain. If you break a rule, we always recommend a full Whole30 restart. (Think about going all the way back to Day 1 the next time the scale calls your name! Is it worth it? Heck, no!) However, you’re still a grown-up, and get to decide these things for yourself. We’ll just ask you to be honest with yourself and work hard to break your dependence on the scale for validation. Weight loss is important to me. How can I be sure I’m headed in the right direction? For most people, weight loss happens effortlessly with improved health, so we encourage you to look for better health markers to make sure you’re on track. A few things to notice: Are your cravings improving? Do you feel like you’re more in control of your food choices? Are you able to better trust your body’s “hungry” signal? Is your energy better, or steadier? Is your digestion improved, or have you lost some bloat? Are your symptoms decreasing? Are you happier, more self-confident, or better able to focus? Is your performance in the gym improving, or are you recovering faster? These are all signs that you’re on the right track to changing your life and building new, healthy habits. So I can’t focus on scale weight—fine. what can I use to keep me motivated? Focus on your accomplishments each day—what we call the “small wins.” Did you make it through the day compliant? Great! Did you resist temptation, even though it was hard? Good for you! Did you make it through 3 p.m. without needing that extra coffee? Wonderful. Did you find a way to reward yourself without food? Amazing! Those are the victories we want you to celebrate throughout this process—and if you take the time to notice these small wins, you’ll be amazed at how much you are actually accomplishing every day. Am I allowed to track calories or macronutrients? Technically, the admonition to avoid tracking calories or macronutrients is just a recommendation, not a rule. However, we’d caution you against it for the same reasons we caution against the scale. Your body knows how much you should be eating better than any calculator you’ll find on the internet, and once you’re eating Good Food, you’ll be able to trust the signals your body is sending you. In addition, some of you have been so conditioned to restrict calories or macronutrients that even though you feel amazing eating as much as you are, you may still be tempted to cut back once you see the numbers add up. Don’t let numbers on a spreadsheet mess with your head, or your Whole30 results. For now, just follow our meal template and let your body’s own cues (hunger, energy, cravings, mood, athletic performance, and recovery) be your guide to eating more or less. A medical conditions “I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Raynaud’s disease, psoriasis, asthma, and allergies. As a Physician’s Assistant, I knew that my autoimmune disorders were progressing. At age 28, my energy was low, my symptoms were horrible, my hair was thinning, I had near-daily headaches, joint aches, frequent rashes, and poor digestion. My inflammatory blood markers were increasing, but I reached a dead end with my rheumatologist. During this time I did my first Whole30. I have since done two more, and have maintained this lifestyle for the past year and a half. I have the energy I never thought I would have again. My digestion is healthy. My hair is thick and my skin clear. My hands no longer look scalded, dry, or cracked. I do not take any prescription medications for the management of my diagnoses. I pass along the message of the Whole30 to patients, friends, and family almost daily. I share it because I know that living this lifestyle supports my health in a way I never could have imagined.” —MEGAN M., NEW YORK, NY brief reminder: We are not doctors, and this section is not an attempt to dispense medical advice. Everyone should always talk to their health care provider before beginning any new diet or supplement regimen. This goes double for those of you with medical conditions, especially if you are taking prescription medications to manage your condition. We asked Luc Readinger, M.D. to help us answer some of these questions from his perspective, as a physician who has been successfully using the Whole30 to treat his patients’ medical conditions since 2011. Autoimmune or Chronic Diseases The Whole30 is ideal to help normalize an overactive immune system, decreasing systemic inflammation and reducing or eliminating the symptoms of your autoimmune disease, chronic pain, or immune-related conditions (like Lyme disease). However, there are some Whole30 Approved foods that are healthy for most people, but might exacerbate your symptoms or fire up your immune system. The trouble is there isn’t just one list of foods that negatively impact all chronic diseases. You are a unique snowflake. That means foods that may be perfectly fine for someone else with your same condition may make your symptoms much worse, and vice-versa. This makes it incredibly hard to create one protocol that works well for everyone with an immune dysfunction. Eggs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, instant coffee, nuts and seeds, beef, lamb, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes . . . These are all foods that are either known to be commonly problematic for those with autoimmune conditions, or are common food sensitivities for those with increased gut permeability. And that’s not even the comprehensive list. Continuing to eat stuff that is problematic for your body will lead to (you guessed it) systemic inflammation and an overactive immune system, which means your symptoms don’t improve as much as you’d like them to. So how do you know if some of these healthy Whole30 foods aren’t so healthy for you? We wish there were an easy answer. It’s hard to know whether these foods impact you without eliminating them, too, but that makes your Whole30 a ton more restrictive. Plus, simply adding these foods to your Whole30 “offlimits” list is a little like shooting at a target in the dark; you may end up restricting foods that you don’t need to, and including foods that you are, in fact, sensitive to. If you have an autoimmune disease, or a chronic pain or chronic fatigue condition, you have two options with respect to your Whole30: OPTION 1: Complete the general Whole30 protocols exactly as written (optionally eliminating eggs and nightshades as well), then evaluate and make a decision as to where to go from there. OPTION 2: Skip the Whole30 and go straight to a medical elimination diet, working with an experienced functional medicine practitioner who creates a specific plan just for you. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each approach.

Start with the Whole30 There are a few benefits to this approach. First, compared to a medical elimination diet, the Whole30 requires far fewer changes to your overall diet, which means it’s easier to follow and less stressful. You can also start making these changes immediately, bringing relief and results that much faster. It’s also far cheaper—you could theoretically do the entire Whole30 for free, avoiding expensive fees for doctor visits and lab work. The downside is that you may not experience all of the benefits you hope to see, because you may still be including some items in your diet that might be problematic for you. The Whole30 isn’t a structured elimination approach based on your health history, symptoms, and lab results, which means it could be less effective in your specific context than it is for most people. You may get all the way through your program and think, “This isn’t working!” We assure you, it’s working. We’re positive you’ll experience other benefits from the program, and a calmer immune system is a huge step in the right direction, even if you’re not all the way there. Just like a Whole30 that doesn’t cause any weight loss, it is not a disappointment or a failure when you pay attention to all the changes in more subjective areas of your life. But the expectation of having “miraculous” results and not seeing them on Day 30 can be pretty disheartening, which may prove to be the biggest risk of this approach. All of that having been said, we still think this is where you should start. Virtually every medical elimination program is going to exclude refined sugars, gluten, dairy, soy, and alcohol (on top of other specific foods), so you might as well get a head start before you begin working with a doctor. In addition, there’s something to be said for gaining some confidence and feeling healthier before you take on something as rigid and restrictive as a personalized elimination diet. The improvements you see on the Whole30 (because you will see improvements!) will increase your self-efficacy, helping you feel more prepared and motivated to tackle a more restrictive approach, if that’s where you decide to go. EGGS AND NIGHTSHADES You may improve your results by restricting eggs and nightshades, too. Egg whites contain proteins that can indirectly increase immune activity—a contributing factor in immune-mediated diseases. Nightshades are a group of plants that contain compounds that promote gut irritability, inflammation, joint pain and/or stiffness in sensitive individuals. Nightshades include potatoes (all varieties except sweet potatoes or yams), tomatoes, all sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, and spices like cayenne, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, pimento, and red pepper flakes. These two groups are the most commonly problematic in those with autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, and other immune-mediated medical conditions, so consider leaving these off your Whole30 if this is your context. If you choose to start with the Whole30, make sure you follow the standard protocol to the letter, and keep a journal of your autoimmune symptoms day by day. If you see an improvement in your symptoms by Day 30, you’ll know you’re on the right track! If your symptoms are resolved and you’re happy with your progress, proceed with reintroduction as outlined here. If you still aren’t feeling as good as you had hoped, you can either extend your Whole30 for a longer period of time (for 60 or even 90 days, to see if the benefits keep coming), or start working with a functional medicine practitioner (see Resources) to see if you have other triggers in your diet. A WORD ON ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS There’s something you should know about nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and Celebrex. This class of drugs has been shown to directly disrupt the lining of the gut, leading to intestinal permeability (leaky gut), a contributing factor in autoimmune disease and immune-mediated conditions. If you rely on a doctor-prescribed NSAID for pain control, remember that your doctor’s orders always trump Whole30 recommendations. However, given the impact of these medications on gut integrity and immune function, we encourage you to talk with your health care provider about alternative methods for managing your pain. If you’re unable to discontinue your NSAIDs at this time, that’s okay—keep up with the rest of the Whole30 protocol, and work with your doctor to evaluate your symptoms along the way. You may find you’re able to taper off the anti-inflammatory medication as your inflammatory symptoms start to decrease. OPTION 2: Work with a doctor The benefit of working with a doctor is that he or she will create an elimination plan specifically tailored to your health history, medical condition, and goals, which means you’re likely to experience more successful management of symptoms longterm. You’ll also have the benefit of expert guidance along the way, managing your condition with not only diet, but supplementation, medication, and/or other important lifestyle recommendations. The downside is that this protocol may be considerably harder—you’re left without many of the foods you would consider “staples” on a basic Whole30, and learning to cook without things like tomatoes or ghee may prove challenging. In addition, working with an experienced practitioner can be expensive—office visit fees, consultation fees, lab work, medication, and supplementation adds up fast. If you decide to take this approach, use one of the resources listed in the appendix to help you find an experienced functional medicine practitioner, naturopath, or progressive medical doctor in your area. Also, feel free to start eliminating the most common dietary triggers now (like gluten, dairy, and soy), because that’s probably the first thing they’ll talk to you about. Whichever approach you choose, we encourage you to be patient, and remember that when it comes to autoimmune disease, improvements don’t happen overnight. When your immune system is this overworked and confused, it can take six months or more of dedication to a protocol like the Whole30 or a medical elimination diet to see results, so don’t be discouraged if your symptoms aren’t fully resolved in just a month. Focus on the improvements you are seeing, and let those motivate you to continue with your chosen regimen. WHAT ABOUT A PALEO AIP? A “Paleo Autoimmune Protocol” (Paleo AIP) is somewhere between a Whole30 and a medical elimination plan. It asks that you eliminate some Whole30 foods, plus many others that are commonly problematic for those with autoimmune conditions. This approach may be a good middle ground if you get done with the Whole30 and still haven’t resolved all of your symptoms, but aren’t ready to work full-time with a medical practitioner. Visit The Paleo Mom ( or Paleo AIP ( Diabetes First, do not get discouraged from trying a Whole30 because you take insulin or diabetes medications. We believe the potential benefits far exceed the hassle of having a discussion with your health care provider and adjusting medication—and we’ve seen full reversal of type 2 diabetes in just 30 days. That having been said, it is essential to talk with your doctor before doing the Whole30. Although not specifically meant to be low-carb, the Whole30 tends to be lower in carbohydrates than the standard American diet (SAD), and lower than what most people are eating on an otherwise unrestricted diet. If you’re on insulin or insulin-sensitizing drugs and radically decrease the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating without adjusting your insulin dose, your blood sugar could dip too low, with serious medical consequences. This is especially true of type 1 diabetics—in fact, you and your health care provider might decide to ease into your Whole30 eating plan instead of jumping in cold turkey, so you can better monitor your blood sugar and adjust your long-acting and short-acting insulin dosages. Discuss how to approach a Whole30 with your health care provider before you begin the plan, and schedule regular followups to ensure blood sugars are staying within a reasonable range. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) While the Whole30 is ideal for healing the gut and improving digestive conditions, we highly recommend those with IBS or IBD work with a qualified functional medicine practitioner (see Resources), as your condition may also require targeted lab testing and probiotic supplementation. If you decide to try the Whole30 before seeking out professional help, please consider restricting high-FODMAP foods (see FODMAPs), known to impact gut bacteria and worsen IBS and IBD symptoms, in addition to the standard Whole30 eliminations. Sorry. We know this looks like a lot to take on. But remember, it’s only 30 days, and you’ll learn so much about yourself, your symptoms, and the triggers for your condition thanks to your short-term sacrifice—all information which will prove invaluable if you do choose to work with a professional during or after your Whole30. Here are some other recommendations to ensure your Whole30 is as healthy as possible, given your context. Fiber-rich vegetables are good for your digestion, but they can also be hard for your body to process, especially if your gut is impaired. You can ease their trip through your digestive tract by cooking them thoroughly, and/or first breaking them down into smaller pieces manually. Try slow-cooking them as part of a stew, or using a food processor to turn your veggies into a soup or puree. Minimize your consumption of raw vegetables or big salads, especially if following the Whole30 means you are radically increasing your vegetable consumption. Be careful with even low-FODMAP fruit, too, as there are strong links between fructose malabsorption and IBS. Make sure you peel all fruit, avoid what you can’t peel (like grapes and cherries), and eat your fruit as ripe as possible, which makes it easier to digest. You should also avoid fruits that have seeds and a rough exterior (like berries), which can be tough on your digestive tract. Although no one knows why for sure, many IBS sufferers report increased symptoms after consuming citrus fruits, so you may want to avoid those as well. Finally, no dried fruits and fruit juices, which pack too much sugar into a small package for folks with serious GI disturbances. And now the saddest news ever: avoid all forms of coffee, even decaf. We know, and we’re sorry—we’re really not trying to ruin your life. It’s just that coffee is a powerful GI-tract irritant, and even decaffeinated coffee can trigger abdominal spasms and diarrhea in those with IBS or IBD. In addition, caffeinated coffee is a double-whammy, as caffeine speeds up every system in the body (including the colon), which can lead to diarrhea, followed by constipation. (Double the fun!) Coffee can also increase stomach acid, which can contribute to inflammation in the GI tract. Try herbal tea instead, and drink plenty of water throughout the day—but not with your meals, as it can inhibit proper digestion by diluting stomach acid and digestive enzymes. THE COFFEE CURE Giving up coffee cold turkey can be stressful on the system, especially if you’ve historically used your pot as a cup. Dr. Readinger offers his patients two options for giving up coffee as part of an elimination protocol: cold turkey, or a tapered approach. Cold turkey is just that—starting tomorrow morning, no coffee. The withdrawal symptoms may be rough for the first three days, but you get it over with quick. The tapered approach looks like this: limit yourself to one cup of black coffee for a few days. Then, mix half-caffeinated coffee with half decaf for three to five days. After that, go down to one-quarter regular, three-quarters decaf for another three to five days. As your last step, go to decaf only for another three to five days. Then, no more coffee at all. This saves people from the severity of cold turkey withdrawal symptoms. Choose the approach that’s right for your context, coffee consumption, and personality. Finally, we’ll caution that your digestion may get worse before it gets better. As your GI tract starts to heal, your mucosal layer will adjust, unhealthy gut bacteria will start to die off, healthy bacteria will begin to repopulate, and the intestinal lining will start to rebuild itself, plugging gaps and filling in holes. This can lead to gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. In conditions such as IBD and IBS, it’s not uncommon for digestive issues to continue for three to six months after making such radical dietary changes—but it is a necessary first step in restoring healthy gut integrity, so stick with it. Download our Whole30 low-FODMAP shopping list at Gallbladder If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you might be intimidated by the idea of taking on a “high-fat” diet like the Whole30. However, let us assure you that the Whole30 may be one of the healthiest things you’ve done for your digestion! First, a little background. The gallbladder is a holding and concentration tank for bile (a fluid that aids in digestion), which is produced in the liver. The body likes having a concentrated reservoir of this fluid, because the liver produces it quite slowly, so it “trickles” instead of “gushes.” When you eat a meal with a decent amount of fat, your liver can’t send enough bile out into the small intestine fast enough, so it sends a large amount from the reservoir stored in the gallbladder—enough to properly digest the fats you just ate. When the gallbladder is removed, there is no longer a reservoir available for bile to be stored and called upon during a fatty meal. If you eat too much fat at once (requiring more bile than the liver can send), some of the fat remains undigested and passes through your system quickly, leading to loose, oily stools, diarrhea, and cramping. Thus, you may have been told by your health care provider to eat low-fat and whole grain, or eat only certain kinds of fat (generally avoiding animal fats), and above all, to stay away from “high-fat” diets like Atkins, Paleo, or the Whole30. However, the Whole30 is not a high-fat diet. You may be eating more fat than you used to, but then again, you used to subsist on nothing but heavily processed, sweetened, low-fat foods, and how well did that work? Our added fat recommendations are actually quite moderate, which means your lack of gallbladder shouldn’t affect your Whole30 strategy much. First, you may need to switch from three big meals a day to four or five smaller meals, especially if you’re large and active (and require more fat for energy). This will help you eat enough fat during your day without overly taxing your liver. Still, don’t graze like an antelope, especially on high-fat foods like nuts and seeds, as that may tax your liver’s capacity to send enough bile to get the job done. And don’t even think of intermittent fasting. There is no way you can eat enough calories in a shortened feeding window and still be able to properly digest all that fat without a gallbladder. (If you don’t even know what intermittent fasting is, good. It’s not for you.) In addition, consume plenty of water during your day, but not during meals. Drinking water with your meal will dilute the small amount of bile available for digestion, making it even less effective. You also may want to experiment with different kinds of fats. The medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut (oil, flakes, butter, or milk) are easier to digest, and coconut oil in particular digests without a need for bile. You may have an easier time with digestion by eating less animal fat, but adding more coconut oil to your meals or during cooking. Finally, an ox bile supplement can often provide all the digestive help you need, even if you are eating bigger meals closer to our meal template recommendations. In addition, you may notice your capacity for digesting fats increasing after your surgery—the body has a remarkable ability to adapt to new conditions, and you may find a year post-surgery that you can enjoy bigger meals with more fat with little to no issue. As always, talk about doing the Whole30 with your doctor before you begin, and work closely with him or her when making these changes to your diet. Other Conditions Requiring Prescription Medications There are other medical conditions and prescription medications that may be affected by the dietary changes you’re making on the Whole30—sometimes within just your first week on the program. If you’re taking medication for high blood pressure, consult your health care practitioner prior to launching your Whole30. Many have testified they no longer need their blood pressure medication after doing the Whole30, which means you and your doctor will need to monitor your blood pressure and medication dosage throughout the program. If your doctor agrees, you can purchase a blood pressure cuff and monitor your blood pressure twice a day for the duration of the Whole30. If your blood pressures fall below a certain level (as predetermined by your health care provider), or if symptoms of decreased blood pressure occur (light-headedness, especially when going from sitting to standing, generalized fatigue, etc.) then your doctor may decide it’s time to back down on the amount of medication being taken. These changes tend to happen gradually, and not all at once, which makes it easier to monitor and adjust your medication. As for thyroid conditions—chronic hypothyroidism (low thyroid) responds slowly to medication changes and dietary interventions. Check in with your doctor before embarking on the Whole30, and test thyroid hormone levels before and after the program. This is especially true if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition like Hashimoto’s, which may respond well to this gluten-free, gut-healing diet. Finally, if you’re taking a statin medication like Lipitor, feel free to continue while on the Whole30. We don’t know of any immediate or long-term dangers with the combination of a statin medication and a whole-foods based diet like the Whole30, but if you haven’t had a discussion with your physician about why you’re on a statin medication, it might be time to do so. We’ve had many testimonials of cholesterol levels and triglycerides dropping far beyond what their doctors told them was possible with dietary changes only, and many people are able to stop using their statins post-Whole30. We haven’t covered anywhere near the full scope of medical conditions and prescription medications that are affected by the Whole30—that would be impossible, as there appears to be no disease, condition, or symptom that isn’t impacted in a positive way by a gut-healing, anti-inflammatory diet. In general, we encourage you to work closely with your health care provider before taking on the Whole30, and consult them throughout the program, especially if you observe a change in your health or symptoms. Nervous about talking to your doctor about the Whole30? Follow Dr. Readinger’s helpful tips at Eating Disorders We admire your dedication in pursuing a healthy relationship with food, and do believe that eating real, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods is the healthiest way to nourish your body and break unhealthy cravings and habits. However, if you have a diagnosed eating disorder (or a history of disordered eating), please use caution when taking on a program like the Whole30. Some people with eating disorders (active or in recovery) have found amazing food freedom with the Whole30. The fact that we don’t count or restrict calories, encourage you to eat healthy foods to satiety, and take the scale and body measurements out of the equation may prove to be the paradigm shift that you need to get back to a healthier relationship with food. However, there are probably just as many people who have found the rigidity, rules, and structure of the Whole30 program too reminiscent of their disorders. For these people, the Whole30 “as prescribed” is actually a trigger for disordered eating behavior, hurting their progress more than it helps. The restrictions may carry over to calorie or macronutrient restriction in anorectics, or may trigger a binge in those with a history of compulsive overeating. If you have a history of disordered eating and are wondering if the Whole30 is right for you—we simply can’t answer this question for you. In fact, you shouldn’t try to figure it out on your own, either. If this is your context, you must work with a qualified counselor or mental health professional to determine whether the Whole30 is right for you before you begin the program. If you and your counselor do decide the Whole30 is appropriate for you, you may also decide together to modify the rules or relax the restrictions. We know—that basically goes against everything we’ve written about the program and the need to follow it to the letter, but this is not your normal scenario. While we insist the Whole30 must be completed exactly as written to obtain the full benefit, we didn’t write the program with eating disorders in mind. That language was written to discourage people from thinking they can have a bite of this here and a glass of that there and it really won’t make a difference. However, in your context, if you and your counselor need to adjust the rules, duration, or structure of the program to make it work for you, by all means do so. If following just a select portion of our healthy eating program helps you make progress in your recovery, we’re happy to have you on board. However, even if you’re working with a trusted counselor, it’s possible your commitment to the Whole30 will cross into dangerous psychological territory. The signs are different for everyone, but you can use these simple questions to help determine if your Whole30 is going to an unhealthy place: Does the idea of accidentally eating an off-plan food or “cheating” literally keep you up at night? Do you feel you have to measure, track, and analyze every bite of food (and does being unable to do so make you anxious)? Are you hyper-selective with respect to food quantity or food choices simply in an effort to be “more strict”? (Carrots are too sugary, fruit and nuts are off-limits?) Have you deliberately changed the program (by eliminating calories, fat grams, carbs, or food choices) to the degree that it is no longer optimally healthy? Do you feel compelled to make alterations to the program for any reason other than health? If you answer yes to any one of these questions, take some time to seriously think about your motivation for doing this program and whether you want to proceed. If you answer yes to more than one, take a time-out from the program, and speak with a trusted counselor before returning to the Whole30. For more information on the Whole30 and eating disorders, including reader stories and testimonials, visit

pregnancy and breastfeeding “I am a doctor of chiropractic and mother of two. The Whole30 saved me from post-partum depression. About four months postpartum, I was exhausted from sleep deprivation, and really depressed about still being 20 pounds overweight. My diet was out of control. The final straw was one morning when my 3-year-old son came into my room excited for the day and I snapped at him because I felt so awful. I felt like such horrible mom and I knew something had to change. My husband and I started the Whole30 the next day and it changed our lives! We both noticed our increase in energy, stable energy all day, better sleep, and no cravings or desire for the ‘bad’ foods. My joints are not inflamed and I am able to exercise. I fit in all my pre-pregnancy clothes; we both lost 13 to 15 pounds. The Whole30 also got me out of my depression so I can show up in this world like the mom, wife, and doctor I want to be. In addition, my patients’ recoveries have been quicker and long-lasting with the added focus on diet. Doing the Whole30 has taught me that it really does start with food.” —DR. MICHAELA MCCLURE, WATERLOO, ON f you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you know how important mom’s nutrition is to her baby’s health and development. The diet that’s healthiest for you is also going to be the healthiest for your baby—the more nutrition you receive from your diet, the more you are able to pass along to the little one. We can’t imagine your doctor coming up with a diet more nutritious than one that focuses on whole, unprocessed meat, seafood, and eggs, lots of vegetables and fruits, and natural fats—but always speak with your health care provider when making dietary or lifestyle changes when pregnant or nursing. We consulted with Registered Dietician and pregnancy expert Stephanie Greunke to design healthy Whole30 recommendations for this special time in your life. Pregnancy While our program doesn’t need to be modified to accommodate your growing baby, you will want to take care with a few of our general recommendations. First, a very-high-protein diet isn’t the healthiest thing for your baby, so pregnant women should limit protein consumption to no more than 20 percent of total calories. A PROTEIN PRIMER The breakdown of amino acids (from protein) results in the production of ammonia, a toxic compound. In fact, if ammonia were allowed to build up in our bodies, it could prove fatal! Luckily, the liver is able to convert the ammonia into urea, a far less toxic substance, which is then removed by the kidneys and excreted in our urine. During pregnancy, however, the body’s ability to convert ammonia to urea is less efficient, which is why a high-protein diet while pregnant may contribute to low birth weight, poor feeding, and other negative health effects that may carry well into adulthood. If you follow the lower-protein end of our meal template you’ll fall well within the safe range. (Nature usually helps us out here—many women report an aversion to, or loss of appetite for, protein during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.) However, if you naturally tend toward a higherprotein diet, you’ll have to consciously eat more carbohydrates and fat to make up for the calories you’re missing. In addition, if you’re one of the lucky women who don’t have protein aversions, you may find you have to consciously reduce the amount of meat, seafood, and eggs you eat. Tracking and logging your calories and macronutrients may prove helpful here, just until you get the hang of what your new lower-protein diet should look like. In addition, though you’re not really “eating for two,” it’s critical for you to consume enough calories. During the first trimester, you really don’t need to eat any more than you were before you got pregnant. In later months, an extra 300 calories a day is sufficient to feed you and your baby—the equivalent of eating an extra avocado. Incorporating more starchy vegetables and slightly more healthy fats into your diet is an easy way to make sure you’re not underfeeding yourself or your baby. Now is not the time to be limiting your carbs or trying to follow a very low-carbohydrate diet—your baby needs the calories and nutrients coming from the fruits and vegetables you’re eating, and going very low-carb is too stressful during pregnancy. If you’re coming to the Whole30 from a low-fat diet or have a history of dieting in general, you may have to work harder to consciously eat enough healthy fats with every meal. If you’re exercising during pregnancy, make sure you purposefully include enough potatoes, winter squashes, plantains, or other fruits to support your activity level. Finally, you may have to ditch our “no snacking” recommendation, especially as your pregnancy moves into the third trimester. As any pregnant woman can tell you, it gets a little crowded in there as your baby grows, and you may not have the physical space in your stomach to eat big meals. You may have to resort to smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, but try to avoid constant grazing. If possible, allow 3 to 4 hours between your smaller meals to give your hormones a chance to do their job. A WORD ON WEIGHT GAIN A normal, healthy weight gain during pregnancy is anywhere from twenty to fifty pounds. That’s a huge margin, but every woman is different, and every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. It’s important that you not try to limit your weight gain, as dieting isn’t healthy for you or your baby—but don’t think that pregnancy is a free-for-all to eat as much junk food as you want. Good nutrition is critical during this time period, and too much weight gain is just as unhealthy as not enough. If you’re generally eating real, nutrient-dense, satiating foods (like the kind we outline in our Whole30 program), you’ll be able to trust your body’s hunger signals. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and let nature take its course. The healthier you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be to take the “baby weight” off after you give birth. Foods to avoid Some of the nutrient-dense foods we recommend as part of a healthy Whole30 diet may not be the healthiest during pregnancy. Experts generally recommend avoiding fish containing mercury like tuna, swordfish, and marlin; raw eggs or fish (like sushi), and raw or undercooked meat. This means avoiding Whole30 staples like homemade mayo, and cooking all your burgers and steaks to well-done. Ultimately, these are personal decisions best made between you and your health care provider—we can’t tell you whether your pastured, organic, local eggs are really unsafe to eat raw. (The good news? If you do choose to abstain, you can still make our Egg-free Mayo!) Morning sickness and food aversions Another Whole30 challenge during pregnancy may be that you just cannot stomach the thought of eggs, meat, certain spices, or the vegetables you used to love. Morning sickness (which can happen any time of day, unfortunately) and food aversions may make your Whole30 more challenging, so here are our strategies for managing to stay Whole30-compliant during this difficult time. (And keep your chin up, because most women find these symptoms improve tremendously after the first trimester.) BRING THE WHOLE DARN GROCERY STORE HOME. Your aversions may vary from week to week, but if you can go “shopping” for Whole30-compliant foods in your own fridge or cabinet, you’ll eventually settle on something you want to eat. This does require more frequent trips to the grocery store—but it’s only three months, and this is what husbands/partners/family members are for. BE FLEXIBLE. You may discover that eggs aren’t okay when you first wake up, but by around 11 a.m. they become palatable again. So, find something else to eat for Meal 1 (a burger, canned tuna, smoked salmon—you may be surprised what you’re craving these days!) and eat the eggs later. Be methodical about your food evaluations—just because you passed on the chicken sausage at noon doesn’t mean you won’t want to eat it at 3 p.m. Get used to planning meals at the last minute (and warn your family this is coming, too), because there’s a good chance you won’t know what you want to eat for dinner until ten minutes before you start making it. RELAX ON PERFECT PORTIONS. At this stage in the game, it’s not about creating balanced meals three times a day—it’s about getting calories into mom so she doesn’t get run down and even more exhausted. If every meal doesn’t have a palmsized serving of protein, don’t worry. If carrots are your only veggie for three days in a row, that’s fine. If you need foodin-a-blender just to get something into you, fire it up. Do the best you can with what you have, and remember that everything you’re eating is nutrient-dense and healthy for your baby, which is the most important thing. KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE A WHOLE30 BREAK. If you’re having terrible morning sickness or if your food aversions are so severe that you’re under-fed and exhausted, it may be time to take a break from the Whole30. Find whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods you can eat (ideally, things like gluten-free grains; full-fat, pastured dairy; and whole, unprocessed foods you know from experience won’t mess you up), and get your energy and strength back. Then, as soon as you are able and your health care provider approves, return to the Whole30. Pregnancy supplementation First, it’s important to talk to your health care provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you are pregnant. However, we feel there are a few supplements that may be of benefit to your health, and your baby’s health, during these special times. PRENATAL VITAMINS. The problem with most prenatal multivitamins is that they contain too many potentially harmful nutrients (like iron and folic acid) and not enough of what a pregnant woman really needs (like vitamins D3 , folate, and K2 ). It’s best to meet as many of your nutritional needs as possible with food, even while pregnant or nursing. That said, the recommended amounts of certain nutrients, like folate, vitamin K2 , and vitamin D3 , during pregnancy may be difficult to obtain solely through diet. For this reason, taking a prenatal vitamin with the appropriate nutrients in the right dosages and forms may be a good insurance policy. You want at least 1,000 IUs of vitamin D3 , 500 mcg of vitamin K2 (MK-4 form), and 800 mcg of folate (not folic acid). See Resources for our recommendations. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS. The anti-inflammatory fatty acids EPA and especially DHA provide excellent benefits for your baby’s neurological and early visual development, and may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, and pre-term delivery. If you’re eating lots of fatty, cold-water fish (like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, or herring), you may not need to supplement at all. If not, however, we recommend supplementing with 300 mg of DHA per day while you are pregnant, but do not exceed a total of 1 gram of EPA and DHA combined. The easiest way to supplement with EPA and DHA is with a high-quality fish oil; your label will detail the amount of EPA and DHA per pill or teaspoon. FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL. This healthy source of omega-3 fats also contains vitamins A, K2 , and D, helping you meet some of your other nutritional requirements. Alternate supplementing with 300 mg of DHA from fish oil with 1 to 2 teaspoons of fermented cod liver oil. (Remember, regardless of the source, keep total omega-3 intake to under 1 gram a day. See Resources for our fish oil and fermented cod liver oil brand recommendations.) VITAMIN D3 . Vitamin D3 is really not a vitamin at all—it’s actually a hormone, and plays a huge role in your health, especially in pregnancy. Studies show that mothers who supplement with vitamin D3 have a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, pregnancy-related complications, and postpartum depression. Normally, vitamin D3 is produced by exposing your skin to the sun, but the further you live from the equator and the darker your skin, the harder this is during the early and later parts of the day and in winter. During fall and winter in climates north of Atlanta, Georgia, the angle of the sun means the UVB rays don’t penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, so your skin won’t produce enough, if any, vitamin D. (A good rule of thumb is if your shadow is longer than you are tall, you’re not making vitamin D.) During these months, supplementation is your only option to keep levels adequate for you and your baby. Doctors say pregnant women can take up to 10,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D safely, although the Vitamin D Council recommends between 4,000 and 6,000 IU per day while pregnant. (On summer days when you get full-body sun exposure, however, you can skip the supplement.) Refer to Resources for our vitamin D supplement recommendations. PREGNANCY EXTRA CREDIT We recommend getting vitamin D levels tested before pregnancy, during the first trimester, and at the beginning of the third trimester, when the fetal skeleton is rapidly developing and mom’s need for vitamin D is the highest. You should be roughly in the range of 40 to 70 ng/ml; if you’re low, work with your health care provider to supplement with the appropriate amount. BONE BROTH. You may not think of homemade bone broth as a supplement, but it’s a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, and amino acids not found in muscle meat. As 25 to 30 grams of calcium are transferred to the fetus in the last trimester of pregnancy, adding a cup or two of bone broth a day to mom’s diet can help ensure her baby grows strong and healthy without leaving her mineral-deficient. VITAMIN B-COMPLEX. The eight B vitamins are critical for baby’s growth and brain development, but pregnant mommas may also find taking a complex helpful for morning sickness and fatigue, especially in the first trimester. LIVER PILLS. There are enormous benefits to eating organ meats while pregnant. Liver in particular is a dense source of vitamins like A, D, and E, iron, and choline, all of which are essential for a healthy pregnancy. If you can’t source or stomach the idea of eating actual liver, taking a grass-fed, freeze-dried liver supplement will provide you with all the benefits without the gag factor. Aim for an ounce (six capsules) a few times a week. (See Resources for our recommendations.) Finally, understand that during pregnancy, high-quality supplementation takes precedence over Whole30 rules, especially if your supplements are doctor-prescribed. Some of the best supplements out there unfortunately include traces of soy or dairy in the capsule. It’s up to you and your health care provider to decide whether the benefits of taking any supplement or medication outweigh the benefits of avoiding these less-healthy ingredients. (In this case, we believe they do, and are only recommending supplements with trace amounts of these ingredients in forms that are not generally problematic.)

Breastfeeding The Whole30 is one of the best things nursing moms can do for their baby’s health and happiness, but it also keeps you healthy, energetic, and sleeping well (as well as can be), and keeps your immune system strong. When you’re nursing, your baby’s health is your body’s top priority. This means that micronutrients stored in your body and found in the food you eat are passed along in your breast milk to your baby. This is so important that your body will sacrifice its own health and micronutrient stores to make sure your baby has enough. Keeping your diet high in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and healthy fats with the Whole30 ensures there is enough to keep both you and your baby well nourished. In addition, if mom isn’t eating potentially inflammatory foods, that means baby isn’t, either! Mothers report their babies are less fussy, nurse better, have fewer digestive issues and skin conditions, and sleep longer when they’re on the Whole30. That last one alone should convince you to give it a try. Trust us—as the mother of a two-year-old, Melissa remembers exactly what those days of round-the-clock nursing and sleep deprivation feel like. In fact, she did a Whole30 herself when her son was four months old, and found that not only did her milk supply stay plentiful, she and her baby slept better—which meant less stress on mom, and an even easier time maintaining a healthy breast milk supply. BREASTFEEDING SURVEY The most common question we receive from nursing moms is, “Will I be able to maintain my milk supply during the Whole30?” In fact, in a 2014 survey of 600 women who started the Whole30 while nursing, 90 percent said their milk supply either remained stable or increased during the Whole30! Maintaining breast milk supply on the Whole30 The main thing needed to maintain an ample milk supply is simple—the more often and effectively your baby nurses, the more milk you will have. During pregnancy and the first few days postpartum, milk supply is hormonally driven, meaning you produce milk based on the hormonal changes following birth. Your milk supply regulates between six and twelve weeks, and by three months, it’s basically set based on prior demand. So, the best advice we can give you for maintaining supply on or off the Whole30 is feed on demand right from day one! Don’t stick to a pre-determined “schedule”—let your baby decide when and how often to nurse. In addition, an empty breast means faster milk production, so make sure you empty each breast either by nursing, pumping, or a combination of both every time your baby feeds. Calories, macronutrients, and nutrition also play a major factor in your breast milk supply. A sudden drop in caloric or carbohydrate intake may put your milk supply at risk. It’s easy for those new to the Whole30 to under-eat. Your meals are more satiating, you may be a little fat-phobic, and you may be eating so many leafy greens that you forget to include some starchy vegetables and fruit. This may be one context in which tracking your calories and macronutrients for a few days is actually recommended, especially if you’re new to the Whole30. Consuming fewer than 1,800 calories per day may put your milk supply at risk, so make sure you’re eating enough, and don’t go below 100 grams of carbohydrate a day. Hydration levels can also significantly affect milk supply. You may notice you are abnormally thirsty while nursing, but even if you’re not, have a large water bottle on hand and sip on it throughout the day. In addition, eating just three meals a day per our meal template may be impossible with your nursing and sleep schedule, so plan on eating four, five, or six smaller meals whenever it’s convenient. Make sure each meal includes a chunk of protein, a healthy amount of fat, and carbohydrates. Remember, there is no need to limit protein once your baby is born; in fact, a growing baby needs the protein you secrete in your breast milk, so don’t skip your meat, seafood, and eggs! Follow the lower end of our fat recommendations (at a minimum) to ensure you’re getting enough, and be sure to purposefully include some starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squash and a variety of fruit to ensure you’re eating enough carbohydrate. Finally, understand that there are a huge number of factors that contribute to your baby nursing well and your milk supply staying abundant, including sleep, stress levels, other medications you may be on, how well your baby or pump empties each breast—even things like sleeping on your stomach or wearing a bra that’s too tight can inhibit milk supply. With so many issues at play, it’s best to work with an experienced lactation consultant and your health care provider to arrive at a comprehensive strategy to keep you healthy (and keep your milk supply plentiful) while nursing and pumping on the Whole30. Supplementation while breastfeeding First, it’s important to talk to your health care provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. However, we feel there are a few supplements that may be of benefit to your health, and your baby’s health, during these special times. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS. It’s important to keep supplementing with DHA in particular after delivery, as breastfeeding transmits mom’s reserves of DHA to the baby through your breast milk. (DHA remains critical for your baby’s brain development.) Continue supplementing with 300 mg of DHA per day from fish oil or cod liver oil, but still do not exceed a total of 1 gram of EPA and DHA combined. VITAMIN D3 . Continue with 4,000–6,000 IU per day while nursing, so you are able to pass a healthy amount of vitamin D along to your baby in your breast milk. (On summer days when you get full-body sun exposure, however, you can skip the supplement.) BONE BROTH. While nursing, bone broth can help keep you healthy by supporting your immune system, and keeping your mineral levels high. Drink a cup or two a day as part of your healthy eating plan. FENUGREEK. This spice used as flavoring in curry powders or processed maple syrup is a low-risk way to boost or maintain your milk supply. (Melissa had great results with fenugreek during her Whole30.) Fenugreek can boost your milk supply in as little as 24 hours, and once you’ve reached your desired supply, you may be able to discontinue supplementation without a drop. However, some studies show that taking less than 3.5 grams a day may not provide benefits, and lactation experts recommend a daily intake of six grams, which may mean you’re taking 12 capsules a day—far more than the supplement label recommends. Higher doses may lead to hypoglycemia or gastric distress, so you and your health care provider will have to decide the dose that’s right for you. OTHER GALACTAGOGUES. Other supplements thought to increase breast milk supply or stimulate let-down include fennel, Rescue Remedy, Motherlove More Milk Plus, and Mother’s Milk herbal tea. Work with your lactation consultant or health care provider to create a customized, safe lactation plan, especially when including supplements. Visit the special Pregnancy and Breastfeeding section of our Whole30 Forum ( for support during your program. kids “The Whole30 transformed my life—no more high blood pressure or sleep apnea, and I lost over 100 pounds! It also changed my wife’s life; she reversed her type 2 diabetes and lost a great amount of weight. But most important, it set my children up for a solid nutritional and health foundation that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. That’s something I can’t put into words.” —STEPHEN S., DUNNE, NC Is the Whole30 healthy for kids? First, we’re not doctors, so we encourage you to speak with your child’s pediatrician or family care practitioner before changing their diet, especially if they have medical conditions, behavioral disorders, or sensory processing disorders. But since you asked us, we think the Whole30 is optimally healthy for kiddos! Just think about all the nutrient-dense foods they’ll be eating: They’ll get protein, vitamin B12 , and heme iron from quality meats, and take in vitamins, minerals (like calcium and magnesium), antioxidants, and fiber from fruits and veggies; while natural fats like avocado, coconut oil, and ghee promote brain development and steady energy. Our program eliminates the calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that fill their bellies but don’t nourish their bodies, the sugars that keep energy fluctuating and tantrums alive, and potentially problematic foods that may be contributing to their asthma, skin conditions, allergies, or attention disorders. If the plan is approached as a family experiment rather than restriction or punishment, it can actually become a bonding experience for you and your kids. Don’t kids need milk? Kids need nutrient-dense foods to grow and be healthy, but there is nothing in cow’s milk that kids can’t get in more biologically appropriate forms from meat, vegetables, fruits, and fats. Yes, calcium is a key factor in building strong, healthy bones, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the only factor. Other vitamins and minerals play a big role in bone development, as do lifestyle choices like activity levels and stress. Your entire family will get enough calcium and the other vitamins and minerals you need from a wide variety of Whole30-compliant foods. What benefits can I expect to see with my kids? As with adults, your child’s Whole30 results will vary, but parents have reported some very consistent results in some areas. Generally, kids on our plan have more stable energy, fewer tantrums (especially in kids with hyperactivity), focus better in school, take fewer sick days, and sleep better. Digestion improves tremendously, too—fewer reports of gas, bloating, or bellyaches. We’ve also had many testimonials of dramatically improved medical conditions like asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes, and attention deficit disorders. Kids also experience all of the less-visible benefits of the program, like regulated hormones and stable blood sugar. Should you go cold turkey or ease them into the Whole30? There is no simple answer to this question. Every child is different—some respond well to change, some love a challenge, some are born experimenters, and some just want to be left well enough alone. To answer this question, you have to know your child, but we’ll offer you one of three approaches. The first is an “all or nothing,” where you say, “This is what we’re eating—deal with it.” After a brief rebellion, the kids usually come around, and boom—you’re all on board. This approach is rough for a week or so, but it accomplishes your goal fast, and it’s most likely to produce dramatic results. Plus, we promise your kids won’t starve, even if they do refuse to eat for a meal or two. The second approach is a gradual but firm transition, where off-plan foods just aren’t restocked when you run out. Your confrontation level is much lower with this strategy, although it will take you much longer to gear up for the actual Whole30, and longer to see improvements. Finally, you can baby step it, offering your kids better choices but not fighting with them if they refuse. This probably won’t get them on board with a bythe-books Whole30 or our dramatic results, but there won’t be any battles, and if they do make self-directed changes, they’ll likely stick. Choose the approach that’s right for your kids, your family, and your stress levels. Should kids follow the same meal template? Your child’s plate should look like yours—some protein, some natural fat, lots of veggies, and some fruit. You can use our meal template as a jumping off point, but don’t stress if your kids don’t want to eat exactly according to plan. Offer plenty of good food at each meal, let your kids help decide what goes on their plates, and their bodies (which are still very good at communicating things like hunger and satiety) will work it out in the end. However, kids probably need more than three meals a day—their stomachs are small, and metabolisms are humming! Be willing to offer snacks (which should look like small meals) in between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but don’t allow them to graze all day long. My kids are picky eaters. How can I get them to eat their vegetables? Research shows most children need five to ten exposures to a new food before giving it a thumbs-up, so keep offering those beets, and be patient. In addition, colorful food fare is more appealing to children than adults, so put lots of different foods (in lots of different colors) on your kid’s plate. Don’t be afraid to use our dressings or sauces to make their greens more appealing, and remember—they watch every move you make, so make sure you’re eating your veggies with a huge smile and a big, “yum!” My kids still want pancakes. This is a tough one. Ultimately, it’s your decision whether or not to stick to our baked goods or treats rules with your children. On one hand, it’s more important for you to discover whether the foods they used to eat are responsible for their skin condition, tantrums, allergies, or asthma than it is to address their emotional relationship with food, especially if they’re young. In that case, do whatever you need to do to get them to stick to the program, even if it means making egg-and-banana pancakes on Sunday morning. On the other hand, older kids may already have a really unhealthy association with sweets and treats, and you may want to tackle all of these factors (the emotional and the physical) with your family’s Whole30. Ultimately, make your decision based on the age of your kids, the reason they’re on the Whole30 in the first place, and your goals for your family’s program. Just know that if you do make your kids pancakes, we’re still going to insist that you not eat them. What if they eat off-plan foods when they’re away from home? Holding kids to a strict Whole30 can be difficult for many reasons. Schoolteachers, loving relatives, strangers at the bank, and playmates will likely offer your kids “treats.” Before you begin your Whole30, inform your caregiver, teachers, and play group parents of your family’s new food boundaries. Be polite, offer to bring in alternatives for your kids, and ask for their help in keeping your child compliant. Food restrictions may be inconvenient, but if you’re trying to improve a medical issue, behavioral issue, or digestive issue, the next 30 days are important. That having been said, unless there’s a significant sensitivity or an allergy involved (or you’re medically testing for one), don’t get too bent out of shape if it happens. Talk to your kids about the experience and how you saw it affect their health, behavior, or mood; remind them that some foods are more healthy (anytime) choices and some foods are less healthy (sometimes or never) choices; and see if you can get them on board to make these short-term changes as part of a family experiment. Then, just keep on going with your Whole30. Can I help my kids understand how lesshealthy foods affect their health or behavior? That depends on the child’s age and level of awareness. A twoyear-old will have difficulty verbally acknowledging the connection between their food and their health, behavior, or mood, but older children should be able to make those associations. Reintroduce foods in a casual but controlled environment when you’ll be able to observe your child for a few hours afterward. Make mental notes of any changes you observe in your child’s digestion, energy, mood, temper, attention span, or medical condition. Then, draw a connection between the offplan food and the less-than-desirable outcome you observed. Help your children see that the healthier foods they’ve been eating help them behave better, play longer, and feel better, and they’re more likely to make better choices going forward. See the appendix for more resources on the Whole30 for kids

Back to top