Should You Try the Whole30 Diet?

7 questions, answered
Should You Try the Whole30 Diet?

Have you been hearing a lot about the Whole30 diet? This 30-day elimination diet involves giving up alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, dairy, and legumes. Then, you slowly bring these foods back into your diet while watching for signs of discomfort or food sensitivity.

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There are many health claims about this diet, so we asked dietitian Rachel Stockle, RD, LD, to answer some questions.

1. Do you recommend the Whole30 diet?

Yes, for some people. This diet can be a good place to start if someone is frustrated and fed up with food, especially if they feel like they’ve tried everything and that there is no rhyme or reason to food intake as it relates to the way they feel.

It can be particularly appropriate if you have irregular bowel movements without being able to pinpoint the cause. It also may help some people lose weight, reduce fatigue and ease generalized pain.

2. How does it work?

The idea is to remove common allergens and pro-inflammatory foods (such as added sugar and processed oils) from your diet by paying close attention to ingredients and food origins rather than focusing strictly on calories and grams.

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By removing these foods for 30 days, it helps you understand if any of your symptoms are food-related. After 30 days is up, you reintroduce the foods you removed in a very specific, slow, meticulous manner to start to identify which foods might not be agreeing with you.

3. What foods are included on this diet?

People can eat the following on the Whole30 diet:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (dried fruit is allowed in small amounts)
  • Eggs and lean proteins, such as fish, poultry, beef, and pork (preferably grass-fed and organic)
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil or ghee
  • Nuts and nut butters, such as cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds and almond butter

4. What are the health claims, and do you agree?

The foods that this diet eliminates are most likely to destabilize blood sugar levels and lead to cravings as well as cause inflammation and gut damage, according to the founders of this diet, and I agree.

Removing higher glycemic foods such as grains, legumes/lentils and added sugars can help prevent our blood sugar from spiking and then dropping quickly. When blood sugar rises and falls quickly, it can increase general inflammation in the body and lead to poor gut health.

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5. What results do you think are reasonable?

I find that with most patients, it can take six to eight weeks to see major changes in energy levels, weight loss, and reduction of inflammatory gastrointestinal issues.

Within four weeks, though, you can tell if you’re going in the right direction because your body should be able to detox from sugars and processed foods.

6. Can you talk a bit about reintroducing foods?

After thirty days, reintroduce one food at a time over several days. Try to be really be in tune with your body and overall symptoms. Watch for symptoms or anything that seems out of the ordinary that may have been reduced during the thirty diet days. This could indicate a food sensitivity.

7. Are there people who should avoid this diet?

Although I do believe that the whole 30 can be a good way to help identify food sensitivities, it isn’t for everyone. Food and nutrition is very personal and everyone has different needs. Consult your healthcare professional before starting a plan like the whole 30.

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