The Whole 30 Diet: Tips for Success
Are you getting started on your Whole 30 journey? You couldn't be making a better decision!
"The Whole 30" is a way of adopting the Paleolithic diet for 30 days. The "Paleo diet" is theorized to be based on evolutionary principles stating that the earliest humans didn't have access to convenient, processed, and sugar-laden foods that we have today. Rather, early hunter-gatherers consumed diets that, for the most part, consisted of vegetables, fruits, meat, and nuts & seeds (1). While I've heard it argued that the Paleo diet is silly because, "Cavemen died young," the reason for their short longevity is more likely natural selection pressures, like their exposure to the elements, hunger, and predators. However, it is hypothesized to be unlikely that early humans suffered from the abundant chronic conditions present in our society today, like obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, autoimmunity, and other chronic diseases with inflammation as the underlying cause (2) (3) (4).
When you say you are embarking on the Whole 30 diet, what you are really saying is, "For 30 days I am committed to eating an anti-inflammatory diet based on organic vegetables, meat, and fruit." The anti-inflammatory properties of the diet include consuming more omega-3 fatty acids as compared to the standard American diet (SAD), which is rich in omega-6, inflammatory fatty acids, eating a wide array of colorful vegetables and fruits which are anti-inflammatory, free-radical quenching, and nutrient & fiber-rich, eating enough lean protein to maintain healthy muscle mass, stabilizing blood sugar, and removing pro-inflammatory components from the diet like refined grains and sugar. Regardless of whether the paleo diet is truly based in human evolution or not, for 30 days you are giving your body a break from the constant onslaught of highly processed and inflammatory foods that plague our society.
Now, all this SOUNDS great, but the DOING is a whole lot harder. Therefore, I want to give you a few hints and tips that will help you be successful on your journey.
1. PREPARATION IS KEY
As human beings, we are prone to desiring instant gratification, and when we get excited, we move too fast and can often derail. Once you decide to do the Whole 30, give yourself 2-3 days to plan and prepare. Usually, it is best to dedicate one day to exploring Paleo websites and cookbooks, and making yourself a meal plan. It's best to plan for at least 1-2 weeks out: and that means EVERY MEAL! The second day, you should do all your shopping and cooking. Put each meal into individual containers for the week, so you are never in a position where you "have nothing to eat." What is the number one reason people slip up on this diet? LACK OF PREPARATION.
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2. ACCOUNTABILITY IS ESSENTIAL
Most people CANNOT get through this diet (or really, any discipline-based undertaking) by white-knuckling it. Having a group of people doing the Whole 30 with you, who can help you to be accountable and support you when times get tough, is essential to making it all the way through. Consider creating a facebook group with your friends, or join an online forum!
3. REALIZE AT SOME POINT YOU WILL WANT TO QUIT
You'll know when it happens. About 3-5 days into this program, you will want to throw in the towel. You've quit drinking coffee cold-turkey. You don't know what you want to eat. You are craving your favorite before-bed snack food. You have a headache you can't shake, and your digestive system is completely out of whack. Remember that all these symptoms are TEMPORARY and with change comes adversity. As I tell clients, if you can make it through the first week, you can make it a month. If you can make it a month, you are well on your way to creating an entirely new and healthy lifestyle. For more details, see my previous blog post, What is a Healing Crisis and Why Do They Happen?
4. PEOPLE MIGHT BE MEAN AND YOU NEED TO NOT CARE
To me, this one has always been truly mind-blowing, but I have encountered it time and again. People might act annoyed, resentful, or even seem outright angry at you for your new lifestyle. They will question your new "fad diet" and cause you to doubt your decision. They may even try and convince you to cheat, or worse, quit! What is important to realize is that people act this way from a place of insecurity that comes from within themselves. Everything people do comes from a position of inner strength, or inner weakness. It is ENTIRELY up to you which place YOU choose to come from.
5. SUPPLEMENTS ARE FANTASTIC KICK-STARTERS
Ideally, everything you need to be healthy comes from your diet and lifestyle (sleep, exercise, time spent outdoors, etc.) However, given our high-speed, technology-driven, stress-filled, and environmental toxin-loaded way of living, sometimes our physiology needs a gentle push in the right direction. I always recommend a basic supplement regimen to clients who are changing their lifestyles to create the conditions for health. These include, but are not limited to:
-A quality omega-3 fatty acid source (flax for vegetarians, fish oil for non-vegetarians)
-A quality, moderate potency probiotic
-A digestive enzyme blend (for people who have digestive troubles from converting from the standard American diet to a produce-centered one)
-A quality botanical blend that encourages restful sleep ("nervine" or rest-promoting botanicals include ashwagandha, magnolia, passionflower, skullcap, and valerian, and compounds like theanine and glycine)
This combination is designed to be anti-inflammatory, encourage speedy replacement of omega-6 with omega-3 fats in cellular membranes, establish a healthy microbiome in the gut, aid in the digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and promote quality, restful sleep. Dosages often change based on the unique physiology of every individual person, therefore, I recommend you read supplement labels carefully and always consult with your primary care physician before starting any supplement regimen.
Remember, quality MATTERS! Over-the-counter supplements are often full of fillers and have no guarantee that they contain what they purport to. I always highly recommend you purchase supplements that are practitioner-quality.
To check out ANW's Whole 30 Basic Supplement Kit, visit our virtual dispensary: www.dssorders.com/anwnaturopathic and use the code PP964 to create an account. From there, you can view the "EZ kit" containing these supplement recommendations.
Also consider making an appointment with us! Guidance and coaching are an integral part of our Wellness Plans, which focus especially on diet, exercise, sleep, and targeted supplementation. Visit www.anwnaturopathic.com/contact to make an appointment.
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR WHOLE 30 ADVENTURE!