Whole30 Benefits & Drawbacks
Whole30 Benefits & Drawbacks: My Thoughts
Is Whole 30 Good for You & Worth Trying?
One “diet” that had a big impact on my journey to Food Freedom was the Whole30. I’ve followed the program multiple times, and I noticed all kinds of different Whole 30 benefits each time. Not just for my physical health, but also for my mental health and my relationship with food. But, is Whole30 good for you and something that you should try? (Hint: The answer is different for everyone!)
Melissa Urban, the founder of Whole30, wrote a book called Food Freedom Forever. This concept always resonated with me and ultimately inspired the name for this course. So, certainly, Whole30 impacted me in a positive way!
And yet, it’s unlikely I’ll ever do a full Whole30 again. Why is that?
Despite the many Whole30 benefits I’ve experienced, there are other aspects of the program that don’t align with my journey right now. So, how can you know for yourself: Is Whole30 good for you and worth trying? I discuss the details and share my thoughts in today’s video.
What is Whole30 & Why Do It?
If you aren’t familiar with the Whole30, it’s a kind of “clean eating” program. It’s similar to Paleo, but it’s specifically a 30-day elimination diet.
Personally, I would not call the Whole30 a “diet” as much as I would call it an experiment. The Whole30 is intended to be done for 30 days—not forever. Also, it’s not aimed at weight loss, and counting calories isn’t part of the program. (It’s not even allowed!)
The point is to remove (eliminate) certain food groups for a period of time (30 days). Then, you slowly and systematically reintroduce those items to see how your body responds. This is one of the major Whole30 benefits and reasons people try the program: to identify possible food sensitivities and intolerances.
Now, the Whole30 isn’t the only elimination diet out there. In fact, elimination diets have been around for a while, and they’re one of the main tools for identifying food intolerances in general! The Whole30 is just a unique elimination diet with specific rules about which food groups to eliminate, and how to reintroduce those food groups.
Again, much more than a “diet,” the Whole30 is a comprehensive program aimed at shifting how we eat and relate to food. For me, these are some of the other major Whole30 benefits and part of why I did the program more than once!
Whole30 Benefits & Drawbacks
I’ve done a full round of Whole30 seven or eight times now, and each time I’ve learned something about myself and my body. My second Whole30 back in 2018 is when I first realized that what I eat impacts my mental health, for instance. When I was eating well and nourishing my body, my mind was clearer and I felt better emotionally.
Of course, I noticed plenty of Whole30 benefits for my physical health, too. Primarily, I gained useful information about which foods sit well with my body and which were more problematic. And, my body always felt good during and after the Whole30!
Most of all, I loved the concept of Food Freedom, the fact that there’s no counting calories, and the program’s focus on non-scale victories. For me, focusing on these “NSVs” helped me to embrace the many health gains that have nothing to do with weight loss. All of these were very helpful pieces and learning experiences on my own journey.
But, the Whole30 also appealed a little too much to my attachment to “rules,” reinforcing some of my disordered eating habits. Knowing what I ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ eat on the Whole30 used to give me a sense of comfort, and I felt more ‘in control.’
Yet, I found that sense of ‘control’ was a form of restriction for me. And, following food rules has often exacerbated my stress about health. Ultimately, both the restriction and the rules have proven damaging to my relationship with food and to my health.
Is Whole30 Good for You & Should You Try It?
So, Whole30 benefits and drawbacks taken altogether: Is Whole30 good for you and worth trying? Of course, only you can answer this question. But, here are my thoughts after following the program numerous times.
Outer Wisdom vs Inner Wisdom
Overall, I think the Whole30 can be a wonderful tool of outer wisdom. Yes, it is based in science and research, and that information about nutrition and food sensitivities can be valuable on our journeys.
BUT, in order for Whole30 (or any outer wisdom tool) to be truly valuable, I believe we need some inner wisdom as a foundation first. We need to be connected to ourselves and aware enough to recognize: our emotional eating triggers, what causes us stress, what’s helping or hurting us in terms of our physical and mental health.
At the same time, one of the Whole30 benefits is that it can help us to develop inner wisdom. By eliminating various food groups and reintroducing them, you get to learn how your individual body responds to those foods. This is very valuable information!
And again, the Whole30 also helps us to shift focus away from counting calories and instead focus on those “non-scale victories.” By focusing on health gains separate from weight loss, we practice tuning in to our bodies and learn what’s working for us. We start acknowledging that there’s more to health than weight loss.
So, What to Do?
As mentioned, there’s no easy answer here. Certainly, I think there are many Whole30 benefits and that the program can be helpful. But, it depends on the person and where each individual is at in their journey. Remember, the Whole30 is a tool of outer wisdom, but it may also help some of us to develop our inner wisdom.
So, if you have a high reliance on outer wisdom, food rules, restriction and/or dieting:
- The Whole30 may exacerbate your focus on rules and restriction—despite its focus on non-scale victories.
- Or, the program may lead you to tune in and learn more about your inner wisdom for the first time—IF this is something you’re currently open to.
Only you can assess where you’re at, and whether or not the Whole30 is a valuable tool for you at this time. First, I highly recommend reviewing the Whole30 rules, then do a little reflection on your own before deciding. (See today’s journal prompt below.)
If you feel concerned or hesitant, or maybe even overly eager to dive into a program with so many rules, it may be more worthwhile to continue focusing on inner wisdom for a while. Personally, I think this is what I really needed for so long, and I just didn’t know it. Of course, each of our journeys is going to be different, and all of our experiences can offer valuable information!
15-Minute Guided Meditation
Meditation became a huge tool for me to cultivate my inner wisdom and emotional intelligence. And, as I did so, I found myself more and more capable of making healthier choices—emotionally, physically and mentally. (Most importantly, without rules or restriction!)
So, if you’re interested in starting or continuing your own practice, here’s another guided meditation to add to your options. This one is a little longer, at 15 minutes, so it can give you a chance to experience what a longer session feels like.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Apps
Today’s Journal Prompt:
Why do or don’t you want to do the Whole30?
How might it help you on your journey? Are there any negative habits it might reinforce?
- The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide by Melissa Hartwig Urban & Dallas Hartwig
- Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig Urban
- The Whole30 Day by Day by Melissa Hartwig Urban
- The Whole30 website
- Melissa Urban’s Instagram
Whole30 Recipes & Foods
- What is Whole30? + 9 Whole30 Recipes – Mind Over Munch
- Whole30 Meal Prep for the Week (Video)
- 4 Whole30 Meal Prep Recipes (Video)
- My Whole30 Fridge Tour (Video)
- Whole30 Snacks (Video)