Hello my fellow Whole30’ers! Hopefully you have been reading your books. If so, you will already know most of the information below, but it won’t hurt to cover the basics of Whole30 and go over the gray areas…because there are a few. So here we go… Whole30: The Do’s, The Don’ts and The Gray Areas!
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Let’s Clarify the Rules and the Butter

That’s Whole30 Humor right there… the Whole30 program is a temporary elimination diet that focuses on excluding foods that tend to trigger inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of disease and many of us suffer from systemic inflammation that causes us pain, headaches, digestive issues, hormonal disruptions, mood swings…the list goes on and on. Millions of people have changed their lives with the Whole30 program; eliminating cravings, improving energy and sleep, reporting an improvement in allergies, anxiety, chronic pain, digestive issues, skin conditions; and losing weight healthfully and sustainably. And while the rules are very cut and dry, there still can be room for confusion. This post is designed to clear any of that confusion up!

A blue and yellow jar of ghee. Whole 30: The Do's, The Don'ts and The Gray Areas


The No-no’s For 30 Days

Grains (all of them and remember, corn is a grain not a vegetable)
Dairy (one exception!)
Legumes (a gray area, see below…and remember peanuts are legumes)
Sugar and all sweeteners
Additives (colorings, flavorings carrageenan or sulfites)
Snacks (gray area)
Weighing yourself for 30 days!

The Definitely Do’s!

Quality poultry, beef, fish, pork and eggs
Tons of vegetables!
Fruit (two closed fist sized servings a day with meals)
A portion of of healthy fats at each meal (see below)
Download a Meal Template here

The Gray Areas

The Whole30 rules are pretty cut a dry but there are a couple of gray areas that leave people a little confused. Here they are…

Snacking: Who Can and Who Can’t…and What if You Really Need To?

The Whole30 encourages no snacking because the program is designed to expose your weaknesses and make you keenly aware of what you do too often. Most of us do not realize how often we snack until it is not an option. When you can’t pop something in your mouth every time you walk by the fridge or pantry you realize just how often you do it! The creators of Whole30 want you to become very aware of this and focus on consuming enough real food at meals that you are satisfied, hence the ‘no snacking’ rule. Who are the exceptions to this rule? Pregnant women, athletes in training, children and someone that needs to snack due to a medical condition. If that’s not you (it’s not me) then the program advises no snacking. That said, if you really need to do it on occasion, meaning it’s ‘snack or quit’, just make sure you stay within program rules. I have on occasion ‘snacked’ on my Egg Drop Soup. It’s nutritious, filling (but not too) and has healthy fats that make you feel full.

Why Ghee, Isn’t That Still Dairy?

Technically yes. While butter from grass fed cows is generally considered a nutritious medium chain fatty acid, dairy is not allowed on Whole30 because it is one of those foods that can cause inflammation and/or trigger digestive issues for some people. So why are clarified butter and ghee allowed? Because the milk solids that usually cause the problems mentioned above, are removed in the process of creating ghee and clarified butter. You can make your own or find it at the grocery store. Of course olive oil, nut oils, coconut oil and other unprocessed oils are encouraged. Stay away from vegetable, seed and canola oils. The exception: if you are eating out it is almost impossible to guarantee that your food has not been cooked in off plan oils. So eat out as little as possible and when cooking at home use only approved oils.


On Whole30 we exclude legumes, this includes beans of all kinds, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. Yes peanuts are a legume and not a nut, so they are excluded. No peanut butter, either. The legume exceptions: green beans, sugar snap peas, snow pea pods and English peas…wait? What?! Yes, peas are now allowed on Whole30!


While smoothies made using ingredients within the Whole30 plan are not forbidden, they are not encouraged. Why? Because the creators of Whole30 want you to eat rather than drink your meal. Also, smoothies don’t tend to make you feel full for as long as food. BUT: if it works for you to have a smoothie because of time constraints you will not be breaking the rules as long as the ingredients are within the Whole30 plan.

No Matter How Many “Whole30 Desserts” You See On Pinterest, There is No Such Thing!

Sorry folks. No matter how many people claim a dessert is Whole30, there simply is no such thing. In the Whole30 world desserts do not exist. The point of Whole30 is to expose your weaknesses, not substitute them with “paleo-fied” versions of the very things that got you in trouble in the first place. In fact, in Whole30 land there is a special and quite amusing name for gooey, creamy, sweet concoctions that use compliant ingredients like almond flour, dates and coconut cream to fool you into thinking you’re having dessert…they are called SWYPOS…and that acronym stands for “sex with your pants on”. Those SWYPOS only trigger cravings for desserts and are never as satisfying as the real thing (just like sex with your pants on). They are strictly forbidden because they sabotage your progress.

Why Don’t We Weigh Ourselves?

One of the rules of Whole 30 is ‘no stepping on the scale’. So let’s talk about why this is important. It seems like this is a silly rule and if you are eating Whole30 compliant what difference does it make if you weigh yourself?

Unfortunately, on our first Whole30 my husband and I broke this rule almost everyday. He would step off the scale and say “5 lbs!” a week later “10 lbs”! etc…He lost 20 lbs in 30 days. You know what I lost? My motivation, my ability to focus on non scale victories and maybe even a little bit of self esteem.

I was being compliant, I was feeling great! I was looking great. But I was not seeing the scale move like he was. In fact the first two weeks it didn’t move at all. Not a pound. This made sticking to my first Whole30 so much harder than it had to be. I would think “am I depriving myself for nothing?” because I still didn’t understand Whole30 is about so much more than losing weight!

By the end of the 30 days we were both feeling so fantastic and the non scale victories were so amazing I could have cared less about the scale, which was good because 3 lbs was all I lost, total.

But you know what I gained? The knowledge that how I felt and looked was completely and totally related to what I put in my mouth. No blaming ‘old age’ or those six babies I had (decades ago). I was in control and if I didn’t like something about the way I looked or felt I had the power to change it. THAT is invaluable. I learned dairy gave me an instant sinus headache. I learned that 3 lbs makes a big difference (picture 3 lbs of butter. That takes up a fair amount of space! I lost that much fat!) I learned that taking the time to be prepared with healthy food options actually saved time and money. I learned that I have more will power than I ever thought. I learned it is possible to slay the sugar dragon (I have been off sugar for 2 years!!!) I learned that I could be satisfied with healthy delicious food and I became a better and more creative cook! So remember…

Comparison is a thief of joy. That is what I have to say. Comparing yourself, even to your former self, robs you of the joy of what you have accomplished. For 30 days let the focus be on how you feel, how you are sleeping, how your belly isn’t bloated, how your joints are moving more freely, how your skin has improved, how you might not need that afternoon nap, how your energy levels and ability to focus have taken a huge leap forward. And let that be enough.


I Conduct Ongoing Whole 30 Support Groups!

So that’s it! Pretty straight forward right? My next post will be about preparing the week before starting a Whole 30. This is an important one so be sure to check back in. Also, joining the Whole 30 Facebook Page I set up and my Whole 30 Pinterest Recipe Board is a great idea. I offer support, advice, and recipes a lot of amazing recipes.


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Post tags: Gluten free, grain free, dairy free