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Diet 101: a guide to Whole30 diet  

Diet 101: a guide to Whole30 diet  

Here is (almost) everything to know about Whole30 diet before starting it
whole 30 diet
Representational image | Shutterstock

Two years ago, software engineer Manmohan Kumar, 55, from Delhi consulted a dietitian to keep a check on his weight.  

Airing the problems he was battling then, he tells Happiest Health, “I am 163 cm tall. At that time I used to weigh 100 kg with a BMI of 37.6. When I was 40, my weight was 72 kg.”   

Kumar’s job involves working on the computer for nine hours every day. “I did not find the time to exercise, ate heavy dinners late and watched television shows for a couple of hours,” he says.  

While watching the TV at night, he would snack on chips or sweets. The combined effect of these factors kept pushing his weight up over the years. When Kumar decided to seek help to manage his weight, his dietitian advised him to begin the Whole30 diet to break his unhealthy eating patterns.  

“The purpose of the Whole30 diet is to induce a brief reset that will reduce cravings and unhealthy eating patterns while enhancing metabolism, resolving digestive issues, and balancing the immune system, ultimately leading to a new eating pattern,” says Delhi-based dietitian Dr Veena Kumari.   

The diet can be a success – or a failure – depending on one’s strict adherence to it without cheating. “If dieters stray from the plan, they must restart all 30 days. It is also advised not to weigh or measure yourself during the 30-day period,” she adds.   

Strictly whole products 

A dieter should abide by a set of guidelines before starting the Whole30 diet. The intention is to stop consumption of foods that could cause allergies or contribute to inflammation in the body.  

Whole meals are emphasised while highly processed convenience foods are barred.  

The focus is on whole foods and their origins than on their calorific content.  

Dieters may have to give up some of their favourite or regular foods: this diet advises one against eating grains, dairy, sugar, majority of legumes, and alcohol during the 30 days.  

After the diet period is over, the foods are gradually reintroduced over 10 to 14 days. Whole meals are emphasised while highly processed convenience foods are barred.  

A pause on specific foods 

Items such as desserts, cookies, or bakery items, even if they are made with “healthy” components such as nuts or almond flour, are not allowed.  

Grain products, all-natural and artificial sweeteners, legumes, dairy products, alcohol, and foods containing specific chemicals like MSG, carrageenan, and sulphites are to be avoided.  

It allows consumption of fruits, vegetables, unprocessed meats, fish, seafood, eggs, unsaturated fats, herbs, spices, and seasonings.  

“If you have bowel irregularities or poor gut health, this diet might help,” says Dr Kamna Desai, a clinical dietitian based in Mumbai. She explains that the diet is designed to get one’s body moving in a healthier direction.  

Pains and gains 

“There are challenges because Whole30 is more of a short-term food challenge than a permanent transformation. Strict guidelines govern it. The main objective is to limit your eating. Therefore, we advise you to re-start it from Day One if you cheat on even one of the 30 days,” she cautions.  

Veena Kumari says the dieter may benefit by breaking bad eating patterns and urges. The first try can be challenging. She advises dieters not to be too hard on themselves because the diet is strict.   

Consider it more of a lifestyle adjustment rather than a one-time challenge, because restricting and reintroducing meals to your body have their advantages. If you do not stick to the diet for the entire 30 days, do not consider it a failure, say experts.  

Who should avoid it?  

You lose significant nutrients when you reduce your intake of certain foods. Ask your doctor if Whole30 is appropriate for you before trying it. If you have a history of eating disorders, stay away from it.   

“This diet is based on strict controls, which may not be good for your physical or emotional health,” cautions Dr Shreya Tripathi, nutritionist, metabolic balance coach, and certified diabetes educator.  

A significant portion of this diet involves eating meat, and will not suit vegetarians and vegans. (One suited to them has also been devised.) “Important nutrients that you would get from grains and legumes are also restricted. You will find it difficult to get the recommended dosage of calcium and Vitamin D as a result,” Dr Tripathi adds.  

She also points out that Whole30 may change a dieter’s blood sugar levels. Additionally, it might exacerbate intestinal inflammation, and have adverse effect on one’s health. Whole30 is not for those who have diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.  

What is in  

  • Meat  
  • Eggs  
  • Vegetables  
  • Fruits  
  • Juices  
  • Legumes such as green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas  

What is out 

  • Dairy  
  • Grains  
  • Fatty foods  
  • Sodas and beverages containing refined sugar  
  • Food items with extra sugar  
  • Sweets, desserts and pastries  

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