Dear Melissa, How Do You Eat? (Part 2)

Welcome to Dear Melissa, where we answer your questions about transitioning into or or maintaining a healthy Whole9 life, helping you figure out how to make this lifestyle work in the real world. Today, we’re answering the #1 question on everyone’s mind, in three part format. (This is Part 2, so go back and read Part 1 first, please.)

Dear Melissa,

How do you eat?

Love, Everyone

Dear Everyone,

In part 1 of this article, I mentioned that just because I eat this way does not mean you should eat this way. In fact, I think I made myself perfectly clear when I said, “You should not eat what I eat.” If you have to go back and read that article first, please do so before continuing, just so we’re all on the same page.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s how I eat on a regular basis.

First, my three meals a day are all, with few exceptions, pretty much Whole30. I no longer hold to the “zero added sugar” rule in my day-to-day life—there’s sugar in my ketchup, my maple chicken sausage, and the tamarind sauce I use to make pad thai, and I don’t worry about that one bit, probably because I don’t add sugar to anything. Really, I’ve been racking my brain on this—I don’t use any form of added sweetener at all, except for one dish where I bake salmon in maple syrup, coconut aminos, and ginger.

The meals I prepare at home are grain-free, dairy-free (save butter—I don’t bother to clarify it any more), and legume-free. I follow our meal planning template. I eat a palm-plus of protein with each meal, a heap of vegetables, some fruit (a lot more in summer), and natural fats. So in my daily life, I actually do eat the way we recommend you eat when you’re on the Whole30.

My daily exception is heavy whipping cream in my decaf. We buy pastured, organic cream (usually Strauss brand), and I only use a little, because I don’t like the taste if I use too much. (FYI, I’ve been caffeine-free for just about four years now.)

I don’t sweat eating white rice or white potatoes. If I go out for sushi, I bring my own coconut aminos, but eat rolls with rice. I don’t do French fries very often, but at home we’ll mash or roast our own white potatoes. I have no physical or psychological issues with these foods, and my context would allow me to eat them pretty regularly without any negative metabolic consequences. As such, these are two non-Whole30 foods that have made their way into my general “Whole9 life.”

I avoid gluten unless it’s really, really special. Gluten makes me look pregnant, and makes me sad and anxious for a few days after I eat it. Really. That’s one of the things I figured out by around my fourth Whole30, and most of the time the mental consequences are just not worth it. I don’t eat gluten-free grains like oats or quinoa—I don’t miss them, so I don’t bother to include them in my diet. I’ll eat corn occasionally, usually in the form of hot buttered popcorn or tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. Popcorn is of my favorite treats, and I use an entire stick of butter in each bowl. Literally. Lately, I’ve noticed if I eat corn too frequently I’m prone to a histamine response (hives), so I keep my intake limited—popcorn no more than once a week.

I always avoid soy. It’s just not worth the potential downsides. I’ll eat peanuts occasionally, but only if they really add to the meal (like the green papaya salad at our favorite sushi restaurant). I avoid all cheese—soft cheese like the plague. Goat cheese makes me feel like I have an alien in my belly. I would politely decline a dish containing goat cheese even if it was lovingly prepared by the Pope, Oprah, or Ryan Reynolds. (I’d be sad about that last one, though.)

I never drink milk, eat cottage cheese, or yogurt. I used to do a pastured, organic, plain sheep’s milk yogurt, but then I figured out it wasn’t okay for my digestive tract. Dairy and I just don’t agree, which makes it really easy to not miss it.

Needless to say, I never, ever eat pizza.

I don’t drink alcohol much anymore. It’s practically never worth it, as even small amounts make me feel like junk the next day. I maybe have one beverage every month or two. It’s almost always Prosecco with a splash of St. Germain, because it’s delicious and makes me feel glamorous. I rarely finish the glass and I never order two.

We never bake, Paleo or otherwise. It’s not because we feel like we have to live up to our anti-SWYPO reputation, it’s because we’re just not into baked goods—never have been. Cookies, muffins, breads, or pancakes just don’t do it for Dallas or me. Honestly. Meh. We’ve made a Paleo banana bread a few times when we have company over, and once I made sweet potato brownies for a Christmas party. Oh, and Dallas made one batch of Paleo pancakes one morning when his Mom was visiting. They were okay. Thus ends our illustrious Paleo baking career.

I will indulge when something amazingly delicious or special comes along, but I don’t plan for these things, like “Oh, on Sunday I’ll let myself eat something delicious.” I keep on eating as normal until something so special or so gorgeous comes along that I make a conscious decision right there on the spot that it’s worth it to indulge. Sometimes it happens three times a week, sometimes it won’t happen for a few weeks in a row. Usually I will have only a small amount. I often don’t even finish the “treat,” because I’m the person who can legitimately just have a few bites and leave the rest if I feel satisfied. I know you hate me for that, but I have other issues, I assure you.

The most S.A.D. thing I’ve eaten in the last month are Cadbury Crème Eggs. They’re not even close to real food, but I love them because my Mom always put them in my Easter basket and I find the texture incredible, so I’ve decided they’re worth it. When I eat one, I savor it. I eat it slowly, I don’t apologize (even though Dallas thinks they’re gross), and I am still just as happy with myself after eating it as I was before I peeled the wrapper.

So there you have it—this is what I eat. Post thoughts, questions, or gasps of horror that I’m not Whole30 all the time to comments.

Best in health,

P.S. Ready for the last and final installment of this three-part series? Read Part 3 of “Dear Melissa, How Do You Eat?

We welcome your input! Share your thoughts in comments.

Got a question for Dear Melissa? Submit it using this handy form.

Remember, we aren’t answering technical questions via this column, nor are we able to offer you specific advice about your medical issue, health condition, or body composition.

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  1. Virginia says

    Thank you for sharing. Now that you have shared the ultimate “secret” to health, I will begin eating exactly like you…..Except that I won’t because I’m me and you’re you.
    I’m between Whole 30s at the moment and only two years into finding paleo, so I’m still working on finding out what works best for me. The psychological consequences of never eating pizza again (despite the fact that I have a bellyache this very moment and feel sluggish from the very delicious awesome pizza I ate last night) are too horrible to contemplate! I still work to make healthy choices on a consistent basis. I do find that each time I’ve done a Whole 30 (or Whole #) I learn something new. The physical consequences of eating foods were pretty apparent with the first and second Whole 30s. But as I’ve come back to it, I learn a lot more about “me” and foods.
    I enjoy the thoughtfulness that Whole 9 brings to my daily life. I’m a regular visitor to the blog and occasionally the forums and I find that I’m always taking something away to learn from. When I get too far off track I’ll pick up the book and remind myself what I’ve learned.
    Thank you for the thoughtfulness and care that you’ve put into this post especially. It can’t have been easy to answer this question, given the obvious and very real concerns about people thinking your “secret” to health and happiness is their “secret”.
    Sadly my love affair with the Cadbury Egg ended years ago. But my bizarre Easter Basket food love are those odd coconut covered marshmellow chocolate cakes that look like bunny tails. They remind me of all the love and happiness of childhood Easters. And that’s totally worth it.

  2. says

    I’m with you on the high fat dairy like butter and heavy cream. Those are the first things I add back after a Whole30. I also add back some cheese.

    Just to prove the point of your previous post, potatoes really do pose a problem for me. Everytime I add them back, I find myself craving all kinds of unhealthy forms of fried potatoes. Also, when I am off of them, I feel much more energetic.

    My question for you has to do with your occasional indulgences. Do you use “special occasions” as a reason to indulge, such as birthdays or holidays?

    • says

      Stephen, it depends. I won’t indulge on my birthday just because it’s my birthday, but if my husband gets me my favorite cupcake from my favorite gluten-free bakery, I’ll pretty much always decide it’s worth it.

      I find I (and most people) usually do indulge on holidays because that’s when the once-a-year food comes out to play. I can’t get my Mom’s chocolate chip walnut cake any other time of the year, so even though it’s made with a cup of Crisco (CRISCO, people), I usually indulge. I pass on the stuff that isn’t as special to me, though.

      I really do try to make conscious decisions around food (is it worth it? do I want it? will it mess me up?) no matter what the circumstances. I don’t always succeed, but that’s my goal.


    • says

      That makes a lot of sense. Personally, I’m trying to get away from the “Special Occasion = Eat Junk” mindset. I agree that there are certain special things that are worthy, but I just can’t cheat every holiday like my family/friends think I should. It would just totally throw me off.

  3. Christina M. says

    I’m on day 18 of my first Whole 30 and people have asked me what I plan on indulging in on day 31. All I know is that I want to reintroduce myself to dairy and some grains like tortillas, rice and beans. Being a Mexican woman, that being on the no list, took some courage! But I want to improve my overall health…we’ll see how it goes.

    • Vanessa says

      I agree!!! I have never had zero tortillas in a day or zero beans in a week!!! I’m on day 15 and everyday I think about a bean and chees taco or chalupa! But everyday the urge gets less and less to eat it. And now it’s more like “one day I might eat a bean and cheese taco” instead if “OMG! I need that taco” good luck!

    • Shannon says

      Me three!! Being a Mexican that doesn’t eat beans or corn tortillas is a little sad to me. I miss them. Still haven’t added beans/legumes since my whole30, but have had the occasional corn chip or corn tortilla with only mild discomfort. Sigh….

  4. Matt says

    Thanks for sharing, and for your transparency. It’s helpful to see your thought process during regular, non-Whole30 contexts.

  5. Layla says

    It’s nice to see a thoughtful example of what life after Whole30 could look like! My husband and I are finishing our first Whole30 next week, and I’ve honestly been struggling with what to do with myself afterwards (like a lot of us, I’m sure)!

    I never really had any addicting issues with food (except maybe chocolate every 28 days… :) Mostly I was just frustrated that no matter how “good” I thought I was eating, I never felt or looked better. I’ve felt so great during this whole process that I’m nervous to go back out and test the waters!

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kimberlea says

    Thank you! I’m on day 4 of my first W30 and already realizing my relationship with food is far mare dysfunctional than I realized. This post gives me hope… there is life after W30! Excited to learn new things in the next 26 days and during the reintroduction phase (dear Jesus, please let my body be happy with heavy cream in my coffee and rice on my plate!).

    • Jennifer says

      I hope you dont mind me responding to your comment…i finished my whole 30 two weeks ago…and man…i realized as you are what a bad relationship i had with food…i decided to keep on going with the whole 30…it feels so good to be free of my food addiction!!! Good luck!

    • Kimberlea says

      I’m 28 and I can’t tell you how many diets I’ve been on. But W30 (even just 4 days in) is the first time I feel like I’m not doing a “program”, I’m getting to know myself. Crazy stuff (like the s’mores and beer I’ll watch my friends eat tomorrow night) sounds good at first, but on second thought it’s not worth it at all. I am dying for some cream in my coffee and real rice instead of cauliflower. But I’m thankful and excited for these 30 days. Thanks for your encouragement!

  7. Sonja Lowry says

    Thanks for keeping it real! I am on day 17 and I feel amazing but the idea of keeping this gig up forever (Wholeforever)is depressing! This 30 days of being restrictive is going to give me so much freedom to eat well for ME. Eating what makes me feel good and knowing specifically what doesn’t…best idea ever! BUT if popcorn makes me feel like poop, I’m quitting. Life. :) Thanks for the inspiration, Melissa!

  8. Angelica says

    Thank you for posting this! Since finishing my Whole 30 on Easter, I’ve pretty much followed what you just said. Love what you said about the ketchup. Sometimes when I eat steak, I like a little steak sauce to go with it. Do I need it for flavor, not really but I still want that little taste of steak sauce and I don’t feel guilt for eating it since I don’t add sugar to anything else I’m eating. Because of the Whole 30, I don’t even use honey anymore (and I used to eat a LOT of honey!). I can drink hot water with limes/lemons with no added sweeteners. After the Whole 30, I added Kerrygold butter and I’ll have white potatoes every few weeks. If I have sushi, I still request it with no rice and I skip the soy sauce. There have been two occasions where I had a non-compliant/non-paleo meals, and I got mean! Within a few minutes of finishing the meal, my mood turned sour and I just got really mean to the people around me. Other than the mood reactions, I haven’t noticed any tummy troubles with any off plan foods I’ve had. When I went paleo a few years ago though, I realized that I could not eat cherries. Cherries give me the worst tummy troubles. I actually miss cherries more than I miss pizza or Chinese take-out.

    So, thank you again for your post. I feel like I’ve been following the plan more 90/10 versus the recommended 80/20 and it has definitely worked for me.

  9. Tiffany says

    I loved the transparency here. Thank you! One question I have – did it take you months, years to get to this point? I finished a Whole 50 back in February. I found that after a few weeks I went back to my old habits. Perhaps I didn’t do the reintroduction phase correctly ? That was my 2nd W30. I started today -again. I feel like I’m either completely “on” or completely “off”. Any suggestions to change this time around?

    • says

      Tiffany, it’s taken me FIVE YEARS to get to this point. This is how I eat TODAY, not how I ate three years ago, or even a year ago. I’m always learning, always being honest with myself (and Dallas helps me with this, too), and always making tweaks to what’s worth it and what isn’t. But it’s a life-long process!

      I started to write a whole lot more about this but then I realized that this is best left for a Dear Melissa post. Give me a few days to get that written up, okay? In the meantime, know that it’s totally normal, and that with time, awareness, and practice, you’ll be spending a lot more time above the “healthy” line than you are below it.


  10. says

    After finishing a Whole30 in October 2013, then slipping right back into my ‘bad’ ways over the holidays, I made a huge change in March 2014. I am diabetic and I knew that grains and legumes (any carbs really) wreak havoc with blood glucose levels. So I cut out nearly all of them. Permanently. I feel so much better and don’t have the huge blood glucose swings like I had previously. Now, a piece or two of fruit a day and the occasional 1/2 cup of oatmeal and that is it. No potatoes, rice, corn, flours, quinoa (the stuff creates major stomach upset for me) or most legumes. I allow peanuts, tree nuts and full-fat cheese/yogurt. I eat lots of protein and every type of veggie and frequently can use up to 8 different vegetables to make dinner for my vegetarian husband and two little girls. I love a cooking challenge and we certainly have on here! Thanks to the Whole30 for starting me on the right path to health!

  11. Stephanie says

    I’ve on my third Whole 30 in a row, with a few off-plan days in between each. Honestly, I LOVE eating like this. I feel such freedom that I can have whatever I want, and it won’t make me feel bad later. I do not typically have a healthy relationship with food, so I think I’ll have to do this a while longer and make it my default before I allow the occasional treats in my regular life. Awesome article!

  12. Michelle says

    You make it sound so easy! I mean that in a complimentary way. How long did you have to really consciously eat this way on purpose before it just became “the way you eat?” That’s my trouble. I’ve completed two Whole30s and am currently a few days into my third. And though the process is much easier each time, after reintroduction I still feel like I’m having to avoid things *on purpose,* like I’m making a decision to be on-plan or off-plan, that I’m having to fight everyday not to eat certain things. Once upon a time, eating was just natural for me – I was hungry, I ate what I felt like eating. Now I have to put so much thought and effort into it. It can be exhausting. I know you’ve been doing this for a long time, but – when did it start feeling natural?

    • says

      Michelle, see Tiffany’s question above. I’m going to expand upon that answer in an upcoming Dear Melissa. Short answer: it’s taken five years, and I’m still going through the process. It’s not an overnight thing–it’s a life-long journey that often looks like three steps forward, two steps back. More to come.


  13. Casey says

    Oh, I wish I could do the indulging on special occasion thing, but that gets me into trouble every time. I’m so ridiculously sensitive to food. Even sugar in a blotch of ketchup can throw me back into major sugar cravings, and make me crabby for the next day. Ha, I can’t even have kombucha without real problems! Yeah, and that last time I had rice or corn… three days of deep depression. Well, I’m glad at least I have the Whole30(read:forever). Goes to show, everyone has to eat their own way. That’s cool you shared how you do it!

  14. says

    Melissa, this is amazing! Thank you so much!
    I did the Whole 30 back in September, and it was not at all as tough as I had thought. I really love the increased mental clarity and all that it did for my intuition!
    My biggest issue has been being in a mode of Restriction and then I’ll decided I can’t take it and go into a period of excess and giving into every craving.
    I love how you indulge without a plan but you don’t go overboard and how you work with what works best for you.
    How did you find that balance? Was it several Whole 30s before you did?

    • A says

      This. Exactly this! My body feels so much better when I eat Whole30, but then at some point afterward, I feel restricted, and I begin to give in to every craving. I’ll start by making Paleo junk foods, and then very quickly, I’ll be eating cheese and cake and poptarts by the box. Any tips for eating Whole30 (or mostly Whole30) without feeling restricted and then falling off the wagon, would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • says

      Meghan, see my response to Tiffany above (and Michelle, too). Lots of you have this question, so I’m going to expand upon it in a D.M. next week. Short answer–it’s taken me five years to get to this point, and it will always be a life-long process for me. And it’s not always easy, not even for me. And I’ll make sure to be honest about that in my next article, too. Melissa

  15. Kathy says

    Thank you for another great article. You are really human! Whole30 really changed my relationship with food, and for that I thank you:)

  16. Piper B. says

    Thank you so much for sharing! And, WooHoo! I feel so much better knowing how you eat. (Not having to clarify butter all the time, etc) Your book and the other information you share is so inspiringto me. I have completed two W30’s and a W15 in the last six months and I eat W30-ish regularly. I have never felt more amazing!!!

  17. Chantal says

    Thank you so much for your article!
    Why did you give up caffeine & was it difficult?

  18. Liz says

    Thanks for this.
    I did WHOLE30 and slipped into my old bad habits. I’m finding the middle-ground now, and I love that you stay in the PRESENT MOMENT with treats/splurges. You don’t PLAN them, but if they come along, great and enjoy and move on.
    I think that just empties so much brain space that I waste my time with–planning stuff–and then it never really lives up to its luster!
    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Lisa says

    This was great to read. I have been paleo for 2.5 years. And done 2 whole 30s… Although my diet for the most part is whole 30 unintentionally.

    I have a reasonably good understanding of what foods effect me and how.
    I’m actually really amazed to see how my evolved paleo eating is similar to yours.

    I’m started to be slightly open to sugar in certain foods (my fave gluten free pizza base or my fave gluten free cake). But I don’t eat these things often.
    I still make all my meals from scratch as I find I’m hyper sensitive to corn. Creates all sorts of negative emotions.

    I’m lactose intolerant so I always avoid diary except for the Reese’s I eat on occasion!

    I avoid gluten like the plague. I once accidentally glutened myself. Depression. Sever anxiety. Mental fog. Not worth it.

    Soy I also try and avoid (except in Reese’s) makes me teary and very irrational/angry.

    In Australia Reese’s are imported and rare to come by so they’re my favorite treat.

    I’ve just started reintroductions on white potatoes as I accidentally went too low carb last year and my hair started falling out and became an emotional mess.
    White rice I’ve had only a handful of times since the start of the year… But I noticed a tiny bit of brain fog. So I tend to avoid it for the most part.

    Right now my vice is paleo baking (if you’d call it that)… There are just certain times of the month I feel I need chocolate so I’ll chuck a hanful of coconut flakes in a bowl with a tablespoon raw cacao. Some coconut sugar. Coconut butter and an egg. Not going to lie. This week its been a daily thing. But then there are times I dont touch anything sweet for 30 days… Just because I don’t get cravings for it.

    Thanks so much for sharing what you eat. It certainly helps put into perspective that there is a non ridged life post whole 30.

  20. Meredith says

    Yay – I love this. I can’t wait until I’m “normal” again (I’m currently pregnant and my food aversions/etc. are outta control) so I can eat nearly-Whole30 again. My normal (non-pregnant) daily diet is pretty much the same as what you say minus rice. I feel like I have a brick in my stomach for a day or two after while rice, bleh. But randomly rice cakes and Nut Thins (made with rice flour and almonds) have been a lifesaver during my pregnancy, with few consequences. Again, I’m not in my “normal” body at the moment :)

    Good luck and stick with it to all the people on their first (or 2nd, or 3rd…) Whole30!

    • says

      I’m glad you mentioned that, Meredith! I’m on week 13 and still fighting mostly aversions and a few cravings. I lived a very whole 30 life before… and now the only thing I make sure to strictly avoid is gluten! I even ate some gluten-free bagels. Most meat and veggies are out. Fortunately, I still enjoy eggs, sweet potatoes, and a few other pre-pregnancy Paleo staples. Plantain pancakes are usually at least a once a week dinner, if not twice. :)

      I can’t wait to get back to feeling normal! I might just do another Whole 30 once I’m further into the 2nd trimester.

    • ACE says

      Ha! I had just posted about my bread and cheese diet while pregnant. I am on my first W30 to detox from that!

  21. A says

    I would really like to find a way to eat like this (most) of the time. I did a Whole60 previously, and when I stopped, I felt that I had insane cravings for junk food that I really hadn’t had pre-Whole30. Instead of “kill all the things” it was “eat all the things”. Any carby/sugary junk food was fair game. Is this common? Any tips on combating this so that a new Whole30 doesn’t result in the same thing again?

  22. ACE says

    Thank you for sharing. I was curious to see this follow up post after part 1 a few days ago. I am starting week 2 of my first W30 and I feel fantastic. I had a baby 5 months ago and since a lot of foods made me nauseated (all meat) during pregnancy i ended up with a less than stellar diet of carbs and cheese for 9 months. The first 2 days of W30 were rough (oh, Diet Coke detox) but I have felt fantastic since and I just cannot see myself going back to my old ways. That’s why I was curious how you sustained this way of eating long term. I read this article about self talk and “can’t” vs “don’t” ( and it has really changed my outlook and attitude towards this lifestyle change. When I have been in social situations lately and someone offers pasta, bread, etc. I say “I don’t eat bread but thank you” vs. “I can’t eat bread” and that leads to less questioning. I feel empowered because I COULD eat x food but I am choosing not to and hope that can carry me through these 30 days and to keep making better nutritional decisions long term. It’s nice to hear examples of how you eat and I am looking forward to hearing what the process has been for you.

    • Kathy says

      I’ve been reading through all of these helpful comments as I am always trying to get tips and tricks to help my Whole 30 lifestyle…………….and your comment compelled me to write.
      Thank you so much for this: “When I have been in social situations lately and someone offers pasta, bread, etc. I say “I don’t eat bread but thank you” vs. “I can’t eat bread” and that leads to less questioning. I feel empowered because I COULD eat x food but I am choosing not to.” It’s perfect!

  23. Juanita says

    Thank you so much for such a great post! Thank you for confirming for me that it is very possible and very OK to eat this way for the rest of your life!

    I am also a popcorn lover with a stick of butter and yes my parents passed down their butter-lovin’ genes to me too…

  24. Amanda says

    I was especially drawn to the parts of your article describing your guilt free reaction to eating something not paleo. Was that a progression for you? Or has it always been that way. The more I learn about food and it’s potentially negative impact on my body the greater the guilt I have. Learning about paleo has been a blessing and a curse for me.

  25. says

    This is a great post, Melissa, and very inspiring! I sincerely wish that I had your indifference towards baking. I am such a huge baker, and everything about it is fun to me: brainstorming, recipe testing, decorating when applicable, tasting, and sharing. I only bake grain-free treats now (unless it’s a very special occasion, like my boyfriend’s birthday, for which he specifically requested “a gluten cake”), but I still think I have a treats problem. I am working to find a way to reduce my consumption of sweets without completely giving up my passion for baking, since I really do love it. As a first step, I’m no longer allowed to make a treat “just because” that only my boyfriend and I will eat; I have to bake for a specific person or event. That strategy can backfire, though: I made almond pulp brownies on Wednesday for the contractors who are doing renovations in our apartment, but they only ate three of them, so I’ve been eating 2-3 brownies/day for the past 3 days :/

  26. says

    Best line ever: I eat it slowly, I don’t apologize (even though Dallas thinks they’re gross), and I am still just as happy with myself after eating it as I was before I peeled the wrapper.

    I love the fact the fact that you are just as happy with yourself after eating it as you were before. Amen. You can still eat a cookie and love yourself.

  27. MyJunque says

    Thanks for the post and I’m patiently waiting for the follow up D.M. Post you’ve promised people regarding keeping it together long term and not falling off the wagon.

    I’ve read up on and been incorporating a mainly Paleo diet for years now. However, I’ve been doing pretty strict Paleo since February but found myself eating coconut macaroons worth dark chocolate everyday. Although I’ve had NO added sugar or processed junk including not having a single little Cadbury egg or Reece’s peanut butter egg during Easter – this was a BIG deal for me. I’ve never gone without! I still felt like I was missing an element. I’ve seen your book around but hadn’t read it so I ordered it, read it, and WOW!

    I’m 15 days into my first Whole30 and I feel great. I also feel like my previous 90 days eating all Paleo helped with my understanding and even my success on W30 so far. I feel really healthy in my head and with my relationship with food for the first time in my life (46). But, reading a lot of these comments has me worried. I’m scared to death to add anything back. I like where I am mentally and would love to not move back to the old neighborhood! Only bad habits and poor health live there :)

  28. Robby says

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for sharing. You said you eat ketchup. What brand of ketchup do you use? I’m just curious because I’m looking for a good brand.



  29. Laura says

    This is absolutely what I expected to read. I really appreciate that you can be honest about how a real world application works, and that it doesn’t work the same for everyone. Some people can’t just have a little bit of something delicious and say “that’s enough,” but it’s nice to know that if you can’t, the whole30 or whole10 or any other number will be waiting right there for you. It’s also nice to know that given the right frame of mind, there’s never anymore guilt… maybe just a little bit of tummy remorse after. This is the kind of freedom I’ve never, ever experienced before.

    I feel you on the dairy, and moreover, pizza. If there’s one food that I can never, ever have again, it’s pizza- no matter how satisfying it tastes. However, some Applegate Farm pepperoni thrown on top of some veggies with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning will hit just the right spot!

    Thanks for really being a role model. It definitely helps to know that you don’t eat whole365, either!

  30. Amy says

    I’d like to thank you Melissa, for your encouraging article. I’d also like to thank all of your readers who have shared their own personal experiences.
    I have not started Whole30 yet, but have been considering based on a close friend’s recommendation. I stumbled on this article while looking through the site for the second time, trying to decide if I should really try this.
    I have always been a very healthy eater with occasional (rare) indulgences. I eat many vegetables, fruits, fish, turkey and chicken. I eat sweet potatoes, brown rice, steel-cut oats, black and other beans, peanut butter, and occasional cheese. I cook primarily in olive oil. I drink my coffee black. Really my only indulgences are that I enjoy red wine and have one slice of bakery-bought (dense) whole 5-grain bread a day. I rarely use butter, milk, white rice, white potatoes or added sugar.
    I’ve learned through the years about many of the foods that negatively affect me, and I already avoid them. I have no health problems (never really have). I have no negative physical symptoms that I’m looking for relief from.
    I do however have a considerably wider middle area than I used to (I’m 46), and I have a mother and father who are both diabetic (mother diagnosed at age 69, father in his 50’s). Both my parents control their diabetes completely through diet at this point. With these genes I am concerned about the factors that could cause me to be at risk for diabetes as I get older. I don’t actually consider myself to be very old, but I do realize that, yes, my body is aging.
    Though many of the foods that I eat are healthy and not bad for me, they may be contributing to certain risk factors for me as I age. I am beginning to realize that I need to start being more aware of foods that I should avoid so that can continue to remain as healthy as I have so far.
    I still have a lot (everything) to learn about this plan, but I feel encouraged to begin after reading about the real experiences of so many people.
    One of the things that I saw is that you should share with someone when you start this plan.
    This is me sharing:
    I’ve begun!

  31. says

    This was a really interesting read, thank you. I’ve been paleo for the majority of the time for a couple of years, but sympathise with the commenter above who said that post Whole 30 they had more cravings than before. The Whole 30 seemed to induce a sweet tooth in me instead of eradicate it. Although I do wonder how much of my old ‘I don’t like sweet things’ was true. I always considered myself a savoury person, but I guess that might just mean I got my sugar elsewhere :)

    I am curious about your distinction between butter and other forms of dairy you said you can’t (don’t) eat.

    Why do you think one works for you and others don’t?

  32. Geoff says

    Thank you so much for these two articles. I found it very helpful to learn about your practical application of what your dietary experiences have revealed to you.

    I know this is the “Dear Melissa” column (and I don’t want to intrude on Dallas’ privacy), but are there any significant differences between the way you eat, Melissa, and the way that Dallas eats? If so a comparison of your way of eating to his might be an interesting way to highlight the application of the basic principles in different contexts.

  33. Kaylee says

    I’m on day 19 and 33 weeks pregnant I’ve been so scared to go off of whole30 because I’m afraid of binging. I have issues with binge eating and sugar addiction. I was wondering if reintroducing foods is really good to do I’m so scared if try to reintroduce certain foods it will “trigger” and I don’t want it to end up on a 4 month binge like last time. I’ve been trying to find out what foods are my trigger foods and stay away from them. Lately I’ve been wanting breads soo bad and fries I’m a sucker , pizza and ice cream but I already know I have issues with dairy. Anyway any thoughts?

    • says

      I too have issues with binge eating. I usually count calories so I do not overeat but with the Whole30 counting calories isn’t necessary. I am on day 3 and feeling guilty bc although I am eating right and full in the back of my mind I know I can eat as much as I want of the right foods. I KNOW I AM OVEREATING! I know I have binge eating disorder and hope the no sugar and no grains cures it but it def hasn’t yet.

    • says

      Bree, we always recommend that everyone with a history of eating disorders works with a trained counselor while implementing a dietary change like the Whole30. The program has been incredibly freeing and helpful for some, but can also trigger unhealthy behaviors. Use caution, and please make sure you have professional backup here, in case you find your Whole30 isn’t healthy for you. You may also want to read our articles on the subject: Melissa

  34. Erin says

    Thanks to the Whole 30, I have successfully banished guilt from my own Cadberry Creme Eggs. My husband, also paleo, has a similar disgust, but I adore them. Just on occasion. Thanks for sharing, and for all that you do.

  35. says

    I’m so grateful for two whole30s under my belt before I got pregnant – because of it I knew my cravings for full fat Greek yogurt and fruit in my early trimesters was legit. And then when I started craving oats in my last trimester I listened…

    I still can’t help but feel a little guilty (though, that’s not quite the right word) for eating not mostly paleo these days. Oats, sprouted lentils, mung beans, and rice are a big comfort. As a nursing and sleep deprived mama I know doing another Whole30 would be great for my hormones but maybe not great for my psyche.

    I’m curious, Melissa how you balanced that or what your thoughts are there. I’m definitely feel as if I’m gearing up for a postpartum Whole30 any day now.

    XO Kathleen

  36. says

    So interesting, thank you!
    Especially the part about creme eggs. I am on day 16 of my 1st whole 30 which I started to try to address my sugar addiction. Let’s call that my creme egg addiction. Unlike you, I can’t eat just one!! One day, maybe.

  37. Lisa says

    Melissa, I love that little thread between you and your dad about butter. Made me smile. My own dad is a butter connoisseur. He claims all foods are the vehicle for butter. He will eat slices of butter on their own, right off the knife. I am proud to say he taught me to love butter just as much as he. I frequently enjoy little shavings of butter off the knife as a treat. Still trying to get Dad to switch to grass-fed though.

  38. Stormy says

    I am about a year and a half past my first whole30. We have done about 4 in the last year. My husband and I are both down about 60 lbs each. The last 3 months I have been at a stable weight, although I would like to go down about 20# more I am also happy where I am. Seriously, 60# was like carrying my 6 year old on my back with me everywhere all the time! We went from SAD diet (and me an avoidance of veggies and take it or leave it attitude toward fruit and love of dairy) to salad and good meats being the staples.

    What has worked for me in the “inbetween whole30 times” is to act like I am on whole30 during the week days where I have the most control over my food and routine. On the weekends I make my best choices possible given the diverse circumstances we are found in on weekends as a family with young kids in the city… birthday parties, family’s homes, friends’ homes, restaurants, etc. I also generally expect myself to follow whole30 and I should be able to name just one or two “non-compliant” foods I ate on a weekend… it’s not like I stuff myself with spaghetti and then say “to hell with it” and eat poorly at the next meal also. Another thing I do is sort of opposite what Melissa was saying about allowing spur of the moment decisions for fabulous food, as I do better with boundaries. I actually plan on the calendar for blocks of time where I plan to be compliant completely in between planned events. For example, I know that if I am going camping this weekend. I am going to eat really “bad” planned camping food and then will go pretty much compliant for the following two to three weeks until my father in law shows up for a week long visit (where he takes us out to nice restaurants and buys great wine :) ). So far this is working for us. My husband is much more loose with his eating these days than I am, but I don’t spend hours at the gym like he does.

    One other thing that I think helped was going off of Diet Coke. I was seriously addicted and quit it about a month before I found this program. (To those that think you can’t get addicted to soda, you are so wrong. I craved it for a full year afterward.) By not drinking soda, there is a lot less temptation for food as I don’t drive through fast food places just to get a drink.

    One last thing I also wanted to say is that I got off my permanent medicine for hypothyroidism since going on this program. I am not sure if it is always going to be that way, but I attribute my test scores going to normal to Whole30.

    So Thank you Melissa and Dallas for changing our lives! Sorry this turned into a testimonial, but the thanks were overdue. :)

    • Kathy says

      Comparing extra weight to carrying a small toddler puts things in perfect perspective for me…………..while I did not have a lot of weight to lose, I was definitely carrying some extra around the middle (age 57) and not liking it. I am post Whole 30 and pretty much still following the plan, minus a trip for frozen yogurt just to see if I still craved it. Not so much and did feel sluggish and more tired that evening. I, too, have hypothyroidism and will be calling to schedule some blood work to see if that has changed thanks to your comment. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Alexandra says

    I’m so glad I’m not the only adult to get an Easter basket from her mother…is it weird that I also get a Valentine’s day and Halloween basket? The worst thing I eat also probably comes in those baskets–peeps. I know. They are not food. But I just can’t resist.

  40. says

    Dear Melissa, I have done the Whole 30 diet and want to stick with it but am having a difficult time figuring out what to eat for breakfast. I absolutely loved your book “It Starts With Food” and I think it really goes hand in had with what Dr. Mercola’s recommended diet as well; however, Dr. Mercola suggests that we not cook our eggs. Raw eggs don’t appeal to me and anything soft or over easy needs a piece of toast. Can you give me some healthy ideas on what I can eat for breakfast. I am now eating the Simple Truth Toasted Oats cereal with blueberries but would like to forgo the grain. I appreciate your help! Julie Thompson

  41. claudia says

    Today is my first day!!! I feel awsome already although it was hard to drink my coffee black…so I am thinking of doing some peach/ginger tea (no sugar its just dried up ginger and peaches) from Teavana and some lemon in the AM. I need something nice and hot! I love being able to have a healthy portion of meat veggies and some carbs. BTW I have Hashimotos thyroditis and it is imperative to have between 75-150 grams of carbs per day for optimal thyroid function. I am not sure if that is ever mentioned in your book…. I have tried low carb and I end up impaining my thyroid BIG TIME (losing almost all my hair and feeling very sluggish and puffy)

    Thank you for this awesome Blog and God Bless you all!


  42. Stacia says

    Thank you for this!! I completed my first whole30 a few months ago but failed epically at reintroduction. I’m planning on doing another one but have honestly been so intimidated by what/when I can eat in between whole30s. I feel guilty about everything and have been so overwhelmed with the thought of figuring it all out. This makes me feel like I can do it. Like if there’s a little sugar in something it’s ok. Thank you!!

  43. Tiffany says

    Thank you for sharing! I love this!!! I’ve only done one Whole 30 and it changed my life. I haven’t felt the need to do it again. I eat mainly whole 30 everyday and have my exceptions that work for me. I have recently embraced treats with a better attitude, make a conscious decision, ENJOY IT, and don’t feel guilty. I can say “no” easily now too, without even noticing! This is what it’s all about, what works for you and I think this is one of your best posts. This isn’t a diet, it’s life…so it needs to work for you. Thank you :)

  44. Kelly says

    What is the healthiest butter to buy? I want to make sure when I begin to incorporate it back I am buying the best kind for my body.

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