From Dallas Hartwig, Whole30 co-creator, professional Science-English translator, motorcycle aficionado, and part-time hooligan.
You already know the Whole30 is not a diet. It’s not like Atkins or Weight Watchers, and despite its similarities in terms of food selection, the Whole30 is not the same as being “on a Paleo diet.” As we’ve explained, you have to change the framework for how you think about this experience and not try to fit the Whole30 into the “diet” box.
But here’s the thing: the Whole30 program itself is also not a lifestyle. It can and should open the door to a new lifestyle, but our specific rules are not intended to be a way of eating long term, nor is it a benchmark to live up to or a lifetime of “perfect” to be obtained.
In fact, eventually, we hope you won’t need the Whole30 at all… because the Whole30 is a plan designed to make itself obsolete as quickly as possible.
Find Your New Normal
When I practiced physical therapy, I knew I was getting to be a better clinician over time because I could discontinue therapy with a patient sooner than in my earlier years of practice. They healed faster, so they didn’t have to see me any longer. That thought process strongly influenced the way we designed the Whole30 program, and still holds true today.
Our goal with the Whole30 is to support and catalyze new, healthy habits so that after doing the program, learning about how food affects you, and changing your relationship with food, you can settle into your new baseline, an effortless “new normal.”
Do at least one Whole30 completely following all the guidelines without any changes or modifications. Take special care with the reintroduction period after your Whole30, and learn about how different foods affect your body. And then decide for yourself, day in and day out in a conscious, deliberate fashion which foods to put on your plate.
Of course, everyone’s journey is different. You may feel like 30 days was not enough for you to lose your cravings or make your new habits stick, but doing a Whole60 or throwing in a Whole30 a few times this year does the trick. You don’t get demerits for giving your body more time to adjust to eating real food within the parameters of the Whole30.
In fact, if you ever feel like you need to come back to the structure of the Whole30, please do. If you’re doing another Whole30 because you’d like to learn more about the effect of specific foods on your health or performance, go for it! Are you doing another Whole30 because you want to support your mom who is trying the program for the first time? Awesome. Have you fallen back into less healthy habits after a stressful period or a vacation? Come on back for a reset.
But my goal is for you to be able to ride your own bike as quickly as possible. I want you to have the confidence and experience you need to make educated decisions about the food on your plate, and then move on with the rest of your life such that you don’t need the Whole30 anymore.
The Whole30: A Gateway into a Whole New Life
I can honestly say that good food choices are easy and effortless for me now—not because I have some sort of exceptional willpower or because I am somehow a superior human (unless you ask my mother, but she doesn’t count). Six years ago, I used the Whole30 to learn about my body, and now I know that if I want to have a dram of single malt scotch, a few corn tortillas, or some French toast on Christmas morning (ask me how well that worked out), I can, and I do. There is no guilt, it doesn’t send me off into a spiral of cravings and overconsumption, and I can easily get right back to my regularly scheduled diet (although there are consequences to those choices, which I am aware of ahead of time, and deal with after the fact).
All of this is to say that the Whole30 is not a diet, and the rules of those 30 days are not meant to stretch into a lifestyle. The Whole30 is a learning tool, a springboard into the rest of your life, where you can spend less mental energy and willpower struggling with your food choices and more time and emotional energy living.
After doing a Whole30, you don’t need to say you eat “modified Whole30” or “mostly Whole30.” You can simply say that you did the Whole30 program, you learned how great you feel when you changed the food on your plate, and you’ve decided to continue eating in a way that makes you feel happy, stable, healthy, and energetic.
I don’t love the Whole30 because it’s a good nutrition plan. I don’t love it because it helps people manage health issues or lose weight or starve their Sugar Dragon. I don’t even love it because it helped my sister (who has rheumatoid arthritis) eliminate her joint pain and stiffness. I love the Whole30 because it provides the platform off of which you can springboard into a whole new life. It gives people self-confidence, joy, and a clean slate to tackle hard things, good things, new things.
The Whole30 can be the gateway into a whole new life. Don’t hang out at the doorway. Walk forward, go beyond. We’re here for you, and we’re rooting for you.
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