Who is Paleo and what's this Whole30 she's talking about?

Paleo. It's one of those super-cool buzzwords that flooding Pinterest and Instagram. I've done quite a bit of research on it, read the bible of Paleo books and generally tried to learn everything I can about it. Basically, as I said in my first post, Paleo (pronounced pay-lee-o) is a way of eating that involves lots of veggies and protein, fruits and nuts, and eliminates processed foods, sugars, grains, legumes and dairy, leaving you to eat in a style similar to how the cavemen would have eaten, hence the name paleo- short for Paleolithic.

A pictorial explanation of Paleo
Isn't this guide to Paleo just adorable?!

 I really liked the Paleo diet, and as I would search for recipes, I kept coming across the term "Whole30 and eventually I looked into that. I bought the book written by the creators of the Whole30, called "It Starts With Food." I 100% recommend reading the book- it is amazingly eye opening and incredibly interesting. Their website, www.whole30.com is also fantastic. You could easily do the diet by just reading the resources on the website. They have everything from shopping lists, to recipes, to what I found to be the most helpful- a day by day timeline that outlined how the Whole30 typically affects people. It was so good to be able to cross off the hard days and see that the "tiger blood" days were coming. Seriously, check out the website even if you're just considering the Challenge.

The Whole30 Challenge is basically a 30-day no cheat Paleo diet. You use it to really get to know your body and how it reacts to food. I decided to take the challenge, and loved it. I felt better than I ever had, with more energy, better sleep, and overall better feeling. Here are the rules as taken from the Whole30 website:

The Whole30 Program Rules

Yes: Eat real food.
Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

No: Avoid for 30 days.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
  • Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits (chips and fries) and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • No Paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts, or junk foods. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no banana-egg pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream.
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
The Fine Print
These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30.
  • Clarified Butter or Ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.
  • Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products will use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re okay with a small amount of fruit juice as an added ingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice! Refer to your Shopping Guide for clarification.
  • Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
  • Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.

It's a simple premise: You eat a fist sized serving of protein for each meal, and then fill the rest of your plate with veggies. You can add in fruit and nuts sparingly, but you have to be sure to get in healthy fats with each meal- avocado, coconut oil, extra vigin olive oil, etc. When you step from Paleo to Whole30 though, you have to leave behind the sweeteners- real and artificial. Yes, that means no Diet Cokes, no Splenda, not even honey. But you'll be ok without it. Better, actually. I promise.

One thing you may see from the Whole30 list that may cause concern is all the grass fed, organic and pastured meats that it calls for. Your selection at the Tompkinsville Wal-Mart is scarce. Ghee? Don't even bother looking for it. Almond Flour? If you ask for it, you're just going to get laughed at. (When I originally wrote this, ghee and almond flour weren't available here but now they are! But there are still a lot of ingredients that recipes call for that aren't. Even harder to find, though, can be simple ingredients that don't contain sugar or soy.) So you have to adapt. I find my way around this by looking for the best meats I can find (not from Wal-Mart either. Try Save A Lot, their selection of meat is so much better). If I have to go out of town I try to go to Whole Foods or a store like that and stock up on some things. Amazon can be your best friend in ordering hard to find ingredients. Really, though, my best advise is do what you can. For me to complete the challenge I had to overlook the grass fed/organic/pastured stuff. I felt like if that was my only "cheat" then I was ok with that. But it's really up to you.

I finished my first Whole30 and lost 14 pounds. But, as life tends to do, it got crazy and I got off track. Badly. So I started again on Memorial Day. This time, I'm only doing it for 15 days and then slowly reintroducing restricted food groups, like the book says you are supposed to do. That way you can see how each type of food affects your body.

So, hopefully this helps you to understand the diets a little bit more. Check out Pinterest for more Paleo info, or the Whole30 website for more info on it. There is a wealth of info out there if you just look!


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