Holy grain-free, soy-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free, additive-free meal planning, Batman, I just finished my second Whole30.

For those new to the Whole30 program, it’s a short-term nutritional reset designed by our health guru pals over at Whole9, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. They wrote a book explaining the nutritional science behind the program called “It Starts with Food” which I highly recommend.

I have to stress that this is not a weight-loss program. Please do not accuse me of promoting any sort of juice-based or cayenne pepper slinging cleanse. Whole30 cuts out the foods that most commonly cause bad reactions in the body, helping you figure out what’s making you sick. (Rules and more info here)

I did my first Whole30 while living in Peru and, man oh man, cutting out rice, bread and sugar was not only incredibly difficult, it gave my Peruvian friends and neighbors even more reason to believe I was completely off my rocker. But it was worth it.

For months I had battled with digestive infections, parasites, and the dreaded antibiotics, leaving my digestive track void of bad bacteria, good bacteria or the will to process food. Whole30 seemed like a good way to give my body a break and a reset.

It worked.


This time around I decided to do the Whole30 because since my arrival back in the U.S. in November, I haven’t been as strictly Paleo as I would like. My first Whole30 taught me that I have sensitivities to grains (particularly pasta) and dairy (particularly milk) and my first holiday season home in over two years taught me that WHO CARES ABOUT SENSITIVITIES WHEN THERE’S CAKE NOM NOM NOM.


So I decided that once I’d cleared the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, National Hobby Month), I’d start again.

I can’t say it’s been easier this time around, just that I knew better what to expect. I got “carb flu” the first week just like last time and had a few headaches early on. Today I feel amazing. I’m hoping this will help me get back to that 80/20 paleo, where I can eat a damn cupcake once in a while but maybe not eat an entire wedding cupcake tower.


Here are a couple of things to consider if you’d like to try your own Whole30:

You’re Going to be “That Person”

If you choose to eat out, and it is possible, you will be that person asking what kind of oil they cook their chicken in. You will order a “dry salad, no croutons, with some grilled chicken on top and olive oil/vinegar on the side…oh and a water please.” You will also be avoiding beer, wine, and other fun-starters, so keep that in mind when going out with friends.

Whole30 doesn’t have to hijack your social life, but make sure that the month you’re choosing is not one rife with weddings, birthdays, and wine tastings. Make sure that if you do have a social gathering involving food, you’re prepared for it.

You Might Feel Terrible

Not for a long time, most people only feel it for a few days, but a lot of people experience nausea, headaches, and other ailments. The Whole30 forum has tons of good information and tips from people going through the same things.

You Might Fail (And That’s OK)

The Whole30 is not for everyone. The most important thing is to listen to your body throughout, do your research and be prepared for your nutrition journey to take whatever path it needs to. You do you and never feel bad about it.


Oh and check out Nom Nom Paleo. Michelle Tam is hilarious, smart, and has a ton of Whole30 recipes on her site.

Best of luck!