SALAD DRESSINGS: make your own Nearly all commercial salad dressings contain off-plan ingredients like soybean oil or added sugar. Tessemae’s makes the only Whole30 Approved dressing and marinade line, but it’s just as easy to make your own. (See Dressings, Dips, and Sauces for our dressing recipes.) SALT: yes When you cut out processed and packaged foods, you remove the vast majority of sodium from your diet. Adding salt to your Whole30 plate won’t push you above healthy sodium limits, and if you avoid salt altogether, you run the risk of an electrolyte imbalance (not to mention serious food boredom). We encourage a mix of iodized table salt and sea salt. ✪TIP: Did you know that all iodized table salt contains sugar? Sugar (often in the form of dextrose) is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from oxidizing and being lost. That’s why salt is an exception to the Whole30 “no added sugar” rules. Without this exception, you’d never be able to eat outside of your own home, because iodized table salt is added to all restaurant and prepackaged foods. SAUSAGE: read your labels Like bacon, it can be hard to find sausage without any added sugar or other off-plan ingredients, but if you can, you’re in the clear. (Remember, if there is any form of sugar in the ingredient list the product is out for the Whole30, even if the label says, “Sugar = 0 grams.”) Check with your local natural foods store, ask a local farmer or butcher shop, or make your own sausage, using our recipe. ✪ TIP: For the healthiest sausage, look for “pastured” and “organic” on the label—or better yet, ask your local farmer if his pigs are raised in a natural environment and fed a natural diet. SESAME OIL: yes Sesame oil is approved for the program, but the healthiest way to use it is in small quantities as part of a dressing or sauce, or splashed on food just before you pull it off the stove. Cooking such a fragile oil (especially with high heat) can lead to oxidation, which then promotes inflammation in the body when consumed. SNOW PEAS AND SUGAR SNAP PEAS: yes The problem with legumes comes when you consume the seed. As with green beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas are mostly plant matter (the pod), with only tiny, immature seeds. As such, we’re not too worried about their potential downsides. SPICES: read your labels Spices, herbs, and spice mixtures are a great way to add flavor and excitement to your food, but when it comes to spices and spice mixtures, read your labels and avoid those with off-plan ingredients. ✪ TIP: Whole30 Approved Spice Hound has over 100 spices and spice mixtures compliant with the program. (See Resources for where to buy Spice Hound products.) STEVIA LEAF: no While it’s not highly processed like its liquid or powdery cousins, the only purpose of stevia leaf is to sweeten something that was not already sweet. This is something we want you to avoid during your Whole30. Instead, learn to appreciate the natural flavors of your foods, and don’t rely on sweet tastes to prop up sugar cravings. ✪TIP: Remember, just because a food is “natural” doesn’t automatically make it healthy. You’ll see sales pitches for things like stevia, coconut nectar, and agave syrup as a healthier alternative to white sugar, but the reward and habit centers in your brain don’t know the difference between those and highfructose corn syrup or table sugar. That’s why we say “sugar is sugar”—because from a psychological perspective, it’s all the same. SULFITES: not as additives (but naturally occurring are fine) Sulfites occur naturally in many foods and beverages, and are a by-product of fermentation. Found in most wines and balsamic and red wine vinegars, they are also added to processed foods to increase shelf life, preserve color, and inhibit microbial growth. Sulfites can cause significant dermatological, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular symptoms in sensitive people, which is why we explicitly exclude them during the Whole30. Read your labels: if any form of sulfite is listed in the ingredients (including potassium metabisulfite, a common additive in coconut milk), it’s off-limits. TAHINI: yes Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are compliant with the Whole30 program, so tahini paste is too, if all the other ingredients in the paste are compliant. TAPIOCA: yes Tapioca is the starch extracted from the root of the cassava plant. It may come in the form of flour, flakes, or pearls. It’s perfectly acceptable on the Whole30 as a thickener, and may be used by those needing lots of calories or carbohydrates. Use caution, however—some “tapioca flour” is actually a mix of tapioca and wheat. As always, read your labels. ✪TIP: Tapioca is pure starch—practically no nutrition and all carbohydrate. This may come in handy for very active carbdriven athletes, but most of us don’t need that concentration of calories or energy on a daily basis. If you’re coming from a place of metabolic dysfunction or inflammation, tapioca-based dishes aren’t the right choice for your Whole30. VANILLA EXTRACT: no We’ll be honest—we think this ruling is kind of silly (nobody uses vanilla extract for the buzz), but we must be consistent with the guidelines to avoid confusion. All vanilla extracts contain alcohol or sugar alcohol, which are off-limits for your Whole30. (If you see vanilla extract listed as an ingredient, you can count that product out for your Whole30, too.) ✪ TIP: You can use 100 percent vanilla bean powder in place of vanilla extract, or just scrape the inside of a vanilla bean pod. We use it in a 1:1 ratio in recipes; 1 tsp. vanilla extract = 1 tsp. vanilla bean or vanilla bean powder. VEGETABLE OILS: some, reluctantly (because sometimes, you have to dine out) While we don’t think vegetable oils are ever a healthy choice, we don’t expressly rule them all out on the Whole30. If we did, you’d never be able to eat outside of your own kitchen, because all restaurants use them in some form in their cooking. We wanted to create the healthiest program we could, but we also need it to be possible for those who travel for business or pleasure, or simply want to dine out during the month. Corn, rice bran, soybean, and peanut oils are out for your program because we rule out all forms of grains (corn and rice) and legumes (soy and peanuts) on the Whole30. However, canola (also known as rapeseed), safflower, sunflower, and grapeseed oils are all allowed—just not encouraged. ✪TIP: Eliminate the consumption of vegetable oils at home, even if you’re not on the Whole30, and make sure the rest of your diet is focused on the most nutritious choices possible, especially if you dine out frequently. For our best tips and tricks on dining out on the Whole30, see Dining Out. CAN I HAVE? drink “I started the Whole30 at 218 pounds, a 37-inch waist, and no energy. I also started with over eight years of acid reflux medication under my belt. I could not skip one dose of my medication without experiencing severe heartburn. After just 30 days, I now weigh 199 pounds, my waist is at 34 inches, I have not taken a single dose of my medication for the entire program.” — JEREMY M., EAGLE RIVER, AK ALMOND MILK: read your labels, or make your own Though it does exist, compliant commercially produced almond milk is hard to find. Ingredients like added sugar (in any form) or carrageenan will render most store-bought almond milks offlimits for your Whole30. The alternative is to make your own— but remember, no added sweetener! ✪TIP: Nuts and seeds aren’t your best fat choice in general, and drinking your food is always less healthy than eating it. So even if you make your own, we’d rather you just eat the almonds! Still, if you’re interested in making your own almond milk, check out our friend Stephanie Gaudreau’s recipe at StupidEasyPaleo.com. CACAO DRINKS: yes Beverages like Choffy or Crio Brü are made from 100 percent cacao beans that are ground and roasted just like coffee. It contains a small amount of caffeine (about 25 percent of that found in a normal cup of coffee), and may provide a delicious alternative to those looking to cut their caffeine consumption. Don’t expect them to taste like hot chocolate, however—pure cacao is more bitter and rich tasting than the sweet stuff that comes from a packet. (And remember, the same Whole30 rules apply in terms of adding sugar or creamers.) See Resources for where to find Whole30 Approved brands of these cacao-based beverages. COCONUT WATER: read your labels Most coconut waters are technically compliant, containing only natural sugars from the coconut. However, some brands add additional sugar to their ingredients, so read your labels. Remember, anything with sugar in the ingredient list is out for your Whole30. ✪TIP: Coconut water is essentially a “light” fruit juice. If you’re involved in endurance athletics, work in an environment that leaves you prone to dehydration, or just want a refreshing treat, coconut water can be a fine choice for rehydration. (Although adding a pinch of salt to coconut water makes it a much better hydration drink if dehydration is a legitimate concern.) Just don’t let coconut water take the place of plain old water in your daily routine. CLUB SODA: yes Club soda is just carbonated water (and maybe some salt)— perfectly fine for your Whole30. COFFEE: yes Yes, you can drink coffee. You’re welcome. You can drink it black, add compliant coconut milk or almond milk, or add cinnamon or ground vanilla beans to the brew. But remember, Whole30 guidelines exclude milk, cream, non-compliant milk substitutes, and any form of added sugar or sweeteners. And (tough love ahead), if you “just don’t like” black coffee, you are either not buying good coffee or you actually don’t like coffee— you just like the sweet, creamy stuff you typically add to coffee. ✪ TIP: We’d generally recommend no more than one to two cups a day, always before noon so the caffeine doesn’t interfere with sleep. Not that you asked for our opinion. FLAVORED COFFEE: read your labels Some flavored coffees use natural ingredients like cinnamon and vanilla beans to lend some excitement to their beans, and those are fine on the Whole30. However, avoid coffees flavored with extracts (usually alcohol based), artificial flavors, added sweeteners, or chemicals. Ingredient lists aren’t always printed on your bag of beans, so you may have to contact your favorite coffee company for more details on their process. FRUIT JUICE: yes, but please don’t drink it Fruit juice is an approved added ingredient in dishes or beverages on the Whole30. (Technically, you could think of it as a sweetener, but we had to draw the line with “added sugar” somewhere.) ✪TIP: While drinking a glass of fruit juice may be technically compliant, we really can’t recommend it, even if you juice it yourself. Juicing strips many of the nutrients out of the fruit (many of which are found in the pulp and skin), but still leaves all of the sugar. You’d never eat eight oranges in a row, but you’d think nothing of gulping down an 8-oz glass of orange juice! From a satiety, sugar, and overall health perspective, we’d much rather you just eat the fruit. KOMBUCHA: probably—just read your labels Kombucha may have probiotic benefits (especially if you make it yourself), and we think it’s a fine addition to your Whole30 beverage menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go. (Fruits or fruit juice as added ingredients are fine, however.) ✪ TIP: Interested in making your own kombucha and other fermented goods? Sarah Ramsden of Whole9 Canada has an entire online class dedicated to fermentation! Check it out at www.9life.co/whole9ff. MINERAL WATER: yes Mineral water is just carbonated water plus some minerals (like calcium and sodium), present in the natural source of the water. All brands of plain mineral water are fine for your Whole30. “PALEO” CREAMERS: no We know there’s a recipe out there where eggs, coconut milk, a significant quantity of dates, and some voodoo magic are combined with prayers to create a thick, creamy concoction designed to take the place of your cream and sugar (or Coffeemate) and once again transform your boring black coffee into a sweet, dreamy treat. But much like pancakes made with almond flour, relying on this technically compliant recreation is not part of a healthy relationship with food (or coffee). Instead, we’d encourage you to take a look at why you need this at all. Do you really like coffee, or are you just drinking it for the sugar hit? PROTEIN SHAKES: almost always no Almost all protein powders contain off-limit ingredients like whey, casein, soy, pea protein, rice bran, or added sweeteners. Besides, you can do way better. Anything you can get from protein powder (except maybe chemical extractives, added sugar, and strange-sounding isolates) you can get from whole foods during your Whole30 in a much more nutrient-dense, satisfying form. In addition, formulated and processed meal-replacement shakes like Shakeology or Visalus are always off-limits. These products don’t even come close to our definition of real, whole food—and they all include off-plan ingredients like pea protein, rice bran, and stevia. However, protein powder from approved ingredients like 100 percent egg whites (like the protein found in Whole30 Approved RxBars) or crickets (yes, there is such a thing as cricket protein!) are allowed on the Whole30, provided they contain no added sweeteners. ✪TIP: We want you to spend a month learning to appreciate real food, how it tastes, the satisfaction you get from preparing your own meals, and how Whole30 foods work to fuel your body before, during, and after exercise. You can have your shaker cup back in 30 days; for now, focus on getting protein from wholefood sources after your workout. Hard-boiled eggs, compliant deli meat, chicken, or canned tuna are easy, portable protein sources to take with you to the gym. SELTZER WATER: yes This is just a fancy way of saying “club soda”—which is just carbonated water. SMOOTHIES: we’d rather you didn’t This is a very popular question, with a very unpopular answer. Smoothies (generally made using lots of fruit) are technically compliant on your Whole30, but we strongly recommend against them. Food that you drink sends a different satiety signal to your brain than food that you chew. So when you drink your meal, your brain isn’t getting the feedback it needs to tell your body that you’ve eaten—and you get hungry again fast, even though you just ingested plenty of calories (mostly in the form of sugar). Plus, as they are generally fruit-heavy, a breakfast smoothie sets you up for cravings, hunger, and volatile energy levels throughout the day. In summary, eat your food and skip the smoothie, especially for breakfast. SPARKLING WATER: read your labels Sparkling water can be a great way to jazz up your Whole30 drink routine. Look for products that only contain water and natural fruit/herb flavors, and avoid any with added sweeteners. Also, do not confuse mineral water or sparkling water with tonic water—the latter is always sweetened. TEA: read your labels Green, black, white, or herbal teas (hot or iced) are a great addition to your Whole30 repertoire, but you have to read your labels. Some teas add non-compliant ingredients like stevia, rice bran, or soy to their ingredients. ✪ TIP: Remember, many teas contain caffeine, so follow our general guidelines and stick to only decaffeinated or herbal varieties later in the day. TONIC WATER: no Tonic water is a carbonated beverage that always contains sugar, ruling it out for your Whole30. VEGETABLE JUICE: yes We aren’t big fans of drinking your food, but we approve of using vegetable juice as a way to get extra nutrients into your day. However, juice should never take the place of eating real vegetables! Chewing and swallowing your Good Food is always your top Whole30 priority. You’ll probably want to juice it yourself (or use a blender of sorts), as most prepackaged “vegetable juices” are actually mostly fruit, or contain off-plan ingredients. ✪TIP: Make sure your concoctions are almost all vegetable (with perhaps just a little fruit for flavor). However, note that even some vegetable-only drinks (like those heavy on beets and carrots) may pack more of a sugar punch than you’re willing to add to your day. Read your labels, and do the sugar math! WATER KEFIR: read your labels Following the same logic as kombucha, we’re okay with water kefir. If you’re making it yourself, do what you can to ensure that the sugar is used by the bacteria (generally by allowing appropriate fermentation time). If you’re buying, avoid those brands with added sugar in the ingredient list. Looking to serve something fancier than plain old water at your next gathering? See our festive drink recipes.
supplements and miscellaneous “My cholesterol went down by 70 points . . . Not to mention my mild depression/anxiety is gone, moods definitely improved, itchy ear cleared up, strange tenderness in upper left calf that I’ve had for more than 15 years is gone, exercise-induced asthma is gone, and I have no allergies this season!” —MARY B., PORTLAND, OR What supplements should I take during my Whole30? First, you don’t have to take anything at all—supplements aren’t a required component of the Whole30 program. Based on our experience and the scientific literature, we believe many people would benefit from taking high-quality fish oil, vitamin D3 , magnesium, and maybe some digestive help, like enzymes or probiotics. However, none of these supplements are necessary for you to complete your Whole30 successfully. (Refer to Resources for brands we like, and Chapter 22 of It Starts With Food for a more detailed explanation of these supplements’ benefits.) In addition, the Whole30 is primarily about determining food’s effects on how you look, feel, and live. If you start adding a bunch of new supplements on top of your new eating plan, it may be hard to differentiate between the effects of the diet and the effects of the supplement. Be conservative when adding new supplements to your Whole30 routine—more isn’t better in this situation. You can always use the first few days after your Whole30 reintroduction to experiment with adding a new supplement or two to your routine. ✪TIP: Magnesium has many benefits, including relieving leg and other muscle cramps and buffering the effects of chronic stress. But you don’t need a pill to get extra magnesium into your system—an Epsom salt bath is also effective. Make sure your bath water is warm but not too hot, use 1 to 2 cups of salts (don’t be stingy!) and soak for 20 to 30 minutes for maximum benefit. Do I need a multivitamin? It might not be a bad idea. We know, you’re eating real, whole, natural foods. And yes, all of this good food is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So why would you need a multivitamin? Because our soil isn’t as rich in minerals as it used to be—which means the fruits and vegetables we eat may not be as nutrient-dense as the ones our grandparents ate. We’re not always able to eat pastured, grass-fed, organic animal products, and factory-farmed meat and seafood aren’t as nutritious. And sometimes we dine out, consuming vegetable oils that eat up our antioxidant stores. So even though we’re doing the best we can with real food, our health may still benefit from the micronutrient boost found in a good, balanced multivitamin. Just make sure yours doesn’t contain any off-plan ingredients. (Refer to Resources for brands we like.) Do I need a calcium supplement? The long answer to this question is in Chapter 11 of It Starts With Food, but here’s the short answer. Building strong, healthy bones is about way more than just calcium, and (despite what the commercials imply) you don’t need dairy for strong bones. If you eat a variety of whole, real foods with micronutrients like vitamins K2 and C, magnesium, and phosphorous, get adequate vitamin D3 from the sun or supplementation, build bone density by lifting weights, and manage your stress, you don’t need a calcium supplement to keep your bones strong. And studies show that calcium supplementation alone doesn’t work to prevent fractures from bone loss—taking calcium supplements gives you a short-term boost in bone density, but over time, your hormones will work against the extra calcium, and may even leave your bones more brittle than before. In summary, skip the calcium supplement and just focus on living a healthy lifestyle —your bones will thank you. ✪TIP: Homemade bone broths (see our recipes); vegetables (like kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy); sea vegetables like nori; meat and seafood (like sardines, anchovies, shrimp, oysters, and canned salmon with bones); and nuts and seeds (like almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts) are all excellent sources of the vitamins and minerals necessary to build strong, healthy bones. What about “green” (vegetable) supplements? While the idea of a vegetable supplement sounds healthy, these usually contain off-plan fillers like brown rice bran or oat bran. In addition, there isn’t any concerted scientific evidence that these supplements actually benefit your health in the dramatic ways they promise. For fear of sounding like a broken record, eating real food (in this case, vegetables) is always your healthiest bet—so skip the bottled “greens.” Can I take over-the-counter medications? If you’re suffering from a nasty cold, sore throat, or other seasonal illness, you may find that the over-the-counter medications you used to take are far from Whole30-compliant. While we encourage you to treat your illness with more natural methods (see our tip below), if you decide that your good night’s sleep or easy breathing are more important than following Whole30 rules, you are always free to make the decision that you believe is best for your health. (At the very least, visit GlutenFreeDrugs.com and choose OTC medications that have been verified as gluten-free.) ✪TIP: Natural ways to treat a cold include vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea; herbal teas with lemon (we like Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Gypsy Cold Care); homemade bone broth, and plenty of rest and hydration. However, your comfort (and doctor’s orders) always trump Whole30 rules, so if you really need the cough medicine, you have our blessing. Feel better! Can I take my prescription medication? Your health care provider’s orders always trump Whole30 rules, even if your prescription contains off-plan ingredients like wheat or cornstarch binders, or added sugar. However, we encourage you to discuss the Whole30 with your doctor, and ask if there are more natural, healthy ways to manage your medical condition than simply relying on prescription drugs. (This would be a great opportunity to share your healthy eating efforts with your doctor!) If your health care provider has prescribed a supplement regimen, read your labels to see if the supplements include off-plan ingredients. If they do, ask your doctor to recommend a comparable (compliant) brand. If none is available, please continue to follow your doctor’s orders. What if my supplement has non-compliant ingredients? If you are on a supplement regimen of your own design, please read your labels! Non-compliant ingredients include added sugar (in any form), grains (wheat in any form, corn starch, rice bran, oat bran, or any other grain by-products), dairy (whey, casein, or other dairy by-products), or soy (even in “lecithin” form). In addition, some manufacturers refuse to clarify their “proprietary blend,” leaving you in the dark as to what their supplement actually contains. This automatically rules the supplement out for your Whole30. You can either stop using the supplement during your Whole30, or look for the same kind of supplement with compliant ingredients. (See Resources for some of our supplement recommendations.) ✪TIP: Even if a prospective supplement is Whole30-compliant, it’s hard to know whether it will really add benefit or just drain your wallet. Use our Supplement Evaluation Checklist to help you determine whether the pill or powder in question is worth it for you. Is the product designed to replace real, high-quality, fresh food in your diet? Meal replacement shakes, vegetables-in-apill, or breakfast bars all promise to do just as much good as real food in your everyday diet, but there isn’t a powder, pill, or shake in the world that can replace the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber found in natural, healthy, fresh foods. Are the product’s claims too good to be true? The supplement industry is wholly unregulated—which means manufacturers can make all sorts of claims about their product’s ingredients and benefits. Beware of inflated, unsupported claims that sound too good to be true and have little to no peer-reviewed long-term research to back them up. Does the label focus on aesthetic changes? Most of these slimming/leaning/trimming pills, powders, and shakes contain ingredients that could be harmful to your health, like stimulants and diuretics. And let’s face it—if you lose a few pounds by taking a pill without effectively changing your eating habits, how likely are you to actually stay at that weight? Is there a hard and heavy sales pitch behind your consideration? If your motivation to buy is based on an aggressive, big-business marketing campaign, fearmongering (“If you don’t take this pill, you won’t succeed!”), or generalized group-think (“All the event competitors use our shakes”), then think twice. Is it cost-prohibitive to eating better quality food? Even if the supplement meets all of the above criteria, if the daily cost means you’ll have to cut your real-food budget just to afford it, it’s simply not worth it. If you’ve run the supplement-in-question through our entire checklist and it still makes the cut, then it’s time for you to exercise your own judgment. At worst, your vitamin, mineral, or supplement is going to put you out a few dollars and still not provide the purported benefits—a waste of money, but no negative effects on your overall health and fitness. At best, the supplement will provide a boost to the already high-quality food you are eating, and help you fill in those small missing pieces in your daily diet and lifestyle.
Can I smoke cigarettes or e-cigs, or chew tobacco? No—tobacco or nicotine of any sort are not allowed on the program. If you still smoke, you might be thinking, “There is no way I can quit smoking and make these dietary changes all at the same time.” And you might be right. If you feel like all of these changes are too overwhelming, then we’d encourage you to focus on getting rid of your tobacco habit first, and then come back to the Whole30. On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for a program to help you quit, the Whole30 may just be your ticket. Many former smokers have told us they used the Whole30 in part as a smoking-cessation program, and that eliminating sugar and other psychologically unhealthy foods at the same time made the process that much easier. Either way, we encourage you to seek help for your nicotine addiction, prioritize ditching the smokes, and take on the Whole30 as soon as you are ready. Can I smoke or consume marijuana? Of course marijuana is a plant, and it may even be legal in your state, but that doesn’t make it a healthy choice. Smoking still has negative health effects, but more immediately, smoking pot tends to promote cravings for less-healthy foods—and inhibits your inhibitory mechanisms. We want to set you up for success with your food choices during the next 30 days, which means unless it’s prescribed by your health care provider, no marijuana in any form—especially not baked into Paleo brownies. your whole30 plate “Before my first Whole30, I knew how to cook with instructions from a package. Even then, I was actually proud of when those dishes came out correctly. Meat was so foreign to me. I hated to cook it because I was always afraid of undercooking it, or it being bad. Now, my fridge is constantly full with home-cooked meals. I know how to work around what I have, how to food prep, and how to feed my family good food instead of packaged food. I will keep learning, thanks to what my Whole30 taught me.” —KIMBERLY H., FORT WORTH, TX Should all of my meals follow your meal template? This isn’t an official Whole30 rule, but it’s a good general guideline to keep your program on track. The template includes a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in amounts that will keep you full from one meal to the next, give you enough energy to sustain your activity levels, and provide a healthy variety of micronutrients. Of course, not every meal is going to look exactly like the meal template—sometimes you eat a stew, a casserole, or a frittata where your meat, vegetables, and fat are all mixed up together. Don’t stress—just estimate your portion, eat slowly and chew thoroughly, wait ten minutes and evaluate whether you’re still hungry. If you are, go for seconds! It’s really hard to overeat real food, and everything on your Whole30 plate is doing your body good. Do your recipes follow the meal template? No, because not all of our recipes include a protein and a side of vegetables or fruit. (Our One Pot Meals are the exception.) However, with every dish that doesn’t follow our template, we’ve given you “Make it a Meal” recommendations to help you build your own Whole30 plate. For example, if you’re making our Braised Beef Brisket, we tell you to add sweet potato, butternut squash, or carrots to the dish to make it a complete meal. Or, we’ll give you recipe pairing suggestions, like suggesting our Halibut with Citrus-Ginger Glaze goes well with Green Cabbage Slaw and Coconut Cauliflower Rice. If you’re cooking from our Fundamentals section, you’ll have to build your own plate there, too. Start with our template, including the appropriate protein amount for your context and goals, fill the rest of your plate with vegetables, add some fruit (if you choose), and build in some healthy fats, either in the form of cooking fat, added fat, or both. For example, make our Perfect Seared Chicken Breast, grill some green beans, peppers, onions, and mushrooms using the technique found here, then make a garden salad with one of our Vinaigrette Variations as your added fat. Shouldn’t I be counting calories? No! Isn’t that good news? One goal of our program is to get you back in touch with your body’s natural regulatory mechanisms —in this case, trusting your feelings of hunger, and intuitively knowing when to stop eating. That means after a few weeks of eating foods with brakes (providing both nutrition and satiety), you’ll be eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full. By the end of your Whole30, these signals will actually work, perhaps for the first time in years! And we’ve specifically designed the amounts and proportions recommended in our meal template so you won’t need to count calories or plug your food into a calculator—not even if you’re trying to lose weight. ✪TIP: Please, trust us on this one. One of the biggest mistakes you could make is listening to some calculator you found on the internet over the cues your own body is sending you. Skip the weighing, measuring, and tracking for the next 30 days—it will help you foster a healthier relationship with food, and turn mealtime into a relaxing, enjoyable experience instead of an arbitrary math session. Can I have snacks? Again, this isn’t a Whole30 rule, so if you choose to snack, just make sure they are Whole30-compliant. However, we do not generally recommend snacking for some important reasons. Snacking between meals turns your daily dietary habits into grazing, which can disrupt the normal functioning of your hormones and may promote inadvertent overconsumption. It may take you a while to figure out the right size meals for you, however, so if you find you ate too little in any given meal and need additional nourishment, then we’d rather you have a snack to tide you over than spend the rest of the afternoon cranky, tired, and hungry. Ideally, your snacks are just smaller meals— don’t snack on veggies or fruit alone, as they’re not very satiating all by themselves. If you find your meals are never big enough to tide you over, then it’s time to start making each one a little bigger. Start by adding a little more protein and a little more fat. (You’re already filling your plate with vegetables, so you’re good on that front.) You can go slow here—just keep adding to your plate until you find an amount that will successfully get you from one meal to the next comfortably. TIP: If you’re on the go and can’t plan a mini-meal, just follow ✪this rule of thumb: include at least two of the three macronutrients every time you eat. So maybe that’s protein and fat (like hard-boiled eggs and a handful of macadamia nuts), or protein and carbs (like deli turkey slices and an apple), or fat and carbs (like carrot sticks dipped in guacamole). Following this rule will ensure your snack actually tides you over until your next meal, and that you get enough overall calories in your day. I’m pregnant or nursing—now can I have snacks? Yes, but we’d still rather you eat more small meals than graze constantly like a gazelle. In the early stages of pregnancy, you may be too nauseous to eat a big meal. In later stages, your stomach may not be able to physically hold enough nutrition in just three meals to keep you healthy. (And when you’re nursing, your schedule may be hectic enough that you find yourself eating every three hours, timed around your baby.) In these special circumstances, eat more frequent, smaller meals to ensure you’re getting enough calories and nutrition. Try to leave at least 2 to 3 hours between meals, if possible—it’s better hormonally to eat five smaller meals than pick at food all day long. (See Pregnancy and Breastfeeding for more tips on customizing the Whole30 when pregnant or nursing.) What about my growing kids—can they survive on just three meals a day? Kids are another exception—they’re growing so fast (and their stomachs are so small) that they’ll likely need more frequent, smaller meals or snacks in between meals. Our rule of thumb for growing babies and younger toddlers is, if they’re hungry, let them eat! Once they’re out of toddler stage, however, transitioning them to three meals a day, preferably with their family, is ideal. Feel free to add a snack between each meal to tide them over and ensure they’re getting enough calories and nutrition; just follow our previously mentioned snacking guidelines. (See Kids for more tips on customizing the Whole30 for kids.) I work a really long day—can I have more than three meals? Absolutely. If you’re up really early and get to bed pretty late, you may find you need four (or even five) meals to keep you fueled throughout the day. Just try to keep them around 3 to 4 hours apart, if you can—any closer than that and your hormones may not have time to do their proper jobs in between. I’m really active or regularly exercise— should I have more than three meals? You can and should, especially if you’re participating in a highintensity exercise program, bodybuilding program, or endurance activity like running or biking. Eating a bonus post-workout meal (as outlined in our meal template) is the best way to ensure your body gets extra nutrition and calories to help you sustain your activity levels. Timing this meal right after your workout (ideally within a half-hour) also helps you start the recovery process faster and more effectively. Have a meal-sized serving of an easily digestible protein like egg whites, chicken breast, or salmon; and some carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables like potatoes, butternut squash, or acorn squash. (Don’t worry about adding fat—that’s less important for this post-workout meal.) Then, eat your next normal meal 60–90 minutes later. ✪TIP: We also like the idea of a pre-workout snack, to send a signal to your body that activity is coming. Eat a small serving of protein and a little bit of fat anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes before your workout, but skip the carbs here. Try a hard-boiled egg and a handful of macadamia nuts, or a few pieces of jerky and some avocado. If you exercise first thing in the morning, something is better than nothing, so do the best you can. Not sold on the idea of eating before exercise? Try it for a week! You may be surprised at how much stronger or better your workouts feel with a little something in your stomach. I don’t like eating breakfast. Can I skip it? You’re an adult, which means you can technically do anything you want. However, since you asked us, we’d strongly recommend against skipping breakfast. If you’re not hungry first thing in the morning, it’s a good indicator that your hormones are off. One of the best ways to get those hormones back in line is to eat something in the morning, when it’s biologically appropriate. If you start eating too late in the day, your entire hormonal rhythm can be thrown off—so come nighttime, you’ll tend to crave more food. Usually not the good kind, either. Which means that you’ll be prowling through your pantry or freezer after dinner looking for a snack, leading to more hormonal disruption. In summary, eat breakfast within an hour of waking to keep your metabolism on track. ✪TIP: If you’re really not hungry first thing in the morning, here’s our rule of thumb: no coffee before breakfast. We know, you hate that idea, but coffee is an appetite suppressant, which will make it even harder for you to eat. So fire up the frying pan