“I was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease (Systemic Mastocytosis) several years ago. With this condition, you can experience severe allergic types of reactions, and I have struggled with hives, joint pain, and gastro-intestinal issues for years. Within seven days of my first Whole30, I popped out of bed without joint pain. Within ten days, I had lost the GI distress and bloating that’s been a ‘normal’ part of my existence. The Whole30 has definitely changed my life! My energy is way up, my constant food demons are gone (no more cravings for the stuff that makes me sick) and I just plain old feel great!” —ANNEMARIE G., NEWBURYPORT, MA ou’ve read up on the program, chosen your start date, and signed up for the Whole30 Daily. You’ve even recruited friends or family to do the program with you, or at the very least, shared your commitment with them. It’s official: you are doing the Whole30! But before you actually begin, we should talk about what you can expect to happen over the next 30 days: the ups and the downs. Wait—the downs? Yes, downs. Because despite how amazing most people feel at the end of their Whole30 journey, the path you’ll be walking for the next month will be rough in spots, and we want to be up front about that. We want you to trust us, and know that we care so much about you and your Whole30 experience that we’re willing to shine a bright light on some of the more difficult parts of the program. In a nutshell, the next month will likely play out like a Telemundo soap opera. As one Whole30 participant put it on Twitter, “Week 1 on the #Whole30 recap: I’m starving, I’m tired, I don’t like you, I feel GREAT, I’m hungry again, I feel GREAT, this is stupid.” We found this tweet surprisingly quite accurate. You’ll be exhilarated! You’ll be exhausted. You’ll be happy! You’ll be Señor Crankypants. You’ll be feeling fit, healthy, and gorgeous today, and tomorrow believe this isn’t working at all. You’ll find yourself thinking at the same time that the Whole30 is the best thing that’s ever happened to you, and you cannot wait for it to be over. All of these things will happen, because when you take on something as big as changing your life, it’s kind of a big deal. We know our Whole30 “tough love” says this is not hard, and that’s true in some ways; after all, you’ve made it through way harder things than passing up a stale muffin at your weekly staff meeting. But we also acknowledge that this is hard. Examining your emotional relationship with food is hard. Breaking habits that started in childhood is hard. Learning to love, comfort, and bond with others (and yourself) without using junk food as an offering is hard. And that’s just the mental stuff. Physically, you’ve been throwing your body off balance for the last five (ten? twenty?) years by overconsuming foods that promote cravings, disrupt your hormones, damage your gut, and overwork your immune system. Through your food choices, you’ve been unknowingly waging a war with your body. Starting the Whole30 is like calling a ceasefire, which means things will eventually get better . . . but first comes a massive clean up effort, which can be just as disruptive and feel just as chaotic as the war itself. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and things may get worse before they get better. But during the process, you will also gain confidence. You will feel proud of yourself. You will be happier, you will feel more energetic, you will “show up” more in life. Your energy will increase, you’ll be sleeping more soundly, and your cravings will diminish, if not vanish. There is lots of sunshine and likely more than a few rainbows in your future. Hundreds of thousands of people have already completed a Whole30 (and most have returned for more). Through their experience and our scientific research, we’ve created this Whole30 Timeline—a detailed outline of common experiences to prepare you for some of the physical and emotional challenges you may face, and give you something to look forward to if the days get hard. YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY Our Timeline should give you an idea of what you might expect during the next 30 days, but don’t hold us to every last detail. We created it based on feedback from thousands of Whole30 participants, and nearly everyone says it’s scarily accurate for the most part. However, your experience will likely not match our Timeline perfectly. You may find you breeze through some of these phases while being stuck in others for longer than you anticipated, or you might find your Timeline on a two-week delay. Your health history and previous diet will play an important role in this variability— your transition will be much easier if you came to us in good health, eating mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. If you spent the last five years eating low-fat, high-sugar everything, and/or have a chronic medical condition, your first two weeks on the program may be less comfortable. Just remember that no two people experience the Whole30 exactly the same way, and being out of sync with what we outline here does not mean you are doing something wrong. The Whole30 Timeline DAY 1: No big deal/what have I done It’s 3 p.m. on Day 1. You effortlessly breezed past the break room donuts, feeling smug and satisfied after your breakfast frittata. Coffee with coconut milk actually isn’t that bad, and you’ve packed a big protein salad for lunch. You resisted the pull of a mid-afternoon treat and munched on some jerky and an apple instead. You have a slow cooker full of chili infusing your kitchen with a heavenly smell, and right now, you just can’t see why anyone thinks this Whole30 stuff is hard. This delusion is somewhat akin to the first episode of any reality show where the contestants are herded together and forced to live in one house. At the end of the first episode, everyone just knows they are going to be best friends for life. Those of us on the other side of the screen know better. We’re thrilled that you’re feeling empowered by making one good choice after another all day long. Take note of that Rock Star feeling, stash it away, and bring it back out about an hour later. You’ll likely need it. Today you may spend the hours bouncing between feeling really energized and completely overwhelmed. You could be wondering how you’ll make it 30 days without your favorite foods, or maybe the general “differentness” of the coming days just freaks you out. The idea of changing your life is super exciting, but it’s also a little scary. Our good friend Melissa Joulwan coined a term for this: “frexcited.” This is totally normal. Share your excitement when you’re excited. Allow yourself to feel nervous, too, but remember you have a great plan, lots of support, and some fantastic resources to see you through the next 30 days—so you really have no reason to be nervous. Well, maybe one. Because after years (or decades) of less-than-healthy food habits, the next few days may be seriously deficient in sunshine or rainbows. DAYS 2 TO 3: The hangover The alarm rings on Day 2 and you pop out of bed expecting to feel great, just like you did yesterday. Instead, you feel headache-y, a little sore, foggy . . . kind of like a hangover. You’re pretty sure you didn’t down a fifth of tequila in your sleep, so what happened? Let’s revisit what you were consuming before you started the Whole30. Pizzas, cookies, beer or wine, fast food, potato chips, candy, muffins, bagels, bread (so much bread). This is when the ghost of your high-sugar, high-carb, nutrient-poor past comes back to kick you in the butt—and apparently, the head. Here’s a little math equation for Days 2 to 3. The amount of suck you experience in this phase is directly proportional to the amount of junk you consumed before you began the program. Especially if you consumed it consistently. (This phase is also approximately 34 percent harder for the habitual soda drinkers, as you are eliminating not just the massive hit of sweetness, but the extra caffeine, too.) Nearly all Whole30ers report headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and general malaise during this part of the program. Your body is having a hard time adjusting to the new foods you’re eating, and going without the sugary food-like products you used to eat. (See TARGET: A Sluggish Metabolism for a more detailed explanation.) This process lasts a day for some lucky folks, but for others it can last several. Relax, drink a lot of water, take it easy in the gym, and keep making good food choices. Now would also be a good time to recruit the sympathy and support of friends and family, because . . . DAYS 4 TO 5: Kill all the things Day 4 dawns and you tentatively step out of bed, expecting to feel like you took a headshot from Thor’s hammer. Instead, your brain is surprisingly clear. Your limbs feel functional. This could be a good day! You walk into the kitchen and, upon being greeted by the smiling face of your significant other, you are suddenly overcome with the desire to punch them in the face for being so darn cheerful this early in the morning. Congratulations! You’ve made it to Day 4. Over the next two days, prepare yourself for the overwhelming urge to Kill All the Things. Your kids will forever be working your last nerve, the way co-workers talk, chew, and breathe will annoy you, and chipper cashiers and baristas will cower in your crankiness. Your brain won’t be happy when you withhold your previously generous rewards of super-sweet, salty, and fatty junk foods—and an unhappy brain is a stressed and anxious brain. Not to mention your hormones are desperately trying to keep up with your new food choices, your gut is trying to heal, you’ve had a headache for the last three days, and you really miss your diet soda. This too shall pass. Beg your spouse, children, parents, and co-workers for patience and forgiveness as nicely as you can, preferably before you tell them to stop breathing so loud. Take a deep breath, eat some sweet potato, and remind yourself of why you took on the Whole30 in the first place. We promise you will feel better soon. EAT ALL THE THINGS You may also notice a desire to Eat All the Things in this stage, too. That’s pretty common, as your body demands the sugar it’s been running on, and your brain is craving the sweet, salty, fatty rewards you used to feed it. Focus on making each of your three meals a day a little bigger, include a mini-meal if needed to see you through, and use our Craving vs. Hunger test to help you distinguish between actual hunger and your brain throwing a tantrum. DAYS 6 TO 7: I just want a nap It’s Day 6, and you made it through the last phase without smiting anyone. Hoorah! The thing is, today you don’t feel like you could smite anyone if your life depended on it. It’s 10 a.m. and all you can think about is crawling under your desk for a catnap. As the day drags on, your desk is morphing from hard wooden surface to snuggly warm pillow right before your eyes. You hit the gym in a daze and wonder if you fell asleep in child’s pose, would anyone notice? You hold off crawling into bed until the reasonable hour of 8 p.m., only to drag yourself up eleven hours later feeling no more rested than you did the day before. We know exactly what you’re thinking. For the love of Oprah, I thought this Whole30 thing was supposed to make me feel better. Isn’t eating like this supposed to increase my energy levels? Yes, in the long run. See, you’ve been reliant on sugar for energy for a really long time. Because of all the muffins, mocha lattes, and junk foods you’ve been eating, you trained your body to need sugar every few hours to function. Now, your body can also run very well on fat as fuel, but your mitochondria (the cellular “powerhouses”) need time to learn how to use body and dietary fat to power you. Which means you’re stuck in this limbo where you aren’t eating the energy you know how to run on, and you’re not good at using the energy you’ve got on hand. (See Troubleshooting Your Whole30 for more information.) Studies show the process of “fat adaption” (the ability to use fat as fuel) actually starts in just a few days, but takes a few weeks to fully ramp up. The good news is that people generally experience this switch by the second week of the program, so if you can hold out just a bit longer, you’ll reap the major benefits of fat adaption—namely, consistently high energy morning, noon, and night. Besides, you could probably use a day off from the gym anyway. DAYS 8 TO 9: NOOO! my pants are TIGHTER! You’ve made it through the Hangover, managed not to Kill All the Things, and are feeling far more peppy. Then, you put on your jeans. They’re just jeans—not your skinniest jeans, just normal, comfortable jeans. In fact, they’re the jeans you wore just three days ago. (You were too tired to wash them. It’s okay, we understand.) Three days ago, they fit. But this morning you had to take a big deep breath to get that button where it ought to be. Seriously, Whole30? Seriously? Luckily, this phase doesn’t happen to everyone—but if it’s happening to you, here’s why: The same processes that ran over you like a truck a few days ago are still working their magic in your body. Your body composition is not actually changing for the worse, we assure you. But the enzymes that digest your food and the millions of bacteria that live in your gut are adjusting to your new intake of meat and vegetables, and the lack of easyaccess sugars. This is something they do naturally, and these adjustments will go a long way to improve your gut function long-term. However, these adjustments can be a bit uncomfortable. Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or all three may appear (or reappear) as your gut starts to heal, rebalance, and process this new food effectively. The good news is that most people find this phase passes relatively quickly, and their pants are easy to button again within just a few days. WHAT-MAPS? Your increased intake of fruits and vegetables may be the culprit here. First, while these plants are nutrient-dense, they also contain something called FODMAPs—a collection of fermentable carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in various foods, including vegetables and fruits. FODMAPs are poorly absorbed, thereby “feeding” gut bacteria and causing a host of symptoms, including gas, bloating, digestive distress, and systemic inflammation. Plus, while fiber is healthy, the sudden increase in insoluble fiber from things like leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower may be irritating your digestive tract. Refer to our Troubleshooting guide if you want a little digestive help during this phase. DAYS 10 TO 11: The hardest days Fact: based on observing hundreds of thousands of people run through the program, we know you are most likely to quit your Whole30 program on day 10 or 11. By this point, the newness of the program has worn off. You’ve already experienced most of the unpleasant physical milestones, but you’ve yet to see any of the “magic” the program promises. You’re still struggling to establish a new routine (you are so. tired. of. eggs.), and while you’ve been trying really hard to have a good attitude, today you are incredibly aware of all the foods you’re “choosing not to eat right now.” Everywhere you look, you see the things you can’t have: the melted cheese on your co-worker’s burger, the creaminess of your neighbor’s coffee, the cold beer in your friend’s tailgate cooler. Arghh! This is hard! Will the results really be as good as “they” all say it is? You are cranky. You are impatient. You are a grown-up person who can eat cheese if you decide you want to eat cheese. And the Whole30 is just some stupid challenge anyway. This is where you really start to experience the psychological power of your food choices and habits. You’ve put in a lot of effort to get to where you are right now. Your brain demands some kind of reward (but you deserve it!) and food has always been your go-to prize. But instead of a treat, you’re standing face-to-face with the realization that you have twenty more days of perceived deprivation ahead of you. First, if you know these days are coming, they won’t come hurtling out of nowhere and knock you off your game. Prepare for them and you’ll have a much easier time. Yes, you do deserve a reward for working so hard and staying on point—but it’s time you redefine your idea of reward. Think long and hard about the foods you’re grieving and ask yourself what need you’re expecting them to fulfill. Are you feeling anxious and looking for reassurance? Are you feeling sad, and looking for something to cheer you up? Are you worried you won’t successfully finish the program, and it’s easier to self-sabotage than fail? Remind yourself that food cannot fill that void for you. When has a cupcake ever made you feel truly accomplished, comforted, calm, or beautiful? So find another way to fill that need. Schedule a date with a friend, treat yourself to a new kitchen gadget (look at Whole30 Really-Nice-to-Haves for inspiration), or get a massage. Rely on support from friends, family, or our online Forum or social media community to see you through. (A quick post that says, “Help!” always has our attention.) The good news? Just get through these two days and things will be much better. DAYS 12 TO 15: I dream of . . . junk food? Hurrah! The slump is over! Most people report that most of the negative symptoms we’ve been describing are gone by the end of the second week. Your pants fit again! Your energy levels are back to normal! You’re back to feeling confident in your commitment! But something weird is happening. You’re dreaming. Not crazy nightmare or strange surrealist dreams. Incredibly normal and realistic dreams—about donuts. Or Twinkies. Or fast-food hamburgers. Often, people dream of things they’d never actually eat or drink in real life! This experience is incredibly common on the Whole30, and some say rivals the kinds of weird cravings and dreams you get during pregnancy. (One Whole30er reported craving pickles and Doritos together during this phase! We’re pretty sure he wasn’t pregnant.) These dreams usually go one of two ways. You either enjoy the heck out of it and wake up laughing, or you believe you’re doing something wrong in your dream, and you wake up feeling guilty. Please. There is no guilt about what you do when you dream. The Whole30 rules are pretty comprehensive, but they can’t touch what happens in your subconscious. Which is really good news, because some of you seriously pig out while you’re REMing. The trouble is, sometimes these dreams and cravings carry over into real life. The diet soda ad on the billboard is calling your name, and your co-workers’ heads transform into giant Girl Scout cookies as you gaze on in disbelief. All joking aside, this phase can be really intense for some people. This is the part of the program where our brains are desperate to drive us back to the comfort of the foods we used to reward ourselves with. Our food relationships are deeply rooted and strongly reinforced throughout the course of our lives, and trying to change them is a difficult, emotional process
Now it’s time for phase two of the Whole30: reintroduction. The reintroduction process is critical to your learning experience, so please don’t skip over this part. Seriously. This is your one opportunity to slowly, carefully, systematically reintroduce some of the off-plan foods you’ve been missing into the “clean” environment you’ve created with the Whole30. Now is your chance to really evaluate how these foods make you feel in the context of a better relationship with food, improved metabolism, healthier digestive tract, and more balanced immune system. Let’s illustrate the importance of this process with a story. It’s Day 31, and you decide to celebrate your Whole30 completion by indulging in pancakes, a sandwich with potato chips, a beer (or two), a slice of pizza, a bowl of ice cream . . . oh, and that half a donut you found on the break room counter. Hey, you worked hard—you deserve it! And on Day 32, when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck —when your Sugar Dragon is raging, your energy is nonexistent, your stomach feels like you swallowed a bowling ball, and you’re crankier than you’ve been in a month, you won’t know why. Was it the pizza or the bread that made your skin break out? Did the pancakes set off your carb cravings, or was it the ice cream? Is your stomach reacting to the donut, the beer, or (most likely) the entirety of the junk food party you threw in your digestive tract? Thirty days of so much hard work completely wasted, because you’ve learned nothing about how these less healthy foods impact you. Don’t do that. Please. You’ve come this far—take the extra time to really reap the benefits of our carefully crafted reintroduction schedules. Be patient, and take the lessons you’ll learn in the coming days with you for the rest of your life. Rush this process, and you’ll be selling yourself short. Way short. Okay, now that we got that out of the way, we’ve created two reintroduction schedules for you to choose from—the Fast Track, and the Slow Roll. What’s the difference? The Fast Track reintroduction schedule is just that—our complete reintroduction protocol in just ten days. This is for people who know exactly what they’ve been missing and want to figure out as soon as possible how these foods impact them, so they can start implementing what they learned out in the real world. If you’re satisfied with your Whole30 results and feel ready to bring some of these other foods back into your life, this is the plan for you. Our Slow Roll schedule is far more gradual, lasting as long as you choose, based not on our timeline, but your own. It’s for people who feel so amazing post-Whole30 that they’re not ready to reintroduce less healthy foods just for the sake of reintroducing them—in fact, they’re happy to keep eating mostly Whole30 until something really amazing comes along, even if that’s a month from now. This scenario especially applies to those who experienced a significant improvement in a medical condition during their Whole30, and suspect their symptoms will come back with a vengeance once they start eating off-plan again. DON’T MISS IT? For both plans, if you don’t miss a particular food or drink that you know makes you less healthy, don’t bother to reintroduce it. Not missing tofu, black beans, cottage cheese, or pasta? With evidence pointing toward these foods making you less healthy and no vital nutrients you aren’t already getting from the healthy foods you are eating, there’s no reason whatsoever to add them back into your diet. Only reintroduce those foods that you suspect you’ll really want to include back into your diet once in a while, and leave the rest happily behind. With both of these plans, the premise is simple: treat it like a scientific trial, where the Whole30 is your “control group,” and each individual food or food group is the “experimental group.” You’ll reintroduce foods back into your diet one at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet in line with the Whole30 rules. This means you’ll have to plan carefully, and not combine major food groups during your reintroduction period. (Don’t worry— we’ll give you a detailed schedule and sample reintroduction days for each plan.) Note, we aren’t adding a set timeline to reintroduce added sugar in either plan. There’s really no need, as you’ll be eating some added sugar when you reintroduce these off-plan foods, and it’s nearly impossible to separate the effects of the sugar or high carbohydrate content from the impact of the other less healthy elements in these foods. Just pay attention to the impact of sugar plus other food groups—for example, if you react far more negatively to eating a donut than you do to eating pizza crust, you can be sure the combination of gluten containing grains plus sugar is an especially nasty one for you. (If you really want to pursue the idea of reintroducing sugar on its own, see the Reintroduction FAQ for our best advice.) We’ll outline our reintroduction plans one at a time, giving specific timelines and sample reintroduction days for each. Read through both options carefully before deciding which one to follow, as you will likely learn valuable information from the description of each approach. The Whole30 Fast Track Reintroduction The benefit of our Fast Track schedule is that you get your reintroduction over relatively quickly, and are then free to take what you’ve learned out into the real world. You may find great freedom and joy in being able to quickly reincorporate some of these foods back into your regular diet in a way that still keeps you moving in the direction of “more healthy.” Plus, because the schedule is very structured, you’ll have a clear method of reevaluating these foods without the effects of one food group conflicting with another. Finally, because you have the benefit of knowing exactly when you’ll be reintroducing these foods, you can structure things such that any negative side effects won’t completely ruin your life. The biggest downside is that you may have a pretty miserable two weeks. Reintroducing so many off-plan foods in such a short period of time (especially when your system has been so happy without them) means your energy, sleep, mood, cravings, skin, digestion, and medical symptoms may all blow up at once. Remember how just a few days ago you were looking forward to bringing back your beloved pizza, beer, and ice cream? All we’re saying is . . . brace yourself. EAT ALL THE THINGS Actually, we’d actually be surprised if you were still planning on an epic junk-food rampage come Day 31. In a 2014 study of more than 1,300 Whole30 participants, 76 percent said while they were planning on eating all kinds of treats on Day 31, by the time their Whole30 was over they didn’t even want those foods anymore! The good news? Once you’re done, you’ll be able to move forward implementing a healthy, balanced nutrition plan that will last the rest of your life. Below is a sample Fast Track Reintroduction Schedule. (Keep in mind the foods we select in these sample days don’t have to be your choices.) DAY 1 (optional): Evaluate gluten-free alcohol, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. For those of you missing your red wine, 100 percent agave tequila, or gluten-free beer, take this opportunity to reintroduce. Have a drink or two (don’t go overboard!) at some point today, paying attention to how you feel during and after your experience. Then, go back to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate, and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate alcohol into your lifestyle—if at all. DAY 1 (OR 4): Evaluate legumes, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Try a thick slather of peanut butter on your green apple with breakfast, a bowl of miso soup and soy sauce on your sashimi at lunch, and a side of black beans with dinner, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, go back to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate, and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate legumes into your regular diet—if at all. DAY 4 (OR 7): Evaluate non-gluten grains*, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Eat a bowl of oatmeal, a serving of white rice, some corn tortilla chips, and a sandwich made from gluten-free bread, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate, and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate non-gluten grains into your regular diet—if at all. *Corn, brown or white rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc. BACK A WORD OF CAUTION It’s Fast Track, not Shortcut. You really don’t want to trim this schedule down any more than it already is, or these less healthy side effects could start to pile up, making you feel even worse and making it harder to determine which food caused which negative symptom. Stick to two days of Whole30 eating between each reintroduction group at a minimum—refer to our Reintroduction FAQ for more information. DAY 7 (OR 10): Evaluate dairy, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Have plain yogurt in the morning, add milk or cream to your coffee, top your salad with cheese in the afternoon, and use ordinary butter and sour cream on your baked potato with dinner, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate, and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate dairy into your regular diet —if at all. DAY 10 (OR 13): Evaluate gluten-containing grains**, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Over the course of your day, have a bowl of whole-wheat cereal or a muffin, two slices of whole grain bread, some wheat crackers, and a beer, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate, and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate gluten grains into your regular diet—if at all. **Any product made from wheat, rye, or barley—bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, beer, etc. BACK Congratulations! Your reintroduction is technically over, and you can now implement what you’ve learned in the rest of your life. Of course, only you can decide what’s worth it for you. If wine gave you a migraine, milk gave you major gas, or bread made your eczema worse, it’s up to you to figure out whether those side effects are worth it. Maybe you love wine so much that you’ll happily trade a glass for a headache. Well then cheers to you! You’re now in charge of when, how much, and how often to reincorporate these foods back into your own life— and where you draw that line is entirely up to you. Still, aren’t you glad you know? Thanks to your Whole30 awareness, you know it’s a bad idea to have a glass of wine during a work lunch, a big glass of milk on a first date, or bread before your photo shoot. You know exactly how good Whole30 foods make you feel, and exactly how these off-plan foods will affect you. That’s the benefit of reintroduction—the awareness it brings, and the freedom you’ll now have to create a healthy, balanced, sustainable diet that will keep you moving in the direction of “more healthy” for the rest of your life. Not bad for just over a month’s worth of work. The Whole30 Slow Roll Reintroduction The Slow Roll schedule doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The whole point is for you to continue eating mostly Whole30 until something so special or delicious comes along that you decide you’re ready to indulge, and evaluate the effects. The benefit is that you get to continue your everyday life feeling unstoppable, powered by the Whole30 diet that works so well for you. You’ll also maintain your current quality of life, living symptom-free (or with reduced symptoms) as long as you stick to the plan. Plus, when you’re only reintroducing foods you find absolutely irresistible, you’ll savor them more, and be less tempted by not-so-special “just because it’s there and you can” options. Finally, because you’re only reintroducing a small amount of off-plan food at once (one special occasion dessert, a glass of your favorite wine, your mom’s homemade bread), the side effects may not be as severe or last as long as a Fast Track reintroduction day. The downside is that instead of setting aside a dedicated three days to reintroduce and evaluate specific foods, you’ll be testing them “in the wild,” not knowing how they’ll affect you. This means you may spend your anniversary weekend dealing with stomach cramps, bloating, and irregularity—not very romantic. ONE SLOW ROLL CONSIDERATION There is one way to keep your daily diet feeling more sustainable without jeopardizing your Tiger Blood. To give yourself a little breathing room on this stretched-out reintroduction schedule, consider relaxing on the Whole30 “no added sugar” rule come Day 31. This doesn’t mean you’re eating frosting washed down with energy drinks, but if you want sugar-cured bacon with your eggs, ketchup on your burger, or the vinaigrette dressing that comes with your restaurant salad, go right ahead. Note that we’re not actually changing your diet much here—you were already eating meat, condiments, and salads with dressing on the Whole30. We’re just broadening your choices a bit, in a way that won’t send you running for the nearest donut shop. Of course, if there are some foods you suspect (or know) will be “triggers” for your Sugar Dragon, stay away! Sweetened nut butters or coconut butters, dark chocolate, or coffee creamers may send you hurtling down the path of cravings and overconsumption. Plus, when there’s a “worth it” conflict, you’ll have to either pass up a food or beverage you really want, or lose some of the awareness you could have gained from a stricter schedule. For example, say you attend a family dinner, and you really want both your mom’s homemade cornbread and your grandma’s apple pie. You’ve got a dilemma—eat both, and you won’t be sure whether any negative effects came from the corn, the gluten, the sugar, or a combination of all three. Pass up one and you’re going to be sad about what you missed. If the benefits of a Slow Roll reintroduction outweigh the potential downsides for you, here’s a sample diary we created to illustrate how this works. Understand, however, this is only an example—your schedule will depend on you stumbling across something that’s worth it for you. DAY 31: My Whole30 is done! I’m celebrating with some 90 percent chocolate, but not bringing anything else back just yet. This Tiger Blood feels too good! DAY 35: My mom baked an apple pie for dessert, but that’s not my favorite, and I didn’t really want it, so I passed. And it was easy! DAY 42: Tonight’s my birthday, and I really want a glass of wine at dinner, but I may also want dessert. When I get to the restaurant, I’ll decide if I really want either. DAY 43: Wine gives me a headache, but boy it was delicious. Back to my Whole30-ish (basically Whole30 + ketchup and a teaspoon of honey in my tea). DAY 47: Movie night at home, and I’m dying for a bowl of hot, buttered popcorn. I’m going for it! I’ve still got clarified butter left over, so we’ll see how corn goes. DAY 48: Not bad! No noticeable effects, except eating a little popcorn made me want to eat a LOT of popcorn. Back to Whole30 for a few days. DAY 50: We’re in Mexico, and I’m dying for a fresh churro! Bring on the gluten. (Not really, but I really want a churro.) DAY 51: Bad, bad, bad. My body does not like churros. At all. Gluten is not my friend, and I’ll be thinking long and hard about whether I eat it again. You get the point—you continue with your Whole30-ish diet until something amazing comes along. You decide to reintroduce. You pay attention, return to the Whole30 for at least two days (if not longer), and repeat. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint One of the things we really like about the Slow Roll reintroduction is that it emphasizes a very important point: reintroduction is actually a lifelong process. Now that you have a baseline for looking and feeling your best (the Whole30), every time you eat a potentially less-healthy food, you should both savor it immensely and pay close attention to how it impacts you. The more experience you have with the Whole30 program, the more your awareness will grow, and the more you’ll be able to identify the subtle nuances of how food affects you. By your second or third Whole30 and reintroduction, you’ll find you’re paying attention to things you never would have noticed—the fact that eating gluten makes you sad, or how too much sugar puts you in a bad mood for two days straight. Finally, if you’re really paying attention, you’ll also notice your definition of “worth it” changes as time goes on. What’s worth it for you should be critically evaluated on a regular basis by paying close attention to your experience when eating certain foods. Was the idea of the food better than actually eating it? Did you used to love the food, but today it’s just “meh”? Could you happily do without something today that yesterday you thought you couldn’t live without? Don’t be afraid of flipflopping here—you’re the one who calls the shots, and your favorite “treat” today may be tomorrow’s “this just isn’t doing it for me.” IT ADDS UP Another word of caution—the impact of some of these foods on your body may be cumulative. You may not notice any issues with a bowl of popcorn, but eat it three days in a row, and your stomach is suddenly unhappy and your skin is itchy all over. That’s why it’s important to keep paying attention to how you respond to these foods even after your reintroduction schedule is over. You may discover that you have to temper not only the inclusion of some foods in your diet, but the dose as well.
Proceed with (Craving) Caution One last important point, and something that trips up many a Whole30er during their reintroduction. If at any point you start to feel out of control with your food choices (like what you’ve reintroduced woke up your Sugar Dragon), get back on the Whole30 for as long as it takes to stabilize. Don’t wait, don’t delay, and don’t try to talk yourself out of it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself covered in powdered sugar sipping a large mocha latte while ordering pizza for lunch and wondering why your pants are so tight again. You know exactly what we’re talking about. This is most common with the reintroduction of sugary foods or gluten grains—eating muffins, chocolate, “dessert,” or bread again can make some people rabid with desire for processed carbs and sugar. So be on the lookout for cravings rearing their ugly heads, and halt that process before it takes over your brain by returning to a strict Whole30. Does this advice sound a little extreme? Like, really, will I feel out of control after just a day of off-plan food? Yeah, you might. And we take sugar and carb addiction very seriously around here so please, listen to us, and don’t feel like a failure if you have to jump back on the Whole30 for a few days to calm things down. You’re actually succeeding, because you’re not afraid to do the best thing for you, your long-term health, and your relationship with food. Winning! The good news? Chances are it will only take a few days before you’re back in comfortable territory, feeling great and back in control—and will know to be even more careful when reintroducing those “trigger foods.”
But now for a little “tough.” We’re more “teach you how to fish” than “give you a fish” people. That means we’d rather help you figure out where to find the answers than spoon-feed them all to you. Of course, we’ve given you a massive head start in these sections—but even so, you may still find yourself asking a question we haven’t covered here. Can I have bee pollen? (Yes.) Will the Whole30 grow my hair back? (Probably not.) Can I use milk in my coffee if it’s my own breast milk? (This is an actual thing that actually happened, and yes, you may, but your husband may not.) So if you find yourself stuck with a question that isn’t in this book, here’s what you do: Search our whole30.com online Forum. It’s free, it’s quick to search, and we practically guarantee your question has been asked and answered there already. If not, feel free to start a new thread and ask away—our seasoned Whole30 veterans and Forum moderators will give you their best advice straightaway. Not a Forum person? Google! That will bring up results from our Forum, things we may have already said on social media, or blog posts on the subject by other Whole30ers. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Your last option is to ask us directly on social media. Pick a medium—Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, refer to the appendix for exactly how to find us. You’ll get an authoritative answer from someone on the Whole30 team within a day or so, although our community members may weigh in even sooner than that. (New Whole30 friends! Yay!) FACEBOOK GROUPS There are lots of Whole30-related Facebook groups out there, and we love seeing members of our community band together to support each other on their journey. But use caution, especially if you’re new to the program. These groups aren’t run or monitored by the Whole30 team, which means the information you’re getting may not be accurate. By all means, join (or create) a group for the friendship, support, and sharing of good recipes. But if you have a question about the rules, the foods, or the science behind the program, make sure you visit the official Whole30 Facebook page or our online Forum to get the answer straight from us. So there you go—so many answers, so many options, all right at your capable, confident fingertips. We’re not sure what else we could do, short of coming to your house and cooking your food for you. Which someone recently asked us to do on Twitter. Denise, we wish we could have. Really. You overachievers can read through this entire section start to finish now, helping you get even better prepared before your program starts. For those of you already feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s okay. Just know these answers, tips, and tricks are here when you need them, so get going on your Whole30 and come back to this section if a specific question or need comes up. Or, do a combination of both—skim through this section now, then come back to it if you need a little reminder or extra motivation during your Whole30. Ready? You sure are. the general whole30 FAQ “I just finished my first Whole30 and wanted to say thanks. I have always been fit and have eaten well, but my 50-year-old body really needed a tune-up. I also had high cholesterol (252) that gave concern to my doctor. Enter the Whole30. I lost 4 pounds, mostly around the waist area, which is nice; my waist is now a 31. I also got a blood workup and my results were excellent. My cholesterol is down to 207, triglycerides are normal, LDL-C is normal, and HDL-C is now in the healthy range. On top of all that, I am really enjoying cooking for myself and my family.”
you ’ ve got questions, we’ ve got answers y now, you are an expert on the Whole30 rules, have a cadre of friends and family supporting you in your journey (whether in person or online), and have run through our five easy steps designed to get your house, your head, and your Whole30 plan in order. But you still have questions. We know. We expected this. In fact, we love questions. Even questions you think are stupid or silly. Know why? Questions mean you are really trying to do this right. We answer every single question we receive from Whole30 participants on social media or via the Forum. Even questions we’ve already answered 1,343 times. Because when you ask a question, it tells us that your Whole30 is important to you. It tells us that you are thinking critically about the next 30 days, deepening your understanding of the rules and embracing the spirit and intention of the program. Your questions mean you are engaged and enthusiastic and most important, committed. And we love that. So in the next 15 sections, we’ve documented more than five years’ worth of Whole30 questions and answers: the technicalities, like “Can I have hummus?” and “Can I take communion?”; the lifestyle-related challenges, like “How do I manage a restaurant?” and “What do I take on a long plane ride?”; and the emotional worries, like “Why can’t I weigh myself?” and “What if I accidentally eat something off-plan?” We’ve answered all of those and more, sometimes in question-and-answer format, sometimes in narrative form. We’ve put all of our Whole30 education, experience, proficiency, and common sense all in one place. It’s called “everything you need to know” for a reason, and that’s the “love” part