You’ve probably heard of Whole30 by now, right? If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and prepping yourself for 30 days of a pretty intense elimination diet (hey, we ain’t gonna sugarcoat it), it’s best to be girded with all the knowledge you can get. For starters, what can you actually eat on the Whole30 diet? Here, everything you can and can’t munch on for the next 30 days. You’ve got this.
Yeah, this diet is pretty restrictive, but the good news is, you can actually eat most of the nutritious foods you already love. The goal is real food over processed stuff.
1. Vegetables and Fruits
You’ve pretty much got free rein of all things green. This diet promotes eating lots of vegetables and a little fruit. (And, hey, potatoes—even white potatoes—count as vegetables.)
Fill up with moderate amounts of lean meat—ideally those that are organic and grass-fed. Wild-caught seafood and eggs are also on the table. If you want to eat sausage and bacon, make sure it’s compliant and watch out for added sugar.
Olive oil is about to become your best friend. Other natural plant-based oils (like coconut and avocado) and animal fats are all Whole30-approved. You can also eat nuts (except peanuts, more on that later).
Best news? Caffeine is compliant, so coffee and tea are still fair game.
What’s Not Approved
Brace yourself, friends.
Say goodbye to milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, kefir and everything else that’s creamy and dreamy.
Anything with gluten is off-limits, along with rice, oats, corn and pseudo-grains like quinoa or buckwheat. That means no pasta and popcorn for 30 days.
You can’t eat any beans on the Whole30 diet, and that includes soy (as well as soy sauce, soy milk and tofu). Chickpeas and lentils are also blacklisted. Oh, and peanuts (and peanut butter). They’re legumes. The more you know…
Sugar, real or artificial, is off-limits. That includes honey, maple syrup and all unrefined sweeteners, too. Dessert, even if it’s made with compliant ingredients, is not allowed. The point of Whole30 is to get back to eating whole.
What’s Maybe OK, Sometimes
Of course, not everything falls into neat categories and some foods can cause confusion on Whole30.
Most forms of vinegar are fine on Whole30, including red wine, balsamic, cider and rice. The only one that’s not OK is malt vinegar, because it usually contains gluten.
For sticklers, the no-dairy rule also includes ghee or clarified butter, even though the milk proteins have been removed. But some Whole30-ers say ghee is an acceptable fat for that reason.
3. Peas and Pods
Some legumes also fall into a gray area, like green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. Since they’re more like a green veggie, they’re considered OK.
Did you know that iodized salt actually contains sugar? Yep, it’s a necessary part of the chemical composition—so iodized salt is an exception to the no-sugar mandate.