Five Things I Should Know About Whole30 But Forgot!

I did my first Whole30 in October 2015 – what feels like 83 lifetimes ago. At the time, I read It Starts with Food and breezed through a borrowed copy of The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health.

Shortly after, I started running our Whole30 Facebook group. Between the group and my six subsequent rounds of Whole30, I have pretty much lived and breathed the program for the past three years. I bought and read Food Freedom Forever when it came out, but even that feels like eons ago.


In recent weeks, as I’ve been prepping for my Whole30 coaching exam, I’ve picked up all three books again for another read. I confess that I was dreading it a bit – reading these days often feels like a chore with all of life’s other busy-ness swirling around me. But, it’s actually been eye-opening and kind of fun to go back and read the words that inspire my daily life.

Re-reading the books also reminded me of a few things that I had forgotten along the way of my Whole30 journey. And if I forgot them, chances are others have as well!

Here they are, in no particular order:

The Four Good Food Standards Whenever people asked me WHY the Hartwigs chose to eliminate the food groups they did in Whole30, my standard reply was that they chose the ones that are most often at the root of inflammation for people. That’s only a quarter of the answer, Judith! At the very beginning of It Starts with Food, Melissa and Dallas remind us that they evaluate food groups against these four “Good Food” standards:

  • Promote a healthy psychological response

  • Promote a healthy hormonal response

  • Support a healthy gut

  • Support immune function and minimize inflammation

The food groups that are eliminated in Whole30 each fail to meet at least one of these standards. It was such a good refresher to see this, something so core to the program, in print again.

Food Before Coffee? I am a super early bird and one of my main motivators for popping out of bed before the sun rises is my coffee. I typically have one cup of coffee while I do my early morning work (day job work, blog, Whole 30 group, pay bills, or a little of everything) and then another cup either 90 minutes later when I eat breakfast with my daughter or a few hours later when I get to work.

In the back of my head, I remembered reading somewhere that the Hartwigs wanted us to eat breakfast before we have our morning java. Here’s what I found in regarding that: “If you need that cup of coffee first thing, it means that your cortisol levels are not as healthy as they should be….and caffeine is a potent appetite suppressant, so if you’re one of those people who just isn’t hungry in the morning, here’s your rule: You must eat Meal 1 before you get to enjoy your coffee. It’s for your own good.” Good to know – and something to keep in mind for when I do my next round!

To Juice or Not to Juice? For as long as I can remember in the Facebook group, we have been advising people who ask to stay away from vegetable juice, reminding them that Whole 30 is really about being mindful about chewing and swallowing your food. However, in The Whole 30 book, they’re a little more chill about vegetable juice than we’ve been in the group saying that although they’re “not big fans of drinking your food…[they] approve of using vegetable juice as a way to get extra nutrients into your body.” They do remind us that juice should never take the place of eating real vegetables, and that if you do turn to vegetable juice, you should aim to juice it yourself so you know exactly what’s in it. And while we’re talking juice, this is a good time to remind everyone that fruit juice is approved as an ingredient to a recipe but should not be consumed on its own! Juicing removes many of the nutrients from the fruit and leaves all of the sugar behind.

Is Fat my Friend? One of the most popular questions in the Facebook group is about FAT, specifically does one’s cooking fat count as the meal’s added fat? So many people are still scared of fat – many of our members grew up in the fat-phobic 1980s and 1990s and old habits die hard! We are always quick to say NO and encourage people to add a fat beyond what they use in the pan. The Hartwigs do this as well, in The Whole 30 book, but they also add a tip about not stressing too much about this. They write: “Use your body’s hunger and fullness signals to guide you, and remember that because you’re eating a wide variety of foods and meals, a little more fat in this meal will naturally balance itself out with a little less fat in a meal you’ll eat later in the week.” Once again, we’ve been a little more hardcore than the Melissa and Dallas (hard to believe I just wrote those words) so this was a good reminder that fat intake should be considered as part of a daily or weekly bigger picture – and not always meal by meal.

Resets Beyond the Whole 30 As I re-read Food Freedom Forever, I reminded myself that in order to achieve Food Freedom, you don’t actually have to do a Whole 30, although it is highly recommended. In the book, Melissa outlines a handful of other resets (i.e. the Craving-Buster Reset, the Vegan Reset, the Anti-Inflammatory Reset, etc)

A reset, Whole 30 or otherwise, is the first step in the Food Freedom process. (Step 2 is enjoying your food freedom, and Step 3 is acknowledging when you’re starting to slip…and then going back to Step 1!)

So, while you’ve chugged the Whole 30 Kool Aid, you may have friends or family who don’t want to give it a whirl but are longing to feel empowered over what they eat. Get them a copy of and see if they can handle one of the alternate resets to get the ball rolling toward healthy habits and a new relationship with food.

Have you ever flipped through the Whole30 books and discovered something “new?”