In case saying goodbye to a bunch of food groups all at once
sounds sad and unsustainable.
Posted on March 23, 2017, 15:01 GMT
The Whole 30 Program is an elimination diet
that calls for avoiding grains, legumes, dairy, added sugar,
and alcohol for 30 days.
It also bans MSG, sulfites, and carrageenan, additives
commonly found in processed foods. Participants are also
discouraged from trying to recreate baked foods using Whole
30-approved ingredients (so, like, no paleo muffins, for
example). And they’re also told not to weigh themselves for
the duration of the diet. The idea is to “focus on making
good food choices” for a month.
The thing is, eliminating several food groups from your diet
can be pretty daunting, even for just a month. And as
BuzzFeed Health has reported, following restrictive diets can
lead to bingeing down the road. (Not to mention that it
can take a toll on your social life and enjoyment of food.)
So we reached out to health and nutrition experts to ask them
how to make impactful changes to your diet in a sustainable
way, so you can practice a healthier, non-elimination-based
approach to eating. Here’s what they said!
1. For one meal a day, make your plate
1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 whole grains.
@thewholehappylife / Via instagram.com
“Choose one meal per day that you want to improve and do
that consistently for a month. Then add on a second meal,
then a third, etc. As dietitians we know that simple,
small steps are much more effective when it comes to
eating healthier, not complete diet overhauls.
If you need a visual, here you go. This sounds simple, but
we promise our patients who follow this eating pattern
have the most success when it comes to achieving their
health goals. Ideally, you’d want to do this for at least
lunch and dinner. But there’s no shame in starting
—Jessica Jones, MS, RD, CDE and Wendy Lopez, MS, RD,
co-founders of Food Heaven Made Easy and
co-authors of the 28-Day Plant-Powered Health
2. Instead of subtracting from your
diet, add to it.
@ashandnug / Via instagram.com
“For example, add an afternoon snack so you don’t get
overly hungry and eat the entire kitchen when you get
home. Or, if you love pizza, enjoy it, but add in some
veggies (like a side salad) to get in extra nutrients and
filling volume. Or if you’re a huge pasta fan, add
protein (beans or meat/fish/tofu) and lots of veggies to
the dish — you’ll be much more satisfied than you would
be by a huge bowl of just pasta and sauce.
Try my Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole for an
example of this in action!”
—Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, dietitian blogger at fANNEtasticfood.com and co-author of
the Joyful Eating, Nourished Life
3. Swap out some processed grains for
some whole grains.
@blueberry_vegan / Via instagram.com
“Rather than giving up grains completely as Whole 30
requires, swap out some of the processed grains (things
like bread, pasta, traditional cold cereals, crackers,
etc.) in your diet for intact grains. Intact grains are
grains in their purest form, like quinoa, bulgur, farro,
millet, freekah, amaranth, oats, and so on — grains you
have to cook yourself.
These are high in naturally-occurring nutrients, and take
more energy to digest — which means the net calories from
a serving of intact grains may be lower than calories
obtained from a similar portion of processed grains.
Making this substitution is one more step toward a real,
whole foods diet.”
—Amelia Winslow, MS, MPH, nutritionist and founder of
Eating Made Easy
4. Eat more legumes (e.g., lentils,
split peas, black beans, pinto beans, soy beans,
@ericaeats96 / Via instagram.com
“The average American only eats seven pounds of them per
year. Legumes are a triple-win:
• They are tasty and satisfying.
• Consuming them is linked to a decreased risk of
diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
• They are environmentally friendly.”
—Ryan Andrews RD, coach at Precision Nutrition
5. Start your day with a green
@sproutedroutes / Via instagram.com
“It’s a triple whammy: You swap out what’s often an
unhealthy, simple-carb-filled breakfast, you create a
healthy habit that’s easy to stick to (smoothies take
five minutes to make!), and you get more vegetables
before 9 a.m. than most people get all day.
There are a few keys to making your smoothie
breakfast-worthy — you’ll want to include a healthy fat,
like avocado, and some type of protein, like hemp seeds.
I love this chocolate mint green smoothie (it
tastes just like a milkshake!), and this mango turmeric one is perfect for
—Liz Moody, healthy food blogger at Sprouted Routes
6. Stop not treating
@icecreamadventurer / Via instagram.com
“Health and nutrition is amazing and all, but a narrow
and rigid focus on physical health can lead to feelings
of isolation by sacrificing our social lives and
Health and healthy eating is all about balance — healthy
nutritious food and some of the treats you love.
The trick is finding a balance that works best for you
and your lifestyle; let yourself have the slice of cake,
the happy hour cocktail, the mac and cheese. Just make
sure that your overall diet is healthy and mostly based
on healthy whole foods and vegetables.”
— Ben Sit, RD, president of Evolved Sport and Nutrition
7. Eat more fat. And say goodbye to
low-fat and fat-free products.
@shandiestel / Via instagram.com
“Perhaps it sounds counterintuitive, but fat is wonderful
for your health and any weight loss efforts. Your cells
need fat in order to function properly. Your nervous
system needs fat in order to communicate. Certain
vitamins are only absorbed in the presence of fat. Plus,
it keeps you full AND it tastes great. Lots of winning.
Remember, when food manufacturers take out the naturally
occurring fat, they put in additives (read: crap) to make
food palatable. Peanut butter, yogurts, salad dressings,
ice cream: Go full fat or go home.
p.s. 2% yogurt is reduced-fat yogurt.”
—Rob Sulaver, Founder & CEO of
Bandana Training and Founding Trainer
of Rumble Boxing
8. Add one piece of fruit and one
vegetable to each meal.
@fitmencook / Via instagram.com
“You don’t have to change anything about what you’re
already eating, just add a fruit and a vegetable along
with your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
That could be as easy as: sauteed spinach with breakfast
and blueberries on the side, steamed broccoli and an
apple with lunch, and sauteed green beans with dinner,
using fruit as an after-dinner treat! That way even if
your meals are not the healthiest, you’re guaranteeing
your body vital nutrients through the fruits and veggies
you add in.”
—Anjali Shah, board certified health coach and founder of
The Picky Eater
9. Learn how to make vegetables taste a
@xtinebyrne / Via instagram.com
“All ‘health-conscious diets’ agree on one thing: You
should eat your veggies. Many health and nutrition
experts recommend at least five servings/day. However,
for those who don’t like vegetables, this can be a
challenge. That’s where learning how to complement and
cushion veggies comes in.
Complementing is pairing a food or aromatic
(spices like ginger, cumin; sour like lime juice, wine;
or salty like mustard, olives) with veggies to push
several taste buttons at the same time.
Cushioning is pairing veggies with certain flavors
— honey or berries for a sweet flavor, olive oil or bacon
for a delicious fat flavor — to turn vegetables’
bitter notes down and have you actually craving them.
For a visual guide on how to do this, check out this article.”
—John Berardi, Ph.D., author of Intermittent Fasting and
co-founder of Precision Nutrition.
10. Be flexible about your diet; it
should change depending on your mood, cravings, and
“My advice to each person is this: eating should be
flexible. It will vary depending on your hunger,
fullness, cravings, access to food, mood, and
environment. There is no ‘one size fits all’ meal plan.
The science is clear: Restrictive eating plans do not
work and eventually lead to weight cycling, binge eating,
and lower metabolic rates.”
—Aaron Flores, RDN California-based nutritionist
specializing in intuitive eating and Health at Every Size (HAES)
11. Keep a food log for one week.
@dayofeatingdoodles / Via instagram.com
“This will provide insight that allows you to make
targeted tweaks to your diet that will have huge impact
on how you feel and ultimately your health. You will
really understand the effects of your food choices on
your body. Does cheese make you gassy? Does sugar make
you sleepy? Does oatmeal leave you hungry in 30 minutes?
Do you eat out every meal? You can also learn interesting
things about your metabolism, like what time of day
you’re most hungry, and if you’re eating the majority of
your calories after 9:00 pm.”
—Danielle Omar, integrative dietitian inspiring you to
get Fearless in the Kitchen
12. Add more lean protein to your life
(and daily routine).
@agirleatingbakersfield / Via instagram.com
“Make it a habit to eat more lean protein with each meal
and snack, instead of just starchy carbs. A few good
examples of lean protein are hardboiled eggs, deli turkey
slices, chicken, beans and/or legumes.”
—Katie Yip, New York City–based
13. Trust that the ups and downs of
trying to be healthier will result in balance.
Casey Gueren / Via
“If you’re making healthy habits a part of your everyday
lifestyle, you’ll have ups and downs — weeks where you
might eat healthier than others — but they will balance
themselves out naturally, something I call the squiggly line effect. Listen to your
body — it will tell you what it needs to thrive.”
—Kath Younger, RD, founder of Kath Eats Real Food
14. Add probiotic-rich foods
(sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, yogurt) to your meals.
@caliqt88 / Via instagram.com
“Probiotics generally have a sour flavor that can add
that special umami-like taste to your foods. Top your
salads with kimchi or sauerkraut. Stir in some miso paste
into your veg sauté.
Your gut is the center of the universe when it comes to
your health. Probiotics replace and replenish beneficial
bacteria that already live in your gut. Think beyond
dairy. There are plenty of probiotics out there besides
yogurt — like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh — that can
make your gut happy.”
—Rachel Beller, RDN, celebrity
nutritionist and founder of Beller Nutritional Institute
15. Learn how to eat according to your
hunger, not according to external food rules.
@newsomav / Via instagram.com
“Most people focus on external cues — like calories,
diet rules, or portion sizes — in order to know how much
to eat, but then they don’t end up feeling their best
because they ate less or more than their body really
Internal cues feel different for everyone and you have to
tune in to discover what ‘a little hungry’ feels like for
you, versus what ‘very hungry’ feels like. This helps you
tell the subtle difference between ‘still hungry’ and
‘mostly full,’ for example. What does thirsty feel like?
What does tired feel like?
To get to your unique cues, I recommend jotting notes
about appetite and energy levels as you experiment, using
as specific language as possible. Do this exercise for
every sensation, at various points: very hungry, a little
hungry, very thirsty, a little thirsty… and for things
like fatigued, sleepy, energized, turned on, etc.
Cultivate the skill of listening to your body’s subtle
internal cues and you’ll always get exactly what
— and how much — you need to feel your best!”
—Jessi Kneeland, health and
16. Eat more fiber.
@malinloye / Via instagram.com
“The average American consumes about
8—10 grams of fiber daily. Want to the know the
recommendation? It’s 25-35 grams daily!
Fiber is satiating which means it can even help people
lose weight. Fiber is also known to reduce cholesterol
and maintain blood glucose control. Some examples of
fiber-containing snacks include a pear, chia seed
pudding, or a granola bar that offers at least three
grams of fiber per serving.”
—Nita Sharda, RD, owner of
Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting
17. Consciously uncouple from
self-criticism. And really try to practice
@juliannetarroja / Via instagram.com
“Research shows that self-compassion leads us to wiser,
more grown-up, kinder choices for ourselves. Rather
counter-intuitively, it also helps us perform better
(whether athletically or in life).
Self-criticism is walking around with an asshole in your
head all the time who grinds you down, sucks your energy,
and makes you perform worse. Telling this asshole to
STFU, and being kinder to yourself (by, for example,
instead of getting mad at yourself for a ‘slip up,’
trying to congratulate yourself for the effort you’re
making no matter how every little thing turns out) will
help you be more resilient, perform better, and bounce
back quicker from any setbacks or mistakes.”
—Krista Scott-Dixon, director of education at Precision Nutrition
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