Whole30 Rules and Success Strategies

Abiding by Whole30 rules is essential if you want to succeed at this popular diet. Certain foods are forbidden, such as dairy and grains.


So, what can you eat on the Whole30 plan? Before embarking on this elimination diet, it’s essential to understand the Whole30 rules. This eating plan embraces whole foods and prohibits the consumption of things like junk food, dairy, grains and alcohol.  

The Whole30 program is an elimination diet that can help you make food choices that support your health. 

This 30-day eating plan requires you to make specific changes to your diet and lifestyle. Some foods are encouraged, and others are strictly prohibited. And there is no room for compromise; make no mistake, if you want to find success with Whole30, you have to abide by Whole30 rules. 

So, what are the rules of Whole30? Let’s examine some vital Whole30 guidelines. 

In this article, we will:

  • Briefly summarize the Whole30 diet
  • Discuss what takes place at the end of the diet
  • Provide a complete list of Whole30 rules, along with critical exceptions
  • Share crucial strategies that can help you succeed on the Whole30 program 

What can you eat on the Whole30 plan, and what does it aim to accomplish?

There are all kinds of different diets and eating plans out there. Typically, they focus on weight loss. 

Whole30 is different. The Whole30 rules and program don’t strive for cosmetic changes. Instead, this eating plan aims to help you build self-awareness on how certain foods affect your body. 

The Whole30 rules and program are the brainchild of a couple of sports nutritionists: Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig. They’re authors of “The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.” The Whole30 program grew from the book’s success. 

Its creators see the Whole30 program as a nutritional reset – a chance to overhaul your relationship with food. The program is a 30-day elimination diet that encourages the consumption of whole foods. It requires you to give up foods that can negatively impact cravings, blood sugar regulation, digestion, immunity and inflammation. 

By giving up these foods for 30 days, many people notice benefits concerning energy, sleep, digestive issues, mood, focus, and athletic performance. In addition, chronic pain may diminish, and there may be improvements in conditions like migraines, allergies, asthma and eczema. 

Per Whole30 rules, what happens at the end of this 30-day diet?

At the end of the 30-day Whole30 program, you can reintroduce the foods you’ve eliminated one at a time. Doing so will allow you to see what effect each food has on your body. 

If a food you’ve reintroduced causes undesirable symptoms to return, it’s a dead giveaway that this menu item negatively impacts your health. You can use this information to make permanent dietary changes that improve wellness.  

Whole30 rules and exceptions

Here’s a complete list of Whole30 rules, along with some crucial exceptions:

Whole30 rule #1: Consume foods that are whole and minimally processed

Unprocessed foods and minimally processed foods are at the heart of this eating plan. 

Base your Whole30 food list on whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit and natural fats. That includes choices like sweet potato, grass-fed beef, almond butter, other types of nut butter and coconut oil. Herbs, spices and seasonings are allowed.

In many ways, the Whole30 program is similar to the paleo diet. When meal planning, look for foods with short ingredient lists made with things you recognize. 

Whole30 rule #2: Eliminate most forms of added sugar 

Whole30 rules require you to eliminate added sugar – natural and artificial – from your diet. This includes things like maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia. 

Exceptions: One exception is fruit juice, used as a sweetener in some food products. Also, iodized table salt contains sugar in the form of dextrose; this ingredient is essential to prevent oxidation. Despite the presence of dextrose, Whole30 rules allow table salt. 

Whole30 rule #3: Banish alcohol 

The Whole30 meal plan forbids most types of alcohol, even for cooking. This rule includes everything from beer to wine. 

Exceptions: Vinegar includes fermented grain alcohol; despite this, most types of vinegar are allowed. Also, Whole30 rules allow consumption of alcohol-based botanical extracts such as vanilla and lemon. However, malt-based vinegar or extracts aren’t allowed, since they contain gluten. Last but not least, coconut aminos are fermented and have trace amounts of alcohol. Despite this, the Whole30 program permits coconut aminos. 

Whole30 rule #4: Say no to grains and pseudo-cereals

Whole30 rules prohibit the consumption of grains. This rule bans everything from barley to wheat. Additionally, foods made with grains – such as bran, germ and starch – aren’t allowed.

And grain-like pseudo-cereals such as buckwheat and quinoa are also prohibited. 

Whole30 rule #5: Avoid most forms of legumes

Whole30 rules prohibit most types of legumes. This restriction includes peanuts (peanuts are legumes, even though they’re often classed as nuts), peanut butter and most beans. It also includes soy products, such as soy sauce, tempeh, tofu, miso and soy milk. 

Exceptions: Green beans and most types of peas are allowed. This includes snow peas, sugar snap peas, yellow peas, green peas and split peas. 

Whole30 rule #6: Steer clear of most types of dairy

Avoid dairy products such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. And stay away from dairy products like kefir, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, sour cream, butter and frozen yogurt. 

Exceptions: Though standard butter is not allowed, the Whole30 program permits ghee and clarified butter. 

Whole30 rule #7: Eliminate carrageenan and sulfites

If a food’s ingredient list includes carrageenan or sulfites, that food is not Whole30-approved. 

Whole30 rule #8: Cut out baked goods, junk food and sweets

Baked goods, junk food, highly processed food, sweets and treats aren’t allowed, even those with Whole30-approved ingredients. This restriction includes cookies, French fries, potato chips, pizza, pasta, bread and pancakes.

Many people lean on these foods to get them through stressful times. They are banned in the Whole30 program to encourage you to develop healthier habits for coping with stress. 

Whole30 rule #9: Do not weigh yourself or take any body measurements for 30 days

The Whole30 program is not about weight loss. Therefore, weighing yourself or taking body measurements is forbidden since this may distract you from the program’s actual benefits.

However, you’re allowed to weigh and measure yourself right before the program starts and right after it ends.  

Vital success strategies regarding Whole30 rules

Here are some tips for succeeding with Whole30 rules:

  • Go all in. Partial commitment is a recipe for failure with the Whole30 program. Know the rules and stick to them. That’s your only option if you want to reap benefits from this program. 
  • Learn how to say no. You may find yourself in social situations where friends and family offer you prohibited foods. Set your boundaries and hold your ground. Remember that even a single moment of weakness can compromise the benefits you get with this program. 
  • Prepare for a challenge. Making significant changes to your diet is more demanding than most people realize. Know that the Whole30 program will require you to make a substantial and daunting shift. Acknowledging this will make it easier for you to handle all the challenges that the Whole30 program may bring. 
  • Stay focused on the program’s potential benefits. Whole30 restrictions can be intimidating. Still, it’s important to remember that this program has the potential to improve your health radically. So, keep these desired improvements in mind each step of the way. Maintaining that focus with help give you the will to persevere. 

Next steps

Embarking on the Whole30 program requires significant adjustments in meal prep and how you shop for food. However, you can simplify your experience with this diet by subscribing to Fresh N Lean.

We deliver chef-prepared Whole30 meals to your front door. We make our delicious cuisine with whole foods and organic ingredients. 

Fresh N Lean is the nation’s largest organic meal delivery service. Our tasty, chef-prepared cuisine is always fresh and never frozen, and we offer convenient meal plans like Protein+, Keto, Paleo, Standard Vegan and Mediterranean. Choose Fresh N Lean for affordable nutrition, delivered to your doorstep.