How to Modify the Whole30 and Still Have Success: 3 Ways to Make Your Whole30 More Flexible, with Sample Days

Whether you’re new to the Whole30, or this is your third attempt, you may have some fears around the strict guidelines for a full 30 days. That’s where a modified Whole30 may be your best bet.

All grains, dairy, sugar, beans, lentils, soy, peanuts, alcohol and certain additives are off limits for an entire MONTH?! You got that right. The Whole30 is tough stuff, and while it works wonders for your health if you stick to it, this 30-day+ program is not for everyone. Alas, there are ways to modify your Whole30, doing it 90/10 or 80/20, and still reap some key health benefits.

To start, here’s a quick Whole30 Cheat Sheet to help you see what’s on & off limits for the Whole30 nutritional reset. 


Can I modify my Whole30?

So you’re intrigued by the Whole30 program and all of its #TigerBlood glory, but you don’t want to give up #ALLTHETHINGS for a full 30 days PLUS the recommended reintroduction phase. I feel you. It’s very common to start your Whole30 guns blazing, only to give it up 10 or even 5 days in.

But instead of throwing in the towel completely, cursing the Whole30 name and going back to your daily cereal, sandwich, pasta, and ice cream habits, how about making some simple tweaks to make the nutritional reset a little more manageable?

By making the Whole30 your OWN, you can feel more in charge of your food choices rather than a victim on a restrictive diet.

First Things First: Why are non-Whole30 foods off limits?  

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The foods & drinks omitted on the Whole30 nutritional reset are deemed by the Whole30 creators as less healthy, explaining that they either cause inflammation or overconsumption, and the nutrients these unapproved foods DO have can be found in foods that are much more health-promoting.

Whole30 co-founder Melissa Hartwig Urban explains that you can get all of the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need by eating:

  • Lean proteins (meat, fish, eggs)
  • Unlimited vegetables (including plenty of greens)
  • Complex starches (like squash and potatoes)
  • Fruits (choose fresh over dried)
  • Fats (oils, nuts, seeds)

The Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Stew in the photo above is the PERFECT flavor-filled, Whole30 approved recipe! 


The program creators explain that the Whole30 approved foods above contain everything you need to fuel your body for optimal performance, and if you stick to the whole foods above, the below foods are essentially unnecessary:

  • Grains (wheat, gluten, corn, quinoa)
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Sugar (even artificial)
  • Legumes (beans, peanuts)
  • Soy
  • Certain Additives (lik MSG, Sulfites, Carrageenan)

If you need more guidance here, get your free Whole30 Cheat Sheet that shows you the basic food swaps for this nutrition plan, so you can pin to your fridge & know what you grab at all times.

Looking at this off-limits list, you may be thinking, “There’s no way I could give up wine for 30 days!” Or, “Cheese and sugar are my go-to snacks. I simply cannot live without them!

If that’s the case, you’re in luck. I’ve spoken to MANY people (myself included!) who have made their Whole30s more flexible, and still saw & felt incredible results. One woman even lost 15 pounds! Let’s get into the 3 ways you can follow a modified Whole30 and still reap some solid health benefits.

OPTION 1: Do a Whole21, a Whole14, or a Whole10

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Here’s another super flavorful Whole30 approved recipe: A Whole30 Approved Stirfry


Let’s get one thing straight:
Eating incredibly clean and omitting the off-limit items for the full 30 days is ideal, as it can take up to two weeks for our bodies to process and rid certain foods. However, if you’re 4 days into the Whole30 and are ready to go back to your old chips/cookies/crackers habits, consider adding one or two off-limit items to your remaining days of the 30 so you can still eat healthier than you did before. Here’s how to do it:

STEP 1: Pinpoint exactly what’s tripping you up and causing your mind to want to end your Whole30. Is it: 

  • Chocolate after dinner?
  • Wine any night you want it?
  • CHEESE?
  • Going out and being lenient on the weekends?
  • Just the fact that you’re “depriving” yourself?

STEP 2: After you pinpoint the what’s driving you into Whole30 hell, choose 1 or 2 items to add back in and finish out the month rather than adding them ALL back in.

Commit to the 30 days, but when you hit your breaking point and simply don’t want to continue, add back ONLY the food or drink items making you want to quit and finish the remaining days with those included making it more of a 90/10 or 80/20 Whole30. Here’s an example

  • WEEK 1: Follow the true Whole30
  • WEEK 2: Follow the true Whole30
  • WEEK 3: Follow Whole30 BUT allow yourself a glass of wine and/or cheese (or dark chocolate and/or peanut butter), for example.
    • Ideally you would only choose ONE of these add-ons and LIMIT the days you enjoy it. Perhaps only 1 to 3 days a week, for example.
    • Also, pay very close attention to how these items make you FEEL when you add them back in. You’ll feel the biggest reaction if you eliminate them for 30 days, but you may be able to sense some fatigue, bloating or other digestive upset come back after omitting them for just 2 weeks.
  • WEEK 4: Same as Week 3

STEP 3: After the 4 weeks or 30 days, decide whether you want to slowly reintroduce one omitted food at a time, such as:

  • Day 31: Have 2 or 3 servings of grains
  • Days 32 and 33: Follow Whole30
  • Day 34: Eat 2 or 3 servings of legumes
  • Days 35 and 36: Follow Whole30
  • Etc.

OPTION 2: Do your own Whole30 from the start for the entire 30 days 

Salsa Verde Chili Stew ground turkey guacamole fall slow cooker

Feelin’ chilly? Make some chili! This Whole30 approved Salsa Verde Chili Stew is PERFECT for your Sunday afternoon feast.


Create your own Whole30! 
You’ll feel much more in control. Of the 6 groups that are off limits on the Whole30, omit 4 this month but don’t go hog-wild on the 2 you’re choosing to include. Simply include them 1 to 3 days a week. Make sense? Here’s an example for each group:

  1. Whole30 Alcohol Rule: Omit all alcohol
    • Make It Your Own: 2 days a week have 1 (or 2 max) glasses of wine

  2. Whole30 Dairy Rule: Omit all dairy – even sheep’s milk and kefir
    • Make It Your Own: Choose 2 days a week to enjoy 1 serving of greek yogurt or a high quality cheese

  3. Whole30 Grains Rule: Omit all wheat/ grains/ gluten/ corn/ quinoa/ etc. (Even “paleo” or “protein” versions of baked goods.)
    • Make It Your Own: Choose 2 days a week to enjoy 1 serving of protein muffins or paleo pancakes

  4. Whole30 Legume Rule: Omit all legumes: beans/ peas/ soy products/ peanuts/ peanut butter (Watch out for the additive soy lecithin too. It’s commonly found in teas.)
    • Make It Your Own: Enjoy 1 serving of peanut butter, chickpeas or pea protein 1 or 2 days a week

  5. Whole30 Sugar Rule: Omit all added sugar, even artificial (which is actually worse for your brain & body than the real deal)
    • Make It Your Own: 2 days a week, have 1 square of dark chocolate

  6. Whole30 Rule: Sneaky additives like carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites
    1. Make It Your Own: You really should work on avoiding these due to their negative impact on our bodies, but including them a few times a month is better than a few times a week. (Carrageenan is in deli meat, fyi.)

If you need more clarity on what you’re actually ALLOWED to eat on a Whole30, download this free Whole30 Cheat Sheet that gives you all the answers without the confusion and overwhelm.

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Here’s what a sample week could look like when you choose to include 2 of the 6 off-limit Whole30 food groups. Let’s use wine & cheese:

  • MONDAY: Follow Whole30
  • TUESDAY: Follow Whole30 + have a few cubes of cheese 
  • WEDNESDAY: Follow Whole30
  • THURSDAY: Follow Whole30, have a glass or 2 of wine
  • FRIDAY: Follow Whole30
  • SATURDAY: Follow Whole30 + have a glass of wine and a few cubes of cheese
  • SUNDAY: Follow30 

You won’t reap the FULL physical & mental benefits of a Whole30 with this modified option, but you’ll still benefit MORE than if you continued to consume foods & drinks from these groups all day every day.


OPTION 3: Only omit 2 foods for 30 days instead of 6

whole30 approved non egg breakfast roasted butternut squash recipe

Looking for a non-egg Whole30 breakfast? Make this Sweet, Warm Roasted Butternut Squash


Going all in with your first Whole30 can be extremely overwhelming. Take baby steps by starting small. Choose only 2 of the 6 off-limits foods to avoid for the 30 days.

For example: go Grain Free and Dairy Free for 30 days, and allow yourself alcohol, sugar,  legumes and be less strict on the specific additives. While this is hardly a “Whole30” you’re still omitting 2 inflammatory and gut disrupting foods for a full month and will 100% see & feel benefits. 

 

Which option will you choose?

With any tweak to make your diet more healthy, it’s all about balance & moderation. Modifying a nutrition program to make it your OWN will make you feel so much more in control & energized, rather than feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Try an 80/20 or 90/10 Whole30 and see what benefits you feel! 

Need an easy snapshot of what’s on and off plan? Here’s your free Whole30 Cheat Sheet to keep on your phone so you always know what to reach for or order. 

Comment here and let me know what you’ll try! You can also join our Food Freedom Forever Facebook Group where we shared modified Whole30 support.

 

All of the Whole30 approved recipes in this post can be found here:

  1. Moroccan Chicken Stew
  2. Flavorful Stirfry 
  3. Salsa Verde Chili Stew
  4. Roasted Butternut Squash

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In need of some 1:1 coaching for your health goals? 

Don’t waste anymore time starting a new program on Monday and ending it by Thursday. You only have one life to live, MAKE IT YOUR HEALTHIEST!

Learn more about Integrative Health Coaching here, and the WholeHardy Health Coaching Method here. If you have specific questions, contact me directly at hello@wholehardy.com.

Your first coaching session (your Health Obstacle Breakthrough Session) is FREE. Can’t beat that, right? 

Looking forward to connecting with you.

Lots of Love,
Coach Katie

WholeHardy Integrative Health Coaching include: Nutrition, Mindset, Fitness, Personal Development, Sleep, Stress Management, Spirituality.
The Coaching Method of WholeHardy Health LLC helps you identify your health obstacles and overcome them, so you can be your healthiest, happiest, most productive self. Areas of WholeHardy Integrative Health Coaching include: Nutrition, Mindset, Fitness, Personal Development, Sleep, Stress Management, Spirituality.

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