Whole30 vs. Partial Whole30

To Whole30 or not

Yes, I know that “partial Whole30” is an oxymoron.

(For those unfamiliar with Whole30, it’s committing to 30 days of strict adherance to a Paleo diet. If you’re not sure what that is, see What’s the Paleo diet?)

But while I think there’s a lot of good to be earned from doing a Whole30, it just isn’t right for everyone, all the time. If you’re trying to sort out which is right for you right now, here are some things to consider.

Pro’s to doing Whole30:
– Because it’s so restrictive, it forces you to try new things you wouldn’t otherwise try. You’ll find new foods that you love.
– Your taste buds will change! Some less-than-healthy foods won’t be so appealing any more.
– Because it’s probably gonna cut out some of your favorite comfort/energy/boredom foods, you’re forced to find new coping skills.
– Because it’s focused on real foods that are rich in nutrients, you really can’t help but feel better by the end of it. (If you’re starting from an unhealthy diet, you may feel like crap the first few days or first couple weeks, but by the end, you will feel better!)
– If you’re already living mostly or all sugar-free, and mostly or all gluten-free, and you don’t mind going without alcohol for 30 days, the adjustment won’t be so bad.
– If you do reintroduction right, it may reveal which foods were causing you problems.
Con’s to doing Whole30 (the super strict way):
– If your starting place includes daily sugar, daily alcohol, lots of carbs, and/or lots of eating out, Whole30 will be like whiplash — not just to what you eat, but to how you get your food, why you eat, and how you feel about all of that. (This can be a good and/or bad thing.)
– If you’re not into studying the minutae of what you eat, having to do so may drive you crazy.
– If you are into studying the minutae of what you eat to an unhealthy extreme (orthorexia), this may set you up for more imbalance.

People resist change because they focus on what they're giving up, instead of what they have to gain.

There’s another way: modifying the Whole30 restrictions so you’re still making improvements, but setting a level that works for you.

Pro’s to doing a modified Whole30:

– By choosing the restrictions that work best for you, you’re upping your chances of successfully completing the 30 days — or whatever number you choose.
– If you cut out most sugar, most grains, and some dairy, you’ll probably still enjoy most of the feeling-better benefits.
– Because it’s usually the last 10% or so of pickiness that makes this diet especially crazy-making, building in some planned latitude can make the whole experience less crazy-making and more enjoyable. (My definition of crazy: when you’re eating out a few times a week, worrying about whether the meat or vegetables were cooked in canola oil.)
Con’s to doing a partial Whole30:
– It may not help you figure out what foods are troublers for you.
– You don’t get to add #whole30alum to your social media posts.

My choices

I’ve done Whole30 before. And I learned a lot; I don’t regret it. It changed how I eat, how I cook, and how I feel about both — for the better! I’ve retained a lot of the habits I picked up, but relaxed on some areas, too.

To see how I normally eat now, check out My normal, day-to-day diet.

For this “partial Whole30” (September 2017), I’m going to go strict again 24/7 on sugar, wheat, and dairy. I want to do a proper reintroduction at the end and figure out what, if any, dairy products are a problem for me, so I can enjoy the others worry-free.

How about you?

Are you thinking about doing a modfied Whole30? If you need help deciding how to craft one that works for you, I’ve written this post for you: 7 questions to help you define the perfect eating plan for you now.


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    1. Yes, Aasheekaa, I live with partial W30 and have for years.

      I did strict Paleo for 3 months, then lived about 85-90% Paleo for a couple years. Now, my way of eating is paleo-influenced but adapted to what works for me. I can do most dairy in moderation (too much and my face breaks out). I enjoy beans/legumes as a supporting player, and I’m okay with most grains. I just try to keep the proportion smaller than my protein. I’ve found that wheat, soy, and artificial sweeteners make me feel bad, so I still avoid those. And sugar’s always been an issue for me, so I keep that very low. I’ve found this very livable!

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