This Whole30 food list (with printable download) is your quick guide to knowing which foods are Whole30-compliant and which foods are not Whole30-compliant! And this printable Whole30 food list download can be printed out and tacked onto the fridge, and a smaller version is the size of a dollar – perfect for your wallet! Download your Whole30 food list printable here.

I get the question all the time.

Is it Whole30 compliant?

I run a Whole30 support group on Facebook, so I see this question pop up time and time again, often frenzied from the grocery store, snapping a photo of the ingredient list on a carton of almond milk, holding the glass refrigerator door open with your knee.

It’s confusing; I totally get it! There are so many weird additives in any remotely processed foods these days that it’s hard to keep up with what’s Whole30 compliant and what isn’t. I see things that I’m sure are illegal in the program, only to be reminded that, nope, those are actually OK, though maybe not encouraged. AKA don’t funnel sunflower lecithin and you’re probably still on the wagon.

So if I have trouble remembering what’s compliant and what’s not? If I still have trouble remembering all those little tiny ingredients that can throw you off track or keep you on course? Then I figured there might be a need for a Whole30 food list.

This is your Whole30 food list (with the printable download – did I mention that yet?!) to help make it even easier. But before we dive into what’s compliant on a Whole30 and what’s not, let’s talk about this question:

Contents

What is Whole30?

Whole30 is a 30-day elimination diet focused on nutrient dense, unprocessed, whole foods to reset your body back to factory settings (Joking… sort of). The idea is to avoid allergenic and nutrient-poor foods long enough for your body to be totally free of them, so you’ll know how you feel without any trace of these potential triggers. This is what makes up your Whole30 food list. And after the 30 days are up, you reintroduce foods one at a time, observing how different (or worse!) you feel than before. This way, you see what foods your body is sensitive to, and you avoid those in the future. And if you’re like most of us, you continue eating nutrient-dense whole foods, avoiding grains, gluten, and a lot of dairy, because it makes you feel damn good.

If you’re thinking about doing a Whole30, you’ll definitely want to check out How to Prepare for a Whole30.

So what can you eat on a Whole30?

Before we talk about what you can’t eat on your Whole30 food list, let’s talk about what you can. When we’re on a Whole30? We do not suffer. We eat flat-iron steak with homemade béarnaise sauce, bacon-wrapped dates,

It took me years to try a Whole30 because the Whole30 food list seemed so restrictive. But once I felt so bad that I knew I had nothing to lose, doing a Whole30 really changed my life. I’d always been a “healthy” eater, getting off and on a vegetarian and vegan diet for decades, eating “real food” (Whole wheat tortillas, anyone?), and eschewing processed junk. But nothing could have prepared me for how intensely wonderful I felt after about day 14 on my first Whole30. That round, my chronic jaw pain absolutely disappeared, I started sleeping better than I had since I was a teenager, I had no headaches, and I lost 7 pounds (Taking me 7 pounds below my pre-baby weight. Whoa).

It’s just 30 days, and you can absolutely do it. I also tend to believe that you won’t miss these foods after you’ve cut the cord. I always lament my 30-day divorce from wine, but by day 3, I’m asking myself, “Why did I ever drink so much pinot? I feel amazing without it.”

So let’s get right into our Whole30 food list. I’m super excited about the printable Whole30 food list part, obviously, because I’ve designed them in a way that they should be easy to tote around. There’s a half-page version, perfect for tacking on the front of the fridge, and a smaller version. The smaller version, folded lengthwise, is the size of a dollar bill, making it super easy to stick into your wallet. Pull it out when you’re at the grocery store, and boom! Compliance problem solved.

Compliant Whole30 Food List

  • Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs. Moderate amounts. The Whole30 is not an excuse to eat a cowboy ribeye for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 30 days.
  • Vegetables. Tons of these. Super nutrient dense and rich in minerals and fiber, you’ve gotta eat plenty of veggies!
  • Fruits. Some. You can eat fruits, but they shouldn’t be a cornerstone of your diet. The high natural sugar content makes it easy to simply keep the “Sugar Dragon” at bay, rather than slaying him altogether. I integrate some fruit into my rounds, but I don’t eat that much, to begin with. Keep it moderate.
  • Natural Fats. Plenty! Make sure you’re eating enough good fats, like ghee, avocados, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, tallow, bone broth, lard, chicken fat, etc. If you’re not eating enough healthy fats, you might complain that you’re feeling hungry the whole time; up your healthy fat intake and I bet you’ll feel much more satisfied.
  • Coffee. Coffee is fine in moderation, as long as you use compliant creamer, like coconut cream, Nutpods, Califia Unsweetened Creamer, etc.
  • Ghee. The exception to the dairy rule, ghee is essentially clarified butter and has no potentially allergenic lactose. So, so good on a Whole30.
  • Vinegar. All vinegars are allowed unless they include sugar (like some rice wine vinegar’s do). Even vinegar’s, though, that have non-compliant ingredients in the title, like white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar, are OK.
  • Spices and seasonings. So long as your spice blend doesn’t include non-compliant preservatives or sugars, use these plentifully!
  • Fruit juices as a sweetener. This is OK on a limited basis.
  • Green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas. The exception to the no-legumes rule.

Noncompliant Whole30 Food List

So what’s not allowed on a Whole30?

  • Dairy, except ghee. But even cultured dairy like yogurt is not allowed.
  • Added sugars, in any form. This is, to me, the hardest part. Sugar seems like it is in everything. I even used some jarred minced ginger on a Whole30 once, and after cooking, looked at the back on a whim. I was horrified to find that there was fructose in my ginger. Like, why?! Alas, you’ve gotta check your labels on pretty much everything. No added sugar in any form is allowed, all the way from regular “sugar” to honey to maple syrup to dextrose.
  • Grains, like rice or wheat.
  • Pseudo-cereals, like quinoa.
  • Gluten. Thank me later.
  • Alcohol at all, even in cooking. Sorry, no white wine sauce on that chicken! This goes beyond what you’d expect, though: no Dijon mustard or vanilla extract. Intense, but they have to draw the line somewhere, right? There are a couple of Dijon’s that don’t have alcohol in them, though: Annie’s is a common brand. Otherwise, skip the Grey Poupon for a month my friend!
  • Legumes like lentils, garbanzo beans (AKA no hummus!), black beans, and peanuts.
  • Soy. Nada, not even fermented.
  • Junk food, even technically compliant
  • Paleo-ified baked treats or recreations of non-compliant foods. NO DAMN PANCAKES, even if they’re made just eggs and pumpkin!
  • MSG
  • Sulfites
  • Carrageenan

Whole30 Sugars List

Keeping track of all the names for sugar can be difficult, so I’ve written (most of) them down here for you. Read your labels! None of these are compliant.

  • acesulfame-K
  • agave nectar
  • arabitol
  • aspartame
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • (evaporated) cane juice
  • cane sugar
  • coconut nectar
  • coconut sugar
  • confection’s sugar
  • date sugar
  • date syrup
  • dextrose
  • disaccharide
  • dulcitol
  • Equal
  • erythritol
  • fructose
  • galactose
  • glucose
  • glycerin (glycerol)
  • glycol
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • HSH
  • iditol
  • isomalt
  • lactitol
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltitol
  • maltose
  • mannitol
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • monk fruit extract
  • monosaccharide
  • Nutra-Sweet
  • polyglycitol
  • polysaccharide
  • raw sugar
  • refiner’s syrup
  • ribitol
  • ribose
  • rice malt (extract)
  • rice syrup
  • saccharin
  • saccharose
  • sorbitol
  • Splenda
  • stevia
  • sucralose
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • Sweetleaf
  • Sweet-n-Low
  • (sweet) sorghum
  • threitol
  • treacle
  • Truvia
  • xylitol

Whole30-Compliant Additives

Some additives are Whole30-compliant. If they’re on this Whole30 food list, they’re alright.

  • acacia
  • acetic acid
  • agave inulin alpha-tocopherol
  • ascorbic acid
  • beta-carotene
  • calcium carbonate
  • calcium chloride
  • citric acid
  • ferrous gluconate
  • acacia gum
  • gellan gum
  • guar gum
  • locust bean gum
  • xanthan gum
  • inulin
  • lactic acid
  • natural flavors
  • niacin
  • pectin
  • potassium chloride
  • potato starch
  • riboflavin
  • salt
  • sodium citrate
  • sodium nitrite
  • sodium nitrate
  • sodium pectinate
  • sunflower lecithin
  • zinc gluconate

Whole30 Non-Compliant Additives

Some additives are Whole30-compliant, and some are not. Here’s the no-no Whole30 food list. If the item in question has one of these? No dice, my friend.

  • carrageenan
  • corn starch
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • potassium metabisulfite
  • sodium bisulfite
  • soy lecithin
  • sulfites
  • sulfur dioxide

That’s your Whole30 food list in a nutshell! Make sure you do a few things if you’re planning a Whole30: download my printable Whole30 food list, of course. And make sure you join my Whole30 Support Group on Facebook!

A few recipes you’ll love on your Whole30:

  • Whole30 Dump Ranch Recipe
  • Egg Roll in a Bowl with Creamy Red Chili Sauce
  • One Minute Whole30 Mayo (Made with Immersion Blender)
  • Crockpot Carnitas with Pork Tenderloin or Loin (Paleo, Whole30)
  • Healthy Zuppa Toscana (Whole30, Paleo, Dairy Free)

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Specialty Shopping Lists

Get your Whole30 Starter Kit

Sign up for Whole30 email, and we’ll send you the Whole30 Starter Kit: a printable version of the Whole30 program rules, the Meal Planning template, and 15 recipes from Melissa’s cookbooks. (Your email is safe with us. Promise.)

  • Whole30 Program Rules

    The official rules of the Whole30® Program, exactly as they appear on the website. Español

  • Whole30 Shopping List

    Time to hit the grocery store, health food market, or farmer’s market with The Whole30 shopping list.

  • Whole30 Common Additives Cheat-Sheet

    A list of additives you might stumble across in your Whole30 shopping experience, and those which definitively rule the product out for your Whole30.

  • Whole30 Meal Template

    Use our meal template for a few weeks, until you are able to truly listen to the signals your body is sending you. These guidelines are a good starting place for meal timing and portion sizing–then it’s up to you to make adjustments based on hunger, energy, mood, and athletic performance. Español

  • Whole30 Guide to Grocery Shopping

    Strategies for making the most of your healthy eating budget.

  • Whole30 Seasonal Produce Guide

    Buying vegetables and fruits in season ensures tastier, fresher, less expensive produce. Also includes recommendations for buying organic.

  • Whole30 Pantry Stocking Guide

    Sometimes, it’s good to shop the aisles! Use our guide to stock your pantry (and fridge) with healthy must-haves.

  • Whole30 Guide to Sneaky Sugars

    Practice your label-reading skills and learn to spot all the different ways companies sneak added sugar into their foods and beverages.

  • Whole30 Good Meat Guide

    All those terms on the label can be confusing, but we take the guesswork out of buying good meat, seafood and eggs.

  • Whole30 Dining Guide

    Navigating your way around any restaurant menu, start to finish.

  • Whole30 Travel Guide

    Hit the road with your Good Food, and eat healthy while seeing the world by air, car, or foot.

  • Life After Your Whole30: Guide to Off-Roading

    Ready to ride your own bike? Treat yourself smart! Use this flow-chart to help guide your way around less-healthy foods and beverages.

  • Non-Scale Victory Checklist

    Track all of the ways the Whole30 has helped change your life – scale not required! #NSV

For those who are on a special diet (in addition to the general Whole30 protocol).

  • Whole30 Egg and Nightshade-Free Shopping List

    Our standard shopping list, omitting eggs and nightshades for those sensitive individuals.

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Shopping List

    This list eliminates Whole30 foods like beef, pork, chicken broth, lard, etc. (but does include fish and butter/ghee for our pescetarian friends).

  • Whole30 Low-FODMAP Shopping List

    Our standard shopping list for those following a low-FODMAP diet.

Here is a compilation of all of our free Whole30-related PDF guides. Download only the ones you need, or and get them all at once. Save these to your computer, print them for your fridge, and feel free to link to them on your own site or social media feed.

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Gearing up for a healthier, happier 2019? Many who are doing the same are into Whole30, one of the least restrictive fad diets that’s been around for awhile now.

The premise of Whole30 is simple: Rather than uprooting your entire lifestyle, you’re eliminating certain “trigger” foods for 30 days that might negatively affect your body without you even realizing it. That means no sugar, no gluten, and no dairy. All the while, you’re eating moderate portions of just about everything else until you’ve reached the end of the month and can slowly reintroduce what you’ve eliminated, just to see what was causing problems.

Sound like something you’re interested in trying but aren’t sure where to start? Without further ado, here’s what you can and can’t eat while doing Whole30.

Allie Folino

Things you can always eat on Whole30

R.TsubinGetty Images

  • Vegetables Whole30-approved favorites include:
    • Acorn quash
    • Arugula
    • Asparagus
    • Beets
    • Bell Peppers
    • Bok Choy
    • Broccoli/Broccolini
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Buttercup squash
    • Butternut squash
    • Cabbage
    • Carrots
    • Cauliflower
    • Collard
    • Delicata Sqush
    • Garlic
    • Greens (beet, mustard, turnip)
    • Kale
    • Leeks
    • Lettuce (bibb, butter, red)
    • Onion/shallots
    • Rutabaga
    • Spinach
    • Summer Squash
    • Sweet Potato/yams
    • Swiss chard
    • Tomato
    • Turnip
    • Watercress
    • Zucchini
  • Fruits Whole30-approved favorites include:
    • Apricots
    • Blackberries
    • Blueberries
    • Cherries
    • Grapefruit
    • Kiwi
    • Melon
    • Plums
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
  • Nuts and seeds Limit your intake, and remember: Peanuts are a legume, and therefore aren’t allowed on Whole30.
  • Meats (processed and unprocessed) Grass-fed or pastured and organic are best.
  • Eggs Pastured and organic are best.
  • Seafood Wild-caught and sustainably fished is best.
  • Fats (cooking and eating)
    • Animal fats
    • Ghee
    • Coconut oil
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • Avocado
    • Coconut butter
    • Olives

Things you can sometimes eat on Whole30

Aniko HobelGetty Images

  • Ghee and/or clarified butter Ghee is essentially butter that’s free of lactose.
  • Vinegar—everything except malt vinegar
  • Certain legumes
    • Green beans
    • Snow peas
    • Snap peas
  • Fruit juice

Things you can never eat on Whole30

Amy Lockard / EyeEmGetty Images

  • Sugar—real or artificial
    • Maple syrup
    • Honey
    • Agave nectar
    • Stevia, Splenda, Equal
    • Coconut sugars
  • Alcohol—regular or cooking
  • Grains—regular and added
    • Wheat
    • Rye
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Quinoa
    • Rice
  • Legumes—including all forms of soy
    • Beans
    • Peas
    • Chickpeas
    • Lentils
    • Peanuts
  • Dairy
  • Treats with “approved ingredients.” The Whole30 site explains, “These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.”

Other things to keep in mind on Whole30

While this may seem pretty lax (or terribly strict, depending on how into it you are), Whole30 asks just a few more things of those who commit to doing this for a month. Firstly, you may not “step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days.” The people behind the plan insist this is not about losing weight, but that’s about making healthier choices.

Secondly, you absolutely may not cheat, or it’s all for nothing. In their words:

Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

On that note, best of luck to you! And happy new year!

Tess Koman Senior Editor Tess Koman covers breaking (food) news, opinion pieces, and features on larger happenings in the food world.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Whole30 Diet

No cheating, kids. Hartwig emphasizes the importance of sticking to this plan with zero slip ups, so you give your body the complete break from not-so-healthy food that it deserves.

If life happens and a glass of wine or a piece of bread gets in the way, Hartwig recommends starting over. She wants you to feel the full benefits of the entire 30 days.

We’re not gonna lie: Some of us have let a glass of wine slip before. We didn’t start over and still felt on top of the world at the end. We aren’t suggesting you do the same, but we’re just being real.

Here are some official and unofficial rules we follow to get us through the program.

Do it with a friend

Surround yourself with support. “Touch base with every single day. Ask for help when you need it. Be authentic with your successes and your struggles. Share resources and take the time to offer advice to others where you can,” Hartwig says.

You can also follow Whole30 on Instagram to connect with like-minded people.

No fake treats

This one was hard for us to grasp, so it deserves some explanation. If a Paleo pancake calls for nothing but Whole30-approved ingredients, such as eggs and bananas, the flapjack is still off-limits. The Whole30 wants you to change your habits and your emotional relationship with food.

“Your brain doesn’t know the difference between an almond flour brownie and your mom’s recipe, it just knows you crave sugar. So, if you keep eating those sweets during the 30 days, your habits aren’t changing,” Hartwig says.

Don’t shoot the messenger!

Read the Whole30 book

The Whole30 book is helpful, clear, and will get you motivated. Want even more Whole30 ideas? Hartwig’s cookbooks may not have the nitty-gritty plan details, but the recipes are solid.

Clear your house of temptations

Hartwig calls these “foods without brakes.” The ones that give “once you pop, you can’t stop” true meaning. Say goodbye to everything on the “no” list. Toss it, pack it, send it to your grandmother. Just get it out.

Celebrate with coffee

You can’t drink alcohol, but you can turn your after-work happy hour into a midday coffee date. You can drink black coffee with a splash of nondairy, unsweetened, carrageenan-free milk.

Plan and prepare

This is Hartwig’s No. 1 tip when it comes to success on the Whole30. No more grabbing a slice of pizza on the way home from work.

“Before day one, you should have your first week of meals planned, grocery shopping done, pantry stocked, and you should have some Whole30-compliant emergency food stashed away,” Hartwig says. Here’s a Whole30-approved shopping list to get you started.

Don’t make it complicated

You’ll be exposed to a ton of new, delicious recipes. If you know you’re not the cooking type, start simple.

Instead of making the fancy egg-bake in a cast-iron pan, grab some eggs, veggies, sausage, and avocado then scramble your breakfast. Top it with sugar-free hot sauce, and you’ll have yourself a solid meal in seven minutes.

Don’t be afraid to make that for breakfast five times a week — making similar meals over and over again is easier than trying to whip up new complicated ones.

Always make leftovers

For lunch and dinner, make extra so you have leftovers. There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing your meals are already cooked and ready to go for the day. Pat yourself on the back and have a party.

Whole30 Restaurants: How to Eat Out on Whole30

Let’s face it, eating out while on Whole30 really is no cake walk (pardon the expression if you’re still in sugar-craving stage).

However, in some situations, you won’t be able to avoid eating out at a restaurant. We’re here to help you get through it and make sure you survive and stay compliant!

Please note: We’ve done our best to provide guidelines and recommendations for the best Whole30-friendly restaurants, but you’ll always want to double-check and ask your server questions to ensure that the meal you’re eating is Whole30 compliant. This guide was initially published in 2016 and is regularly updated (last updated December 2019), but recipes may change so please use this guide at your own discretion.

Update: Originally I had included Panera Bread’s chicken as compliant – I have been corrected, it does contain sugar in the marinade, so that’s out! No subway meats are compliant either.

Whole30 Restaurant Guide: Where to Eat Out

Finding restaurants where you can eat out while staying Whole30 compliant can be hard, but we have a few recommended spots where you should be able to find some compliant dishes.

Whole30 Fast Food

When it comes to quick and easy food, these fast food spots are your best bet for staying compliant.

  • Subway. Subway offers build your own salads which can allow you to create a Whole30 compliant fast and easy food option. Try a spinach salad with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and vinegar. No Subway meats are allowed.
  • Whole Foods Hot Bar. The hot bar at Whole Foods allows plenty of pick-and-mix healthy options, so be sure to stop by there when you need something fast and Whole30.
  • Chipotle. Chipotle is a favorite fast food option for Whole30 eaters. Go with a carnitas salad (carnitas is the only protein at Chipotle cooked in sunflower oil, as opposed to rice bran oil), avoid the rice and beans, and then heap on the guacamole and salsa (all salsas should be fine, minus the corn salsa). Note that if you cut out the meat altogether, the guacamole should be free. For more details, check out Chipotle’s ingredients list.

Also, as of January 2019, Chipotle’s fajita veggies are now Whole30-compliant, as they’ve stopped using rice bran oil and now use sunflower oil for the fajita veggies – so go ahead and get those veggies!

  • Boloco. Boloco is another great choice, working in a build-your-own style similar to Chipotle. Boloco’s chicken marinade does seem to be compliant, consisting of canola oil (allowed in small quantities, mainly for restaurant eating), garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, celery seed, and paprika. See the complete Boloco ingredient list here.
  • Panera Bread. Panera Bread has some decent salad options that are Whole30 compliant. Scour the menu for compliant dishes like the Cobb Salad With Avocado with lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and avocado. Ask for no cheese, no chicken (Panera Bread’s chicken marinade has sugar in it), and no bacon, plus ask for plain olive oil and vinegar dressing, or ask for no dressing and bring your own.

It’s also worth noting that Panera Bread’s iced Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea is compliant, as is the brewed iced tea and iced coffee.

  • Five Guys. Five Guys burgers are compliant – as noted on their website, “We do not add anything to our products. Our burgers are NOT seasoned, they are simply 80/20 ground beef.” You’ll just have to order a lettuce bun and stick to veggie toppings (jalapeno peppers, green peppers, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles). Leave out the mushrooms as they are reported to have high fructose corn syrup on the Five Guys nutrition/ingredient sheet. Their hot sauce is also compliant!
  • B.Good. B.Good offers burgers, bowls, and salads with plenty of Whole30 friendly options. In fact, B.Good is a Whole30 officially recommended restaurant, featuring a menu item called the “Whole30 Approved Salad” featuring avocado, egg, kale, brussels sprouts, apples, squash, beets, pepitas, and red wine vinaigrette.
  • Zoe’s Kitchen. Zoe’s Kitchen provides officially Whole30-approved fresh Mediterranean dishes, with options like kabobs, salads, sides, and bowls. Zoe’s Kitchen is not a nation-wide chain, but they are available in 20 states, so see if there’s one near you.
  • Snap Kitchen. A healthy meal delivery service that offers a variety of ultra-fresh meals, with an assortment of officially Whole30-approved options. Available in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia.

More Whole30 Recommended Restaurants

These spots aren’t quite as fast – they’re more sit down spots, but past Whole30-ers have found these restaurants to have some compliant options (although you may need to do some fiddling).

  • Ruby Tuesday’s. At Ruby Tuesday’s, the salad bar is your best buddy. Just avoid the usual culprits of cheese, croutons, and stick to vinegar and compliant oil for dressing.
  • Golden Corral. Golden Corral’s buffet style eating makes it easy to pick and choose compliant dishes. The salad bar provides ample greens. Be careful with meats, as the steaks usually come with sugar in the seasoning. However, some Whole30-ers were able to successfully order dry steaks. Veggies were simply steamed, and potatoes and sweet potatoes were also compliant.
  • Chili’s. For Chili’s, try aiming for steaks (ask for them dry) and steamed veggies. Also try burgers with no buns (make sure to ask about how burgers are cooked), or grilled chicken. Salmon dishes and other fish may be OK, but you’ll have to ask to make sure. You could also try the fajitas, minus the tortilla, sour cream, and cheese.
  • Applebee’s. Applebee’s Ribeye and NY Strip are the only two steaks that aren’t cooked in soybean oil. For seafood, ask about the Garlic Herb Salmon. For sides, go with the steamed veggies.

General Guidelines for Eating Whole30 At Restaurants

  • Indian. Seek out grilled and roasted meats + vegetables. Tandoori is often a good way to go. Indian cooking often uses ghee and coconut milk, which is handy for Whole30.
  • Thai. When going out for Thai, curries can be a good choice, but make sure to talk with the server to ensure that there is no sugar in the sauce (most curry sauces are usually made with coconut milk). Make sure to ask for no rice.
  • Hot Pot. Hot Pot is another type of restaurant where you should be able to easily stay compliant. For those who haven’t eaten hot pot before, it’s when waiters bring a large pot of broth to your table and place it on a built-in stovetop at your table. Then, fresh, raw meats and veggies are brought to your table (you select what ingredients you want). Then, you place the raw meat and uncooked veggies into the boiling water and watch it cook before your eyes. The only real room for error is the broth – many hot pot broths are simply water with spices, but you’ll definitely want to get the specifics concerning what is in the broth to verify that it is indeed compliant.
  • Steakhouses / Outback Steak House / Texas Roadhouse. Most steak houses have an option where you order your cut of steak plus two sides. For your sides, order steamed veggies and sweet potato. Ask for no oil, butter, or seasoning (be specific about this since many steak houses will put a pat of butter on steaks).
  • Create-Your-Own Mexican. Any place where you can choose your own ingredients is a plus. Stick with grilled meats, veggies, and healthy fats like avocado. For salads, look for oil and vinegar dressings. Check ingredients lists before you go.
  • Poke. Poke shops are becoming increasingly common. With tons of fresh veggies and proteins, poke bowls tend to make great Whole30 meals. Plus, since the main protein is usually raw fish, there it little concern about the oils or spices the protein is cooked in.

Eating Whole30 Out: What To Look For On The Menu

Navigating a huge menu on Whole30 can be tough – here’s what to look for on restaurant menus that will give you the best chances of staying compliant.

  • Meat + Grilled Veggies. As a general restaurant rule, seek out dishes that involve meat + veggies. For meat, look for steamed or grilled seafood, or lean cuts of meat (such as sirloin steak). The next best bet is grilled chicken (no skin), fattier cuts of red meat like ribs or ribeye steak.

Burgers with no bun work here too, but aren’t always the best option due to cooking method and oil. Avoid any skin-on chicken, sausage, bacon, and (of course) anything fried.

  • Salads. Salads are often a great way to stay compliant while out at a restaurant. However, beware of croutons, cheese, and dressings – get either oil & vinegar dressing, or bring your own Whole30 salad dressing. Many restaurants offer salad bars – seek these places out!
  • Stir Fry. Stir fry can be a good menu option as long as you are very clear about the oils used in cooking and avoid any non-compliant ingredients.
  • Hamburgers. Hamburger sans bun is a pretty readily available option at most restaurants. Get your burger with lettuce instead of a bun, and with plenty of veggie toppings. It’s smart to also ask if the burgers contain any bread crumbs or flour, as some restaurants add these to burgers.
  • Baked Potato. Baked potatoes (and sometimes other potato dishes) are a common Whole30 compliant restaurant side dish, so keep an eye out for these! Obviously you’ll have to pass on the sour cream and butter.
  • Eggs. Eggs are an easy dish to keep compliant with, but you’ll still need to do your due diligence. Make sure no milk or pancake batter is used in egg dishes (which some places use to make eggs more fluffy). You can also ask specifically for shelled eggs to make sure you’re not getting egg substitutes or beaters. Poached eggs are a pretty good guarantee since they’re just made with eggs and water. Omelets with veggies and meat are good so long as you’re getting real eggs – ask and make sure!

Whole30 Eating Out Restaurant Tips

These tips will cover the essential info you need to keep in mind when it comes to eating out Whole30-style.

  • Ask The Tough Questions. I know it stinks to be that person asking a million and one questions at a restaurant, but this is a time where it has to be done. Make sure to ask what oil certain meals will be cooked in, ask if there is any added sugar in your dish, and don’t be afraid to say that you have a gluten/dairy intolerance. Help get the server on your side and get the answers you need (all while keeping a smile and being polite of course!)
  • Prepping Beforehand. Be sure to check out restaurant menus before visiting to see what meals you can choose from to be the most Whole30 friendly. First, browse menus online and look for any dishes and sides that look compliant. Also take note of any special policies, such as no substitutions, as these could be problematic.

Next, go ahead and call the restaurant to learn about their cooking oils and fats. Find out if they have an allergen or gluten-free menu. The more knowledge you can get beforehand, the better. That way when you’re there, you can be an already informed eater which can help cut down on some of the questions you’ll need to ask the server.

  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Dressing). If you’re not sure what the dressing options will be at restaurants you’re heading to, go ahead and pack your own Whole30 salad dressing to bring with you. Most restaurants won’t mind. If you want to use a restaurant dressing, stick to the simple oil + vinegar dressing.
  • Don’t Slack on Substitutions. Don’t be afraid to ask about substitution options – switch out sandwich buns for lettuce, or ask for steamed veggies instead of fries.
  • Ask About Olive Oil. Ask if veggies can be steamed or sautéed in olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
  • Say Thanks And Be Appreciative. Be sure to thank the chef and server if they work to cater to your needs, and consider tipping a little extra. Be sure to show appreciation for your server’s help and be polite with your questions.
  • Look For Grass-Fed, Farm to Table. Restaurants that serve grass-fed meat and focus on farm to table eating will be much more likely to cook the healthy way and will probably be more open to playing with the menu and ingredients to cook you up something compliant.
  • Avoid “Crispy” or “Battered.” These are code words for fried-and-definitely-not-Whole30-friendly. Instead, look for foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, braised, etc. Make sure to also ask seasoning or sauces used in the cooking process.
  • Look For a Gluten-Free Menu. Some restaurants offer a gluten-free menu, which can be a great jumping off point for staying Whole30 compliant while eating out. You’ll still need to be careful about grains and dairy, but looking at a gluten-free menu weeds out a lot of problem ingredients and can be helpful.
  • Dealing With Company. If you’re out with friends and family who give you quizzical looks over your eating choices, give as few details (or as many) as you feel comfortable with. I often found myself telling people that I was eliminating certain foods from my diet to gauge possible food allergies, and most seemed pretty content with that answer.
  • Manage Expectations. Cheaper places will be less likely to jump through hoops, so you’ll eat pretty plain. However, higher-end restaurants are usually better about catering to olive oil and other needs.
  • Avoid The Rolls. Many restaurants serve tempting bread rolls – avoid these like the plague! Ask your server to not bring them to the table, send them back, or if you’re with bread-loving company, keep that bread basket on the other side of the table!
  • Focus On What You Can Eat. Don’t get down about the french fries and bacon mac and cheese that you can’t eat. Instead, focus on what you can eat and give yourself a pat on the back for sticking to your guns!

More Whole30 Eating Out Resources

Want more advice on Whole30 restaurants and eating out? Check out a few more resources:

  • The Whole9 Guide to Navigating A Restaurant Menu. This article from the official Whole9 team. It shows what types of cooking processes to avoid and which to embrace, plus more info on how to prep for Whole30 dining out.

Do you have any Whole30 restaurant tips for eating out? Share your advice in the comments!

A guide to help you eat out during your Whole30! These are the Whole30 Approved Restaurants, their compliant menu options, what other restaurants are Whole30 and Paleo friendly, and what you can order at major restaurants all across the US. Yes, you can even eat Whole30 fast food (although your options are limited).

You know I love to create Whole30 recipes, but sometimes, I just need to eat out. I used to panic at the thought of eating at a restaurant on Whole30 because oh my goodness WHAT DO I ORDER!? But now, I just take a deep breath and make a plan.

Get my FREE Whole30 e-Cookbook!

Eating Out

Of course, eating out at restaurants 100% of the time isn’t ideal, but you can’t always predict exactly what you’ll need to do during your Whole30. You might have long days of travel, work, social events, or just a day when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.

And eating out, even eating fast food or at other restaurants, can be Paleo friendly and Whole30 compliant. There are even Whole30 Approved restaurants now that take all the guess work out of it for us!

You might be wondering what exactly you can eat at different restaurants while you’re on Whole30. Here is a list of things you can order while you’re out and about!

And don’t be discouraged — The lists of compliant menu items at some restaurants might not be ideal, but if you’re out and need something to eat that’s Whole30 compliant, stay focused on your why, eat what you can eat, and move forward.

*Now remember, restaurants do make changes and can do things differently from location to location, so you’ll need to always double check on your own.

17 Whole30 Compliant / Paleo Friendly Restaurants, from Best to Worst

Okay, so here it is! The best and the worst of Whole30 approved and compliant restaurants and fast food joints, plus what you can order at each one!

1: Zoe’s Kitchen *Whole30 Approved*

Zoe’s is Whole30 Approved restaurant, meaning you can just go in and order a ready-to-go Whole30 compliant meal, no questions asked! And they’ve got a massive list of Whole30 compliant menu items below. What you can order:

  • Main Dishes: Chicken Kabobs, Shrimp Kabobs, Salmon Kabobs, Mediterranean Chicken, Moroccan Citrus Roasted Chicken (no turmeric rice), Cauliflower Rice Bowl (no feta or greek tzatziki) Greek Salad (no feta, cucumbers instead of pita).
  • Side Dishes: Roasted Vegetables, Fresh Fruit, Potato Salad
  • Sauces: Zoe’s Dressing, Israeli Skhug, Italian Salsa Verde, Moroccan Harissa

2: Chipotle *Whole30 Approved*

Chipotle is another awesome option that’s officially Whole30 Approved. They recently introduced Carne Asada and Chicken as compliant options in addition to the carnitas (they’ve been compliant for years!), so it’s exciting to have three protein options. What you can order:

  • Whole30 Salad Bowl (one touch on the app or online).
  • If you’re in person, order: Salad Bowl with romaine lettuce, carnitas, chicken, or carne asada, fajita veggies, tomato salsa (and/or tomatillo red salsa and tomatillo green salsa), and guacamole.

If you want to recreate it at home, you can always make my Chipotle Copycat Barbacoa recipe!

Note about Whole30 Approved Restaurants: There are other Whole30 Approved restaurants, but only a handful, and they’re mostly in large cities and only available regionally. You can check out the full Whole30 Approved list.

3: Cheesecake Factory

For a restaurant named after what’s probably the least Paleo and Whole30 friendly food in the world, the Cheesecake Factory has several really decent OPTIONS for a full, delicious, compliant meal! Always double check with your server or call ahead to be sure accommodations can be made. What you can order:

  • Skinnylicious Grilled Salmon with no mayo and a side of vegetables
  • Skinnylicious Hamburger with no bun and no mayo, served with a side salad and olive oil and vinegar.
  • Grilled Branzino with mediterranean vegetables. Just ask that they’ll only use compliant oil during cooking.

4: In N Out Burger

A solid, delicious option for when you’re traveling or need to eat out for other reasons. It’s surprisingly simple to get a complete Paleo friendly/Whole30 compliant meal at In N Out Burger. What you can order:

  • Double meat, protein style, no sauce, add mustard, pickles, grilled onions, and no cheese.

5: Red Lobster

Eating Whole30 at Red Lobster is surprisingly easy! Tell your server to leave the biscuits in the kitchen, and order some of their seafood! What you can order:

  • Wild Caught Snow Crab Legs but ask for no butter. You can bring your own ghee if you’d like something to dip them in.
  • Wild Caught Whitefish Dinner with a baked potato and steamed asparagus. Just confirm no butter or noncompliant oil will be used.
  • Garden Salad (no cheese or croutons + bring your own dressing).

6: Five Guys

Five Guys is a fun burger chain known for their simple menu. They fry their French fries in peanut oil, so do not order the fries! That said, the burgers are an okay option for when you need to eat out. What you can order:

  • A burger or double burger patty with no bun, extra tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, mustard, and onion. Confirm they won’t use noncompliant oil on the grill.
  • Note: The pickles are Mount Olive brand, and their mustard is French’s, which are both compliant! Just bring your own ketchup if you like that.

7: California Pizza Kitchen

Here comes another restaurant named after one of the least Whole30 and Paleo friendly foods ever, but is totally delivering with some compliant options! Go figure. What you can order:

  • Cedar Plank Salmon with no succotash, and substitute steamed vegetables.
  • Fire Grilled Ribeye with no butter or wine salt, substitute oil for the dressing on the side salad. Confirm there’s no cheese or croutons added to the side salad.

8: Chili’s

So now we’re getting into the section of the list that has some decent Whole30 compliant options also need to be specially ordered and carefully confirmed. You’ll need to call ahead to Chili’s to confirm they have another oil besides soybean oil– My local Chili’s did, but it had to be specially requested. What you can order:

  • Ribeye or Sirloin with steamed broccoli or grilled asparagus, with no marinade or butter.
  • I think you could try to special order fajitas without tortillas, rice or beans, and double check that it can be cooked in compliant oil. The guacamole and salsa were both compliant at my Chili’s!

9: Applebee’s

I used to love Applebee’s when I was a teenager, but it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten there. As a restaurant with a huge menu, I would’ve thought there’d be more Paleo friendly options, but there weren’t too many. That said, you can still eat there! What you can order:

  • Sirloin or Ribeye dinner with a side of steamed broccoli and baked potato. Confirm they’ll only use compliant oil.

10: Olive Garden

I was pleasantly surprised to see that with a few small accommodations, there are some solid Whole30 and Paleo friendly menu options at Olive Garden. What you can order:

  • Herb Grilled Salmon with NO BUTTER, and ask for the broccoli to be made without parmesan.
  • Zoodles Primavera with shrimp, no cream sauce, and oil only. Tell your server to leave the bread sticks in the kitchen. Please double and triple check ingredients at your location.

11: Burger King

Charbroiled burgers! The only ingredient in Burger King burger is beef, yay, so it’s Whole30 compliant. There are better options out there, but it’s definitely not the worst place in the world for Whole30 fast food. What you can order:

  • Burger patty with lettuce, onion, and tomatoes.
  • Side salad with no dressing, no cheese, and no croutons.

12: McDonalds

I have yet to go on a road trip and not encounter at least one McDonald’s, so you can pretty much count on it as an option. Most of the menu is not compliant, but it’s nice to know their beef patties are 100% beef, which is refreshing. No additives, hurray! What you can order:

  • Beef patty with lettuce, onions, and mustard
  • Side salad with no dressing
  • Apple slices

13: Panera Bread

Panera doesn’t offer a ton of options, but when you’re living that Whole30 life, you do get used to patching together a meal with a side salad and some hard boiled eggs, if need be. That’s pretty much what you’ll need to do at Panera. What you can order:

  • Green Goddess Salad with no bacon, dressing, or pickled onions (I assume the pickled onions have sugar in them but I couldn’t get an answer on that). You can add roasted turkey!
  • Seasonal Greens Salad with no dressing, a fruit cup, and an apple. then just be sure to get plain olive oil and vinegar as your dressing.
  • Turkey Sandwich with no mayo and no bread, extra lettuce. Basically it’s just deli turkey on top of greens with some veggies and mustard (the mustard is compliant!)
  • They also have hard boiled eggs, compliant turkey, and avocado that can be ordered a la carte and added to meals.

14: Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel is one of those places that just makes me feel at home when I’m on a road trip. They’ve been absolutely wonderful making accommodations to make their meals Whole30 compliant in the past. One of the biggest things is to make sure compliant oil is used. What you can order:

  • Grilled Chicken Tenderloin dinner with no marinade with steamed vegetables.
  • Grilled Sirloin Steak with no butter, a baked potato and steamed vegetables.
  • Eggs with tomato slices and a side of fruit.

15: Wendy’s

I really like Wendy’s as a company, mostly because I love Dave Thomas– I used to love his commercials when I was a kid, and the Dave Thomas Foundation is pretty great. But for Whole30 fast food, there are only a few options. What you can order:

  • Burger Patty
  • Side salad with no dressing, no cheese, and no croutons
  • Baked potato
  • Apple bites

17: Starbucks

Starbucks has definitely made changes in recent years to bring more healthful options to their stores, BUT they’ve got a long way to go. Sadly, there still isn’t much that you can eat there during your Whole30. I was hopeful that maybe at least one of their salads or breakfast options would hold up, but NONE do. Not even close. But there are a few options that can tide you over or get you through a coffee date. Here’s what you can order:

  • That’s it! Fruit bars in Apple Mango and Apple Blueberry flavors. These fruit bars are made with just fruit so you’re good to go.
  • Squirrel Brand Classic Almonds. They’re dry roasted so no yuck oils included, yay!
  • Peter Rabbit Apple & Grape or Strawberry Banana squeeze purees. Yes, they’re meant for kids.. but just think of it as you would applesauce. Anybody can eat applesauce!
  • Seasonal Fruit Blend
  • A la carte fruit. My Starbucks always has bananas and apples, but I’ve also seen oranges there.
  • Avocado Spread. I honestly don’t know what you’d use this for unless you happened to have your own veggies handy, but it is compliant.
  • Eggs & Cheese Protein Box, but only eat the eggs and fruit. This seems like a stretch, but if I went to Starbucks with my kid and ordered this, it’d probably work out well. He’d be happy to eat only the cheese & peanut butter, and I’d be cool with the boiled egg and fruit.

17: Chick Fil A

Okay, we’re officially at the part of the list that is way less than impressive. Chick Fil A has some so-so Whole30 options for a fast food restaurant, but not many. I still like to stop here on road trips though, because I can grab an unsweetened iced tea and my kids can burn some energy in their play place. You won’t starve, but you can definitely do better if you’re looking for a Whole30 or Paleo friendly restaurant. What you can order:

  • Apple sauce packet or a fruit cup without mandarins (they have sugar in the syrup).
  • A side salad without cheese, bell peppers, or dressing.
  • Warning: All of the chicken is made with non-compliant ingredients (even the grilled chicken and the grilled nuggets). Do not order the chicken!

18: Subway

I was completely grossed out to learn that Subway has ZERO compliant protein options. None. For a company that talks a whole lot about health in their marketing campaigns, they sure don’t seem too focused on whole foods. Basically all you can get:

  • A bowl of compliant vegetables you like (lettuce, tomato, onion), and unsweetened Applesauce. This might work out okay if you had a compliant meat stick or can of tuna handy.

19: PF Chang’s

PF Chang’s officially wins the award for least Whole30 and Paleo friendly. I couldn’t find one thing on the menu that can be easily adjusted! Every single protein option has soy and/or wheat included as an ingredient (WHAT?!). You can literally order nothing.

  • If you must eat at PF Chang’s, the best bet would be to call ahead to your local restaurant and see if they can accommodate you somehow. It’s possible the chicken lettuce wraps or beef and broccoli could be specially made, but I wouldn’t be too hopeful.

More resources for your Whole30:

  • Check out my FREE Whole30 e-Cookbook
  • Join my free private Facebook support group
  • Follow me on Pinterest for more inspiration
  • Browse the Whole30 recipes section of my blog
  • Get my 4 Week Whole30 Meal Plan with Grocery Lists
  • Best Whole30 & Paleo Cookbooks

Eating Out on Whole 30

Some people find eating out on Whole 30 intimidating. I completely understand why. Once you start reading labels it’s easy to see how brands sneak in sugar and soy in surprising ways. And of course both are restricted during your 30 days on the program. Naturally another big concern is what cooking fats restaurants use. Their goal is to prepare flavorful food while being cost effective and minimizing cook time. You can expect butter to be in everything. So if you’re uncomfortable asking questions and making requests when you order then certainly eating out will be hard. And let’s be honest, unless you’re at a restaurant that specializes in organic offerings and preparing dishes that appeal to foodies with particular tastes, the meal just won’t be as spectacular as it will at home.

But, friends, preparing every single meal at home is exhausting and accounts for a lot of dishes. A lot. Sometimes you just need a break. And if you’re me, you need a reason to leave the house and put on make up.

So it’s decided, we will eat out on occasion. Now how to make it work?

If I could convince you of one thing it’s this. The more prepared you are the better your meal out will be. Visit the website. Plan what you’ll order. Figure out what would make your meal even better. You don’t want to leave feeling hungry and irritated that you paid good money for an unimpressive dining experience.

Getting a salad? Bring your dressing or extra toppings that will make your salad rock (like avocado, grilled onions/peppers, raisins, etc).

Are your coworkers dragging you to a Mexican restaurant and you’re envisioning yourself squirming in your seat while they gorge themselves on chips and cheese dip? Bring plantain chips and enjoy with guacamole or salsa. This one tip has actually made Mexican restaurants a favorite of mine. I don’t feel deprived at all!

Now lets talk about some easy options.

Breakfast restaurants. It’s pretty straight forward. Order eggs scrambled with a little water or fried without butter. Fresh fruit. Diced or roasted potatoes can work if you inquire about how they’re made. Sorry, no bacon. I guarantee you they didn’t splurge for the pricey sugar-free kind.

Steakhouses. They’re the best! Typically they are totally accustomed to requests. Think steak, chicken, or fish. No butter. A steamed vegetable side like broccoli or a vegetable medley. No butter. A side salad. Bring your own dressing. It’s that simple.

Mexican restaurants. Again, a favorite of mine. Bring plantain chips. Really. You might feel a little silly the first time but it drastically improves your experience. Do not go to a Mexican restaurant without plantain chips. Without them you’ll be averting your eyes for the first half of the visit while everyone around you shovels chips and salsa in their faces. Bring your plantain chips and you’ll be one satisfied customer. Enjoy that salsa or order yourself a guacamole.

Ask how they prepare their proteins. I’ve found that typically a salad with grilled chicken, onions & peppers (depending on how they’re prepared), pico de gallo, avocado/guacamole, and salsa will do the job. A spicy salsa makes the best dressing! Sometimes chicken or steak fajitas with grilled onions & peppers will do the job if they’re not made in butter. No tortillas. Duh. You didn’t think you’d get away with those, did you? Ask for lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado/guacamole, and salsa.

Hamburger joints. Sure, you can’t have fries, but if you can stand to sit next to someone who is munching on them then you can manage a burger joint. Get a double burger. No bun. You can have it wrapped in lettuce or just eat it with a knife and fork. No cheese. No ketchup. You can usually have mustard, but a nice establishment will have better add-ons. Think fried egg. Sliced avocados. And of course, the usual burger toppings like onions and pickles. A higher end restaurant could have some sides that are Whole 30 compliant like a steamed vegetable, fruit, or salad (bring your own dressing). If it’s strictly a burger and fries place then be prepared and bring your own side so you don’t suffer.

BBQ. Before you go jumping for joy, simmer down and consider that it is highly unlikely that any BBQ sauce you find at these restaurants is made without sugar. Not gonna happen. Sorry to burst your bubble. Now pick yourself up off the floor. There are options. Inquire about their grilled offerings. Make sure they use a seasoning that’s on plan. What I do love about a good BBQ restaurant is that they typically have decent sides. You could have a baked potato (potentially even a sweet potato). No butter. How happy would you be if you prepared for this visit and brought your own ghee? Very. You’re welcome. Steamed vegetables are an excellent offering. It’s common for them to pour the butter on after steaming so just request that they don’t.

Anywhere else. The above restaurant types are the ones that I’ve had the most luck with. When those don’t work you can always order a salad as an entree. Add grilled chicken. Check on how they season it though as sometimes sugar creeps in there. Add vegetables. Usually you can find the basics like tomato, onion, cucumber. Ask for extra. It’s always worth it. If you’re lucky you can find more toppings available. And if you’re not so lucky? Prepare for that eventuality by bringing items from home to make your salad more substantial and filling. I often carry in a small container of avocado and I always bring my own dressing (usually Easy Ranch Dressing or Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette).

There you have it. What have we learned here? It is possible to eat out. Preparation makes all the difference. Ask questions. Make requests. You’ll survive. Hopefully you’ll eat well too.

Here’s an easy graphic, Eating Out on Whole 30: Quick Tips, to help you out when you’re on the go and looking for meal options!

Want some yummy Whole 30 recipes to make at home? I got ya covered. Check out this list of 250 Whole30 Recipes You Will Love, 21 Whole30 Comfort Food Recipes, 30+ Healthy Whole30 & Paleo Snacks, 85 Must Make Whole 30 & Paleo Dinners, 105 of the Best Whole 30 Recipes.

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The Whole30 Diet: Brilliant or Bogus?

In the mid-20th century, the Western diet began to slowly shift from locally available, often homegrown foods to industrialized food products (Sustainable Table, 2015). The rise of processed foods, fast food restaurants, TV dinners, and industrialized agriculture has changed the way we eat.

At the same time, chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, cancer, and diabetes continued to rise. The Whole30 diet claims that by eliminating foods promoted by the industrial food movement, you can correct these health problems (Whole30, 2016).

The Story Behind the Diet

Whole30 was created by Dallas Hartwig, a functional medicine practitioner, and Melissa Hartwig, a Certified Sports Nutritionist. Together, the couple created a program designed to change the way people eat. Through a best-selling book and related materials, the Hartwigs have promoted Whole30 as a method of losing weight, improving health, and reducing problems with allergies and chronic medical conditions (Whole30, 2016).

The rationale behind the Whole30 diet is that the foods promoted by our modern, industrialized food production system are causing widespread health problems. In particular, added sugars, grains, legumes, and dairy products contribute to systemic inflammation and digestive distress (Whole30, 2016). The Whole30 diet is similar to the Paleo Diet in that it recommends that adherents eat whole, fresh foods that are similar to the foods eaten by hunter-gatherer ancestors.

While this rationale seems agreeable, there’s still one looming question that’s likely on your mind: does it work?

Scientific Evidence about the Effectiveness of the Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 diet is based on anecdotal evidence about foods that help versus harm your health. To date, there are no evidence-based reports in scientific journals supporting the use of Whole30. Additionally, strict elimination diets such as Whole30 could cause you to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins (Kern, 2015).

Meat and seafood also contain relatively high amounts of saturated fat, which could increase your cardiovascular risk (Kern, 2015). More research is needed to verify whether the Whole30 diet is actually safe and healthy. It is best to talk to your doctor to ensure it makes sense for your personal health.

Should you still decide to give this diet a try, we’ve outlined some of the basic tenets of the diet below.

Dietary Regulations of Whole 30

The Whole30 plan is an elimination diet, meaning that you must completely avoid any foods on its “bad” list. The following foods are expressly prohibited by the Whole30 diet plan (Whole30, 2016):

  • Added sugar. The Whole30 diet plan requires you to strictly avoid eating any source of added sugars, including real and artificial sugar. Thus, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave nectar, honey, Nutrasweet, stevia, Splenda, xylitol, and other sources of sugar must be eliminated. In practice, this means that you should carefully read food labels to avoid ingesting any added sugars. Natural sugars from fruits are acceptable.
  • Grains. All grains must be eliminated, including wheat, oats, corn, barley, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, bulgur, and sorghum. Gluten-free grains such as quinoa or millet are also forbidden.
  • Legumes. All legumes must be eliminated from your diet, including black beans, kidney beans, fava beans, pinto beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and navy beans. As peanuts are a type of legume, peanut butter and other peanut products should also be eliminated.
  • Soy products. Because soy products are made from soybeans, a type of legume, they must be avoided. Edamame, tofu, miso, soy sauce, and tempeh are all soy products. Also watch out for sneaky soy-based additives such as lecithin.
  • Dairy. Any dairy products, whether derived from cow, sheep, goat’s milk or another type of milk must be eliminated. This includes kefir, cream, cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, and milk.
  • Certain additives. The Whole30 plan does not permit consumption of the additives monosodium glutamate (MSG), sulfites, or carrageenan.
  • Alcohol and tobacco products. All alcohol and tobacco products must be avoided on the Whole30 diet. This includes cooking or baking with alcohol.

Given the long list of foods that are eliminated by the Whole30 diet, it can be tough to know what you can enjoy. A good rule of thumb is to only eat whole foods that have not been processed or have undergone only minimal processing (Whole30, 2016). If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, a food is likely too highly processed. The following foods are acceptable on the Whole30 plan:

  • Vegetables. Vegetables form the bulk of foods eaten on the Whole30 diet plan. Focus on eating foods from across the color spectrum to obtain a wide variety of beneficial phytochemicals (Schaeffer, 2008).
  • Fruit. Fresh fruit is an important part of the Whole30 diet. However, the diet plan recommends that you eat fruit in moderation, as it can be high in sugar.
  • Meat. Meat forms a core protein source on the Whole30 diet. Look for natural, grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken.
  • Seafood. Any form of seafood is acceptable to eat while doing Whole30.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are valuable sources of vegetarian protein. Plus, they are full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy type of fat that lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease. Eat a variety of nuts and seeds while doing the diet.
  • Oils. The Whole30 plan recommends olive oil and coconut oil for everyday cooking. Sesame oil should generally be avoided, although a small amount can be added for flavor (Whole30, 2016).
  • Ghee and clarified butter. Because clarified butter and ghee do not contain lactose, they are permitted on the Whole30 diet.

Recipes that Fit with the Whole30 Diet Plan

The Whole30 diet can feel restrictive, but with some practice you will be able to make a variety of meals that fit the plan. The diet is intended to last for 30 days as a sort of “detox” period, after which you can gradually reintroduce certain foods. Consider the following meal suggestions.

Protein Acai Bowl Recipe

Blending frozen strawberries, almond milk, and a banana makes a delicious smoothie bowl that you can top with fruit or chia seeds. Try using sliced almonds instead of granola to make this recipe Whole30-friendly.
Ingredients: Frozen strawberries, almond milk, whey protein powder, acai powder, banana, fresh fruit toppings

Almond Butter Recipe

Although peanut butter is off the list, other nut butters are an important part of the Whole30 diet. Dip celery sticks, apple slices, or pears into homemade almond butter for a midafternoon snack.
Ingredients: Almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt
Total Time: 45 minutes | Yield: 2 cups

Protein-Packed Detox Smoothie Recipe {vegan}

Smoothies are a great meal replacement, as long as they do not contain yogurt. Try a detox smoothie, which contains almond milk, banana, spirulina, hemp powder protein, and mint.
Ingredients: Almond milk, frozen banana, spirulina, hemp protein powder (optional), fresh mint, chia seeds, hemp hearts.
Total Time: 5 minutes | Yield: 2 servings

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

This rich “pudding” is made with chia seeds soaked in a non-dairy milk of your choice. The addition of pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice makes it a tasty treat. Forego the maple syrup to comply with Whole30 guidelines.
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Whole30 Ingredients

The following items are ideal staples to keep around the house while abiding by the Whole30 diet. Each has its place on multiple dishes and can be used to get creative in the kitchen.

Ghee

$7.99

Ghee is a fantastic means of adding flavor to your snacks and sides while still abiding by the restrictions of the Whole30 program. Try using ghee in any circumstance in which you would normally apply butter.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

$19.99

Extra virgin olive oil is great for cooking at low temperatures or for seasoning salads. Try mixing this high quality oil with balsamic vinagrette for a scrumptious salad dressing.

Almond Butter (Roasted, Smooth)

$12.99

If you don’t have the time or patience to make your own almond butter from scratch- then simply pick up a jar of our favorite selection from Once Again. Select your favorite butter based on the roast and textures- with smooth or crunchy varieties.

Organic Almond Milk

$6.99

Almond milk is a great substitute for normal dairy milk. In addition to being free of those pesky milk proteins, the liquid is low in calories and fat to offer a substance that essentially inert.

Shaved Bonito Flakes

$5.99

Bonito flakes add umami to any dish and are perfectly aligned with the Whole30 diet. Sprinkle these flakes atop a simple soup or use them as a central ingredient to create a scrumptious soup base. You can also mix them into a uniquely delicious omelette.

Whole30 Oils: Compliant Fats vs. Bad Fats

Starting your program but wondering what oils are compliant? We’re covering all Whole30 oils in this post to show what’s allowed, what’s out, and what is less than ideal but allowable when you’re Whole30-ing out to eat at a restaurant.

Primary Oils: Essential for Whole30

These are the oils you should be using in the majority of your cooking – we consider them Whole30 essentials for a healthy program.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil / EVOO

Whole30 Permitted Oils

These oils aren’t often used as primary oil sources, but they are totally compliant with the program. Go ahead and grab them if you see them and want to try them, but they aren’t mandatory for your program.

  • Avocado oil
  • Macadamia nut oil

Limited Use Oils (AKA Restaurants Only)

These oils are permitted because they are commonly used at restaurants, and if you’re going out to eat, they are nearly impossible to avoid.

Still, Whole30-ers are encouraged to avoid these oils whenever possible and not cook with them or use them at home.

  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Cottonseed oil

Whole30 Rejects: Oils That Are Banned

These oils are not allowed for the duration of the Whole30 program – they’re on the no list.

  • Soybean Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Rice Bran Oil

Vegetable Oils vs. Healthy Fats

Vegetable oils may sound healthy, with that good ol’ “veggie” wording, but in reality these oils are terrible for us humans.

Why are vegetable oils so bad for us? Vegetable oils contain tons of Omega-6 fats. While Omega-6 fats aren’t inherently evil, humans only need a small amount of them to live, and vegetable oils provide more. Much, much more.

The main issue is that Omega-6 fats aren’t very stable, which means they break down easily with heat, light, or oxygen (and supermarket vegetable oil is often exposed to all three of these).

This results in an oxidation process, making those Omega-6 fats even more problematic, as oxidized fats are highly inflammatory. That, along with the imbalanced relationship to Omega-3 fats that is present in vegetable oil, can result in:

  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Depression
  • Gut Issues
  • Plus Other Medical Issues

This video gives another look at why vegetable oils are so gross and should be avoided at all costs (not just in Whole30, but in life).

If you want to learn more about why vegetable oils are unhealthy, and how America culturally moved away from natural fats and lard (which were once commonplace) to processed vegetable oils, make sure to read this great, in-depth piece at Paleo Leap.

Other Healthy, Whole30-Approved Cooking Fats

Other healthy Whole30 cooking fats, outside of oils, include:

  • Lard
  • Duck fat
  • Ghee / Clarified Butter

These Whole30 Essentials Will Have You Thriving (Not Just Surviving)

Let’s break down the pantry basics to help put Whole30 on autopilot (well, almost).

Fats and oils:

Clarified butter or ghee

When solid, clarified butter and ghee have a texture similar to coconut oil. When heated, they resemble the liquid gold you douse over movie popcorn. Which, unfortunately, isn’t Whole30-approved.

Clarified butter and ghee are pure butterfat, but ghee is cooked slightly longer than clarified butter and has a nuttier taste. Both can be used in place of butter. Try Pure Indian Foods, OMGhee, or Tin Star Ghee.

Coconut butter

Keeping track of all the coconut byproducts is confusing, so just think of coconut butter as a sort of nut butter. Made from coconut flesh, the spread can be added to smoothies and sauces or enjoyed with fresh fruit. Look for Artisana Organics.

Olive oil

You can’t go wrong with this classic. Extra-virgin is great for dressings, sauces, and cooking, while light olive oil is good for homemade mayo.

Sesame oil

A small amount of sesame oil goes a long way, which is good since it’s supposed to be used sparingly.

Primal Kitchen mayo

Don’t feel like making your own mayonnaise? No judgement. Grab a jar (or two) from Primal Kitchen. In addition to original, the brand makes flavors like Chipotle Lime and Garlic Aioli.

Animal fats

Being Whole30 compliant doesn’t mean eating bland food. Cooking with high-quality animal fats from brands like Fatworks and Epic Animal Oils adds a ton of flavor to simple dishes like roasted potatoes or pork.

Switch it up

Almond flour, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder

Instead of thickening up sauces with cornstarch or flour, try a non-grain-based flour. They can be used in place of breadcrumbs, too.

Coconut aminos

Coconut aminos are a soy-free alternative to soy sauce, tamari, and worcestershire. Made from aged coconut sap, they’re great for sauces, dressings, marinades, and anything else you can think of. Try Coconut Secret (or grab a bottle from Trader Joe’s).

Coconut milk

Full-fat coconut milk is a great substitute for milk and cream. Just make sure there aren’t any sulfites. Thai Kitchen, Native Forest, and Whole Foods 365 are all Whole30-compliant.

Pickles, relish, diced green chiles, and capers

If your favorite premade sauces and marinades aren’t Whole30-friendly, try spicing up dishes with flavorful jarred ingredients — after you check the labels, of course.

Raisins, currents, and dried figs

Swap sugar, jelly, and chutney for dried fruits like raisins, currants, and figs. Just a little adds the right amount of sweetness to dishes and sauces.

Nutpods

Get your usual caffeine fix by subbing the milk or creamer of your choosing for Nutpods. The nondairy unsweetened creamer is made from almonds and coconuts, and comes in flavors like hazelnut, French vanilla, and caramel. *kisses fingertips*

The fixin’s

Tessemae’s

Tessemae’s makes a variety of condiments, sauces, and dressings that are Whole30 compliant. The brand’s BBQ sauce and ketchup are kitchen must-haves. Plus, they have multiple — yes, multiple — ranch flavors. Think Cilantro Lime, Buffalo, and Everything Bagel.

Curry paste

Spice up any soup, stir-fry, vegetable dish, or marinade with Thai Kitchen curry paste.

Red Boat fish sauce

Complete your Whole30 curry with Red Boat fish sauce. The sauce is literally made with just two ingredients: anchovies and sea salt.

Hot sauce

Got hot sauce in your bag? No sweat, so long as there aren’t added sugars or other banned ingredients. Tessemae’s and Horsetooth both make Whole30-friendly sauces, and Frank’s Red Hot Original is also compliant.

Mustard

Just check the label before you check out: if it contains sugar, corn starch, or maltodextrin, it’s a no-go.

Broths

Imagine Organic

The Whole30 team “recommends” making your own broth, but there are compliant premade versions. Some Imagine Organic broths are Whole30-friendly, but double-check the nutrition label to make sure.

Bonafide Provisions

Bone broths are hearty enough to be sipped straight from a mug, but they also make great bases for soups or stews. Bonafide Provisions’ broths are frozen fresh and are free of sugar, grains, and gluten.

Kettle & Fire

Kettle & Fire selects grass-fed bones that are packed with collagen and nutrients, then slow-simmers them for over 14 hours. In addition to classic chicken and beef broths, they offer flavored versions like Chipotle Beef and Coconut Curry & Lime Chicken.

Bare Bones

This brand’s classic broths are compliant, but Whole30 has a “bone” to pick with the instant bone broth mix — it contains maltodextrin.

Osso Good

Osso Good broths are organic and slow-simmered in small batches. Like Bonafide Provisions, they’re packed frozen for maximum flavor and nutrition.

Got canned meat in my meals tonight baby

Canned salmon

Throw together a hearty salad in minutes with canned salmon. You can also use arrowroot powder to make a salmon burger — with a lettuce bun, of course.

Safe Catch Tuna

The Safe Catch brand is dolphin safe, mercury tested, and sustainably caught. The Seasoned Elite Wild Tuna pouches come in flavors like Cajun, Chili Lime, and Garlic Herb, and are great for on-the-go meals.

Canned chicken

Toss Primal Kitchen or Tessemae’s mayo with canned chicken for a quick lunch or light dinner. Just be sure to check the label for added starches and other non-compliant ingredients. Wild Planet’s organic roasted chicken breast is a reliable standby.

Healthy additions (and other fun stuff)

Canned vegetables

Simplify meal prep with canned vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin. As always, check the label. The only ingredient should be vegetables (and perhaps water).

Cocoa

Unsweetened cocoa and 100 percent cacao — not Hershey’s cocoa — are Whole30-approved, but should be treated like a spice. Try adding to sauces or rubs for an extra punch of flavor.

Olives

Green. Black. Canned. Fresh. Olivem’ are Whole30-compliant. Just look out for added sulfites.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds aren’t from the same family as legumes and grains, but they should be treated like nuts, i.e. eat them sparingly.

Canned tomatoes

Finding canned tomatoes that are compliant can be tricky. Pomi is a great go-to — the only ingredient in most of its products are tomatoes.

Vinegar

If you’ve ever felt the urge to experiment with homemade salad dressings, then Whole30 is your time. Nearly all vinegars are compliant, including rice, red wine, and white wine. Malt vinegar is the exception.

Coconut

Coconut might be the G.O.A.T. for Whole30. Shredded and flaked coconut is great for adding flavor to stir-fries, salads, and more.

Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

Get the flavor you crave, minus the carbs with this seasoning. You can also find it at TJ’s.

Snacks

Unsweetened applesauce

Santa Cruz Organic is USDA-Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. If ascorbic acid on the label throws you off, don’t worry, it’s basically just vitamin C.

Lavva Yogurt

This plant based yogurt is free of lactose, dairy, soy, and added sugar, but full of prebiotics and probiotics. It’s made with a blend of organic coconut, Pili nuts, and young plantains for a thick and creamy texture that’ll have you double-checking the label. (Don’t worry, it’s indeed Whole30 compliant.)

Jerky

If the word “jerky” makes you think of Slim Jim, snap out of it. CHOMPS Snack Sticks, The New Primal Beef Thins, and Epic Bars are all made with grass-fed beef or free-range turkey. Keep them on hand for emergencies or on-the-go snacks.

Nuts

Raw and dry-roasted nuts make for quick and easy snacks. Stash a pack in your purse or office drawer, but be sure they’re free of peanuts. (And chocolate, duh.)

Larabars

Flavors like Cashew Cookie and Apple Pie are Whole30-friendly and will quickly become your snack standby.

Whole 30 foods list

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