This Whole30 food list is a handy, easy-to-follow guide that eliminates the confusion surrounding what is and isn’t Whole30 compliant. The free downloadable chart can be printed out and hung on the fridge or stuck in your wallet, or save it on your phone for those sudden moments of grocery store panic.
Is It Whole30 Compliant?
I hear this question all the time!
I run a Whole30 support group on Facebook, and this is the number one question that pops up over and over again. I get it! It’s so confusing, and there are so many additives and sneaky sugars in food nowadays that trying to remember it all is overwhelming and kind of frustrating. Even I see ingredients that I’m positive are non-compliant, only to remember that they’re actually okay, though maybe not encouraged.
So if I have trouble keeping track of all those tiny little ingredients that can hide and throw you off track, then I knew there were others like me out there, frantically Googling “is xanthan gum Whole30 compliant” from the middle of the grocery store. Spoiler: it is!
My Whole30 list was born! But before we dive into what’s compliant on a Whole30 and what’s not, let’s talk a little more about what exactly Whole30 is.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is exactly that – 30 days of whole foods. It’s an elimination way of eating that overhauls your eating habits by focusing on nutrient dense, unprocessed foods and cutting out hard-on-your-body foods like sugar, grains, and alcohol.
The idea behind the Whole30 diet is that, by avoiding allergenic and nutrient-poor foods long enough for your body to filter their ghosts out of your system, you’ll see just how those foods actually affected you. After the initial 30 days, you reintroduce these triggers one at a time, observing how different (or worse!) each one makes you feel. This highlights any sensitivities so you can avoid them in the future.
There’s no calorie-tracking or points to keep up with on Whole30. This is all about your relationship with food and how food makes your body feel.
If you’re like most of us, after the 30 days you’ll continue eating nutrient-dense foods while avoiding grains, gluten, and dairy, because it just makes you feel so damn good.
If you’re thinking about doing a Whole30, you’ll definitely want to check out How to Prepare for a Whole30.
What Can You Eat on Whole30?
“Elimination” and “cutting out” seem like scary terms. Believe me – it took me years to try a Whole30 because the Whole30 food list seemed so restrictive. It’s really not, though, and it absolutely doesn’t need to feel like a punishment! We do not suffer. We eat incredible flat-iron steak with homemade béarnaise sauce and bacon-wrapped dates.
I’d always been a “healthy” eater. On and off vegetarian and vegan diets for decades. Eating “real food” like whole wheat tortillas and shunning processed junk.
Nothing could have prepared me for how intensely wonderful I felt after day 14 or so on my first Whole30. My chronic jaw pain had absolutely disappeared. I was sleeping better than I had since I was a teenager. My headaches were gone. I lost 7lbs.
If you’re still unsure, just try it. It’s only 30 days, and you have nothing to lose, other than maybe that tired, sluggish, blah feeling. I also tend to believe that you won’t miss those foods after you’ve cut the cord.
What About Treats and Cheat Meals?
Nope! Whole30 is a 30-day reboot, so for it to really work, it requires a strict 30-consecutive-days with no cheats or slip ups. Even paleo-fied or “Whole30 desserts” that are made from completely Whole30 compliant ingredients are off-limits.
That’s right. Even desserts made from nothing but Whole30 ingredients are off-limits. The whole point is to change your eating habits and relationship with food. When your brain craves sugar, it won’t distinguish between “real cake” and “Whole30 cake” – it just knows you’re eating cake. You can’t change your habits and cravings if you just indulge in them in a slightly different way.
Have the banana. Just don’t turn it into pancakes.
Compliant Whole30 Food List
Get excited – for the next 30 days you’ll get to eat all of these amazing things!
- Meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs
- In moderate amounts. The Whole30 is not an excuse to eat a cowboy ribeye for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 30 days.
- Tons of these! Veggies are super nutrient dense and rich in minerals and fiber, so make sure they’re a big part of your diet.
- 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.
- Natural Fats
- 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 is fine in moderation, as long as you use compliant creamer, like coconut cream, Nutpods, Califia Unsweetened Creamer, etc.
- The exception to the dairy rule! Ghee is essentially clarified butter and has no potentially allergenic lactose.
- All vinegars are allowed unless they include sugar (like some rice wine vinegars do). Even vinegars 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!
Some additives are Whole30-compliant. If they’re on this Whole30 food list, they’re alright.
- acetic acid
- agave inulin alpha-tocopherol
- ascorbic acid
- calcium carbonate
- calcium chloride
- citric acid
- ferrous gluconate
- acacia gum
- gellan gum
- guar gum
- locust bean gum
- xanthan gum
- lactic acid
- natural flavors
- potassium chloride
- potato starch
- sodium citrate
- sodium nitrite
- sodium nitrate
- sodium pectinate
- sunflower lecithin
- zinc gluconate
Non-Compliant Whole30 Food List
“So if I can eat all those amazing foods, what exactly am I supposed to avoid?” Well, I’m glad you asked!
- Ghee is the only exception to the no-dairy rule. Even cultured dairy like yogurt is not allowed.
- Added sugars, in any form.
- This is, to me, the hardest part. Sugar is in everything. I even used some jarred minced ginger on a Whole30 once, and after cooking, looked at the back on a whim. There It 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 Dijons that don’t have alcohol in them, though: Annie’s is a common brand. Otherwise, skip the Grey Poupon for a month my friend!
- Lentils, garbanzo beans (AKA no hummus!), black beans, and peanuts are all off-limits on the Whole30 food list.
- 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!
Non-Compliant Whole30 Sugars
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.
- agave nectar
- beet sugar
- brown sugar
- (evaporated) cane juice
- cane sugar
- coconut nectar
- coconut sugar
- confection’s sugar
- date sugar
- date syrup
- glycerin (glycerol)
- high fructose corn syrup
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- monk fruit extract
- raw sugar
- refiner’s syrup
- rice malt (extract)
- rice syrup
- (sweet) sorghum
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.
- corn starch
- monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- potassium metabisulfite
- sodium bisulfite
- soy lecithin
- sulfur dioxide
There you have it! A handy, easy-to-follow Whole30 food list that lays out exactly what you can eat and what you can’t eat on your Whole30 diet. Below are some additional resources and favorite recipes to help you on your journey. Be sure to join my Whole30 Support Group on Facebook for more tips, tricks, and all-around support.
You got this!