Wanting to feel healthy and fit for the summer months? Look no further than Whole 30. If you haven't heard of Melissa and Dallas Hartwig's Whole 30 eating plan, you may need to look up and see if you are currently under a rock. This eating program has gotten national recognition since the release of the Hartwigs' best-selling novel, "It Starts With Food" released in 2012.


The Hartwigs suggest avoiding just four simple food groups for 30 days for tangible results. This isn't a crash diet where you drop 30 lbs in 30 days. In contrast, it's an eating plan that reorients your body away from cheap, processed junk to healthy, nutrient-rich, clean foods. You will not be disappointed with how you look, feel, and sleep after these 30 days. Their books tell it best, but here's Whole 30 in a nutshell.

Legumes:

What even are legumes?

Beans. With the exception of green beans, coffee beans, and snap peas, all beans are off the table. This includes Peanuts and Soybeans, which are commonly used for their oil. So watch out for these guys!

Why to avoid them?

Legumes are nutrient-binding, which keeps you from getting the beneficial nutrients that things like beans and other vegetables are supposed to be giving you. They are also difficult for your body to digest since they contain fermentable carbohydrates, these can off-set your gut bacteria and cause gas, bloating, cramps and related issues. No thank you.

Be wary of soy, which has compounds that function like estrogen, which could throw off your hormone balance. Also, keep an eye out for peanuts, which contain a certain protein that resists digestion and causes inflammation.



Dairy:

What is categorized as dairy?

From cows, sheep, and goats. Yogurt, cheese, milk, coffee creamer, soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk that isn't canned.

Why avoid it?

Dairy is great for strengthening babies-- like calves, goats, and even human babies. However, adult bodies do not do well with several of the components that are found in dairy, namely Lactose and Casein. These two portions of dairy products can trigger a series of disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and even become an underlying cause for hormone-driven cancers. Dairy can also cross-react with our immune systems, flaring up allergies, acne, and asthma.


Sugar:

What is categorized as sugar?

Basically everything happy and enjoyable in this life. Honey, agave, maple syrup, splenda and artificial sweeteners, (RIP diet coke) and fermented sugars, i.e. alcohol.

Why avoid them?

Here's the deal: Sugar is in everything. Bacon, spices, condiments…. Everything. This is not okay because added sugars are empty. They are high-calorie, low-nutritional value. It becomes a psychological issue, too. Overconsumption of sugar (and let's face it, how can you not overconsume sugar?) activates the pleasure and reward pathways in your brain. This creates a psychological cycle that causes your body to crave more. This is the same thing that happens with drug and alcohol addictions. Too much sugar will lead to metabolic irregularity, as well as hormonal dysregulation while also forming hard-to-break habits. These eventually can make you susceptible to disorders such as diabetes, obesity and many more. The same thing goes for the artificial sweeteners, and recent studies show that artificial sweeteners even increase your sugar cravings. Yikes!

Grains:

What constitutes as a grain?

You have been deceived. Whole grains actually aren't as "healthy" as you thought. These include oats, barley, corn, quinoa, millet, rice, or buckwheat. All this time you've been trying to acquire a taste for bagels and whole-wheat toast for nothing. Take a minute, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Why avoid them?

These, like sugar, promote over consumption which leads to a slew of disorders and hormonal dysregulation. Grains also can create an imbalance of the good bacteria in your gut, which will elicit inflammation in the body (this is likely why you feel bloated after eating pizza or pasta). This inflammation can provoke several other issues too, including asthma, allergies, joint pain, skin conditions, headaches and even infertility. No thank you. Donuts are not worth it…. Sometimes. There are some good nutrients in grains, don't get me wrong, but these good nutrients are coupled with several nutrient-poor ingredients, which makes them less beneficial than fruits and vegetables.