Millennials are obsessed with Whole 30, the ‘cultish’ fad diet taking over Instagram and Pinterest

Megan Willett

Chantal Strasburger first heard about theWhole 30 diet after her junk-food-loving friend confessed she overhauled her diet in an attempt to distance herself from sugar. Whole 30, she learned, was not only a break from sugar, but from so many ubiquitous foods. Strasburger was perplexed.

“I’ve always tried to eat healthy,” Strasburger told Business Insider, but liked the specific rules and guidelines this newfangled Whole 30 diet provided. She gave it a shot.

Now, the former Teen Vogue employee admits she’s hooked.

You might have heard about it or seen photos on Pinterest or Instagram, but here are the basics you need to know: Whole 30 is, as its name suggests, a strict 30-day weight loss program that makes you swear off all dairy, grains, legumes, soy, alcohol, sugar, and any processed foods.

More often than not, Whole 30 is compared to its cousin the Paleo Diet, which has been around since the 1970s and emphasizes eating clean foods or nothing that wouldn’t have been consumed by early man (though this has gotten pushback in the scientific community).

While both diets cut out similar food groups, there are a few key differences. Whole 30 allows no added sugar while paleo only prohibits refined sugar; Whole 30 doesn’t allow recreating junk food like candy with approved ingredients while paleo has no problem with it; and paleo wants only grass-fed or grain-fed meat whereas Whole 30 makes no such recommendation.