There are many diets out there, but the two that can get confusing are Paleo and Whole 30 because of their similarities. Let's go through each of them!
The paleo diet is about eating what your ancestors ate. Essentially, sticking to foods from the Paleolithic era, before the grocery stores and boxed foods.
Here are some of the foods included in the diet: meat, fish, seafood, fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs, tubers, herbs, spices, and healthy oils (coconut oil, avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil). Foods that are acceptable, but weren't used back when, include: ghee, honey, alcohol, bacon, salt, and coffee. Distilled liquors (vodka, tequila, and brandy) or red wine are acceptable, and it’s recommended that all meat is grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic.
Paleo no-nos include grains (like whole grains, quinoa, oats, and brown rice), legumes (like beans, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, and soy), dairy, vegetable oils (soybean oil, grapeseed oil), hydrogenated oils (margarine), sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods.
Eating paleo is a lifestyle change that is suppose to be implemented long-term.
The Whole 30 diet is an elimination diet. It is implemented when someone wants to discover their food sensitivities, kick a sugar addiction, or change their habits.
The Whole 30 diet is the stricter parent of the Paleo diet. Everything is the same, except: no added sugar of any kind (honey, agave, maple syrup), and alcohol.
On the Whole 30, there is no "re-creating" recipes. You also can’t eat junk food, even if you recreate it using healthy, diet-compliant ingredients. The thinking is, it can make you cave and want the real thing, which totally defeats the purpose of a plan that’s supposed to help you beat your cravings.
The Whole 30 is only for 30 days. Once over, you start re-introducing foods back into your diet.
So, which one should you choose?
The Whole 30 diet is for someone who wants to discover food sensitivities, beat a sugar addiction, or have a better relationship with food and change their habits. Whereas the Paleo diet is more someone wanting to reduce their refined carbohydrate intake, already know their food sensitivities, and/or change their eating lifestyle. Both help reduce inflammation by eliminating common allergens (dairy, gluten), and thus, can be used to treat chronic illnesses.
I've also seen it beneficial for patients to start the Whole 30 diet and then ease into the Paleo diet. Whichever one you choose, both can help you make strides towards a clean, whole food diet.