There’s really no right or wrong answer for this one. Some people feel like a unicorn the entire time they are on the Whole30, while others get a cold because they start the Whole30 in January— which is when everyone is getting sick, TBH. But there is something to be said for how drastic changes to your diet can make you feel under the weather, and sometimes that means you feel sick, for a couple reasons:

Energy Restriction

Any energy restricted state (a.k.a. a diet) can put your immune system at risk and make you more susceptible to the common cold or flu.

Keto “Flu”

While not technically a keto diet, the Whole30 does eliminate a major source of carbs (grains), which can lead our body into a state of ketosis as the brain transitions from using carbs as energy to using fat. This is typically associated with some brain fog and fatigue, but these effects typically wear off pretty quickly.

Digestive Issues

Any drastic dietary changes tend to lead to changes in our gut microflora (a.k.a. the good bacteria in our gut). This can sometimes lead to some gas, bloating, and irregularity, so make sure you’re focusing on eating enough high-fiber vegetables and fruit to meet your 25-38 grams of fiber each day.

Nutrient Eliminations

You’re cutting out a variety of dairy, grains, and legumes, all of which contain immune-boosting nutrients including zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin D, folate, and iron. So make sure you’re getting your fill by choosing lots of high-quality nuts, meat, seafood, sweet potatoes, avocado, eggs, and dark leafy greens (you’ll be doing that anyway).

If you’re doing your best to keep a balanced diet and still aren’t feeling too hot, you may need some additional strategies or support that doesn’t entail going on a Z-pack. Here are some Whole30 tips:

  • Humidifiers and Steaming
    A bit of steam may help loosen up phlegm and congestion to help you breathe and sleep better. You can add some slices of fresh ginger to a pot of steamy water and breathe it in for a fiery option. You can find humidifiers at your local drugstore like CVS or Walgreens.

  • Neti Pot
    Readily available at CVS, Walgreens, or in natural health stores, the neti pot is just a plastic or ceramic tea-kettle-like pot that is filled with warm salt water for irrigating the sinuses.

  • Menthol Rub Products
    Over-the-counter menthol rubs like Vick’s vapor rub or J.R. Watkins can help clear your sinuses and quiet your sniffles. You can find these products at all drug stores and some health food stores.

  • Sugar-Free Over-the-Counter Cold Medications
    Most lozenges or syrups contain non-Whole30 ingredients like sugar and artificial sweeteners so try to stay away from these. But if you’re really hurting, use them as a last resort.

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