Wholesome Living for the Whole Family on the Wahls Protocol

How to get your family on-board with the Wahls Protocol® lifestyle to optimize your healing journey.

Written by MasterHealth Staff

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Wholesome living for the whole family means encouraging common values and understanding of the things that increase health and wellbeing – the foods we eat, the people interact with, as well as regular mind and body exercise.


For greatest success in the Wahls Protocol® it helps to establish more wholesome living for the whole family from the start to get everyone on board with your health needs.


You will need your family’s participation with intentionally redesigning your home to be Wahls Protocol® compliant. This means, working on basic values, like mutual respect and honest communication.

At times, it may be a challenge trying to get others living at home with you – be it your partners, your kids, or perhaps your parents – on board with your new diet requirements especially since habits can be so hard to change. 


Remember your WHY: Always remember why you’ve decided to embark on the Wahls Diet™ and what your healthy lifestyle means to you. If you’re struggling with your family’s participation, connect with how the diet makes you feel and use this to fuel your motivation to keep going.

An important component of wholesome living for the whole family is communication.


To be successful in the Wahls Protocol®, it’s important that everyone in your household understands what the diet means to you.


Share, and ask your family members to share their feelings about your disease and what it would mean to them for you to feel better. 

wholesome communication

After expressing your own needs, ask your family members to voice their individual concerns related to the new diet and work on making compromises if you have needs that conflict.


Not every family communicates perfectly, and if communication issues arise, it can help to work with a family therapist to support you.

This should go without saying, but it’s good to bear in mind that part of the family social contract is mutual respect – another important piece to wholesome living for the whole family.


Everyone living with you may not want to eat 9 cups of vegetables daily or give up their favorite foods, which is understandable – the diet is for you, not them.


Try your best to be respectful of your family’s desire to continue eating non-compliant foods, and they’ll be more likely to return the favor.


If you struggle with resisting food temptations, kindly ask your family to keep non-compliant foods outside of the kitchen and out of your sight, reminding them of what this diet means to your health.

The next critical step to move towards more wholesome living on the Wahls Protocol® is to purge your kitchen of any non-compliant foods and ingredients. 


Ask your family to help you so that they can learn or be reminded about the foods you can and cannot have on your diet.


Removing non-compliant foods from the kitchen is an important step in wholesome living because it prevents you from reaching for those tempting but restricted comfort foods on days you might feel run-down or a little less motivated.


Simple mistakes will also be avoided when those non-compliant go-to ingredients are no longer within reach.


Many people use this same trick when trying to curb addictive habits like smoking or excessive spending. When you have to actively go out of our way to access non-compliant food, you’re less likely to go after it.


For greatest success in the Wahls Protocol®, it’s recommended that you stick to the diet 100% (i.e. without cheating) for a longer time. Your hard work is paying off, we promise!

Depending on the stage you’re at in implementing the Wahls Diet™, you may need to buy new groceries to restock your kitchen. Make a list of the foods you’ve thrown out so that you can ensure they’re replaced.


Swaps for the most commonly eliminated foods in the Wahls Diet™:

  • Replace conventional breads with gluten-free bread
  • Replace wheat-based flour with the following alternative flours:
    • Amaranth
    • Arrowroot
    • Almond
    • Brown rice
    • Buckwheat
    • Cassava
    • Millet
    • Tapioca
    • Teff
    • Quinoa

(Keep in mind that each of these flours will have a different consistency, making some more or less ideal for different baking and cooking needs.)

  • Replace gluten-containing grains (i.e. barley, rye, pasta, couscous, orzo rice, spelt, durum wheat, brewer’s yeast, and graham) with the following:
    • Quinoa
    • Buckwheat groats (which have a similar texture to barley)
    • White, brown, jasmine, or basmati rice
    • Grated cauliflower “rice”
    • Rice noodles, chickpea pasta or other gluten-free pastas
    • Spaghetti squash, or spiralized zucchini (for fresh veggie pasta replacements)
  • Replace regular soy sauce with:
    • Gluten-free soy sauce
    • Tamari
    • Coconut aminos
  • Replace dairy products with plant-based products:
    • Dairy milk alternative: Almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, organic soy milk (organic soy is preferred because soy is often farmed using toxic pesticides)
    • Dairy yogurt alternative: Plant-based cultures (i.e. coconut, almond, cashew culture)
    • Butter alternative: Coconut oil, or clarified butter/ghee if you enjoy cooking with butter
    • Cheese alternative: There are many new and delicious nut or legume-based cheeses available at the supermarket or health food store.
  • Replace flower, seed, and vegetable oils with: 
    • Coconut oil (not recommended if you have a higher blood lipid profile)
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Avocado oil (best for frying because it has the highest plant-based smoke point)
  • If eliminating eggs, use an egg replacement. Egg replacements can be found in the grocery or health food store. You can also make your own with 1 tablespoon of flax or chia to 2.5 tablespoons of water.

Sometimes, your family members might have special dietary needs or preferences that the Wahls Diet™ just doesn’t meet. Or you’re expected to host for your extended family who expect the same comfort foods that they’re used to.


In times like these, it’s important to make a separate dish for yourself that complies with the Wahls Protocol® and ask others in your home to help with the cooking if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

To save time and hassle, set aside a portion of the dish for yourself before adding any Wahls-restricted ingredients. 


As always, remember why you’re avoiding these foods – for your long-term health and the avoidance of future flare-ups.

If you’re planning on being hosted by someone else, clearly communicate your dietary restrictions or offer to bring your own dish.


If the main cook in the house is your partner or your parents who struggle to comply with your needs, it’s easy to kindly ask them to set aside a portion of the dish before adding any ingredients that you can’t have (like dairy or gluten).


Cook a portion of gluten-free grains to go with the veggies and protein they’ll be cooking, or simply turn the protein and veggies they set aside for you into a quick and easy stir fry or stew. 

wholesome living for the whole family exercise

Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, especially when you’re including your children in the activities. It’s important for you to have fun and for your kids to have some undirected activity to support healthy brain development.


Here are some fun and easy ways to increase movement throughout the day and encourage more wholesome living for the whole family:

  • Walking & hiking (park a little farther from the shopping center to get extra steps in)
  • Running
  • Swimming (this can help keep you cool if you have sensitivity to heat)
  • Jumping on a trampoline or with a skipping rope
  • Laser tag
  • Family sports (i.e. soccer, badminton, volleyball, basketball)
  • Martial arts (i.e. kickboxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu, karate)
  • Rock climbing
  • Dancing
  • Ice skating/roller blading
  • Kayaking/canoeing

When setting a new habit, like exercise, it helps to have people in your life that hold you accountable for staying active, whether that’s your family or friends.


That’s why we’ve included peer groups that we call ‘Pods’ in the Wahls Protocal mobile program. When you sign up, you’re matched with a group of peers who share similar health goals with you – and working to build the same habits you are – so that you can encourage and support each other along the way.

Mindfulness and gratitude practice are Wahls Protocol® essentials for wholesome living for the whole family because both help to reduce inflammatory stress hormones and contribute to improved quality of life.

Mindfulness improves emotional resiliency and reduces the negative burden that psychological stress can have on your life. Many people often report improvements in relationships and in the ability to better manage everyday stress.


Similarly, gratitude practice produces an increase in feel-good endorphins like dopamine and serotonin contributing to reduced inflammation and a more positive outlook on life.


Children mirror the behavior of adults in their life, especially primary guardians. So, if you maintain your own meditation routine while raising children, chances are they’ll watch and learn.


Tips to create a mindfulness routine with your kids:

  1. Read a book. Most people think of meditation as sitting in silence, but the true meaning is focused attention. Ever notice yourself getting sleepy while reading? By focusing attention on the content of a book, it helps to guide the body into rest and digest mode.

  2. Reflect on the day before bed.  What made you happy or sad, angry or glad? What went right or wrong?

  3. Morning gratitude. After waking, each share 3-5 things you’re grateful for, which may include things that happened the day or week before or something in your life that you’re grateful for.

  4. Practice meditating with your kids for as little as 5 minutes anytime during the day. It can help to listen to quiet music or a meditation track for kids which can be found online. Holding hands while meditating is a great way to add some extra skin-to-skin contact to help calm your kids after a busy day.

Dr. Terry Wahls encourages community involvement and volunteer work within the Wahls Protocol® because it contributes to a more meaningful and wholesome life.


Like anything else, getting your family on-board with volunteer work begins with communication. Ask them how they would like to use their skills to contribute to something meaningful in the community.


Consider volunteering for something that your kids can participate in as volunteers (i.e. helping to raise funds, recruitment, or clean up) or to watch you as a volunteer (i.e. for a charity that supports child enrichment, a sports team, or a camp).

In addition to contributing to the local community, volunteer work also comes with the opportunity to meet people who share similar interests or struggles.


Socializing with people who you can relate to helps to reduce feelings of isolation and increases the release of feel-good and anti-inflammatory hormones that favor healing.

dr terry wahls protocol
Dr. Terry Wahls – The Wahls Protocol®

Easily integrate Dr. Terry Wahls' health and diet recommendations into your daily routine, stay accountable and consistent, and most importantly – achieve your health goals.

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