13 Things I’ve Learned Through Whole30 (also, H.E. #161 – 167.)

Rogan Josh (or as we like to call it,
Rogan Josh (or as we like to call it, “Seth Rogan”) from Well Fed… delicious, but the copious amount of onions gave me heartburn. Gotta dial it back next time.

Confession: I was a monster the first week of the Whole30.

Snippy with coworkers, crabby at my beyonce, poopy toward my friends and family… I would say no one is happier than me that Week One is over, but I really don’t think that’s true.

In my last W30 post, I gave you a play-by-play of the hurdles, challenges and emotions I experienced during my first week. Sure, I could do that again, but really, isn’t that just unbelievably boring? I think so, especially since week two was less of a roller coaster ride. Aside from the the fact that I felt bloated and yucky on days eight through ten, there wasn’t much to report. Cooking was easier, I craved less no-no foods, and I finally worked up the courage to eat in a restaurant… three times!

Another highlight: I made Brussels sprouts
Another highlight: I made Brussels sprouts “chips.” Like kale chips, but with Brussles sprouts, obviously. Cover with olive oil, s & p & red pepper flakes, into the oven for 20-ish minutes at 400. Finish with lemon juice. Serve.

Instead, I am going to give you a list. The Internet loves lists. I love lists. It’s a win-win. Without further ado…

13 Mostly Non-Food Related Things I’ve Learned Through Whole30.

1. Quit.

Skip a workout, ditch out on a meeting you’re too overwhelmed for, tell your sorta-kinda friend that you can’t attend their party bus birthday because you’re washing your hair. You’re going to be exhausted for a few days during the W30. Own it. Give yourself some time to relax for once. Quit doing whatever is going to keep you from being successful on the W30.

2. Do Simple, Nice Things for Yourself.

On Day 3 of the W30, I did something out of the ordinary: I lit a fancy candle while I was getting ready. I can’t explain why this felt so luxurious, but it did. Why have I not been doing this every morning?!  I have zero guilt treating myself to Dogwood coffee and no shame in listening to old school George Jones in the shower & blasting Enrique Iglesias’ “Escapar” on my commute to work. I even built a Spotify playlist with songs I want at my wedding (I’m so cheesy. I don’t care… I love it!). You can listen to that here.

3. I Am a People Pleaser.

I always thought the hardest part about doing something like W30 would be making other people uncomfortable. Asking friends to make tweaks to menus for me, saying no to dessert or snacks or a beer, and just being a general P.I.T.A. Guess what? No one cares! To think I’ve spent years eating and drinking things I haven’t really felt like ingesting all because it made ME, not THEM, feel weird when I said no thanks. Wow.

4. I Have Way More Support than I Ever Knew.

I thought I’d get more eye rolls than I could count regarding this new eating plan. Instead, I have literally had dozens of people ask me about it and if I thought they could do it, too. Hmm… maybe I’m not the only one who feels like crap every time I eat ice cream.

5. Eff the Haters.

I’m sad to say this, but I’ve not been one bit surprised at who ISN’T supporting me through my W30. Are there negative Nancies in your life? I can 98 percent guarantee those will be the people challenging you and telling you that you’re going to fail. You’re probably already used to them infusing an unhealthy dose of negativity into your life. Screw ’em.

6. Not Drinking Isn’t that Big a Deal.

Really, no one will probably notice. And you won’t have a hangover the next day.

7. Dietary Restrictions Aren’t As “Annoying” as I thought.

That looks like a damn fine meal, right?
That looks like a damn fine meal, right?

My beyonce & I were recently discussing the fact that yes, the W30 is really restrictive. However, the food you can eat is so amazing and hearty and healthy and satisfying! When you think about it like that, it doesn’t sound so bad.

8. Being a “Food Person” Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Love Healthy Food.

I don’t know why people in the food biz (like myself) feel like you have to eat junk to be a true food freak. C’mon, how hard is it to make a burger or pizza (two of the most glorified foods on the planet) taste good? I’m never, ever going to completely stop eating burgers or pizza (’cause c’mon… they’re burgers and pizza!), but I’ve decided I am more impressed with a chef who can make amazing healthy food. That’s a skill.

9. Happiness is a Phone Call About Bacon.

Last week, my W30 compadre Liz called. She could barely contain herself, nearly screaming into the phone, “I FOUND BACON!!!!” A sugar-free, nitrate-free bacon… at Whole Foods! It was the highlight of both of our days. Like I said, it’s the little things.

10. Seasonings.

There is almost no such thing as over-seasoning on W30. I’ve gone through so many spice containers (cumin and paprika mostly). Really, you almost can’t over-do it.

11. Tupperware.

I never knew I could love a small plastic container so much. 
I never knew I could love a small plastic container so much.

Get rid of any containers you can’t see into (like old yogurt or sour cream containers) or ones you can’t find the lid too. Instead, buy nice tupperware, in all different sizes. Buy twice the amount of containers you think you need. No, really. Invest in ones that you trust will stay sealed when you throw them in your bag. And buy a handful of tiny containers for sauces/dressing. We got the ones pictured above from Crate & Barrel and they are rocking my world.

12. Raisins are candy.

So are apples, bananas, clementines, craisins, grapefruit and other naturally sweet things you never considered a treat before. I am beginning to wonder what actual candy will taste like post-W30. Like eating an actual spoonful of sugar?

13. Don’t worry if your meals don’t look like food porn.

Look, I like eating pretty food as much as anyone. Your dinner doesn’t need to look like it was styled by Food & Wine. Just remember, most bloggers/cookbook writers/Instagram freaks spend a lot of time styling their images. This isn’t my best example, but just for a frame of reference…

This chili (also from Well Fed):

Eat me.
Eat me.

Actually looked like this:

That's the beyonce in the background. I love him. 
That’s the beyonce in the background. I love him.

Feel free to share any of your thoughts/questions/W30 coping strategies in comments below. I am all about sharing helpful info! Oh, and one more thing… I am still pretty exhausted. Any tips on that (aside from getting more sleep… I am getting about 8 hrs a night)?

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Comments (22)

  • Meliss 6 years ago Reply

    My first W30 (well, technically it was my THIRD because I quit the 2 other times) I never got past the I’m-so-freaking-exhausted-am-I-pregnant stage. I mean, there was NO tiger juice, no pep-in-my-step, nothing, nada! And, I went an extra 11 days just to see if it would appear. HOWEVER, I was avoiding carbs like the plague (and also I do NOT like a sweet potato nor do I care for squash). So, there’s that. Try adding more squash and sweet potatoes and see if that helps. I’m about to embark on another W30 (because I’m determined to quell the sugar demons again) and I’ll have to find something that is carb-y and that I’ll actually like. Yes, I tried both veggies multiple ways. It’s a texture issue for me (and taste too if I’m honest).

    Love the list!

  • Jess D. 6 years ago Reply

    Lot’s of great thoughts about Whole30! #4 definitely surprised me when I did it – I was really surprised by how many people took a genuine interest in my new food habits. I’m still dealing with my dinner not looking like food porn though. I like to photograph my Whole30 stuff for Instagram, to share in Whole30 support group I am in with some friends, or for when I post a new recipe on my blog, and I am consistently disappointed that lovely, natural sunlight does not fill my kitchen at 7pm when I am ready to take photos!

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Natural light IS key! But since i, too, go to work every day, it’s not really an option. #firstworldproblems

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Just had an epiphany: Food porn is like regular porn… You can look at it, but it’s just never going to be an accurate depiction of "real life," so stop comparing.

    Deep thoughts….

  • Erin 6 years ago Reply

    I am on Day 13 of the Whole30 and I giggled about the food porn pictures because that is exactly how I feel, too! It’s a bonus if I remember to even take a picture before gobbling it all up, let alone take the time to fix the lighting and all that fancy schmancy stuff!
    For energy, I found that getting enough fats at each meal is important to stabilize blood sugar and keep my energy stabilized. Also some folks may need to add a little carbs depending on activity, so you could try adding 1/2 sweet potato or other complex starch to see if that helps. My favorite is plantains fried in coconut oil and dusted with cinnamon!
    Good luck with your Whole30! 🙂 Erin

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Plantains in coconut oil… consider it done (and maybe photographed)!

  • Jill 6 years ago Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I liked this article. Also, had a solid laugh that fiance seems to be autocorrecting to your beyonce. 🙂 I’m definitely a Bey fan haha, I imagine you might be too.

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    hahahaha! I just call him my beyonce on purpose. I just felt like fiance seemed too formal or something. 🙂

  • Simone 6 years ago Reply

    I just found your blog (awesome concept!) from Whole30 on Facebook. I did "Whole25" before reading ISWF and am gearing up to do my first real one soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

    As far as being exhausted goes, as long as you’re getting enough sleep and balancing your fat/protein/carb intake (play with that a little if you’re not sure!), I’d say to just hang in there while your body converts from burning sugar for energy to burning fat — that takes some time! For me, it was in week three that things suddenly clicked, and I was practically bounding out of bed before my alarm in the mornings. Hopefully that’s on the horizon for you too!


  • Autumn 6 years ago Reply

    What an amazing list! You are right on with so many things. Especially, #3. When I figured that one out, it changed my life. I’ve done 2 Whole 30’s, and my boyfriend and I have adapted this as our lifestyle. We do have some treats from time to time; honey, rice, maybe a beer or some wine on the weekend. What I discovered about the sleep, was that I needed more of it. I saw a graph that posted the average # of hours different athletes get, and the lowest was 8 hours. I started a routine that had me shutting down electronics at least an hour before bed, added a hot bath or shower, and then some light reading before attempting 10 hours. Building a routine helped immensely! Being physically tired also helped! I started Focus T25 during my second Whole 30 and the combination has changed my life! Good luck!

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Thanks Autumn! It’s funny how many non-food related things this W30 is making me evaluate. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I could eat like this all of the time when I am cooking at home (but will probably splurge a bit when I am out at restaurants… and the wine… I miss the wine.)

    I’m going to try getting to bed a little earlier and see how I feel. Good tip on the Focus T25.

  • Melissa Joulwan 6 years ago Reply

    I’m so excited that Well Fed is part of your Whole30. Congratulations on Whole30-ing!

    Also: I love the premise of your blog. Good for you. Brilliant.

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Miss Melissa… Well Fed isn’t a part of my Whole30. Well Fed basically IS my Whole30! I gotta get the 2nd book. As someone who reads a ton of cookbooks, I love how practical & straightforward your recipes are. I cook a lot & your style totally works for people like me, as well as someone whose cooking experience basically ends at "pour milk on top of Frosted Flakes." Nice job.

    And thanks for your kind words about my blog. It has been the most rewarding, fun thing I have ever done. Turns out, practicing doing scary things actually makes them a lot easier. I did my first stand-up comedy performance last night (seriously)… posting coming soon. Eeek!

  • Jo 6 years ago Reply

    Love LaCroix during my Whole 30! Yur list was spot on…just finished my Whole 30 and found that the reintroduction of alcohol was disappointing and I think I might be over it. Good luck to you!

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    I call La Croix "Paleo Beer."

  • Kelly Singleton-Myers 6 years ago Reply

    Just finished the Whole30 this past Sunday, I feel terrific and love my Well Fed Cookbook! Onward to my new Paleo Lifestyle 🙂

  • Tierney 6 years ago Reply

    I’m on Day 7 so it’s nice to read about someone’s real time Whole30, albeit one week ahead of me. I’m a little worried about some mega-travel/hotel stays that are coming up for me- a total of 9 days with international flights so the cooler full of hard-boiled eggs isn’t going to work. I am determined to figure something out other than almonds and Lara bars!

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    I feel for ya! I’m headed to Chicago this weekend for a few days & have anxiety about that… can’t imagine international travel. Yikes.

    There are some great tips on the Whole 30 website. Check this out:

    Let me know how it goes. Remember, you can always have a banana… :-/

  • tom 6 years ago Reply

    I haven’t done the whole30 but I’ve been doing something fairly similar so I can tell you what sugar will taste like when you haven’t had much/any for a while. Last year after having nothing sweet other than berries for about six months I tossed one of my son’s easter peeps in my mouth. Had to spit it out. It was sickeningly, disgustingly sweet. Yuck. I can manage a chunk of very dark chocolate but even that seems very sweet.

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Tom, I hate to break it to you, but Peeps have always been kinda gross 😉

    Dark chocolate does sound pretty good right about now. With a nice glass of red wine.

  • Heather 6 years ago Reply

    Question about number 9… Can we have details about the bacon?

    Loved this! Thank you for sharing!

    molly mogren 6 years ago Reply

    Hey Heather! We found it at Whole Foods (it even had a paleo-approved stamp). However, you can find it online, too:



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