10 Things We Learned During #Whole30

Things we learned during our Whole 30Hey, friends! Recently I completed two Whole 30 challenges in a row. My husband got interested during my first thirty days and decided to join me on the second 30. I learned so much during those two months. It was full of ups and downs, highs and lows. 

Today I'm here to share ten things I learned during my Whole 30. Jeremy helped me write these. So really, it's from both of us! 

1. Cooking at home is not that hard

Before we started Whole 30, we ate out almost every single night. We sometimes made lunch and occasional dinners at home, but for the most part we went out for dinner to one of our 3-4 spots that we rotate through. I was definitely one of those people who thought they didn't have time to cook because, after a busy day of work, all I wanted to do was unwind and talk with Jeremy…not run to the grocery store and make a meal. 

I learned very quickly that eating out is not fun while doing Whole 30 (at least it wasn't for me). Eating at home, on the other hand, was simple. Making dinner could be done in 15 minutes and I liked almost all the foods I made. So we very quickly switched to preferring to eat at home for almost every meal. And I love my new addiction to eating at home. Obviously, it saves money, which is great, but it's also WAY healthier. Now that I'm aware of all the hidden sugars in foods, I love cooking at home because I know for sure what's what. 

2. Sugar is in everything. 

When I first started the challenge, I remember I was at the grocery store with my sister trying to buy a package of bacon. I looked at the back of every single package shocked that they all had sugar. Deli meat is the same way (and often has gluten too). There are so many normal things that you probably eat every day (that don't taste sweet) that have sugar as a main ingredient. Things like soup, sauces and salad dressings are very hard to find without any sugar. This was eye opening to me. 

3. Traveling without cheating is possible. 

OK, so I already told you above how much I love eating at home now and really prefer it over a restaurant whenever possible. But travel is a big part of my life and I was never going to find a thirty day period that didn't involve any travel. So I chose one that at least didn't have any vacations (all work trips and some travel involving our move). In the past I have always used travel as a "free pass" for food, indulging in sugary foods at the airport and in all the new cities I visit. But for these two months I traveled four times without cheating at all! 

Here's how I did it—First of all, I was always honest with friends about my situation. I tried to always warn people that I was doing Whole 30 but that they shouldn't worry about me because I knew what to order anywhere we would go. Getting that social aspect out of the way is huge! I always kept a few Lara bars and some roasted almonds in my purse in case I got super hungry. My favorite places to eat on the road are any breakfast place and any place that serves guacamole (because that was my favorite salad dressing). One last tip—if you feel super sad to be missing a "food moment" that feels special (travel can be full of those), just promise yourself that you will indulge in that food next time. Putting it off always helps me, rather than feeling like I'll never eat a donut again (wahhh!). 

4. This is a chance to kick other bad habits. 

Giving up sugar was the number one habit I was trying to kick during my Whole 30, but given how much it shook up my normal life, I felt like it was a good time to look at all my habits. Spending too much money eating out was a big one. Every time we do our budget, we vow to eat out less (but it's SO hard!). So this was the perfect opportunity to switch eating out to a special occasion thing like we always wanted to. If you have a personal goal, I highly recommend using your Whole 30 to multitask it and conquer two goals at once. 

5. Snacking is a powerful habit. 

Whole 30 encourages you to stop eating after dinner. This was difficult for me at first because Jeremy and I love having a night snack while watching a TV show. When he would show up at night with his little snack that I couldn't share, it was a bummer at first. It made me realize how powerful habits and routines of food can be. Drinking is the same way. I didn't think I could go that long without being able to have drinks with my friends because it's a big part of our social life, but routines make things feel more impossible than they really are. (#youcandoit)

After a few weeks I didn't mind the no snacks after dinner rule, and now, after several months, I prefer it. When you're at the beginning, remember that it won't always be that hard. You just have to develop a new routine! 

6. Healthy food makes you feel full. 

This is one of the best, most important things I learned. I talked a little bit about this in my fitness story, but I think that the reason Lose It didn't work for me (even though it did work for my husband and a lot of our family members) is because I wasn't using my calories on the right foods. So I was always hungry and that's not something you can live with long term. 

The super cool thing about eating super healthy foods (protein and vegetables) is that you never really have an issue with overeating them. You just get full. So even though I was doing one of the most challenging things I've ever done, I was full after almost every meal, which I think is important. 

If you don't believe me, just try to eat as much kale and salmon as you want and you'll see! It's pretty drastically different than pizza, which I could keep eating…forever. 

7. Unsweetened soda is awesome. 

I know some of you are like, "no way", but I'm serious. The La Croix addiction is real. And once you make that transition, the idea of a Coke will no longer be appealing. And when I think now that a Coke has basically the same calories as a donut, I can't believe I was drinking them so casually. 

Jeremy was into diet sodas. For the last few years he lost a lot of weight and got into fitness (yay!), and diet sodas became his go-to (boooo). I kept bugging him to try to quit them because of the artificial stuff and chemicals. And let's just say he was not open to it. 

But when I did my first Whole 30, he started drinking La Croix with me, and once he got used to it, it's now the only soda he will drink. We drink one every night and it's been a good replacement for wine and cocktails (now we only drink alcohol on the weekends—yay!).

Main point—try it for long enough to get used to it before ruling it out. It OBVIOUSLY does not taste as good as real soda at first, but after you adjust it's still really good. 

8. You have to push to keep trying new things! 

As with anything, it's easy to get settled into a boring routine. Jeremy has a pretty high tolerance for eating the same foods every day, and I do too, but then we get SUPER burned out on that food and can't even look at it for while. 

If you're thinking of doing Whole 30, try to challenge yourself to try at least two new recipes every week. Getting new items into your menu is really important for not hating everything. 🙂 I promise. 

9. Homemade lattes are a thing! 

If you love coffee, this next part is important. A lot of places have coconut milk and/or almond milk lattes on their menu, but they're usually sweetened milks, meaning they have added sugar (some of them a LOT). Maybe you'll find a local place that has unsweetened nut milk, but you're not going to find that at a chain (soy milk is the same way). This is kind of a bummer because basically the only things you can order at Starbucks while on Whole 30 are an unsweetened black coffee or an unsweetened tea. 

So making lattes at home is a really good option (we make them at work too). Try making a homemade latte or cold brew coffee and adding cashew milk and a little bit of cinnamon. That's my favorite. 

I've gotten to where I enjoy black coffee now too, but for a more special treat, lattes are really delicious. 

10. Some foods aren't special. 

Since completing my challenge I haven't gone back to a totally normal diet and I'm not planning to. I basically just reintroduced the foods that are really special to me, that make the weekends fun. But I haven't had any bread whatsoever and I'm not really missing it. Maybe yours will be different, but one of the best things I learned during Whole 30 was which foods are special to me. For example, we now have "cheese night" every weekend where we make a cheese plate and I look forward to it all week. And breakfast sandwiches—I can live without those. I'm so happy to have found this balance! 

Want to read more? Here's my fitness story. 🙂 xo. Elsie (& Jeremy too) 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. 

  • Excited to read this (and all the comments too!!) as I’m going to be starting in a couple weeks! #icandothis

  • Today I completed my first round of Whole30 because of your fitness story.

    It has made such a difference to how I feel, my skin, everything 🙂

    Thank you again

  • Im Trying clean eating just now which I think is the same as whole 30. I’ve found it much easier than I thought it would be. My biggest thing is having the same foods a lot, need to find some recipes
    livinginaboxx | bloglovin

  • I love this post and the advise. I have been contemplating trying Whole 30 or a similar diet for quite awhile now. The thing that keeps me from doing it is that all of the girls I know on diets like this constantly think about and crave foods they “can’t have” and practically live for their cheats. I don’t want to live like that, but I also want to be healthy! So…I like the idea of having a few habits involving food that are special to you to indulge in on certain days, like your cheese plate on the weekends. However, I would like to know…. Do you also constantly feel deprived and do you think that a diet like this is worth giving up things you enjoy? My motive for dieting would be to be healthy, eat cleaner, and hopefully lose a little weight in the process (with exercise too of course), but I don’t want it to totally ruin my social life and be dreadful. It’s a very daunting process to me. Am I the only one who feels this way? I’m torn. Haha.

  • Hey Elsie! I am so happy to read this. I’m an almost total organic girl, my hubby & I are french and we mostly only make our own food (and grow as much as we can too), so stocked to hear that your hubby was able to quit the diet-soda thing because yes, it makes big huge damages on health. Way to go, you are awesome to inspire other people in this more healthy path, awesome to acknowledge your weaknesses too (I switched for organic peanut butter not long ago but I have been quite addicted to the more chemical ones such as Jiff and addicted to Nutella which isn’t allowed around here anymore. But I do have my failures every now & then and that’s so okay!). I just wanted to say that the best way to keep you from going out for diner is …. a baby !!!! Tataddaaaaa! Well new borns usually do great in restaurants but wait until your baby is fully awake and starting to move around…ha! You will stay home and you will be so happy to be home. So…bring it on 😀

  • La croix!!! I can’t believe I’ve never stumbled across this or heard of it before. THANK YOU! I’ve been making the switch to a healthier (sort of paleo) diet with more meals at home, no bread, more vegetables — the works — and my man has been right there with me, but the one thing I can’t figure out is a soda alternative for him/glass of wine alternative for me. Gotta get my hands on this asap! Thank you so much for the tip!!!!

  • I rarely ever comment on blogs I read (I know.. shame), but just wanted to say that I’m really grateful for your honesty! Three weeks ago my doctor told me I need to go on an autoimmune paleo diet (AIP), and also recommended whole30 afterwards. It’s been difficult going on trips, adjusting my lifestyle, etc.. but it’s SO worth it! I also think having a community of people doing it too helps a lot. Thank you for sharing!

  • Hi Jen! They are from Zara.com (last year). I believe they are sold out! -Jacki

  • Where are the colorful gym shoes at the top of the “Fitness Story” post from? I can’t believe no one else asked, and I’ve been searching the internet with no success for the last hour or so! Please help!

  • I am starting my own conscious living and eating challenge and this post resonates with me greatly! I am currently overwhelmed by the decision itself and by the upcoming discipline and self retraining troubles, but at the same time I feel so excited, like a child anticipating a fun trip! 🙂

  • I’ve been wanting to try whole30 for a while now! I’m definitely going to pin your tips so I can have it when I’m finally ready (hopefully soon?), to dive in!


  • This is all so helpful! I had heard of Whole30 many times before, but after briefly reading about your experience with it in your fitness post, I decided to finally make a plan to try it myself (and my husband decided to join me, unprompted). Today is Day 9 (30% down!) and these tips are great. We usually like to indulge in a nice craft 6 pack or an inexpensive vino during the weekend, and instead we bought a weekend’s worth of sparkling water and got our carbonation fix (we really liked squeezing in some fresh lemon or lime too). But it’s amazing how much I didn’t actually miss the alcohol, I just needed a diy soda! And I hear ya on being surprised about all of the sugar and just preferring to cook at home. Prepping veggies in advance has really helped us be better about not spending a ton of time in the kitchen before dinner too. Thanks for sharing!!

  • I just picked up the Whole30 cookbook a couple of weeks ago! I love the idea of it but not ready to dive in 100% yet. P.S. I did make the cauliflower rice and we loved it and was surprised how easy it was to make 😉

  • Sorry- I meant I do *not* need breakfast sandwiches. :))
    xx- Elsie

  • So awesome to hear & thanks for saying hello!!
    xx- Elsie

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story!!!! :))
    xx- Elsie

  • I loved reading this post! I’ve done 2 whole30s now, and I love it. I love eating, eating out and food like pizza and cake are my real downfalls. With Whole30 though I realised I didn’t need these things to be happy. I could enjoy a weekend without stuffing my face from Friday night to Monday morning! After finishing my first Whole30 I found myself quickly falling back into my old lifestyle, but I found that I felt terrible. I was suddenly tired and bloated and my stomach felt horrible! It made it clear how much better my body responds to healthy foods. I try to stick to the rules 80% of the time now, cheese is a must from time to time though!
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Jennie // Scarletscorchdroppers

  • AWESOME!! 🙂 🙂 But if your are not eating any bread how do you make breakfast sandwiches?

  • I can’t wait to do Whole 30! I feel it will be the perfect… entryway, if you will, into a world of better eating. A reset of sorts. Your posts have definitely made me even more excited than I previously was! Will definitely come back to them if I need a kick in the butt or a tsp of inspiration. 🙂

  • I agree that eating at home isn’t as hard as it seems. I’m a sucker for eating out though. I love it so much and just enjoy getting dressed up to go somewhere. It’s like a whole event for me! I’m trying to find ways to make eating at home feel more special so that I can get that same feeling without my wallet hurting or my body hating me for all that not so good food I ingest. I’m a big bread person though so I don’t know if I could ever let that one go.


  • I never comment (but visit ABM every day) and I have to say, these posts have been so inspiring! Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. You’ve totally been the reason I’ve finally lost these 10 pounds that I’ve been dragging around post-baby for the last 2 years. Thank you times a million!!


  • This is interesting. I had never heard of Whole30. I just looked it up, read all about & it’s definitely interesting. I don’t know if I want to give up all of those things but if it could help my weight & energy issues (I got tested but they said it’s not my thyroid), as well as my new eczema issue on my hands than maybe it would be worth it. I don’t know if we could afford the grocery bill though. I don’t see the need to cut out all salt though, since I use this: http://www.vitacost.com/redmond-realsalt-natures-first-sea-salt-fine-salt-26-oz-4

  • I love all of these! Especially night snacking – it’s so hard to stop. I’ve been thinking about doing the whole 30 for a while now but I can’t take the plunge, especially since I’m not the one doing most of the cooking around my house. But I might try it out in a little while once I move out and am responsible for only myself and can stock the shelves of my fridge with only the healthy things.

  • My husband and I did whole 30 a few months ago, and now keep the lifestyle, having added back a few things. Pure Barre and Whole 30 is the only thing that has ever worked and changed my body. Reading your posts on these things is like reading my journey. LA Croix is our addiction too..and Lara Bars have saved my life! I learned to make a mean chicken salad without mayo (and I actually love it more), and sweet potatoes with an egg over medium and coconut butter is the best breakfast to me. Thanks for the post because the struggle is real!

  • Kirkland Signature low sodium bacon from Costco. ONLY bacon I’ve found in all of PHX that doesn’t have sugar. And it’s glorious!! Great post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • This is so interesting. I am thinking of doing the Whole30 this summer. I have gotten way to use to a sweet sugary treat after every meal. It is becoming too much. I know if I go cold turkey with this plan I will be good to go.

  • Very proud of you Elsie!!!
    I started the #NSNG (no sugar no grains) lifestyle about a year and a half ago (but in the vegetarian form “Plant Powered No Sugar No Grains” …and it changed my life.

    Bread leaves your mind and your poor toaster gets no love BUT… wearing a real bikini for the first time in my adult life and feeling okay about it was where I felt the success! 🙂

    NO Sugar
    NO Grains!!!
    not a diet… it’s a lifestyle 😉


  • It is so inspiring to read about your success with eating “real food” rather than starving yourself on a crazy diet! You have always looked great (and of course, healthy on this inside matters so much more than thin on the outside) but in the last few weeks there has been a noticeable change. I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are looking *especially* great these days!

  • I hadn’t heard of the Whole 30, but I’ve been eating clean for the last week or so & it’s been an interesting process. Like you said, I noticed sugar was in EVERYTHING! So I made sure my sugar came naturally like in fruit. It’s been a journey. :]

    // http://www.itscarmen.com ▲

  • I love the Whole30 program! Were you ever able to find bacon with no sugar? I live in Springfield too and I still haven’t found any!


  • Awesome post!! Loved reading about La Croix – will have to try that, as we also try to avoid sweetened sodas and don’t want to turn to diet soda! Thanks for the advice 🙂

    – Georgia @ silverspiralstudio.com

  • I just finished a month of low carb, which is similar but not exactly Whole 30, and I found a lot of the same things are true–there’s a LOT of sugar in everything and it takes a LOT of readjusting to cut it out. Glad things are going well for you guys!!! And OMG cheese night sounds like EVERYTHING.




  • Interesting to see your thoughts and lessons during this challenge. I love to cook and make homemade meals, so I’m glad you feel the same way. I’ve also found that eating healthier not only makes me feel better, but lasts longer too. It’s inspiring to hear your thoughts on this process!


  • Thanks so much for these posts; I love them! I was wondering if you might in a future post share what some of your typical breakfast/lunch/dinners look like? I eat mostly paleo as well and love it, but my biggest issue is getting burnt out on eating the same foods. I’m not super creative in the kitchen (although I wish I were) so I love getting ideas (especially the simple ones!) from what works for others. 🙂

  • I love this post so much! My husband and I have never done any of those challenges because we both thankfully LOVE eating healthy already. We’re super passionate about healthy foods and lifestyles and it’s so fun to see what success you’ve had! Eating at home is so great, and we love finding new recipes!

    We generally look to these places to find new recipes:

    And my favorite thing ever is Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s all Good. Amazing recipes.

  • I so want to cut back on my sugar – I’m always appalled by the amount that is in everything, especially things that I think of as being “savoury”. I really need to motivate myself to do this!

    Steph – http://nourishmeclean.blogspot.com

  • Loved this post! I’ve decided to start a Whole30 after our vacation in early July. I’m slowly working my way into the diet beforehand and am finding ditching sugar is the hardest for me. Eating yams and adding dried or fresh fruit is helpful, but I have to be careful and not binge on those either! Cooking is great way to learn more about food and also just to appreciate how important it is for health. I’m so glad you like it! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I love hearing your discoveries. I discovered a couple years ago that I’m allergic to gluten, but it’s been amazing how little I miss once I got used to eating gluten free. Plus, gluten free is becoming more and more recognized by more places and better gluten free options are becoming available, which is really exciting. 🙂

  • I completed the Whole30 in May and lost 10lbs, I haven’t gained it back and also lost one additional pound since my completion. It’s a tough challenge for sure. Great tips for someone who is looking to give it a thought

  • My fiance and I are on Day 26 too!! And I totally hear you on reaching the 30-day goal (almost). More than anything, I have proved to myself after years of trying to get into a good routine and quickly falling out of it, that I can make a change. I just have to be more conscious about what I am and am not doing/eating and the effect it has on everything else.

    Good luck with finishing the challenge strong!!

  • Hey Elsie,

    I just wanted to let you know that your fitness story post inspired me to finally do the Whole 30 after thinking about it for a really long time, and my fiance and I are currently on Day 26! While it took me a little while to feel “the magic” food-wise, I’ve been most excited about how it has changed my outlook on a whole host of things. Like you said, it was a good time to look at all of my other bad habits, and I’m working towards being much better with my fitness regime and sleep too – things I have been wanting to work on for years! It turns out, Whole 30 was exactly the kind of shake-up I needed to make a change.

    While I don’t think we will do a second Whole 30 right away – I do have a few dessert blog posts coming up – I am planning on working more of the principles into my diet on a regular basis. And yes, the La Croix addiction is real!

    Anyway, I guess this is a really long-winded way to say thanks for the inspiration! (And good luck with the move!!)

  • This was a really great post and made me want to be conscious about the food I eat. I’ve been eating a lot of junk food recently because I always feel like I’m craving for all the MSG that comes with it. I really should start eating healthier. Apart from that, quit sodas and drink MORE water. I actually plan on adding a water intake tracker on my planner that way I know if I reach the water intake goal for each day.

  • La Croix is awesome. My favorite flavor is Cherry Lime. It’s hard to believe that I used to drink pop regularly. I mean it’s tasty, but I feel gross even after a few sips!

  • I’ve never heard of the #Whole30 but it’s clearly had a profound effect on you!

  • This is awesome! I can’t imagine life without bread, but I’m thinking I might need to make the change soon 🙂

  • ELSIEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YES. YES. YES! I am sorry I am scream-typing to you, but it’s necessary. My husband and I just finished our first Whole30 YESTERDAY and it was an amazing experience. We both lost 15 pounds (!) and gained so much. Everything on your list I completely empathize with, because we were learning the same exact things! Doing the Whole30 completely changed the way I view food, and we intend to keep it up. Before I used to always plan my “cheats” and now I don’t feel so crazy when I think, “Oh, sure I’ll have a cupcake sometime probably… but it’s okay if I just don’t.” OMG I so wish I could just talk face-to-face with you about all this. Such good stuff!

    The hardest part was traveling, hands down. I had to travel for work for 3 days and it was murder, but I got through it. Sparkling water is a staple, and turns out I don’t need sugar as much as I thought I did. I could go on and on but I will spare you because you already know just how life-changing this program is. Thank you for sharing, because ultimately you were the one who made me realize I should do it. I thought, “If this girl – one of my hostess heroes – can go months without a cocktail, by God I can, too.”

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    Sarah Alves

  • My husband and I are on day 5 of our first Whole 30! You actually inspired me to try it! I think my biggest shock has been how full I am in between meals. I was always starving between lunch and breakfast and now I end up eating a later lunch most days because I’m not even hungry yet. Thanks for the tips and would love more posts on this!

  • This was an awesome post with such great insight! I have a lot of food sensitivities already so eating is tough, but I’ve been trying to incorporate healthier, Whole 30 type options to ensure I’m getting the nutrients needed, but it’s so hard to give up the wine and the cheese! We also are huge La Croix drinkers (Costco sells cases for incredibly cheap) and they’ve done a good job of replacing that nightly glass of wine. I love the Cheese Night idea on the weekends, so clever!

    I’ve also noticed that we’ve been eating out more and more and it’s not good for our health or our bank account. This is great inspiration to get back on track of cooking and eating at home and keeping the times out for special occasions. As always, thanks gals for a great post!

  • Thanks for sharing!! My BF and I have been doing this for about 3 months and I’m with you on almost every level – ESPECIALLY number 1. We always ate out (or ordered takeout) and cooked at home only 1-2 nights a week. Now we cook at home 6 nights a week and go out to eat on the 7th night as a cheat night. The thing we started doing that we found most helpful was to sit down every Sunday afternoon and write out our planned dinner meals for the upcoming week, and then break those down into a detailed shopping list and tackle the grocery store Sunday evening to purchase all the food for the week. Then I keep the list up on the fridge to remind us what meals we’re having that week.

    A bonus is that we now make 4 servings for dinner, so that 2 can be eaten right away and the other 2 can be packaged up to bring to the office for lunch the next day. So that solves having to find lunch!

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