The Art of the Fail: How I Cheated on Whole30 Behind My Wife’s Back

Chicken Fingers with French Fries
Chicken Fingers with French FriesLauriPatterson / Getty Images

I was ready to quit Whole30 by Day 1. My wife, Caroline, not so much. She’d insisted that we try the monthlong fad diet together. I’d agreed out of solidarity, but mostly because Whole30-approved food showed up in the fridge one day and I was too lazy to buy other stuff. Whole30 doesn’t sound bad at first—it mostly involves eating tons of lean meat and vegetables—but by the end of Week 1, I was starving and pissed off—at nothing but also at everything. But Caroline refused to let me quit. So I was left with one option: to cheat.



I’m not proud, but I started making covert trips to a nearby Popeye’s, where I’d scarf down spicy fried chicken, paying in cash so Caroline wouldn’t see the charge. It was an innocuous betrayal, but my first since we’d gotten married.

I’d always tried to be honest, even at the expense of hurt or upset feelings, not wanting a lie to knock us out of rhythm. So my chicken deception felt major. Yet I couldn’t resist. The ruse continued for weeks. Until the night Caroline smelled the fried spicy goodness on my breath. Con: foiled.


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She forgave me in time and finished Whole30 alone, like the champ she is. But I felt like an asshat. I’d introduced doubt, however small, into our relationship, and she didn’t deserve that. In the future, I’ll just screw up in plain sight and suffer her scorn, rather than let chicken, or anything else, work its way between us.

This essay is part of our Art of the Fail series.

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