Let me start off by saying that I loath diets and everything about them. I once heard a stand up comedian sum it up perfectly. She said, “So I just started this new diet. You know, it’s that one where all you do is talk about how you’re on a diet”. Why is it that when people are on diets, they have to bring it up all the time? I can understand if you want some moral support, but it can get a little annoying when you’re telling everyone at lunch why you’re ordering a salad with no dressing. We’ve figured it out, we just aren’t asking. So when I write a series of posts on how I am going to eat incredibly healthy, natural whole foods for the entire month of January, I most definitely feel like a hypocrite.
The reason I’m going to do a series on how I’m changing what I eat this month isn’t my way of showing you how I am “transforming my body” or my New Years Resolution (which everyone finds annoying) but just a way of sharing with you how eating whole, unprocessed foods can drastically change the way you look and feel. I want to encourage people to change the way they think about food and to become excited about eating, not see it as an enemy that will make them fat. I’m not here to tell you how to eat and what you should and shouldn’t do, because I believe in encouraging change through setting a good example. I am here though, to encourage you not to go on a diet this January, and to instead reassess what you’re putting on your plate. We often don’t think about where our food comes from and what real, whole foods are. I often forget myself, even though I try to avoid the bad stuff. So, for the entire month of January I am only going to eat real, organic, whole foods that were never packaged or processed in any way.
I know this seems like a New Years Resolution and a diet, but I swear it isn’t! I refuse to call this a diet, but I am honestly sitting here not knowing what the heck to call it. I think this is really more of a reminder. Yea, I like that word, reminder. A reminder to myself that I need to eat whole foods consisting mostly of fresh vegetables and produce. A reminder of what food really is and where it comes from, because it doesn’t come from factories wrapped up in plastic. A reminder of what it’s like to prepare meals from scratch. I try to eat this way all the time, but I definitely get lazy sometimes and eat toast with Earth Balance for breakfast instead of a green smoothie. And you know what happens when I get lazy about what I eat? I start to gain weight, my skin looks gross, and I feel even grosser. This “reminder diet” that I am going to do for the entire month of January is my way refreshing my memory (which is easily swayed by gigantic bowls of pasta and chocolate cookies) that there is a clear connection between how I feel and what I eat. The perks of doing this will be losing any extra weight I gained during the holidays, getting my energy back so I can exercise more, and giving my body and digestive system a break from all the processed foods I’ve been eating. I have to remind myself what it’s like to feel great by simply eating what I am supposed to be eating in the first place. And if I’ve learned anything in the month of December, it’s that feeling great doesn’t include eating an entire sleeve of Trader Joe’s Peppermint Joe Joe’s. Sigh.
This “reminder diet” isn’t written in a book or on the internet, although it is sort of based on an easier version of an elimination diet I did last March. You see, I was trying to determine if food sensitivities were causing my chronic migraines. I only lasted 18 days and the headaches never went away, but I felt really great otherwise. My allergies were practically gone. I always sneeze and blow my nose during the day, and I never did while I was on this diet. I also slept better than I ever had in my life! Every night at 10 pm I could barely keep my eyes open. I usually need some red wine to help me relax and a good book to get tired enough to fall asleep. I had so much energy when I woke up and I never got sore from working out, no matter how hard. I really felt great. The only problem was, I was starving! Believe it or not, I gained a few pounds. It seems pretty unheard of considering I couldn’t eat much, but I realize now that I wasn’t prepared. I was craving carbs a lot and the only one I could really eat was brown rice. So I ate way too much brown rice. I also went overboard on the avocado, or what I like to call “nature’s butter”. You don’t understand though, this was such a strict diet I couldn’t even eat tomatoes!! Apparently some people are allergic to night shade vegetables. I ate salad every single day for lunch and brown rice and vegetables every single night for dinner. Boooooring.
This time I am going to do it right! I am planning way ahead and will always have healthy snacks for when I get hungry. Instead of eating vegetables all day I can get creative. Also, as opposed to the elimination diet from hell, I will be allowing myself to eat nuts and legumes. It was really tough to be a vegan without beans! All the food I eat will either come from the produce aisle or from bulk bins. I will soak and cook my own dried beans to make hummus, and I will grind up brown rice to make warm cereal in the morning. It definitely takes a lot of work, but I am excited to do it! Here’s a list of things I will and will not be eating. Keep in mind, this is not an actual diet and I am not a medical expert. This is just a great way to get back in touch with the foods we are supposed to be eating on a daily basis. You will only feel good if you follow this plan. And if you don’t like cooking or you don’t have access to amazing bulk bins, then do what you can. It is better to do something than nothing!
This is what I’ll be eating-
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Nuts and Seeds
Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Amaranth, Millet and other gluten free grains
Beans (from bulk bin)
Plenty of water and herbal teas
Sugar in any form including maple syrup and agave
Alcohol (one of the hardest things to give up!)
Corn (contrary to the beautiful stock photo in this po
White Potatoes, White Rice
Anything processed including flours
This doesn’t seem like a lot, but trust me, there’s plenty I can make with these! Why buy hummus when you can make it yourself? Soup is so easy and cheap to make, and this is the perfect season for it. I will even make my own broth for the first time! Salads can be incredibly filling and provide you with so much fiber and nutrients. Since I have done this before, I know that I will soon start to crave fresh fruits and vegetables. When I did the elimination diet I craved apples and pears for snacks instead of chips and crackers. I stopped craving caffeine and sugary drinks. I actually completely stopped drinking coffee and soda entirely to this day. After I went 3 weeks I had no desire whatsoever to have either. Crazy, right?
I’m not going to pretend this is easy, because it isn’t. If you follow this diet you will go through a detox period and withdrawal from certain foods. I actually had to change my clothes 3 times the second night of the elimination diet because I was sweating like a maniac. I assumed this was some sort of detox because it was March and it was cold in my bedroom. I felt a little shaky at certain points in the beginning, but just kept telling myself it was from withdrawal and I was certainly getting enough vitamins and minerals. I was right because after a few days I felt amazing. Although this diet was temporary and is meant to be done on the short-term, it really taught me to appreciate food more. I stopped using salad dressing for a long time because I loved the taste of fresh vegetables with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I tasted food like I never had, and became obsessed with green smoothies. This is what I want to remind myself of! I fell off the wagon a few months ago when things got crazy with the holidays, and I want to feel great again. So now the question is, WHO’S WITH ME!?
For plenty of recipes and ample information on eating whole foods and the elimination diet, you can check out Nourishing Meals.com. The author of this blog wrote one of my favorite cookbooks of all time that inspired me to start eating whole foods, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. I also was inspired to eat tons more greens after reading Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko, another great resource and easy read. Just remember to always listen to your body, and do what is right for your individual needs.
Wish me luck, and Happy New Year!