I did it! For the past 30 days I have only consumed whole, unprocessed foods! No sugar, alcohol, white potatoes, gluten, soy, or corn has touched my tongue. Not only am I proud to have accomplished this, but I feel great. Yes I have been craving chocolate since day 1, but I got through the month without cheating (or killing anyone). It was tough to give up gluten, soy and corn even tough they aren’t necessarily processed, but it challenged me to eat a wider variety of foods than I normally would. I am definitely going to eat less processed foods from now on. Not only is it much healthier, but it forces me to really pay attention to what I’m eating. When I do eat gluten, soy and corn, I plan to eat them mostly in organic, whole versions of themselves. That means tofu, wheat berries and actual corn on the cob. Not soy protein isolate, spaghetti and tortilla chips. The further our food veers from its original state, the more likely there is going to be chemicals and additives involved.
That being said, I am going to allow myself plenty of processed food this weekend. I know, I know. But come on, if anyone deserve a damn vegan cupcake, it’s me! I also cannot wait to have a glass of red wine. It’s been a while, I’ll probably be a cheap date. Who am I kidding, I’m a Seed! This weekend I am going to eat spaghetti marinara and garlic bread. Holy crap I can’t wait. I’ve literally been thinking all week-long about what I am going to eat when this thing ended. It’s like I was planning my last meal before execution. If you’re wondering, mine is always a tie between pizza and pasta.
So how do I feel? Really great. Lighter, more energetic and incredibly healthy. The biggest difference I have noticed is how easily I can fall asleep and wake up bright and ready to go. The last two mornings I have woken up at 630am, 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I guess it’s no surprise that eating a bowl of spaghetti and a glass of wine for dinner is going to make you drowsy the next day. As you imagine I’ve learned a lot about eating healthy. I thought I already knew a ton, but this has really opened my eyes to how we really should all be eating. No, I am not giving up bread and pasta. But I am going to stop treating macaroni like it’s its own food group. Here are some things I learned along the way that will help you find eating healthier, whole foods a lot easier.
Plan Out Your Meals
I mentioned this in my first update and want to stress it again. Eating a diet consisting of whole foods that are not packaged is time-consuming. That is probably why most people don’t do it. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, it just takes careful planning and preparation. There were many nights where I came home from work with nothing planned out, and I was desperate and starving. Brown rice takes an hour to cook, beans are out of the question if I hadn’t soaked them yet. I really just wanted to boil a packet of ramen noodles, but I forced myself to stay on track. Instead I ate some almonds to hold me over while I made some quinoa or millet, both fast cooking grains. I really think it is essential to have some grains andor beans on hand at all times for moments like this!
Make a huge salad
This goes along with planning out your meals, but it really is an easy way to stay on track. If you take the time in the beginning of the week to make a gigantic salad, you will always have a fresh, healthy meal base ready to go. You can then easily add things like avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, beans or grains to make this a filling lunch or dinner. All the chopping is done, so you really don’t have to do much. I personally love hummus in my salad, it makes everything creamy and yummy and you don’t have to add any dressing.
Freeze some beans
I never realized you could freeze cooked beans, but it turns out you can! Soaking and cooking beans can be a pain, but if you plan it out ahead of time or do it on a weekend, you can make a big batch and freeze them in small portions. There’s nothing more convenient than opening a can of garbanzos, but once you buy them in bulk in and cook them yourself, you will realize how different they taste. They haven’t been sitting in some gooey liquid in a can full of BEP. Plus, it ends up costing about $.50 for organic beans. You can’t beat that!
Make your own broth
I’d never made my own veggie broth before, but it is incredibly easy. You pretty much throw some onion, parsley, celery, carrot and garlic into a pot with the skins on, and let it simmer for a few hours. You can find any recipe online and it’ll turn out great. One of my pet peeves is when a recipe asks for 1/4 or 1/2 cup of broth. I used to open up a 16 oz container, use what I needed, then throw it in the fridge. Every time I opened the fridge thereafter, I would panic as I tried to find some use for the damn broth before it went bad. 90% of the time, I ended up dumping it out. This month I found the best cooking tip ever in the Forks Over Knives cookbook. Fill up some ice-cube trays with broth and freeze it. When they’re frozen, just pop them out and store them in a zip lock bag. Now you have small amounts of broth you can add to any recipe! You can either throw the frozen cubes right into a stir fry instead of oil (I’ve been doing this lately and it saves a lot of fat and calories) or you can microwave a bunch of them to get that once annoying 1/2 cup of broth. Awesome!
Eat some fruit
When you aren’t consuming sugar of any kind, you are going to resort to fruit. I have a wicked sweet tooth, so this is pretty impressive coming from me. The thing is, way back in the day before there was sugar and candy, people ate fruit when they wanted something sweet. We started replacing this with fruit juice, fruit pies and eventually fruit “flavored” candy full of corn syrup. If you are craving a sweet, I promise your craving will go away if you eat a piece of fruit. For snacks I started eating Granny Smith apples, fresh oranges, or sometimes dried raisins or cherries. Not only do I feel satiated afterwards, but I also started appreciating something so pure and simple. It’s kind of like those V8 commercial where someone bonks you over the head, “Should have had a V8!” But instead, it was fresh fruit.
Satisfy your cravings
I refuse to believe that if you stop eating sugar and carbs you will stop craving them. I never did. Ya know why? Your body needs them. Maybe not in the form of french fries and soda, but you are having cravings for a reason. By not being able to just grab some chips or crackers when I was craving something salty and crunchy, I really had to be mindful of what my hunger was telling me. It was really eye-opening to stop and think for once about what my body wanted, not what my eyes wanted. So instead of crackers or toast for a snack, I ate toasted pepitas; crunchy and salty and full of protein. Totally satisfying. I buy the raw pepitas from TJ’s and toast them in the oven till they start popping, then sprinkle them with Herbamare. They are ten times better than crackers, and they are actually filling so you can’t go overboard. I actually did measure out 1/4 cup portions though, because who am I kidding, I can go overboard with anything. Josh and I have become obsessed with these, and it is now my go-to snack. You should try it!
I’m glad the month is over, I really am. This was really hard for me, I’m not gonna lie. Not only because it is time-consuming to make everything from scratch, but mostly because our society really doesn’t make it easy for someone to eat this way. It’s so unfortunate when you see commercials for “healthy” food like granola bars and Vitamin Water. I couldn’t even eat at restaurants unless they had rice and beans (thank god for Mexican). It’s insane how far we have gone off the path of healthy eating. Most people’s definition of healthy is a 100 calorie pack of cookies or a package of Special K cracker chips. I used to eat that way! But I’ve learned that eating a handful of almonds is the same amount of calories, but it is so much more nutritious and filling. But I promise if you eat more whole, unprocessed foods, you will lose weight and feel amazing. Your body will love you for it!