Dear Starfish Diaries

Goodbye Processed Foods: My 4 Week Plan to Cutting the Crap

What is this madness, you ask?  A post from Starfish Diaries on a Saturday??  There must be some mistake!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  And no, it’s not actually still Friday and you forgot to go to work!  I just tripped over some inspiration on my way home from yoga this morning, so write I must!  You lucky duck.

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I’ve been talking a lot about cutting out processed foods lately, and adopting a healthier lifestyle.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I am vegan (if you have not been reading, I still love you for starting today…hang out for awhile, it’s nice here!).  A common misconception about veganism is that it’s synonymous with healthy- which…well… yeah, not so much.  One of these days I’m going to write a full post on “accidentally vegan” foods, but to give you a quick taste, here are some of my faves:

  • Oreos
  • Fritos
  • Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
  • Most bread & pasta

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In addition, there are vegan versions of pretty much any junk food known to man: burgers, pizza, ice cream, cookies, mac & cheese…the list goes on.  It’s a fantastic time to be vegan- the road has been paved with treats by vegans who came before us, making it a much easier transition and lifestyle to adopt.  However, the days of vegans being confined to meals of salads, steamed veggies, and whole grains are over, and you can be a BIG. FAT. VEGAN.  Which I’m steadily working up to and wish to avoid.  Not only because I want my pants to fit (that’s a big draw, trust me), but also because I just feel kind of icky, and my bod is screaming for some real food.  By screaming, I mean it’s showing signs of my poor choices on my skin, my hair, my energy levels, and even my mood.

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SO, being the go-getter that I am, I decided there will be NO MORE crappy food allowed in my sacred temple of a body!  No more sweets- hell, no more sugar!  No more bread!  While we’re at it, let’s cut out gluten!  No more crackers!  No more pretzels!  No frozen veggie burgers, no frozen meals, no canned soup!  I’ll surely be a glowing picture of health and skinny as a twig in a jiffy!

That lasted about half a day.  Maybe less.  Basically, I remembered how good lentil hummus tastes on pretzels, and immediately changed my mind.

Shockingly, going all Soup-Nazi on food was not an effective way to make a sustainable change.  (Are you shocked?  I was.  Silly Liz.)  So Rational Liz sat down with Crazy Armageddon Liz and we made us a plan.  We do like to plan.

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I’ve decided to turn this journey into a 4 week process of elimination, thus minimizing the feeling of deprivation and hopefully creating some lasting change in the food I feed my bod.  By writing it here, my hope is that it will make me accountable, and if you’d like to join me on this cruise to feel-good-land, please do!  Vegan or not, cutting out some junk can make us all feel and look better, so hop on board and let’s get started!

Week 1: Farewell, artificial sweeteners!  This is the week I’m in now.  3 days down.

There are all sorts of studies out there about how bad artificial sweeteners are for you.  Like how they cause cancer, they mess with your blood sugar/insulin, they bring on dementia, enhance anxiety (you would think this would have motivated me to cut them out sooner, eh?  you’d think.), cause bloat & diarrhea….all the fun things.  Why they are still even legal is beyond me.  Why I use them like a crack addict is also baffling.  Full disclosure- I put 3 packets of splenda, sweet n low, whatever is available- in every cup of tea I drink.  And I drink a lot of tea.  I also glug down Crystal Lite with pretty much every meal.  So this stuff is pretty prominent in my life.  No more!  So far, it’s been hard, because I like my tea really sweet, and I’m not willing to add 200 calories of sugar to every cup!  But I’m determined to get used to unsweetened tea and drink water with meals.  #majorgoals

Week 2: Ta ta, white bread, pasta, rice and flour!

Going gluten free is just not something I am able to do right now.  I’d like to try it someday just to see if it makes my body feel good (I do not have celiac or anything dramatic that requires me to quit gluten, it’s just something I’d like to experiment with), but today is not that day.  Mama loves her bread.  But there is little to no nutritional value in white flour- all bleached and stripped of any nutrients- so it gots to go.  I do love me some grainy bread, and there are great options to replace pasta- quinoa, good ol’ brown rice, and zoodles.  I recently became the proud owner of a “vegetti” (does anyone else think that sound kinda dirty?), and it is awesome.  And fun.  And now I’m realizing how much my definition of “fun” has changed since my 20’s and I’m sad.  Anywho, week 2 starts next Wednesday.

Week 3: See ya, sugar!

This will be the hardest week, I fear.  I freaking  love sugar.  Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips are vegan (most chocolate chips are not), and I always have a bag in the freezer for a quick treat.  Trader Joe’s also has some kick-ass soy ice cream that seriously tastes like frozen cake batter, and I’m totes addicted.  (I love Trader Joe’s.  Like, love love.)  I love jam with my peanut butter, and I love the totally processed PB that’s full of sugar.  Gonna have to get the natural kind.  Gross.  It’ll be great.  I mean, let’s be serious, there is added sugar in EVERYTHING so I know this will be a practice in moderation more than a full out strike, but the true sugar traps mentioned above will have to go.  My pants will thank me, I’m sure of it.

Week 4: Bon voyage, snacky snacks!

So at this point we’ll be fake sugar and real sugar free.  We’ll be eating only whole grains, none of the white stuff.  And because we’re smart little shiesty shiesters, we’ll be gorging ourselves on triscuits and potato chips because we found a loophole and they don’t fit into any of the no-no categories!  (Potatoes are good for you, no?)  Well, that ends in week 4.  Out with the crackers, the chips, the pretzels (which are made with white flour so technically should have been out already but I know you cheated, don’t lie), event the Inner Peas that I love so much.  Oh Trader Joe’s, you make being bad feel so GOOD.  Snacks will be fruits and veggies!  I mean, fruits dipped in (natural) peanut butter, and veggies occasionally slathered in (lentil) hummus- we’re not monks for heaven’s sake- but still much closer to the Earth than days of old.

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What do you think of the plan, are you IN??  Be in, pretty please?  It will be so much more fun to do with company.  Once the 4 weeks are over, my plan is to maintain the diet and avoid the eliminated foods most of the time.  I don’t have any intention of swearing off chocolate chips for life, but sometimes moderation only comes after a drastic change has been made to clean the slate.  For me, anyway.

Hit me up, yo!  Comment below, start a convo!  Or, if you want to talk more privately, you can get me on the “Contact Us” page, and I pinky swear I’ll get back to you.  And don’t be intimidated by the “Us” part- it’s just little old me here.  As fancy as this operation may appear, it’s a one woman show.  (Stop laughing.)

Happy Week 1!  Aside from potentially putting Crystal Lite out of business, I’m feeling pretty good about the damn thang!

As always, I love you mucho for reading.  If you love me back, share with your friends.  I have something big coming soon that I’m excited to reveal, so don’t go far, and be sure to subscribe via email to stay in the loop!

Until next time, SMOOCHES!

6 thoughts on “Goodbye Processed Foods: My 4 Week Plan to Cutting the Crap

  1. Love this! Cutting out sugar is huge on my list and probably one of the hardest! I’m a cookie monster at heart lol! Good luck to you and I plan on following your plan as well! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hear that…never met a cookie I didn’t like! I’m psyched you’re coming along for the ride, we’ll be so much healthier for it! 🙂

  2. When I broke up with crystal lite it was hard…I took it the worst. Add lemon to water so it doesn’t seem so boring! That helped me!

    When I went gluten free the first week was super hard but it got easier and I felt the true effects after 5 weeks. Two words: SWEET POTATOS!

    Sweets are still the death of me!!! Love your plan!!! Yay!!!

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