Week 3 has nearly come to a close, and I don’t know about you, but I’d pay good money for a piece of chocolate.
The 4 week plan to cut out processed foods has overall been pretty painless, if I’m honest. Before I get into how I’m feeling, which I know has been keeping you up at night wondering, I’d like to list some takeaways thus far.
- Week 1 was tough because I really like a sweet drink with meals, and Crystal Light was my jam. I also loooove a nice, sweet cup of tea, courtesy of Splenda or the like. Unfortunately, I’m finding myself drinking much less tea because I miss the sweetness, but I’m drinking waaaaaay more water. With lemon. More on that to come.
- Week 2 wasn’t terrible. I found that most of the white flour items I eat- pasta, bread, bagels- have whole grain counterparts that are really just as satisfying, if not more. I’ve come to appreciate sprouted breads, brown rice, quinoa, and even sweet potatoes for breakfast! I feel much better about myself than I used to on days that I would follow up my healthy breakfast with a free bagel at work that I most certainly did not need.
- Week 3. Sugar. It’s been interesting. I like my sweets, and without an artificial sweetener to substitute, it has not been easy. But sweet potatoes, various nuts, and fruits have really eased the pain! The week isn’t over yet, but I can say that I’m noticing a substantial shift in what I find to be sweet- I don’t need a full on sugar rush to satisfy me, and even some grapefruit can scratch the itch! Fascinating…
I have to be frank. I don’t feel different, or lighter, or more pure 3 weeks in; as I’d hoped. I still feel hungry even when I’m full, queasy when I’m REALLY full, and bloated. All. The. Time. And here is what I have to say about it:
WHAT THE EVER-LOVING HELL IS UP WITH THAT???????
Anywho. I still think it’s a good plan, because by the end of next week, I really will be eating primarily natural, whole, real food. That’s a damn good start toward better health, and I will have done it without feeling dramatically deprived. I plan to stick with it most of the time. And if you’re joining me, I hope you’re having some more positive physical effects, which I think most people probably are.
Now, before you sound the alarm and send me off to get tested, calm your jets, doc. I’ve done the doctor thang. About a year and a half ago, I had similar gut issues- major bloating, weird energy swings that didn’t correlate with caffeine or sugar, and general grossness in the belly arena. Being the rational person that I am, I was convinced that I was dying of any and every illness that WebMD could spout back at me. I had many a test done, and, lo and behold, was just fine. So I said SCREW IT and stopped paying any attention to my diet (aside from the veg thing, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is not a health choice for me). Shockingly, this did not cure me! So here I am today, working on resolving the issue naturally, because, *gasp* , I think my tummy trouble might have to do with what I’m putting into it.
Hence the 4 week plan, and hence my frustration that 3 weeks in, I’m not cured. Like I said, rational!
So I think my next, super reluctant step, will be to try cutting out gluten. Major caveat here: I am a firm believer that every body is different, and will tolerate and not tolerate very different things at different points in said body’s lifetime. Going gluten free is super trendy right now, and there are people who will tell you it is the cure-all for all your ailments: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – hell, its the only thing standing between you and magical powers.
There are absolutely people who are better off without gluten; specifically those with a true condition such as Celiac Disease, and many who simply don’t digest it well, or find that it increases their body’s inflammation response. Those are real things. But as a person who has cut out a lot of foods in her diet for ethical reasons, I can tell you that: #1, elimination does not equal better health, and #2, substitutions for those eliminations are often MUCH worse for you than the original food group. A gluten free, vegan muffin can be so freaking chock full of chemicals and sugar that it will survive the Apocalypse, while your grandmother’s full fat version with butter, eggs, lard (maybe, I don’t know your grandma) and white devil-flour probably kept her alive and kickin until she was 100.
Please hold while I stumble off of my podium.
I’m uncomfortable. My stomach feels distended most of the time. I’ve worked on cutting out a lot of the junk in my diet (yes, this is only week 3, but I’ve tried before), and I have never tried eliminating gluten for any significant amount of time. In the interest of my health, I would be remiss not to do this experiment, so I’m gonna. I’m not going to ask or encourage anyone to do this with me, because, while the 4 week plan cut out foods that can wreak havoc on any body, I really do believe that gluten is far from a universal “bad” food. And if I cut it out for a month or so and don’t feel any different, I will 100% re-introduce it to my diet. Have I made my point on the gluten subject? Have I beaten this horse to death yet?
I hope not, I’m vegan.
So now that I’ve kept you reading for faaaaar longer than you planned on being in the bathroom, I want to wrap up with some really, truly, fantastic and EXCITING things that have come out of the 4 week plan so far. Like really fab.
- Food. In finding whole, healthy substitutes for the junk I’m cutting, I have adopted some super cool new eating habits. I am rocking the natural peanut butter action, and I found a Trader Joe’s version with chia and flaxseeds! Triple score! I’m also totally transitioning my hummus vehicle from pretzels to carrots and….I’m not hating it! High fives all around!
- Beverages. There are way cool beverages out there that have low or no sugar, nothing artificial, and are totally satisfying. Who knew??? I’m drinking hot water with lemon every single morning, and it just makes me feel good; not only from the soothing temperature and flavor, but from the ritual itself. Then I drink water all day long, and I just know that’s gotta be doing good things for the pipes. And as it turns out, I freaking love Kombucha! Mother Kombucha, my local producer (brewery? I don’t know the lingo yet) has some glorious flavors, and I’m finding that I love love love the mildly sweet, slightly fizzy, totally odd taste! Add some probiotics and weird floaty-things, and I’m all in. I like freaking people out with my beverage choices.
- Cooking. Well, I’m just doing it more. Roasting veggies, experimenting with new recipes, trying out fancy oils (healthy fats baby, woop!), and trying out gadgets I forgot I had!
- Experimenting. I made my own cashew milk! It’s super simple! But a $7 bag of nuts took 8 hours (counting soak-time), made a mess, and produced ONE glass of milk. It was DELICIOUS. Plus, I got to buy a nut milk bag, and there is just no way to say that to mixed company without getting funny looks. Made the 8 hours and mess TOTALLY WORTH IT.
- Moving my bod! This is the most exciting thing of all. Being more mindful of the food I eat and how it makes my body feel made me want to do more good things for my body. I made a really big decision that you might have see on my Facebook page. I really want to run a marathon! First I need to start running, like, at all, but give me about 10 months and it’s going to happen! I’ve run before, and my dad is the world’s best coach, so I am PSYCHED about starting this journey. And journey it shall be. Never fear, I am still totally committed to sticking with yoga, and I plan for 2018 to be the year of the marathon AND the beginning of Yoga Teacher Training, which will be an amazing journey of its own.
Overall, I can tell I’ve turned a corner. I’m dedicated to feeling good and making healthy choices. And for once in my life, it’s not about losing weight – I expect that to happen organically, and I’m not complaining – but I’m excited to eat well and move more for bigger reasons. Not to punish myself for being big.
I feel like I may have stolen thunder from what should have been a good wrap up post for the end of the 4 weeks, but this has all been ping-ponging in my head so hard that it had to come out! I started this blog to share my journey of self discovery and self love, and I really feel like I’m getting there.
I’m so grateful to have you along for the ride.