It's been a week and a half since I visited the naturopath for the first time and thanks to her advice it's been just as long since I've had any sugar or processed food. I knew it was coming- my Mom had told me that my skin and overall blahs could be helped by cutting it out, but it's different when your Mother tells you something versus a doctor.
I think because I was so motivated to see results it wasn't terribly difficult for me to start this new way of eating immediately. I already didn't drink soda or juice, but I did consume a lot of sugar in the form of fruit. And even though I'd consider myself a very healthy eater, I ate a LOT of processed "health" foods. On any given day I'd find myself eating various Annie's snacks, Lunabars, fake meat products, things like that. At night I'd also occasionally indulge in Skinny Cow treats which I knew all along were bad choices but hey, a whole ice cream sandwich for 120 calories?! Too bad they literally include 50 ingredients. Gross. Once I paid attention I was shocked at how bad my eating really was. For instance, did you know that Quorn products actually have hydrogenated oils and MSG in them? I had no idea and never bothered to look, since I viewed them as "healthy."
So anyway, when I started the first few days were easy. I was motivated, feeling good, and the reasons why I was doing this were fresh in my mind. I saw immediate results in my daily mood. To be honest, I can be quite up and down throughout the day. My naturopath said that this was a result of my body hitting highs and lows, many times a day, due to sugar consumption. I also noticed that after I drank alcohol I would feel really, really terrible throughout the next week- I would get super depressed and just feel sad. This was one of the reasons I chose to drink only on rare occasions, but now I know why I've always felt the way I did, and why alcohol is just not for me.
On the fourth day of no-sugar I felt like I wanted to give up. I remember telling Hank how it just wasn't fair that I couldn't enjoy frozen yogurt or cupcakes. That MY LIFE WAS NOT WORTH LIVING (yes, all caps because I probably was yelling this in an overly-dramatic way) without sweet treats. But he supported me and reminded me that these 6 weeks were not a punishment for my body, but a reward. So I didn't give in. And now it's been almost two weeks and I've honestly never, ever felt better. Food flavors are so much more vibrant and I'm not as hungry throughout the day. I'm seeing physical changes, as well as emotional. I've lost some extra weight (not the goal but a nice bonus), my skin is clearing up and I've been in a great mood. It's weird because I know most people see me as a very positive person, but it absolutely takes work to stay in this positive place. It's easy for me to slip into depressed thinking or a negative mindset, so every morning I had to make the choice to be happy and positive. But honestly since starting this new way of eating I not only sleep better, but I wake up sincerely pumped to start my day. I don't experience those highs and lows, I feel great all day long, and I'm just in such a good place.
Tonight we met one set of my in-laws at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in town. Typically I eat what I want, and I'd always go for the bread and the pasta. But tonight I ordered a huge salad full of veggies and the formerly "good" stuff didn't even seem appealing. This was huge for me, because I was kind of dreading dinner, knowing I'd be around some of my favorite things. But to be honest, I feel so good and there's no way I'm interested in feeling bad again. It's just not worth it.
Now, before I get into this, I want all of you to remember that I am NOT a registered dietician, doctor, or in any way qualified to give any health or diet related advice. The information supplied here is simply from my own experience, and I am not suggesting you follow it. Please keep that in mind.
Okay. That's out of the way so let's get to it.
Sugar is sneaky. It's in EVERYTHING. Literally. I mean, it's in ketchup, spaghetti sauce, breads, you name it. It can be hard to look through every ingredient to check for all of the undercover names it goes by (if you're up for it, check out this list), so the easiest way to avoid it is to say no to all processed food and go with natural, whole foods.
My naturopath recommended that I cut out processed foods, breads, pasta, potatoes (sweet potatoes are okay- just no yams), fruit, and refined sugars of any kind for 6 weeks. And why no bread or pasta? They both convert to sugar in your body. She did make allowances for a serving or two of an Ezekial bread product a day (these are sprouted grain products and contain no flour) and 1/4 cup of berries OR a small apple. Light Rye Wasa crackers are okay too. And remember, this is what was recommended to me, so if you're interested in getting a personalized program, be sure to find a naturopath in your area!
When you give up processed foods at first it seems like the end of the world. "What will I eat?!"
Here's a typical day of eating for me:
4 egg whites with 1 yolk scrambled with a ton of veggies
1 slice of toasted Ezekial bread
handful raw nuts (cashews, pecans, macadamias, Brazil nuts, walnuts)
slices of organic turkey and cheese
big bowl of beans and veggies with an avocado and Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream)
hummus and cucumbers
3 Wasa crackers with almond butter with 2 raspberries smashed on top of each cracker
homemade veggie burgers
There are a MILLION things I am able to eat, and this break-down is just an example. The internet is a huge resource for me for finding delicious recipes, and my most favorite is the Eat Clean Diet Cookbook and website. It's all about clean-eating (eating only whole, natural foods) and being healthy. My favorite magazine is Whole Living, and my most favorite healthy-living blog is My New Roots.
The main thing I keep in mind is how much I CAN eat, rather than how much I can't. Yes, I had cravings at first (especially at night) but I just reminded myself of why I am doing this and it helped me to stay focused.
As for me, although my doctor recommended I do this for 6 weeks, I am looking at this as a permanent change. I will absolutely still partake in the sweet treats of life, but only in small amounts and on special occasions like holidays and birthdays. I will continue to avoid processed foods. I'll probably add in a few more fruits, but overall like I mentioned above, I feel way too good to stop eating how I am now. And plus, the sweet stuff just isn't as appealing.
So, with that said, I'm going to be posting a challenge later this week that will begin on Monday. In it I will include meal ideas and recipes to get you started. In this challenge I'll be encouraging all of you to make healthy changes and eat clean for ONE WEEK with me.* Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll love it, but I feel like it's worth a try and we can all do anything for a week, right? I'll share more info about this later, so keep your eyes peeled.
*edited to change the sugar-free challenge to an healthy change/eat-clean challenge.
I've been getting tons and tons of interest about this, so I hope this post helped to answer some of your questions! Let me know in the comments if you have anything else you'd like to know and I will respond as soon as I can. Thanks for reading, I know this was a long one! :)
image via appleaday