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Whole Foods Challenge Recap: Part 1

Posted Apr 01 2014 5:30am

Hi friends! I am finally ready to publish the post that I’ve talked about (maybe too much) a lot lately- my thoughts on my whole food challenge so far. I am now a little over halfway through my 46 day whole foods challenge and have been learning a lot about my eating habits, my body and really just grown a lot as a person (as seriously corny as that sounds). Let’s dig in!

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Before I get into the bulk of my thoughts, I will say that I have had a lot different feelings throughout this process so my points will most likely echo this.  Just bear with me as I put it all out there.  It will come together in the end!

So first let me set this up for you: When we (the hub and I) decided to do this challenge it was kind of on a whim.  I will admit we didn’t really investigate a whole lot behind the idea of paleo before we decided to go for it.  We were listening to a podcast- Balanced Bites- got sucked in and (to be totally honest) decided to try it out of sheer curiosity more than anything.  Plus lent was a few days away (aka: we needed something to “give up”/do for lent) and we thought “hmmm, will my digestive system REALLY be that much better? Will I really feel that much better than I already do?  We eat really healthy now, how much different could we possibly feel? OMG do I have a food allergy to diary?”.  You get the point.  I am not necessarily a fan of “diets”, taking supplements or drinks of any form and am a major advocate for balance- so this is slightly out of character for me to want to try this but I didn’t necessarily see how bad this paleo thing could really be. Veggies, organic meat, fruit and nuts?  All sounds good to me.

The short version of how I’m feeling?  Really good.  But the controversy here is that I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am feeling BETTER than before. Confused?  Me too. Read on!

Now I will say that the first week or so of this challenge was definitely the hardest.  Change in general is hard, especially when you are changing your eating habits.  I noticed a lot of my meals included a lot of bread and grains, so having to think differently about what I was going to eat was slightly challenging.  Hence…it being called a challenge. Hehe ;) But after a while I started to get the hang of it and it wasn’t really a problem. At this point it is like second nature figuring out what to eat.

So some of my very profound observations:

1. Vegetables are great.  Too many from the SAME vegetable family are NOT great.  Okay let me explain.  The first couple of weeks I was buying tons of veggies, primarily: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts.  I was eating one of them for 2 out of my three meals everyday for about 10-14 days straight.  Notice a theme here?  After (both me and the hub) were feeling not so great (think digestive system here), I realized that it could have something to do with the fact that we were eating cruciferous vegetables.  Aka: my body was noooottt having it.  It was making me bloated and irregular (sorry for the TMI).  The last few weeks I have consciously purchased a better variety of vegetables and my body is liking the variety much better.  Overall though, I really like how many veggies I am getting in my diet.  Once I figured out variety is key (even for veggies), I am enjoying it a lot more.  But man oh man, I cannot handle eating too many cruciferous veggies- especially back to back days!

2. I am eating more fish than ever before.  AND I LOVE IT. This might be my favorite part of the challenge so far.  I have noticed that my body responds really well when I fuel it with a lot of fish.  Flounder, tilapia, salmon, tuna, sardines- all of it.  It loooves fish.  Luckily so do my tastebuds.  All of the fish I buy is wild caught (thank you Aldis!!) and it takes less than 10 minutes to cook.  This I like very mucho. However…

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3. So. Much. Meat.  I have never been a huge meat fan. I like it, I typically eat chicken once or twice a week in addition to salmon once or twice and the rest of the week usually some sort of bean dish for protein, but I am getting really sick of all of the meat.  I know that my hubby is appreciating all of the meat, but I am feeling like it’s a little overboard.

4. I ate enough healthy fat before and overdid it on the challenge (in the first half at least).  Shocked?  Me too.  All I kept hearing about when doing research in the beginning of the challenge to get all caught up to speed was “you must eat enough fat”.  So I made sure that we were getting enough (I did not want to be hungry or lose any weight so I felt this was crucial).  So I was adding bacon fat to meals (cooked in lots of eggs), buying drumsticks with the skin on, etc.  And both me and the hub felt. like. sh*t.  After thinking about our diet before and during the challenge I realized that…..um DUH.  We were getting enough fat before.  I was already eating my egg yolks, an avocado a day and cooking my food in olive and coconut oil.  There is such a thing as overdoing it.  And that’s what happened.  So this past week I have cut back on the fat (but NOT all of it- just the excess) and am have been feeling muccchhh better. 

5. Planning is CRUCIAL to success.  Wait- isn’t that the key to life?  Well apparently it applies to every aspect of life, because if you not plan your meals, prep some food and have all of your groceries bought for the week- good luck.  I have learned that there always, always, always needs to be something cooked to eat for an emergency, otherwise all I want to grab is a piece of bread and throw it in the toaster with some avocado for a quick bite.  Also, the food price is about the same – maybe a little bit more.   I am probably spending around $100-$130 each week for both me and the hub on this challenge.  Which is about where it was before… maybe a teeny bit more than before.  I have lots of tricks up my sleeves for grocery shopping though.  In fact, I might as well be considered a professional and expert grocery shopper.  I should probably write a post about that and spread the good word and tips, eh?

6. Clear, glowing skin! I need to do some more experimenting with this, but it seems that my skin is doing great right now.  It could have a lot to do with the fact that I cut out pretty much all of the chemicals in my beauty regimen around the same time that I started this challenge.  Either way- no chemicals (I remove my makeup with coconut oil, wash my face with grapeseed oil, tone with apple cider vinegar and moisturize with raw honey) + lots of fresh fruit and veggies makes for some happy skin.

7. Alcohol.  I said from the beginning that we were going to still drink vodka and wine in social gatherings.  The problem is, we are from Eastern Iowa and drinking beer is basically in our blood.  It’s been hard not to have a beer (I don’t really like drinking “hard” stuff), and we actually caved and had a couple this past weekend.  Whoops.  But that is the only thing we have slipped up on so far.

8. The challenge is sparking my cooking creativity I really like that I have been a lot more creative in the kitchen with this challenge. It’s making me think differently about cooking and has sparked some pretty fun meal ideas.  This was one thing I was hoping I would get out of the challenge (to give me inspiration in the kitchen), and it definitely has done the job so far.

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9. Not eating processed foods make me feel SO GOOD. So I am feeling really good not eating any crackers, chips, candy, etc.  Really, i is making me feel good and I love that about this challenge.  I personally believe that the things I’m missing the most: goat cheese, oats, and lentils- are all REAL FOOD.  So I will most definitely be incorporating that back into my diet once this is over.  I know my body appreciates it’s nutrients so a girl’s gotta give her body what it craves.  Speaking of cravings…

10. Saying no to cravings is so not cool.  Like I mentioned before, I am not one to restrict myself of something if I am truly craving it.  On this challenge I really feel that I am saying no to certain foods even though I feel like my body is asking for it.  To me, that just ain’t cool.  I did suggest to Michael that we stop this challenge because it’s messed digestive system a couple of times, holding me back from giving into what my body is asking for and is somewhat silly to be following “rules”.  But we decided to finish what we set out to do and let it run it’s course to see if anything else changes in the second half.

Some changes I will make in these last 18 days:

  • Less red/fatty meat and more fish
  • More variety of veggies
  • More potatoes, because my body is craving them
  • Monitor the appropriate amount of healthy fat that is good for MY body and not eat too much or too little

Okay.  Whew.  This was a lot of info.  You following me? Still with me? Good.  If you just skimmed through this post (which is totally okay if you did) this is what you need to know overall: I feel pretty good but not necessarily better than pre-challenge, I really like the paleo ideology of eating more veggies than you think is possible, lean meats/nuts/non- processed foods, my skin clear, and sometimes all it takes is a little challenge to reignite inspiration in the kitchen. 

I think I’d better stop rambling now.  I will recap my final thoughts in a little less than three weeks.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

xoxo Alisha

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