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Taking the October Unprocessed Challenge

Posted Sep 28 2012 5:45am

I first “met” Andrew Wilder, owner of the blog, Eating Rules , when we were both new brand ambassadors for Attune Foods . He’s a great guy whose blog has lots of information on natural foods and nutrition.

He’s been running an interesting challenge every October for the past several years, and this year it is bigger than ever. He asked me if I’d write an article for him this month, which I did, and also asked me to share his challenge with my readers.

I’m not only sharing the challenge, but I’m taking it myself. (Remember that this coming Monday is October 1st!)

Here’s how it works. The rules are loose, there are no physical prizes, and you set your own parameters. You can try it for a day, a week, or the whole month. Whatever works for you.

Andrew explains his October Unprocessed Challenge rules like this:

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

I think that’s a great definition of unprocessed foods. Some cereals will fall in that category, while some will not. The same holds true of a “treat” food like ice cream. Technically, I could make vanilla ice cream with unprocessed ingredients, but I would find it difficult to make Moose Tracks ice cream because of the processed ingredients in that flavor of ice cream. All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, natural meats, and minimally processed dairy foods count as unprocessed in his (and my) definition.

I would have found this challenge almost impossible to do when I was obese because my pantry was at least 90 percent full of processed foods like Velveeta cheese, cheese crackers, microwave popcorn, boxed cookies, and candy. My refrigerator wasn’t much better because I bought chocolate milk for my husband, yogurts with sprinkles on top, and luncheon meat. Even my freezer had frozen lasagne from Stouffers, breaded vegetables ready for frying, and hot dogs.

For me, although it will be a challenge to try and stay away from processed foods altogether, I think I can do it. When I told my kids about our next month’s eating plan, they kinda shrugged and said, “How different could it be?” I took that as a good sign that our eating is basically healthy and they are used to not having a lot of highly processed foods around.

The hardest thing for us will probably be giving up pretzels and low-fat whole-wheat crackers for a month. Although I can make soft pretzels from scratch ( recipe here ) I honestly don’t think I could do hard pretzels. And I’ve tried making crackers before with my freshly ground wheat and that was a dismal failure.

What do you think? Can you do a day, a week, or even a whole month of unprocessed foods? Let me know what would be hard for you to give up for a time. Diane

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