Why I did it:
During December I ate more junk food than I had probably all year. I was trying to just give myself some time after my wedding to truly not give a fuck about what I was eating since I had been pretty restrictive before the big day. Problem is, I also spent a lot of December with stomach aches and waking up in the night to take antacids. Anyway, I just felt ready to sort of erase all of the eating I did in 2017. I didn’t want to be restrictive at all with carbs, fruits, calories and all that, but I also didn’t want to eat any sugars (that includes honey, agave etc) or any processed foods (anything with 5 or more ingredients).
How I did it:
First things first: I removed all of the possible temptation from the house. There’s no way I could have done this with sugar staring me in the face. I threw most away but some stuff I put in a bag and hid in the basement. I’m not above asking Aaron to hide something from me if I feel too tempted! I immediately filled the kitchen with basically everything I wanted that fit the criteria. I’ve been carb-restrictive in the past and I consciously chose not to do that for many reasons. Mainly, I wanted to enjoy eating and feel better; I wasn’t trying to lose 10 pounds or anything. Also, I didn’t go nuts and eat potatoes for every meal, just ate what I wanted. I’ll put a list at the bottom of some foods I stocked my kitchen with to give you an idea but I definitely did eat a lot of the same foods just with different sauces and prepared differently. I didn’t have a problem with it because I liked what I was eating, I felt good and I felt full. I will say that I think getting two new kitchen gadgets (Vitamix & an air fryer) for Christmas really helped make it exciting to cook for almost every meal. It was kind of like having two really cool new toys so it definitely made it more exciting to cook. If you live with your partner it’s also important to make sure they’re on board too. There’s a chance you’ll need some major support throughout!
The Bad: Completely depends on your outlook and lifestyle but I would definitely say the hardest part for most would probably be socializing. I pretty much stayed in all of January (which I was actually happy to do!) but I can understand that being a struggle for some. When I did go out it was usually when I planned to cheat (I think I cheated 3-4 times over the course of the month) or I planned enough in advance to make sure I was going to a compliant restaurant. Also, I don’t drink super often so not drinking wasn’t hard for me. Reminder: this is just what I did and you may still see benefits if you drink wine every night, since it’s sugar content is low. The other annoying thing is when you’re buying packaged foods at the supermarket, your trip will definitely be longer since you have to read every label. You’d be surprised how many things have added sugar!
The Good. Almost immediately I noticed I felt better. No stomach aches or sleepless nights or antacids. My skin looked bright within a week (full disclosure: I take pretty good care of my skin as well). I don’t weigh myself so i can’t say if I lost any weight, but again that wasn’t the goal. I didn’t feel bloated as I usually do. I really enjoyed the food. I made tofu stirfry, chicken with brown rice and veggies, fried cauliflower rice, red lentil pasta with homemade vegan sauce. I probably ate more carbs than I would usually allow myself to eat and still felt lighter and better! I even made sweet potato fries with cashew cheese dip. I found a lot of recipes by googling or even looking through instagram. This is the one area I think the algorithm works: the more healthy food posts I saved on instagram, the more similar ones it showed me on my explore feed. I also just kinda winged it a lot by the end. When I wanted something sweet I ate berries or a smoothie or I even made a couple mini loaves of banana bread using ripe bananas, oat flour, cacao powder and peanut butter. One major takeaway I have is there are sooo many products that have added sugar that really don’t need it. If you want to try restricting sugar but aren’t ready to go fully in, just start looking at labels. Even if you cook a lot at home, basically every sauce, salsa, peanut butter, jelly has sugar in it! There’s usually a sugar free option if you look hard enough though. The other GREAT thing about this month – I saved sooooo much money vs December when we were eating out constantly. A meal consisting of tofu, grains, veggies and sauce for two people typically costs about $4-6 total (1/4 bag of brown rice, 1/2 bag of brussel sprouts, container of tofu etc) so although there’s a ton of time you’re putting into cooking, you’re saving lots of money.
What now? I’m going to try and keep this up during the week for as long as I can. I’m on a roll now and why stop? I already felt the ramifications of intense nosedive into sugar on Superbowl Sunday which was enough to remind me that sticking to this as often as I can will keep me healthy and happy. I will not be restricting as much on the weekends but still trying not to go too wild. Don’t stop me if you see me eating an ice cream sundae! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to feel better, look brighter, sleep better and has a bit of self control. If you do it, let me know how it goes!
A short shopping list of foods I ate lots of this month:
- Enlightened broad beans (taste like corn nuts but high in protein)
- Spindrift (sparkling water with a lil fruit juice mixed in)
- Nut pods (nut & coconut based creamer for coffee and tea)
- Oat milk
- Red Lentil Pasta (the one from trader joe’s is great and cheap)
- Cashews (to soak and make sauces!)
- Nutritional yeast (a fake cheesy flavor for sauces or homemade kale chips)
- Nuts (I made a few batches of granola with nuts + oats + coconut oil + date syrup)
- Date syrup (sweetener made from only dates! great to add to sauces instead of honey)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Spinach (it’s so easy to disguise two giant handfuls of spinach with a little mango in a smoothie!)
- Black beans
- Chickpeas (I made crunchy chickpeas in the air fryer and it was so easy and yummy!)
- Kale (I also made kale chips in the air fryer with nutritional yeast and avo oil)