Healthy Eating Challenge

My late night snack
I wanted to share my latest hair-brained scheme…I’m trying to go meat and dairy free for a month!  

I feel like I need a disclaimer- I’m not that kind of person!  I never thought I’d find myself staring at a menu looking for the little “v” that marked entries as vegan.

It started out with reading a book called “How Not to Die” by Dr. Greger.  About two chapters in, I realized it didn’t matter how much research the man threw at me, I just couldn’t imagine how to eat day in and day out without meat. (For anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, it’s fascinating, but I’ll spoil the punchline…you will live longer and healthier on a plant based, whole food diet).

I had previously read “Eat to Live” by Dr. Fuhrman, and knew relatives who swear by his book and have lost fourty pounds.  I gave it a try, and felt great, but couldn’t keep it up.  Psychologically, I couldn’t do it.  It wasn’t hunger, or cravings.  It was the mental pressure of changing my routines and habits.

What I love about Dr. Greger’s book is all the research.  He doesn’t just tell you what to do to be healthy, he spends most of his time talking about the why, studies and research, in a captivating writing style.  I found myself chucking through the chapter on colon health.

While you may not think I would be particularly concerned about my health, the issue with most of our leading diseases and killers is that they take time.  They don’t just happen overnight.  And by the time you have noticeable symptoms, you have been building up issues in your body for a long time.

The real issue for me is that I believe in the research.  But, if I believe in it, I would have to change my diet.  A lot.  Dr. Gregor cites studies where eating meat as little as once a week or less still has a negative impact on your health. When I read that, I realized the problem.  My brain said, “There’s no way I can do that!”

I’ve actually been growing more averse to meat with every pregnancy, so it’s not such a big leap to consider reducing my meat intake.  I just couldn’t imagine a lifestyle without it completely.  Because it’s what I’ve always known.  It’s what I plan my meals around.  It’s habit.

When I realized I had this mental block, I immediately decided I wanted to challenge it.  I decided to see if I could go 21 days without meat, dairy, or processed foods.  During that time, I would try to develop the habits I might need if I really wanted to enact and benefit from these doctors’ advice.  (Btw, I consulted my family doctor first, who I trust immensely, wanting to make sure this wasn’t just some fad.  I believe he may have called it (Eat to Live) the best diet on earth.  Or something like that.  Anyways, he was for it.)

I am now on day 6 of this project.  I’ve found it a struggle to have time to prepare the food I need.  I haven’t felt hungry or deprived though.  Consulting both the books, I decided to make it my goal to eat daily:

  •  3 cups of leafy greens,
  • at least 1 cup of beans,
  • at least 1 pound of vegetables total,
  • a fourth cup of nuts or seeds,
  • at least one cup of whole grains
  • 1 cup of berries and at least three servings of fruit total
  • 1/4 cup avocado 
  • At least 60 ounces of water 
  • A tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and
  • A quarter teaspoon of turmeric 

The purpose of the eating plan is not just to remove foods contribute to poor health, but to make sure your body is getting the things it really needs.  So everything on the list has a reason, which is covered in the two books.

This has been a ton of work, and my fridge is stuffed to the gills with fruit and vegetables.  I don’t always hit every mark during the day, but continuing trying is the most important thing.  I feel great, and haven’t been hungry.  I don’t even want to eat junk anymore.
As for habits, I’ve learned that I have to clean the kitchen and do food prep after the kids go to bed, or I have nothing to eat the next day, and the tools I need are dirty.  I also have to set a timer to go in and make lunch, because I don’t get hungry until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

I feel like this has been the product of using the Konmari method on my books and my kitchen.  Because my books were so thoroughly tidied, I finally felt comfortable going to the library and bringing something new and interesting home to read.  And because I’ve been working on my kitchen, I’ve had to really ask myself what my vision is for my kitchen and my eating habits.  I realized, even before I stumbled across this latest book, that I want to eat mostly whole food, and that having a cluttered kitchen was getting in the way of that goal.

I’m still working on the last little corners of the kitchen, and I want to be completely done before I share.  But hopefully that will be soon.  And as you can see, the progress I’ve made so far has already opened up opportunities for me to pursue my dreams of healthy eating and homemade meals!