Today marks the first day of my challenge to myself to eat only non-processed foods. That means limiting all additives and eating basically only natural, whole foods.
I think it can be done, with a little bit of careful effort and preparation. We’ve been making all our own bread at home (I LOVE breadmakers!), and you can even make pizza dough using it so that will be lots of fun to try it out. I’ve got it mostly figured out how I can replace everything—instead of using commercial tomato sauce on a pizza, for example, I’ll make my own using tomato paste. Even croutons can be easily made at home in replace of the boxed kind.
I will keep you all posted and let you know how my experiment goes! We’ll see how long I can keep it up for. I’m shooting for a week. Doing it for life would be ideal, but I think that for now a week might be a bit more realistic, because in our society it really will be a challenge to scout out the non-processed food from places. I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll incorporate restaurants into this plan… does anyone have any suggestions that could help me out with that?
I tried to do this same challenge for myself back in October, but unfortunately I failed miserably that very same day. I made the mistake of going to the movies that night and walking past the concession stand, I simply had to buy myself some deliciously buttery, oily popcorn. Clearly, I wasn’t quite ready to take the step to eliminate foods like that from my diet. I accepted that I wasn’t ready and enjoyed every bite of my popcorn.
The difference is that now I don’t want to put those chemicals in my body. I’ve started to understand the real dangers involved in trans and saturated fats and in eating highly processed foods, and because of that, for the most part the idea of eating those foods just isn’t appealing to me. So this challenge is a gift to myself to help to cleanse my body and keep it happy and fueled and satisfied.
This is something that I 100% want to do, so I don’t think there will be much in the way of feeling deprived or restricted—the challenge part is going to be taking the time to find those recipes to make things that I would otherwise have bought from a store, and incorporating this way of eating into my lifestyle without having my family feel as though they’re restricted (supper could prove to be a bit difficult to manage!).
I remember one time when I was with a friend, she told me about how she’d eaten McDonalds earlier that day, and how guilty and horrible she felt about it. “But I hadn’t eaten in hours,” she explained. “And I was downtown and in a hurry, so fries was the only option.”
As she said that, I wondered who she was saying this to: me, or herself. There’s no reason to “justify” it to me—I’m not about to stop people in indulgences!—so I can only assume that it was herself that she was trying to convince.
I have been in this situation before. The situation where you are so hungry that anything would taste good, and those French fries are just calling your name. But if you take just a couple seconds to consider your options, it then occurs to you that you’ve got tons of options (assuming you have the income for it).
Not only are some fast food joints starting to offer healthier choices (salads or yogurt parfaits), but there are also plenty of other “fast” places that sell healthy options. Subway and The Pita Pit both sell some healthy sandwiches, soups, wraps, and salads, and they often have the nutritional information posted right there for easy access. The school cafeterias all sell fruit and bagels; even Tim Hortons (a place with a drive-through, if that’s your concern) sells bagels, soups, and sandwiches.
A lot of time there are hidden culprits in these healthier choices—but you can always request the salad dressing on the side, or to have less or no mayo on your sub and that sort of thing. Even vending machines have a few cereal bars in them (not that I’d normally advocate them as being healthy—but usually they’re the lesser evil to a bag of potato chips or a chocolate bar).
My point is, there is the option to eat healthier when you take a moment to consider it. And I think that it’s fine if you still want the French fries instead, and that’s the choice that you make. After all, depriving yourself of something that you really want might just create resentment or similar. So it’s best to be honest with yourself rather than insist that you did it for this reason or that reason.
Why bother making excuses like you were in a rush or there was no where else for miles around if the actual reason is that you just plain wanted it? Figuring out the reason for your choice and accepting it is super important. It builds a healthier relationship with the food we eat and you never know, it might even have the affect of influencing you to take a sandwich instead next time!
If you’ve got any tips for how I can be successful with my challenge, do let me know! And if anyone knows of any good recipes using natural ingredients I would love to hear them.
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