Sunday, April 15, 2012

28 Day Whole Foods Challenge

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In previous posts I mention my desire to eat more natural and whole foods in an effort to take better care of my body. I still have that desire and I am making progress. However, I feel like I need an added boost to keep me moving forward.

So I am challenging myself for 28 days, starting today, to maintain a diet consisting of mostly whole foods.

I know goals are never reached without specifics, so here are...

The Rules
1) I will aim for at least 80% of my diet to be natural/organic. This allows for roughly one day a week (or three meals a week) that can be “cheat” meals. These are the meals I can still enjoy as a dinner out with Adam or just not feel guilty when something comes up and I can’t make my ideal meal. It happens, and I’ve learned to plan for it.

 2) I am defining whole/natural/organic foods to be foods made with ingredients that are not processed or refined. I am not attempting a raw or vegan diet, simply one that cuts out the additives and “anti-nutrients”. 

Here is the priority list I will be following (which I mentioned in my Natural Living Series):

HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)
Refined flours and refined sugars
Artificial flavoring and dyes
Refined oils

Real butter, preferably from grass fed cows
Eggs from free range, medicine-free chickens
Meat from organic, hormone and drug free, free range animals
Raw milk or whole milk from grass fed cows
Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa

Breads/pastas from whole grains and "clean" ingredients
Plenty of fruits and veggies

3) As far as milk and cheese, I am not willing to spend that kind of cash for organic yet. I can get organic yogurt at a good price though, so I will mostly rely on that for my dairy intake. Milk and cheese will be used minimally but not count as part of my cheat meals. I’m giving myself leeway here because I don’t have a handle on alternative calcium sources yet (other than supplements). The next 28 days will be a good time to learn!

Sticking to It 
To make sure I stick to my rules, I’m going to be tracking my meals each day. This will help me be conscious of what I am eating…and not lose track of the cheat meals, which is easy to do.

And that is why I am doing this challenge! I want to keep developing healthy eating habits. Many days I find myself falling back into old patterns because I am too busy or tired to think through a recipe. Then that mentality overflows to the next day and the next and before I know it, I’m way off track. Old habits don’t die off by themselves – I have to be diligent about it.

Why Whole Foods
The reason I am choosing whole foods is because I believe they are most nourishing for the body. God created everything our bodies need to be nourished, energized and healthy. We mess things up a lot by processing it so much. A lot of the processed foods and additives are slowly (or not so slowly) deteriorating our health. I want to enjoy foods that benefit the body God gave me. I see it as good stewardship.

Eating well can benefit so many aspects of life: sleep patterns, energy level, mental clarity, attitude, hormones, healthy skin, strong muscles and bones, and so much more. As I track my meals each day, I want to also see how many other positive reactions I notice over the 28 days. Sometimes it takes longer than 28 days for the body to reveal any benefits of the changes. But if they pop up early, I will be sure to take note.

I look at this challenge as an opportunity. I will be encouraging myself to try new recipes, to practice self-control and enjoy the nourishment that God created. It might be tough at times, but I have you with me…right?

Ok maybe you won’t be doing the 28 day challenge yourself, but I would love to hear from you any tips or recipes you have that will make the challenge more fun. A good recipe for all-natural chocolate chip cookies would be great….thanks. ;-)