For the past two months I’ve been participating in the Whole Life Challenge. For me the Challenge was mainly about the food rules. I stuck pretty closely to them except when I didn’t control my food choices (other people cooking for me, traveling and eating out, etc). The key for me was doing a lot of research before it started so I knew how to adapt a paleo diet to a vegetarian life.
Now that the Challenge is over how am I going to live? It is working for me. I lost 14 lbs in 2 months. I don’t want to give that all up but I need to ease up the restrictions a bit to make it fit real life.
No Grains or starches – including wheat, barley, oats, breads, rice (including wild rice), quinoa, pasta, potatoes, etc.
EXCEPTION – Legumes (beans) and sweet potatoes/yam
EXCEPTION — Vegetarians ONLY may consume quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, and buckwheat
This surprised me by being the hardest part for me. I started craving grains like crazy.
That was me.
In the past few weeks I started adding in a few more grains. A tortilla wrapped around grilled vegetables made me so happy that I thought I was going to cry.
No Corn or Soy (including oils)
EXCEPTION – Vegetarians ONLY may consume these fermented soy products – tempeh, miso, natto
I thought no soy was going to be very hard as a vegetarian but it wasn’t that bad.
No Sugar or Sweetener of any kind – including refined sugar, raw sugar, cane juice, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Truvia, aspartame, NutraSweet, sucralose, etc.
EXCEPTION – Stevia may be used
This is where I thought I would fall apart. I was shocked that it wasn’t that hard. I learned to drink iced tea straight up with no sweetener. I might have developed a bit of a grape addiction though. Dates made my life much easier too. Skipping dessert was no problem. I wasn’t even tempted by Halloween candy and I LOVE me some candy corn.
No Dairy including milk, cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, etc.
EXCEPTION – Butter
I’ve always been sensitive to dairy but I love cheese. We don’t use cow milk at home but cheese was always around. Again, this wasn’t that hard to cut out. I’ve cheated a few times on this at restaurants. That didn’t end pretty. My mild lactose intolerance is now a major lactose intolerance as my body started to heal from repeated onslaughts of dairy. Sure, I can take a bunch of pills to be able to eat it but that obviously isn’t healthy.
No Alcohol, Soda, or Juice. Values for 1 point are 1 oz. liquor, 16 oz. beer, 4 oz. wine, 1 mixed drink, 12 oz. of soda, and 8 oz. of juice.
EXCEPTION – Lemon and lime juice
The alcohol part wasn’t an issue but I would have liked to be able to flavor things with fresh orange juice or used my juicer for fruit/veg blends.
No Artificial or Processed ingredients or foods. Any non-traditional food chemical is not permitted. This prohibition includes guar gum and agar. No food that required anything other than traditional food preparation methods such as cooking, drying, or curing. Food from jars, cans, or boxes are permitted as long as their ingredients or preparation do not violate the general nutrition rules.
Again this was surprisingly easy. We’re lucky because we have 2 major grocery stores nearby that don’t stock highly processed foods. Even there I read labels and only picked canned items like salsa or spaghetti sauces that were chemical free. The chemical free stuff is usually cheaper too. My favorite example is hummus. The cheapest hummus available in the store was the only one without a huge amount of chemicals in it.
So what stays and what goes?
1. No processed food.
It is easy. Honest. Just don’t buy anything prepared that your great-grandmother couldn’t have canned in her kitchen. That fits in with Michael Pollan’s food rule that you shouldn’t eat anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Most of the processed food I ate violated some of the other health rules anyway – like macaroni and cheese.
2. When cooking at home keep following the rules at least 90% of the time.
I’m giving myself a bit of an out because I would like to be able to cook with natural sweeteners if I bake. I might also eat store bought veggie burgers since I can’t make good homemade ones to save my life.
3. When eating out choose the healthier options.
Only go out for dinner once a week. Make it a treat, not something you do because you are too lazy to cook.
If you do go out make it worthwhile. No fast food. Again we are lucky because there are so many good restaurants here that we never go to fast food or national chain restaurants like we did where we lived before.
You can’t eat out on this diet plan. You might be able to find vegan food to avoid the dairy but then you won’t be able to avoid the grain or soy. You can’t even have a salad because restaurant salad dressings are either processed or have sugar in them. I like eating out. I like going out at lunch time just to get out of the office and sit down and read a book in peace. The husband and I like to go out to all the great restaurants around here. We were doing that too much though. So it is time for a sub-rule.
First up I’m using my dinner out to celebrate. Saturday we are going to our local Indian restaurant where I am having biryani (rice) and naan (bread)! They give vast portions so I end up with several meals out of it so I never was tempted to cheat by getting it during the challenge. After that it is back on track. My goal is to lose another 25 lbs.