After a long semester you feel absolutely drained. The stress of finals week and subsequent late night binge eating really adds up. When you go to a university like mine that has amazing food, putting on couple pounds when you’re stress eating isn’t uncommon. When I came home from the summer I wanted to take my simple living to the next level by simplifying my diet.
I had interest in doing the Whole 30 Diet, but I found that to be a little extreme for me. I wanted to set myself up for the best possible success, so I took a note or two from the Whole 30 rules and eliminated dairy, gluten, and processed foods/sugars from my diet for 30 days. I don’t have any specific dietary issues, so I was interested to see how the month would go. I was not trying to lose weight specifically, but I assumed it would be a side effect of eating cleaner foods and incorporating more vegetables into my diet.
I am proud to announce that I completed my challenge to my standards and lost ten pounds. I avoided gluten and dairy all together, and stayed away from processed foods. There were times when I did justify a processed food because it had no added sugars and I could recognize and pronounce all the ingredients. Some examples of this would be salsa and hummus, but I did splurge on some tortilla chips as well. During this period I also experimented with eating meat free, meaning that some days my diet was entirely plant-based.
I really struggled the first couple days to eliminate cheese and gluten. I found it surprisingly more difficult to avoid cheese and gluten at home when I had to prepare all my own foods separate from what my parents prepared, because it usually contained gluten or dairy. There are also more snacks at home than there are at school, so that was another challenge. As the days went on the challenge became easier as I got into the habit of avoiding certain foods by meal planning.
At the end of the 30 days, I did not totally realize a difference, but I believe this is a result of not having specific dietary restrictions. However, I do notice now that I am not on my cleanse that days when I eat a lot of gluten and dairy I don’t feel that great, but I think the same could be said for anyone who eats a lot of junk food in one sitting. What I have noticed is the way simple eating makes me feel mentally. There are days when I am going to treat myself, if I am watching the Super Bowl I am going to want pizza and buffalo wings there is no question. On days when I am not celebrating and I eat poorly because I lack the will to make conscious and intentional decisions, I know it affects me poorly, both mentally and physically.
More importantly than any physical changes during this experiment were my mental changes. I now look at food more intentionally, hoping use it with conscious respect for my body and mind. Also, I learned that I have the ability to complete goals that I set for myself, and that is more valuable than any of the weight I had lost. Proving to myself that I am capable and any goal I desire to achieve is invaluable and will serve me in the long run. I plan to continue to stick to this simplified diet of minimal dairy, gluten, processed sugars, and occasionally meat with the confidence that I am in control.