Part two (of two, don’t worry y’all – I won’t write anymore about it) of my March recap!
Read part one here to catch up.
One of the biggest reasons why I was game to do it? I really wanted to challenge myself. I’ve thought about it for a while and I don’t think I’ve ever actually “challenged” myself — at least for more than a day or two — with a food detox. So I was especially curious to see how I could do with it for a longer period of time.
I also wanted to know if I would really be able to see a difference in how I felt at the end of the month.
I’ll admit that the easiest thing about all of it was having a partner to do it with. It made it 100% more fun, more bearable, more worth it, that Erick and I wanted to start fresh together. Neither of us were tempting the other with a burger and fries or an evening cocktail.
So what did we do exactly?
In terms of our diet change — we cut out a lot of carbs, refined sugars, a lot of dairy, processed stuff, alcohol. I had thought about doing Whole30 because we were basically on our way to it, but truthfully I think it’s SO restrictive, and legumes and healthy grains are great ways to get protein and fiber, so I nixed that idea. We already maintain a pretty well-rounded diet – but like I mentioned before – I felt like it was getting heavy in the winter, and we wanted to (literally) freshen it up.
We got creative with a lot of our meals, and made sure our plates were packed with lots of protein, healthy fats, fiber, veggies, and allowed ourselves to naturally-sweetened food. If the ingredients list was more than a handful of things, and we couldn’t pronounce it – then it wasn’t going in the cart.
The biggest thing for me – was being mindful of portions because I lack that sometimes. Give me everything or give me nothing! Eating when I was actually hungry and not just eating to eat since I’m around food most hours of the day. Taking breaks and breaths after a few bites, listening to when I was full and putting more on the plate when I was still hungry. I think there is a misconception sometimes about being mindful of eating. One thing I know I’m never going to do – or want to do – is skip a meal, or not eat. Along with the word “diet,” I think skipping a meal, or not eating when your body is telling you it’s hungry, is just wrong.
I know some people would probably say to cut sugar or carbs or whatever it is you’re eliminating – out completely – but I think one of the most important things to maintaining a well-rounded diet is by still allowing yourself those things, in a natural form. I’m obviously not a nutritionist, but I know our bodies need carbs, they need natural sugars, they need fats. And there are really good foods that we can get those from.
What a normal day looked like:
Most mornings I alternated between eggs with some leafy greens, or one of my greens smoothies. Which is pretty standard for me anyways. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, so I still allowed myself the one cup in the morning. We love to treat ourselves to brunch – whether out or homemade – on the weekends, so that was hard sometimes. But the sweet potato dish I shared got us through!
One week I made a batch of simple butternut squash soup for lunch, other times it was a salad packed with a lot of cruciferous veggies, and a squeeze of lemon juice or olive oil, and maybe some leftover salmon or chicken to throw on.
Dinner was where it got fun. One night we were craving pad thai from our favorite takeout place, and decided to make sweet potato noodle pad thai dish. It was freaking delicious! I probably will end up sharing the recipe sometime in the fall (I know, thinking so far ahead already). I spiralized more veggies than ever, cucumber noodles being my favorite by far. Salmon is my favorite protein to cook with, so I experimented a lot with it over the last couple of weeks. Quinoa and cauliflower rice was made in huge batches, and we made broccoli and cauliflower “tater tots” in muffin tins that I loved.
Again – plans to share all these recipes at some point or another!
Surprisingly, being the sweets lover that I am – the no added sugar thing was easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t even want to TEMPT myself by experimenting with healthier versions of something, because then I think I would cave.
The alcohol thing was fine for the most part since we really don’t drink at all during the week. But between wedding planning, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and with the weather being nice all month, we did wish we were able to go out and grab a beer or sit on the porch with a glass of wine. All was good though.
So, the results?
Throughout the month I realized that in between lunch and dinner was the hardest for me, it’s when I have a sweet or salty tooth most, which was surprising because I thought I always liked to save room for dessert after dinner. But after the first few nights of not walking back into the kitchen to find something sweet, it dawned on me that around 2 pm is the hardest. Kombucha or an RX bar became my lifesaver in the afternoons. When I felt like crashing, or caving, I grabbed one or the other and all was good.
I tried NEVER to look at something as a “replacement” dish for something else. Like zucchini noodles aren’t pasta, a lettuce wrap isn’t a sandwich, apples slices after dinner has nothing on ice cream. Because the second you start approaching it like your vegetables are replacing your carbs is the second you will start to resent it. So I looked at each dish for what it was and found that helped a lot.
The biggest change was how much energy I’ve had throughout each day. I think some of it is attributed to me also getting back into a regular workout routine, but I didn’t feel bloated, tired, or heavy after eating – so my energy levels are up quite a bit. My clothes are fitting better, my mind is clearer. I’ll admit that even though it wasn’t the focus of it, I was hoping to drop a couple pounds – and the result was a few more than I was expecting.
Overall it was clear my body (and mind) were both ready for a change- how quickly and willingly it accepted it.
Some final thoughts!
We used the month not only as a food refresh, but to refocus on a lot of the activities that make us happy. We cooked together more – because during the week we get home at different times, so either one of us is making dinner or we’re eating leftovers. But we made it a point to wait for the other person, to cook together, eat together.
We started a habit of going to the gym together more, which sounds painfully dorky – and even though we do our own things while there – it’s nice to know we’re there together, pushing each other a little extra. Erick started playing basketball again each week, I’ve gotten back into yoga and group classes.
We turned the tv off and just listened to music some nights. We booked our honeymoon flights and started mapping out all the fun activities we want to do and food we want to eat while there. We still tried to have a semi-social life on the weekends and went out with some friends – but we also used the month to focus on ourselves and to basically find our “center” again.
With the craziness that 2017 is bound to bring to us – the refocus on all levels was so good for both of us. A change for the better that we were both ready to embrace. I found a creativity I was missing in the kitchen and I’m excited to share this refound love of food again with you all. Don’t worry, carbs and sweets aren’t going away from the blog, but I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy them in a new way.