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What I Learned When I Tried a Food Challenge

food challengeMy town’s Moms Club has many smaller groups like a book club, age guided playgroups, and my favorite, The Wellness page on Facebook.  Members provide each other with accountability, recipes, and challenges. The ones I have participated in include a 30-day AB Challenge, a BUTT challenge, and most recently, an eating challenge. 

Proposed by a young mom of two kids under three, this challenge was intended to be for people who did not have time to exercise but were trying to get their eating under control. (At least this was her motivation). I regularly get to the gym or run 3-5 days a week, but I was intrigued by what her challenge was proposing. 

So here is what the challenge prohibited, and here is what I learned about myself.

For 30 days, you cannot have:

                Chocolate

                White bread

                Donuts or cake

                Ice cream

                Chips

                Soda or juice

                Fast food

                Potatoes

                Candy or cookies

Let me start by saying that I like all the above things. I would not say that I have a problem bingeing on any of them, but I certainly enjoy most of those things somewhat on the regular. I am not one of those people who have not eaten fast food in a decade. I unashamedly go to McDonalds at least once a month. 

Let me also say that summer time is probably not the best time to undertake something like this, but neither would Christmas or Halloween or really any other time in your life if you like food and like to eat delicious things.

Let me ALSO say that I am (as far as I am concerned) at most 10 pounds overweight and confident enough in my 47-year-old bod that I wear a 2-piece bathing suit and stand next to girls who are 10-20 years younger than me regularly. So…

Some of those things were absolutely no problem eliminating altogether. For me, I can stare a donut in the face, or be offered a piece of cake, or sacrifice candy and cookies like a boss. For the first two weeks, I really looked at this entire exercise as just that – a test of my stamina and mental toughness facing something that would seem to be hard but doable. 

What I discovered, though, was that I do a lot of mindless munching on whatever chips or crackers or snacky type stuff my kids happen to be eating. And, with a little shopping preparation and five minutes of chopping, I could easily replace all that chip crunchiness with veggie crunchiness which was just as delicious and far less guilt-inducing. 

I also started doing a protein smoothie in the morning which makes me feel like I am starting the day off right and is better than a bagel and cream cheese, which was more the norm to me. 

I also sought out whole wheat alternatives to just about any case that I would normally buy white bread. We always eat whole wheat bread but not so much with buns for the extreme amount of grilling I do in the summer. I replaced English muffins with multi-grain.

I was also introduced to RX bars by some girls in the group, and am loving the way they fill me up, but are just simple ingredients and again, tons of protein. 

The more I skimped on dinner and the less protein I consumed at that meal, the more likely I was to start rummaging through my pantry or refrigerator, even late (like after 10:00 p.m.) to satisfy hunger. I learned that more protein equals a lot less cravings.

I was already 90% of the way through eliminating soda (diet) so giving it up altogether was not nearly the issue it would have been for me two years ago. I swear I got off a daily diet soda habit by switching to kombucha. I was EASILY a 32ox Diet Pepsi per day consumer.

I now know that I can have these things, but in WAY smaller proportions than I was used to. I may indulge maybe once a month in two or three of them, but I will say I am committed to being much more mindful about my eating, and more specifically, snacking habits, and prepare to eat better.

PS – Frosty Bear Ice Cream Shoppe in Monroe has a salted caramel Oreo cookie ice cream that is to die for. 

PPS – I got the small.

Have you ever done a food challenge? What have you learned?

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