Seems we’ve all managed to survive another scary, sugar-filled Halloween. I don’t know about you, but I certainly had my fill of chocolate, candy and ice cream.
Sunday hit me like an arctic blast, it’s the 1st of November already! It feels as if we are already into the Holiday Season, with Thanksgiving around the corner. I’ve decided to go cold turkey for November and kick the shackles of a few months of poor eating! I may not carry a lot of extra body fat, but I feel my life being sucked out of me each day because of tiredness and puffiness! I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, right?? Oh, yes!!!! Despite my social media feed, I also learned how to use the filters and the angles to create the greatest illusions.
I’m taking this month as an opportunity to redefine my eating habits and stop filtering my life. Going gluten-free was a huge game changer for me several years ago. Finding out I had a gluten allergy was not fun, but the freedom I gained from not eating gluten was incredible, not just losing the belly, but I found my concentration, my memory, skin condition, and overall digestive health improved tenfold. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
So this month is NO sugar, refined flours, dairy, alcohol, fried foods or takeout. I’m calling it #NOjunkVEMBER. I’m sure for most, it looks as if I have just wiped out the entire food pyramid, but if you take a closer look, all I have really taken away is your illusion of food. All the main food groups are still there, but without the refining qualities. You still have fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, grains, and cereals.
I guess for me this is a no-brainer because cooking is what I do, so I will leave my channels of social media open to you for any questions you may have along the way! I will post regularly on the things that help me get through a month like this. I would love it if you did the same and continued the #NOjunkVEMBER in your social media feed.
Dairy is a tricky one for me and I’m dreading the idea that I may have an allergy to it, but I’m feeling negative effects when I consume it. I feel it in my joints and my skin drys out and puffs. Dairy, like sugar and gluten, causes inflammation in my larger intestine. Meaning, when I eat it, I don’t necessarily feel like I have a full belly, but my upper abdomen becomes bloated. I feel tired, irritable and I get down on myself because it gives me the appearance that I have a large belly and that really bothers me considering the amount of time I spend working out and training! My suggestion for attempting such a task is to follow a few simple steps. But, don’t let the amount of steps overwhelm you; they are merely there for guidance. These are the things that have helped me in the past stay on track:
First step: Remove all sugar, dairy, processed flours and alcohol from your house. This way, it’s out of sight and out of mind! Don’t necessarily throw it out, maybe give it away or store it at a friend or family member’s place. If you aren’t willing to remove it from your home, I don’t see how you will maintain a month of this.
Second step: Go shopping. Arm yourself with an array of different colored fruits and vegetables. The more colors the better! Like I always tend to talk about, eat the rainbow. This way you are eclipsing as many phytonutrients and phytochemicals from Mother Nature’s garden! Things like beets, carrots, kale, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, berries, seasonal fruits, etc. To my Aussie friends: lucky you, Stone Fruits are coming into season. To my North American friends: load up on citrus. Seasonal eating is not only important, but will help reduce your food bill.
Third step: Prepare yourself with various snacks, the less processed the better. Things like dried nuts, dried fruit (be conscious of dried fruit though as it is still is a concentrated form of fructose, aka, sugar). Consider it your sweet treat. Unflavored popcorn, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, etc. Snacking is the hardest thing to do well, in my opinion, because we are never prepared for it. Don’t leave your next snack to chance. Know what and where it is, so you don’t fall into the trap of being caught short on energy and falling off the #NOjunkVEMBER wagon!! There are some great snack bars on the market that are very basic and not loaded with junk. I will let you be responsible for doing your own label reading.
Fourth step: Get your juice on! Buying a juicer and starting to juice was a bit of a revelation for me. Initially I hated the idea of juicing, not just because of the clean up, but because of the waste! Starting each morning with a juice is a great way to fill your system with a whole lot of vitality. I used to worry about the lack of fiber and throwing away the best part! (If you have a garden, I highly suggest you learn how to compost, as the juice pulp will lend itself to enriching your soil) So, I find my fiber in various nuts and seeds throughout the day. I have a great and delicious new recipe: Gluten-free Oat and Almond Bread loaded with so much fiber and goodness you won’t know what hit you.
Fifth step: Never shop without a list or on an empty stomach, you will only find unnecessary purchases in your shopping trolley when you finally get to the check out.
Sixth step: Keep a food diary! This sounds a bit lame, but trust me, it’s just as important as removing the sugar and alcohol out of your house! How dedicated are you really to this cause? What do you want your end result to look like? Do you want to lose the weight and gain your life back? If so a food dairy is key so you can look back over the foods, write down the colors and adjust future meal plans to look brighter and more colorful. It’s the ultimate way to track your progress; you’ll be amazed how much you forget you ate throughout the day. This will help you to become a "conscious" eater.
For coffee and tea drinkers, it's time to cut the milk for a moment or replace it with a non-dairy substitute. I make my own almond milk, its super easy and quite inexpensive to make. Almond milk recipe: 1 cup of almonds soaked overnight in filtered water, then drained and pureed in 4 cups of filtered water with a pinch of sea salt and a ½ teaspoon of honey. And then strained through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. I personally went from milk in my coffee to just drinking it black. However, if coffee is your weakness and you need your milk, just try at the very least to limiting your self to one cup of coffee with milk a day. Why heck, I don’t want to scare you off! This journey needs to be somewhat realistic, right??
Summary: Outside of this, exercise is my hobby. To me, it’s a form of meditation and therapy. My best thinking comes from down time on my bike, the road or on the rowing machine. Cardio and weight baring exercise are such important factors to general good health! You will be surprised how little we actually need to eat to sustain energy levels, you may find though that a drastic change will drive you nuts, cravings set in, you will feel your head pound. But it really is just your mind playing tricks looking for a quick fix! Get through the first few days with no cheating and I promise you will do this.
Don’t give in because of a restaurant dinner or a friend’s party. It’s only for a month and I’m sure they will understand. If it’s a restaurant, call ahead and give them warning of your food restrictions (who knows maybe they will go out of their way to create something special). Talk about your goal and challenges with family and friends, they may not only encourage you, but welcome the idea of jumping on board. Get yourself a wok! Stir-fries are a great one-pot meal: it’s low-moisture cooking at its finest with the ability to store and retain the inherent goodness of the fresh ingredients you’re working with! Quick, simple and low effort.
The real key to this month will be to not focus on what you can’t have but what you can have! Giving up breads and pasta for many of you will be the hardest, as its just routine. Enjoy the recipe for my Oat and Almond Bread! Its very easy to make, no proofing necessary, and it's loaded with more goodness and benefits than you can imagine! It’s dense, heavy and will definitely help curb the cravings.
With these few steps and some serious consideration to the life you want to live, I believe you can do this. Find the encouragement needed through your social media platforms. Share images of your progress as an outlet as well. I guarantee your success will only inspire your friends and family. I am more than happy to share advice and support, but remember, I’m not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, I just know what works best for me. Remember to hashtag #NOjunkVEMBER for a chance to win a copy of my new book Good Food–Fast!
I won’t wish you good luck, but “happy living.”
You’ve got this!