Sunday, June 23, 2013

"10 Days of Real Food" Pledge Summary

We actually truly enjoyed our "10 days of real food" pledge.  Here is a summary of what we learned in this challenge.

1.  We spent around $25 per day during this challenge on our food (which was less than $2 per person per meal, plus snacks).  This included 3 delicious meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) using local and organic products as well as a lot of snacks (mainly fruit).  The first 5 days were more expensive than the last 5 days, because some of the purchases were actually staples (like whole grain flour, for example).   So, I would expect the cost to continually diminish with time.  I also planning on making more of our staples (like bread).  So, that will help reduce the cost even more.

2.  The biggest individually costly item was as we expected:  local meats.  However, a key part of this challenge was also to change our mindset of thinking the "main dish" has to always be the meat (or poultry or fish)  protein.  Instead, we began to treat the meat as a side.   According to Lisa's Real Food Blog Post titled, 'Becoming a Flexitarian": 

If you have been working hard to cut out processed foods and start eating organically and/or locally grown foods, does that mean you can still eat meat? The answer is…sometimes. According to Michael Pollan:

There are literally scores of studies demonstrating that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of dying from all the Western diseases. In countries where people eat a pound or more of fruits and vegetables a day, the rate of cancer is half what it is in the United States. We also know that vegetarians are less susceptible to most of the Western diseases, and as a consequence live longer than the rest of us.
So becoming a vegetarian doesn’t exactly fit into your lifestyle? Not to worry, because you can still reap the same health benefits as a vegetarian if you, as Thomas Jefferson once said, treat meat as a “condiment for the vegetables.” If you cut back to less than one serving of meat per day you can consider yourself a “flexitarian” with a risk of heart disease and cancer that is equally as low as a vegetarian.

So, here are Lisa's tips when it comes to meats:

  • “The more meat there is in your diet – red meat especially – the greater your risk of heart disease and cancer.”
  • Ideally, you should purchase meat from a local source (check your farmers’ market), and if that is not possible go with organic.
  • You are what you eat eats too…some of our food animals, such as cows and sheep, are ruminants that evolved to eat grass; if they eat too many seeds they become sick, which is why grain-fed cattle have to be given antibiotics.”  So in the case of red meat look for beef from cattle that have been 100% grass-fed.
 Other things we learned during the challenge:

1.   If you eat a lot of packaged foods (that have more than 5 ingredients), you are likely consuming a LOT of soy and processed sugar.  When I really started examining every packaged ingredient closely, every one that had more than 5 ingredients had some form of soy (like soy lecithin) and usually a form of sugar (like evaporated cane juice, fructose, etc.).  The only packaged items we ate during the challenge were the breads we purchased from the local bakery (less than 5 ingredients, none of which were sugar), and occasionally chips (with just a couple of ingredients and not fried).  

2.  All of our digestive systems were very happy with us during the challenge.  I think just about every health-related book or article I read states that you are only as healthy as your digestive system.  So, following this type of diet long term would likely result in a healthy digestive system (and thus, healthy body).  

3.  We felt more full and more satisfied after meals than we had ever before.  I am thinking that it is due to the consumption of only whole grains (no refined grains) and more fiber (via increased consumption of fruits and veggies).  Also, Drew and I have a theory that all of the man-made and processed stuff has the effect of making one desire more of it---it is addicting and yet unsatisfying long-term.  

4.  We didn't crave sweets at all by the end of the challenge. Our theory is that this was also due to cutting out refined sugars.  We believe that, like other processed ingredients, the refined sugars are addicting and yet unsatisfying--basically just wasted calories.  One's body craves nourishment (which is not provided by sugar), yet the processed and refined sugars tell the brain that it needs a lot more of those to feel satisfied.  So, the craving for sugar increases.  It is a vicious circle.   

5.  You really have to do lots of planning ahead of time to cook every single meal at home (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks).  We used to eat out about once a week or so.  Not to eat out for 10 days straight was a challenge that was pretty easily met by proper planning.

Are we going to continue this way of eating long-term?

Yes, we are, with some modifications.  First, we understand special events or occasions happen.  We love to celebrate them!  So, when we are outside of our home, we plan to relax our normal diet.  This means we will allow the occasional sweet treat, etc.  We also plan to splurge about once every two weeks (if we haven't already had a special event treat).  Otherwise, we really have found no reason to buy the products that we previously purchased prior to the challenge.  So, to qualify the answer to the question above:  yes, we plan on eating this way 99% of the time when at home.  We don't have a good reason not to now that we know how to do so.  After all, I care a TON about the health of these people:

By participating in this challenge, we learned a lot.  I am one who learns by doing.  And, that is what this challenge did--it required me to put into practice everything that I had read about and desired to incorporate into our lifestyle.  I wasn't sure that we would be able to stick to it.  But, I found that the key was PLANNING!  The challenge really developed some critical skills and I am so happy we decided to do it!  I would encourage everyone to give it a try and see how you feel at the end of the process. 

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