Tuesday, April 19


True life: this morning I declined being offered coffee.

This was potentially one of the harder tasks to take on in these past couple of days. On top of declining the coffee I then had the experience of sitting in a meeting while everyone else (okay there were only 2 other people...but still) everyone else was enjoying their warm and soothing smelling cup of joe. I admit, I was possibly slightly overwhelmed by how great the coffee smelled. It smelled wonderful enough to make me forget about how much I loved breakfast this morning (a fresh fruit salad!) and also wonderful enough to make me consider dropping everything and sprinting to the closest Starbucks for some comfort drinking.

I was asked if I had given up coffee for Lent. My response was "No, I've given it up for life". What??? Yes. You can pick your jaw up off of the ground now if you like. Coffee isn't great for you, but man it smells awesome!

This is tough. But being healthy and conscious of what I am putting into my body, is still a great great thing. Unless the coffee is being held right under my nose (like this morning) - I really am still excited about my new changes in eating.

For this morning though, I just will keep reminding myself about how healthy my bones and heart will be from lack of downing cups of coffee every day. Because what I really want right this moment is a huge steaming mug of java.

It was an unexpected question this morning: Do you want some coffee?

And the person asking had no idea how loaded that question then became for me...But that is life I suppose. Full of unexpected moments that are defining of who we are and what we value.

The unexpected matters.

Friday, April 15

18 days down. A lifetime to go.

It is hard to believe that 18 days ago I was returning from Argentina with a new found plan for becoming healthier by simply reducing the amount of processed sugar in my diet. Now, after 18 days of eating, researching, reading, and discussing the benefits of eating only natural foods, I  plan on never going back to my old eating habits. One easy reason being, the less processed/sugar/animal product type foods you eat, the less you think they taste great anyways!

After reading the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman I was floored at how simple (in theory) it is to make a drastic health change for the better simply by having a primarily plant based diet. If you're not interested in reading it, I'll summarize: the higher amount of nutrient rich foods you eat = a healthier and more disease resistant you. That is it, in a nutshell, and honestly I think its crazy to not actively strive for being a healthy and informed consumer. Most people (hopefully) wouldn't buy a car or house without some amount of research, so why not take some time to think and study what it is you are eating and is directly effecting your body and mental health? There are literally TONS of resources and support available to encourage a healthy eating lifestyle...

I think in many ways I have overwhelemed most of my friends with my new natural eating vendetta. After becoming aware of how food can effect your life in such a huge positive way - it drives me almost to the point of crazy that most of my college peers could honestly care less. I totally understand that only eating all natural and whole foods as a college student is really really hard, but that is not to say it is impossible. Personally, I get really passionate about a lot of things, and while that part of my personality is as much a curse as it is a blessing sometimes, I really pray that others will see my passion for healthy eating and that it may spark a least a curiosity as to why I would pass up eating college favorites such as  Buffalo Wild Wings, pizza, or food from our student grill. God has designed an earth full of food that is perfect for our bodies - without needing all of the extra salt, sugar, gluten, and oils (among many other things) we tend to add. America is becoming more and more well-known for the high rates of obesity our citizens have. Food is getting a bad rap, and honestly its not the food that is the issue, it is us. If we are the ones that are buying  the processed and unhealthy food - that sends an easy message to the companies that their product is in demand. However, back to my earlier statement about the positivity of food, for as much as unhealthy food is addicting and contributing to high obesity rates, food does not have to be the bad guy - and this is probably the first time in my life I have put that concept together.

So now, what is next?

Next, is spending a focused six weeks on increasing the amount of nutritious foods in my diet and cutting out the not so great options. My first big challenge is work on my coffee addiction. Yup, if you just thought "yikes" - that was a very accurate reaction. I am 3 days now sans coffee, and this morning was a rough one to say the least. While I have noticed that having sugar limited in what I eat really has seemed to be helping me feel less moody, this whole coffee deficiency thing might be the ax to the absence of my mood swings lately...Why no coffee? Well, one cup of coffee a day really wouldn't be a big deal - but I am used to drinking at least 3 or 4 cups every morning which is a great way to be dehydrated and puts me at much higher risk for heart problems. So coffee got kicked to the curb this week and I am definitely mourning it's absence..if anyone has a great morning worthy drink to easy my coffee separation blues - please share!

Overall eating this week: Fruit & granola with flax seed for breakfasts, salads for lunch everyday, and lots of veggies for dinner. Snacks: almonds or kidney beans (which are a new favorite food item!)

Overall mood: No coffee. And it I spent the afternoon doing taxes. But all things considered: B+ for my mood grade.

Tuesday, April 5

1 week in.

After such an excited start to my sugar detox I must admit that these last seven days have been all over the place and has been significantly harder to avoid sugar than I would have hoped. Future advice: starting any kind of change in a food diet should involve taking stock of your pantry before starting. Having been on spring break in Alabama and down in Argentina - in other words - not at my apartment in Chicago for most of the month of March, I was in dire need of a trip to the grocery store. While I began this detox with such excitement and resolve to be sugar free, I failed to anticipate that I had no food in the house, let alone detox friendly food, which was an incredibly discouraging way to start. Tuesday night ended with me eating several Gobstoppers I had sitting on my desk, great right?

Wednesday morning, I woke up determined to not let my Gobstopper guilt carry over into the new day. I managed to find some eggs in the fridge that I quickly made up for breakfast, took my coffee and water bottle and was out of the door. By the time lunch rolled around, I was unnecessarily hungry, which is not good. Our bodies need food regularly, this is supposed to be a detox, not a fast. Wednesday was the day I discovered hard boiled eggs and raw almonds. This was a feast. Dinner was heavy on the veggies, which was again - better than nothing.

Thursday and Friday were similar as far as having minimal variety in my diet and struggling to stay away from sugar. Sugar is in EVERYTHING!

The weekend was my biggest failure of this past week as far as sugar avoidance goes. I was an adult leader for a youth event with kids from my fieldwork church. The event was great and it filled my heart with such joy to see how my kids were processing their faith throughout the weekend and growing together as a group. From a sugar standpoint though - the weekend was a train wreck. In case you haven't  spent time staying up until midnight with any junior high kids recently - they LOVE sugar.
Breakfast options: Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Poptarts
Lunch Options: PB & J, cookies
Dinner: Pizza, more cookies 
Snacks: Peeps, cookies, cookies, donuts, candy (specifically M & Ms), and did I mention cookies?

I think that every student (we had 18) each came with at least a dozen chocolate chip cookies. Thank you supermoms!

Thankfully there was some fruit and believe it or not usually that was the one item that was not heavily consumed by the group. Had I thought ahead better (and had food in my apartment) I should have packed my own food items to eat. Since I did not, I had pizza and PB & J with the best of them. Also, if it is possible, I may have received secondhand sugar from merely being around all my junior high kids who might as well just bring bags of straight sugar and eat it with spoons next time. At least it would save their moms the time they spent cooking the sugar into the cookies.

Finally Sunday arrived, which meant grocery store day! I haven't been that excited to go to the store in a long time! List in hand, Adam and I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon at the store. I feel like I spent a lot of the trip in shock at how much sugar is in almost anything on the shelves. As I was reading through countless nutrition labels, I was so shocked at how if a product wasn't high in sugar - it was probably loaded with sodium, or calories, or fat, yikes. We wonder why our country is so unhealthy - how many people have read a nutrition label lately? If I was not already convinced that lowering sugar intake was important, this grocery store trip highly encouraged me. The negative aside, I was able to find some great food options to purchase. This included hummus and black olive pita chips for snacks and chicken and egg whites to make cooking meals healthier and sugar detox friendly. Also, I enjoyed picking out a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies, yes to recap - this was exciting to me!

Two hours later, a whole bunch of groceries, and a patient boyfriend still being patient - the grocery store adventure was completed!

I was so encouraged to think about the week ahead knowing that I had lots of healthy and low sugar/sugar free food to eat! I must be getting old to be this excited about healthy eating right? Yesterday for breakfast I started my day with half of a grapefruit and scrambled egg whites. It tasted great and felt even better knowing that what I had just eaten was for the benefit of my body.

Here is to a better, healthier week.

Overall mood update: I have felt more peaceful day-to-day and thought less along the lines of "the day is doomed to pull me under"

P.S. Lacey, thank you for the Eat to Live book recommendation - I ordered it and am waiting anxiously for its arrival. :)