Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unprocessed October

It was about a month and a half ago that I stumbled upon Eating Rules' blog and his request for people to pledge an entire month of Unprocessed Food. The rule was that if the product contains ingredients that you would not use in your own kitchen, then don't eat it. When I suggested to Marshall that we try this out, a look of pure fear came across his face. His response was, "Lucky Charms is unprocessed, right?"

When I posted it up on Twitter, my friends Shaw_Girl, Mazzie, and Essone10 were very supportive. I thought about what I ate on a regular basis and thought about whether I could commit. My weight has been an issue all of my life and fad diets have come and gone with no good, healthy results. I didn't want this unprocessed month to be something I did for just a month and for it to become something I resented. I actually wanted to learn something from this. Did I think I could do this without slipping up? No, I honestly did not think I could and that is why I didn't sign the petition. But I did participate by changing some things. Here is what I did different in this last month:

1. Read Labels - I started reading labels every time I went to the grocery store. It is amazing how many chemicals there are in food products now and days. For something as simple as bread, there could be up to 20 different ingredients listed that I didn't recognize. The more I read and the more challenging it was for me to find something with ingredients I recognized, it made me want to eat clean that much more. It was pretty much impossible for me to buy any candy that was not sold in a health store because all the ones sold at CVS had loads of preservatives and chemicals in them.

2. Shopped at Trader Joes and Whole Foods more - It was a lot easier for me to find products with no preservatives at these two grocery stores. Especially Trader Joes because their products tend to be a lot cheaper than Whole Foods. Marshall and I like to have turkey taco nights and so we found taco shells, salsa and seasonings at Trader Joes that were preservative free and were delicious. It was much simpler for us to shop at these places because they make an effort to stock good, healthy products.

3. Drank more tea - I probably drank over 100 cups of tea in this last month and I think this is something that I will do more of forever. I love tea now. It all started when I decided that I wanted to drink something with zero calories and had some taste to it. I used to stock my office up with Crystal Light or diet sodas but since I was avoiding chemicals, pretty much all sodas were not acceptable. (Marshall did make me a homemade soda once with some concord grape juice that he made a syrup out of and then added homemade seltzer water that was amazing.) So I turned to tea. Now I love it with a passion. After dinner, I brew a cup of herbal tea and enjoy it while I am winding down. At work, I brew about 3-5 cups a day to drink as I typed away. Tea is just so comforting to me now and makes me feel great. I don't even miss soda.

4. Made breakfast most mornings - I try to make sure I eat breakfast every morning and this month, I made a big effort to have good things available. My first choice was steel-cut oatmeal that I would mix with fresh apples or dried fruit, nuts, and a little half and half. I'm always satisfied when I eat oatmeal in the morning that sometimes, I'm not even hungry for lunch. When I don't have time for oatmeal, I turned to dry cereal. This was tough. Cereals have a lot of sugar and other unnatural ingredients in them. The closest thing I could find that was healthy and delicious was Kashi's Autumn Wheat. My friend Shaw_Girl made her own granola for this unprocessed month. I will have to give that a try next time.

5. Made my first cake (sort of) from scratch - At the beginning of the month, I wanted to make fresh bread from scratch. I never got around to it but I at least attempted at making cupcakes from scratch. For my friend Jason's house warming party, I made red velvet cupcakes. It was the first time ever that I made cake without using a box mix. was a total fail. There were multiple things that happened that ended up making the cake taste like baking soda. In the end, I used a box mix but my first attempt made me realize it really is not that hard to do. I just need to find a good recipe.

Did I lose any weight? No, but I feel so much better than I did a month ago. I can say for sure that I feel less fatigue and feel more alert. I used to remember walking to the metro in the morning and feeling like I could barely lift my legs. It feels different now. It is not like I used to sit around eating potato chips and drinking soda all day but obviously some of the things I was putting in my body was not good. I am glad I participated in this challenge because I found foods I enjoy eating and feel great about eating. Cheetos will always be a part of my life but from now on, only on rare occasions.


  1. Congrats on making all these changes and for sharing the news here! It's so hard to do. I like the "no dieting" mindset, too. "Dieting," especially for those of us who have done it many times in our lives (w/mixed results) can so often lead to negative thinking and rebound weight-gain. Reading your post renews my own plans to be more mindful of my own consumption. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for reading, Elizabeth. It is such a cliche but it is true. Losing weight is more about life changes than quick fixes. This month has at least taught me how great if feels to eat good things. I didn't mention it in the post but by not eating bad things, I ended up eating a more salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. For November, I think I will try eating a LOT more of the good stuff.

  3. Some cliches are actually true! Sounds like major progress. You may find yourself losing weight gradually just from making those changes and sticking with them. You already have more energy which probably motivates you to move more, etc. I found when I cut back on processed foods (and, in my case, sugar, salt and fat), my entire palate changed, and I didn't crave those things (as much) and I can taste "natural food goodness" more distinctly. Those changes make me feel much better on a dialy basis (and, coincidentally, gave me more energy to exercise and then, to lose weight). BTW, inspired by your post, I've made two cups of tea this evening!

  4. I'm so proud of you Sylvie. It's hard to do in a society that values fast pace convenience. We must realize that we only get one body, so we have to take care of ourselves before anything and anyone else. I'm glad you felt better. I think you're beautiful anyway!

  5. I went through the same process a few years ago when I started my blog. Take the time. It's mostly about feeling better and putting your self first.

    I'm going to start drinking more tea! (instead of diet coke, my achilles heal).

    Keep on rocking, girl.