Okay, so I'll admit, originally this had all started because spring break is around the corner. And honestly, who isn't trying to look their best for that—even if you’re not going on any super cool vacation where a bikini is required.
Before my endeavor into a week without processed foods began, I started to read "Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year Of Reclaiming Real Food" by Megan Kimble. I became very interested in the reasons that prompted her journey of an entire year without processed foods.
What began as an attempt to drop a few quick pounds, turned into something so much more than that for me. I eagerly began watching multiple food documentaries, like "Food, Inc." and “A Place at the Table,” which furthered my interest in our current food system.
After realizing how every bite we take affects so much more than simply our own health, I found it much easier than I had expected to live without processed foods.
Seemingly, everything is processed. I considered a food unprocessed if it was whole, i.e., the only ingredient in it was the thing it was itself. Basically, throughout my week "unprocessed," I ate a ton of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. So given a very limited amount of options to work with, I was forced to be creative when preparing my food.
I was off to a good start as soon as I got up. I ate some fruit for breakfast and felt energized and ready for a productive day. I had some fruit and cooked veggies for lunch, but by the time I finished class all I could think about was food: When am I going to eat? What am I going to eat? How will I prepare it? I couldn't concentrate on anything but food.
I was definitely feeling really out of it the rest of the day. By the time 9 p.m. rolled around, I was already fast asleep.
I started the day bright and early at 6 a.m. I went for a nice run and had a huge smoothie after. I thought a lot about food today, again. I started to feel a little bit lightheaded towards the end of the day. I wasn't quite used to the sound of a never ending stomach growl.
I finally felt like I was starting to get the hang of this. I felt good all around all day long. I was eating less but still seemed to feel satisfied. I craved cheese like nothing else, but that’s no different than usual. I was feeling excited that I'd made it this far.
When I stepped on the scale at the gym in the morning, I realized I had lost 7 lbs since the last time I weighed myself exactly a week previous (I'm still hoping the scale wasn't broken). I felt so happy and healthy. I was excited to actually see the progress I was making. I even called my mom to tell her about how good I felt.
Okay fine, I cheated today. Unofficial St. Patrick's Day was back for its 21st birthday and how could I not celebrate? Although alcohol is not technically a food, it most certainly is processed.
So, of course, I had a few obligatory drinks for Unofficial. I also stupidly refused to eat anything while I was out because it was "processed." Like, uh, the beer in your hand is processed, why do you care so much, I thought. But I couldn't help it, I was taking this thing so seriously, the only cheat I allowed myself to have that day was alcohol.
I had to volunteer super early with kids, so that was not good! I was hungover all day and just wanted some greasy good, but I had to resist the urge. So, I ate some nuts and fruit then slept so I could forget about my hunger for a while.
Okay, finally it's the last day. I felt pretty energized throughout the day, but all I could think about was the processed food I'd be able to eat once the day was over. I was still surviving, but just ready to expand my food options.
Although I went into this hoping to lose a couple pounds, I was not expecting to lose this much, this fast. I would definitely recommend going "unprocessed," or at least partially. What I'm most happy with is the fact that my whole perspective has changed. I now have a desire to know exactly where my food is coming from and more of a desire to support locally grown food.
What I learned
I always thought of myself as a relatively healthy person. I’d been an athlete my entire life. But when I got to college, I stopped paying attention to what I was putting in my body, ate a ton of junk and thought my six-pack would stick around forever, but it didn’t.
I found that out real fast, and in turn gained a lot of weight. I decided to take this challenge seriously. I wanted and needed to improve myself all around. And despite how much I absolutely hate the gym, I forced myself to go. I forced myself to eat when I was hungry, and only when I was hungry, not when I had nothing better to do.
Would I do this again? Of course! While not quite as religiously, I do plan to keep this healthy lifestyle going. I find myself far more conscious than I ever have been of how I'm treating my body. I also opened my eyes up to the environmental and economic issues that surround the food system in which we live.