So, for my internship I eat a lot. I intern under a local Chicago food blogger, Everything Erica. It’s an amazing opportunity and I am so blessed to be able to gain such valuable experience. In addition to experience, I was also on my way to gaining that dreaded Freshman 15 I have been avoiding all year. I decided it was time for a little lifestyle change: During my week, Monday to Thursday, I try to cut out all refined and processed carbs as often as I can.
To clarify, carbs are in basically everything (excluding red meats and some cheeses), so to cut out carbs would be to starve. I’m simply cutting out the “bad” carbs. Think bread and rice, especially white, potatoes, and pasta. This article really helps you understand the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff.
You’re probably scoffing, calling me a wimp because Monday to Thursday is a weak (pun intended) commitment to the diet, but I’m not very good at sticking with things long-term. Think morning runs or juice fads or that five-hour block of time I set aside simply to study. I try to avoid extremes in my diet because that can lead down a very dangerous path.
But, honestly, I’ve felt so much better since I started doing this at the start of May. I have more energy, I feel better about the food I’m eating, and I don’t feel gross when I go to work and eat a grilled cheese (I know, my job rocks.) I kept a little journal, diary, whatever, during my week to tell you all about the ups, downs, and in betweens of my brand new habit.
Foods Eaten: 1 banana, a green tea, my usual salad (cranberries, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, beets), peach yogurt, cucumber and red bell pepper with an avocado dip, 3 ham and cheese roll-ups
Overall Mood: Mondays are kinda my busy days, and today was no exception. I have classes during times I would normally eat breakfast and lunch, so I usually squeeze my brunch in between the two classes, then have a snack, then dinner. By dinner time, I’m always ravenous and I always want french fries. Seriously, anything made out of a potato is my kryptonite.
But instead, I silently gave myself a pep talk, cut up a cucumber and a red bell pepper, mashed up an avocado, and rolled up some ham and cheese. Surprisingly, even though as I looked at my sad plate of not-fries, I was super full by the time I finished. When all you’re craving is a big bag of french fries, you might automatically tell yourself nothing with satisfy you BUT french fries. That’s not true though, you just have to put yourself in the mindset that you WANT the healthy dinner.
Foods Eaten: Two eggs cooked in marinara sauce with half an avocado and yellow squash, crackers, chicken with honey, shoe string onions
Overall Mood: Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: It’s only Tuesday and I ate crackers and shoestring onions! And thus I share with you the most vital lesson of your life: listen to your body. I had dinner plans at a local restaurant (hence chicken with honey and shoestring onions), so I tried to make my day really light. I ate breakfast around 11:30, went to class until 2:30, then met up with my cousin at 5:00. After my class though, I wasn’t feeling too hot.
I rested in my bed for a bit, tried to get some work done, then stood up to get a glass of water and almost passed out. I got super nauseous and dizzy and had to sit on the floor and ask my roommate to get my Kashi fire-roasted veggie crackers (these things are lifesavers) from my shelf for me.
My body felt like it was screaming at me “put carbs into you mouth or else you’re gonna puke!” So I listened, even though I complained about how bad this would look on the article I was writing. After about 20 crackers and 5 minutes of moaning, I felt insanely better. You have to listen to your body when it’s telling you what it needs, even if it’s not necessarily what you want.
Foods Eaten: 1 banana, handful of toasted pepita seeds, salmon and broccoli, 3 lamb chops, 1 toast bite, 3 mushrooms, 2 meat balls
Overall Mood: If you’re reading that and thinking “Huh, that’s a very specific and odd couple of foods,” don’t worry. Tonight I had an event to go to for work hosted at the Peterson Garden Project’s kitchen and we were given samples of lamb chops, fava bean toast, sautéed mushrooms, and meat balls that were all made with ingredients straight from the garden. Notice I only had 1 toast, as all the other ones were free of processed carbs. It was a wonderful event with even better food prepared fresh by the chef, and since I have been doing no carbs, I didn’t mind taking multiple meat balls. You deserve to treat yourself sometimes. Life, and especially diets, shouldn’t be full of caution tape and restrictions that are set in stone.
Foods Eaten: Peanut butter banana smoothie, a plum, half a cucumber, leftover Ethiopian food, a banana
Overall Mood: Look! Another moral of the story! I don’t care if peanut butter is in every “what not to eat when you’re on a diet” article, it is a magical condiment that will forever be in my top 5 favorite foods. I spent a lot of time running around today, so mostly my meals were snacks. I think days spent lightly snacking frequently are the best because you get to fuel your body as you go about your day and you never feel overly full to the point of wanting to take a nap but your stomach isn’t making embarrassing noises of protest in the middle of math class.
Foods Eaten: banana and avocado smoothie, crackers, half a cucumber, a sweet potato with red sauce, cheese, veggies with ranch
Overall Mood: Banana avocado smoothies are the best things ever if you haven’t tried it out I suggest you do that asap (after finishing this article of course). I usually just toss in 2 frozen bananas and one avocado, but this recipe looks amazing. Sweet potatoes are the most versatile and easy dinners you can make. Poke a few holes in the top or cut a slit down the middle then pop it into the oven at 450 °F for about an hour and voila! You have a dinner. It’s amazing on its own, or you can check out these three variations: 1 2 3.
This “diet” has taught me not to put restrictions on the foods I eat. I know that if I have a couple of crackers as I clean my room, I’m not ruining myself for the day. It’s important to always make yourself aware of how you’re reacting to an intentional change in your diet. If you find yourself criticizing every thing you eat or regretting anything you eat or simply not eating, you’re not giving your body the healthy attitude you’re trying to achieve.
If you want a burger, get a burger. Just don’t get one every day. If you want to eat “no carbs” during the week, then do that, but don’t beat yourself up if you just need a couple of crackers or a night out.