"Superfood" has become just as big a buzzword in the health world as organic or gluten-free. There is no actual definitive list of superfoods, nor is there a concrete set of qualifications for a food to be super. Yet restaurants and brands boast that they serve up quinoa and goji berries every chance they get.
Superfoods are known for being nutrient-rich and associated with vitality and well-being. I know that not all foods are created equal, but I am curious if so-called superfoods are really worth all the hype. For the next week, I'm going to eat only foods of the super-duper variety. To set myself up with ground rules, I'm going to use a list from the American Diabetes Association .
My cape and tights may be packed away, but if I need them in seven days, I'm sure I'll be able to dig them out.
I started my morning off with a HIIT workout on the treadmill, followed by an epic leg day. Leaving the gym with my muscles scorching and my metabolism revved up, I feel like an athlete. When I think of myself as an athlete, I'm more excited to fuel myself like one.
My first meal of the day is a quinoa bowl (hello, hella whole grains!). I decked it out with spinach, kale, arugula, sliced almonds, tomatoes, and black beans. Bam, 5 of the 10 superfoods right there. Any other week I'd have tossed some chicken in there, maybe a lil' chipotle lime vinaigrette. But hey, if they aren't on the list, they aren't on the list. I'm full, fairly happy, and totally ignoring the peanut butter pie in my peripheral.
For dinner, I go to the dining hall with a few friends. Turns out, it's Mexican food night. Tortillas galore. I get a bowl of plain non-fat yogurt with cinnamon and a side of strange looks from my table.
I chased my back and biceps workout at the gym with two cups of coffee and hustled my butt to class. I don't know if coffee is cheating, and frankly I don't care. If you want to see me turn into a super villain, deprive me of the one thing in this world that can bring me joy before noon.
For lunch, I feasted on red beans, tomatoes, steamed spinach, tuna, and a sweet potato. Sweet potato is my one true love. I was honestly ecstatic that it's on the list, because it's so flavorful and really satisfies my sweet tooth with healthy carbs.
I apologize (but not really) for the following mini rant on how much I love the lumpy orange spuds: they're so nutrient packed! Vitamin B6 to reduce risk of degenerative disease, Vitamin C to stop the sneezing and keep ya looking young, Vitamin D for strong bones, magnesium for a healthy ticker, must I go on? They're so good.
Throughout the day, I drank lemon-infused water, and for dinner I had yogurt with strawberries and a sad looking salad of spinach and chickpeas.
For brunch, I had Greek yogurt and strawberries. I'm starting to realize I might have dining déjà vu for the next few days, and my taste buds are grumpy about it.
Smelling warm homemade jalapeño rolls as I walked by the farmers market got me somewhat hangry, but I power strutted past, hoping the superfoods were congregating in my belly, working some magic.
For dinner, I had sweet potato (hallelujah), collard greens, chickpeas, and tomatoes.
Another day, another yogurt and fruit to fill me up. I topped my bowl off with some orange slices. I really am actually enjoying the feeling of being fueled by foods that aren't highly processed. But boy, could I go for some banana bread right now.
Somehow, I've accumulated an extra punch so I cash it in with a double punch for salmon. Salmon is another one of the superfoods that I'm more than ecstatic to nosh on because it's loaded with Omega-3s. Omega-3s have a myriad of nutritional benefits ranging from lowered heart disease risk to improving mental health. And it's just so dang flavorful.
Refer to day 3 for exactly what I ate today. Oh, and black beans. I also had black beans. Whoopie.
The weekend has arrived, so along with catching up on a butt load of work, I actually have time to reflect on how I feel.
Well, as a college student during midterm week, I feel like I'm drowning. But physically, I can say I have a bit more energy and more hydrated skin than I began the week with. Is that because I slept in past 7:30 am today? Who can say, but I'm not knocking the legitimacy of my superfood-loaded plates just yet.
Today I had grapefruit for brunch, along with a salad whose staple ingredients you can probably guess. Then for dinner, I had two sweet potatoes and spinach.
Last day of one week of superfoods! I started off my morning with plain yogurt and grapefruit. Around noon, some of my cross country team and I went for a short hike in a national park. Surprisingly enough, I felt a bit weaker than I usually do on hikes. The inclines seemed steeper and getting to the summit was far more of a feat than a few mile hike would normally feel.
For dinner, I had a brown rice and salmon sushi roll. There was seaweed in the roll, which I'm just going to count as a dark leafy green. Sue me. Seaweed is actually really nutritious, filled with iodine and antioxidants.
Seven days, ten foods, one rut of a journey. Though I haven't weighed myself, I do feel lighter. My stomach is as flat as it was mid-summer, when I'd been preparing it for beach day after beach day.
I really do think that any small changes I'm noticing can be credited to a diet low in heavily processed foods rather than having eaten only superfoods. It's definitely great that I made sure each of my meals were nutrient dense, but I think more emphasis should be put on having a variety of foods abundant in different nutrients.
From now on, I'm going to aim for one superfood per meal. First meal is starting tonight with a berry and Nutella stuffed crepe. It may not be obvious because I ended my diet with sugar-filled bread, but I'm actually looking forward to more natural foods rather than highly processed ones. As for spinach-centric salads, well, those may not be the highlight of my dinner plate for quite some time.
So am I ready to take on the Incredible Hulk? Well, my skin's probably going to glow greener than his tomorrow, but I'm not convinced I could rough him up quite just yet.