October Unprocessed: Thoughts and Reflections

october-unprocessed-cubes

Happy November everyone! I hope you are all staying warm. I am currently in my tiny office in a ridiculous poncho, deeply craving a hot chocolate with the works (marshmallows and whipped cream of course!)
I thought I would post a bit of a summary about last month’s October Unprocessed. It was a roller coaster, but overall I am quite proud of myself. Here is the good, bad and not-so-ugly:

The Good

1) I tacked on a little extra challenge for myself this year- trying more plant-based recipes. As I stated at the beginning of October, I don’t think I could ever become a full vegan. Even a lacto-vegetarian (still eating cheese and dairy) would be difficult. However I do support the concept of becoming a “reducetarian”, meaning eating meat less frequently or in smaller amounts. I definitely accomplished this goal. Here is a sampler of some of the recipes I made during the month:

-Homemade applesauce

-Grilled vegetable pizza (homemade dough)

-Curried butternut squash soup

-Thai sweet potato coconut soup

-Kale and white bean hash

These recipes were delicious and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the meat. After this added layer to my challenge, I’m confident that I will be adding more plant-strong menu items into my weekly rotation!

2) Eating more whole foods and cooking at home gave me a lot of great energy. I also got my cooking “spark” reignited after months of ignoring my oven (gas stove + old house + humid temps = disaster). This challenge really helped me get back into my passion for cooking. And thankfully I am in a new relationship where my other half is more than happy to eat a home-cooked meal 🙂

3) I learned this year to be less hard on myself if I had a slip. And there were definitely lots of little slips (especially around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Halloween). But instead of punishing myself with guilt or restriction, I just shrugged, stated “that’s life” and moved forward with the challenge. Putting less pressure on myself to be “perfect” actually made the challenge much more enjoyable this year!

The Bad

1) Despite my success in eating more plant-based meals, I found it difficult to come up with a variety of creative and tasty meals. Honestly it is much easier to pick the traditional “meat, starch, veg” at the store than to come up with creative vegetarian/vegan fare. I sifted through a lot of websites, blogs and Pinterest to find recipes I liked, but often it was exhausting. Also, I find vegetarian and vegan meals require a bit more planning in order to ensure you are getting enough protein, iron and other nutrients you may miss out on if you don’t eat meat. Often I made the mistake of making too little food, not enough protein etc and found myself hungry a few hours later. This was definitely a learning experience for me that I will use to educate clients who choose vegetarian or vegan diets in the future.

2) Similar to last year, I often struggled in social situations where the temptation of eating processed foods was high. Many of my family and friends know me as an extreme potato chip lover, I often can’t resist a few handfuls when they are within reaching radius 🙂 Therefore I was fearful of social nights where chips (and other goodies) were abundant. I had to remind myself not to look at every day as a win/lose situation. What I tell my clients (and myself) is that you need to look at healthy eating in a big-picture sense. If you have chips occasionally, that is OK. Some days you eat more “junk”, some days you don’t. If you are striving to eat the healthiest you can on most days of the week, that is a good pattern.

The not-so-ugly

During my October Unprocessed month, I discussed the difference between minimally and ultra-processed. By understanding these differences and being OK with choosing convenience (minimally processed) foods, it made the challenge much more enjoyable because it fit into my busy lifestyle. In 2015, we are all busy. It is unrealistic to expect us to have the time to make our own almond milk, culture our own yogurt or grind our own peanut butter. But we can still enjoy a healthy, whole-foods lifestyle by adding in these minimally processed foods!

Thank you again to all my family and friends for supporting me during the October Unprocessed month. Stay tuned for my next original rants! 🙂 xo

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