Wellness Wednesday - Food Challenge

I was setting up some posts for our new wellness Wednesday themed posts and realized that now would finally be a good time to give a summary of the food challenge we completed back in the spring! As a reminder we did a 14 week food challenge with a goal of removing processed foods from our diet put together from the 100 Days of Real Food blog. Here's a summary of the weeks (and they're all hyperlinked to the meal plan posts if you'd like to read more about them):

Challenge Meal Plan Summary
Week 1 Fruits & Veggie - Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.
Week 2 Beverages - Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine/beer will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day).
Week 3 Meat - All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.
Week 4 No Fried Foods - No fast food or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.
Week 5 New Whole Foods - Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you've never had before.
Week 6 Labeling - Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”
Week 7 Grains - All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.
Week 8 Internal Cues - Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.
Week 9 No Refined / Artifical Sweeteners - No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.
Week 10 No Refined / Hydrogenated Oils - No refined or hydrogenated oils including (but not limited to): vegetable oil, organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.
Week 11 Locally Grown - Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.
Week 12 No Added Sweeteners - Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.
Week 13 No Artificial Ingredients - Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.
Week 14 5 Ingredients or Less - Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients no matter what ingredients.

What changed?
Looking back at the food challenge I'm really glad we did it. It really made us examine different aspects of our diet because there was a particular element each week - the 14 week challenge was almost like 14 mini-challenges because the weeks didn't build on each other. It was interesting to see what we picked up from one week and carried throughout the rest of the challenge and even are still doing today. Here are a few specific examples:
   Week 1 Fruits & Veggie - We are now eating a lot more fruit than we were before the challenge. Our CSA box made including vegetables in our pretty easy but we were definitely lacking in the fruits category. I am consistently buying more fruit at the grocery store (bananas, apples, and pears regularly and then other seasonal fruits) and we're eating them as snacks
   Week 2 Beverages - We had already cut out sodas at home (I don't buy soda at the grocery store anymore) but Patrick was still enjoying sodas at work or when going out to eat. For the most part he changed that over to water. I also stopped putting sugar or flavored creamer in my coffee - only using a little half and half.
   Week 3 Meat - We are eating a lot more meatless meals! I imagine this has been a lot easier in the summer with the surplus of farm fresh vegetables. Some weeks we may have up to 3 meatless meals.
   Week 6 Labeling - I'm doing my very best not to buy anything that's "low-fat" or "reduced fat".
   Week 12 No Added Sweeteners - We still like homemade desserts... don't think this is changing anytime soon.
   Week 14 5 Ingredients or Less - I don't always stick to the item with the shortest ingredient list but I definitely compare the ingredient lists and labels and try to make the most educated decision for which product to consume.

As you can see we had a lot of positive change come out of the challenge! Not everything changed and that was fine - I didn't expect it too. I want us to enjoy all things in moderation.

Patrick's thoughts (I requested he send me a small blurb about the food challenge):
   The biggest benefit for me was that I did switch to drinking water throughout the day. I also had to get used to having a significant vegetable component in most meals. The stuff we cared about we were already doing anyway, like eating local.

Patrick does have an interesting point - the stuff we cared about we were already doing anyway. Some weeks were really easy because we had already incorporated that particular challenge into our diet. One of the reasons I wanted to do the challenge was to see if there were other things we could do differently that maybe we didn't realize we were missing.

This post finally wraps up the food challenge!

1 comment:

  1. We also participated in the challenge although not as diligently as you two. It did help us think about what we were eating. Hey, I use skim milk in my coffee!!!!