Hello! Happy Halloween! For me it's even happier because I'm celebrating the grand finale of October #Unprocessed!
For the month of October, I joined thousands of others to eat only unprocessed foods. Overall, it was a great experience -- I ate very healthy and well, while making connections with friends old and new!
Since it's Halloween, I thought I'd share 5 things I learned from October Unprocessed, some spookier than others. ;)
People would often mistake me for a rich rabbit (not to be confused with a Playboy Bunny..)
Like many things I do, the concept of "unprocessed" took so much 'xplaining
I'd try to mention that I was eating only whole foods, but that just got me these stares that cleary said to me, "wow, how do you work in nonprofit and afford to shop at Whole Foods?" or "you said you weren't vegetarian*.. have fun eating like a rabbit!"
I'll have you know that I did not visit Whole Foods once (it's amazing, but expensive! Sprouts and Farmers Markets to the rescue!) this month. Nor did I abstain from yummy meat (still not a Playboy Bunny..)
At the very least, I hope I was able to spread the word about the wonders of natural, unprocessed foods!
Beware, You will be taunted.
On October 2nd, yes day 2, my roomies brought home not one.. but TWO boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. Ack!
(I'm proud to exclaim that not a single donut was eaten by Tiffany in October. And I used to eat pastries on the daily! I did eat a 4th of a cookie though.. Don't tell Andy of @eatingrules!)
Not to mention me winning sweetheart-of-the-month award by picking up in n out for my love while getting exactly ZERO items for myself. Hey, I didn't make him pledge #unprocessed!
But this brings me to my next point..
Fast Food and Unprocessed Food are pretty much antonyms.
My deliberate exceptions were as follows:
- Anything someone graciously cooks for me (especially my Mommy).
My mom makes almost everything from scratch, but there are a few staple, Filipino ingredients that I could not (and WOULD not) avoid. I'd like to dare you to refuse my mom's cooking.
(*big reason I am not vegetarian).
Also, my sweet roomie made me pancakes from the box so I compromised by making a fresh fruit compote to avoid eating syrup full of refined sugars.
- Dining Out. Now this doesn't mean throwing #unprocessed out the window when going out, but I at least tried to make the most unprocessed choices I could. I don't think I have any right to interrogate waitstaff and chefs about what kind of sugar/flour they use; a strategy I used was to avoud chain restaurants and eat exclusively at local, family businesses, especially those that use ingredients from local farmers and artisans.
- Some perishables that I bought before October, like granola and fruit juice.
Even with these exceptions, eating unprocessed was very challenging. Which is why...
Planning Ahead is the Key to Success
Thankfully, I have a good amount of time on my hands after work. Some strategies I used to ensure unprocessed eating include:
- packing lunch the night before, often leftovers from dinner. No frozen burritos were eaten by Tiffany in October!
- Cooking in bulk: i think i will actually continue this food prep method. I get a lot of produce fron the farmers market, and one of my favorite preparations is roasting. Yum! Don't believe me? I have turned yuck-sayers of cauliflower and brussel sprouts to enjoyers of these, simply with an easy roast in the oven! Even if I didn't need a veggie right away, I'd chop it, roast it alongside other ingredients, and save it for later that week (Like sauce! And hummus! and salad!)
- always carrying snacks. One general rule of thumb for unprocessed eating is to avoid buying food at the same place that you fill up your tank with gas. I'm always on the go, so packing containers of almonds, fruits, and more saved me from impulsively buying any bags of chips/candy bars this month.
Eating Unprocessed is a Wonderful Luxury
It is a luxury of time, money, and knowledge.
This month, I spent so much of my time planning what to eat and thinking about food (yes, even more than usual, fellow food gawkers!). I would imagine that someone much more busy than me.. taking classes, working multiple jobs, toting a kid or two.. would face many more challenges than me (I can hear the "Amens" now).
Also, I spent a ridiculous amount if time scrutinizing labels. Looking back, I must have appeared to be having intimate staring contests with various packages of food..
It took me a lot of reading and reasearch to learn about and practice unprocessed eating, but I'm really happy I did! And I hope to continue sharing this knowledge, both here and at the meal table.
I can say with confidence that my body has never felt this great! I am much more alert during the day, have tons more energy, and feel stronger than ever.
This may also be attributed to a more regular workout schedule, but I'm pretty sure fueling up on fruits and veggies did my body immensely better than would their food-like wannabe counterparts.
& those Hot Cheetos of snacktimes past? Sure I'll grab a bag or two every now and then.. But after this month I'd much rather eat unprocessed food if I have the choice.
Dining at Tiffany's
(written from my mobile device, will format later ;D)