October #Unprocessed - Week 1 Update

Week 1 Update:

The first few days of the challenge went smoothly. I focused on making small changes to some of our favorite recipes, many of which only needed minor tweaking to be considered unprocessed. Not only did it help me ease into the challenge, but it will help me maintain these changes in the long run. I find that small changes are easier to stick to and I want the changes I make to our diet this month be for the long haul, not just while we're participating in October #Unprocessed.

Breakfast was by far the easiest part of the challenge since I tend to rely heavily on oatmeal or another whole grain hot cereal to keep me feeling full until lunch. I can easily customize it for individual tastes and it can be made in advance, which is perfect for a non-morning person like me. I did use this as an opportunity to experiment with less processed sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. One of my goals this month is to reduce my sugar intake, but I found that I really missed adding brown sugar to my oatmeal; I really do prefer the taste. Ultimately I decided to switch to Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado sugar) and reduce the amount of sugar I put in my oatmeal. Hopefully over time my tastes will change and I'll stop craving brown sugar.

Lunch has proven to be more of a challenge that I anticipated. I don't always give it the same amount of consideration that I do other meals. More often than not I rely on things that can be tossed together quickly and wrapped in a tortilla – I've really missed tortillas this week. I decided to do some menu planning for week 2 to help me with lunch planning and make our mid-day meal run a little more smoothly.

Eating on the road:

Going in to the challenge I knew that this week would be the most difficult. Not because eating entirely unprocessed required more thought and scrutiny about my food, but because there would be three whole days when I had little control over what I ate. We made the trip back home this past weekend to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my husband's grandparents. That meant meals prepared by others and a lot of eating out. I decided before the challenge that I would focus on eating smaller portions and making healthier decisions when I could rather than scrutinize every ingredient in my food. Sometimes less processed is the best you can do and it's important to realize that it's ok to eat out occasionally. For me the ultimate goal is to make healthier decisions every day.

What healthier decisions did I make?

We skipped the drive-thru at McDonalds and made a quick stop in at Subway for a veggie sub (although I did give in to temptation and have a cookie too.) 

I packed healthier alternatives to our favorite road trip treats. Instead of picking up a king sized snickers bar, I opted for a small package of dark chocolate covered almonds. While I brought along Twizzlers for my husband, they're his one necessity to survive the fourteen hour round trip drive, I didn't eat a single one. That's a huge accomplishment for me because they're one of my biggest vices and I can easily put away half a package on a road trip.

We went to a winery to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Instead of ordering a full meal we settled on house made whole wheat pretzels and an artisan cheese and sausage platter that we shared with my parents. I focused on eating until I was full and not munching away at the extras because I hate to waste food.

Fighting food cravings:

Now it's time to come clean and admit the fact that I gave in to my cravings for fast food on the return trip home. I ate a Sourdough Jack from Jack in the Box and I enjoyed every last greasy bite (and probably licked my fingers clean too.) I've always felt that it was better to feed my cravings when I have them instead of completely restricting myself from junk food. I'm more prone to overeating unhealthy food when I choose to ignore my cravings. Now, when I crave chips I don't feel guilty, instead I buy a snack-sized bag and enjoy them. I recognize it's a treat, a very unhealthy treat, but I no longer deny myself. In the case of my burger craving, I recognized that my need for unhealthy food came from the stress of a long drive and lack of sleep. I think that it is incredibly important to determine why you are craving unhealthy food and work to eliminate the types of situations that trigger these cravings if possible. In this case, I can't eliminate my monthly trip home to visit family, nor would I want to, so instead I focused on making healthier decisions during the trip. I ordered a burger, I didn't order a value meal with fries and a soda.

What's in store for week 2?

I've made a list of healthy snack and lunch ideas. Hopefully planning my lunch and snack menus in advance will help me cut down on some of the late night cravings I've been having this week.

Tonight I'll be looking for unprocessed alternatives for some of the ingredients I've pulled out of my pantry for the month.
 
What's on the list?
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Taco Shells
  • Corn Starch Alternative (arrowroot powder or potato starch)

I'll also be experimenting with white whole wheat flour. I'll be altering my pizza crust and pita bread recipes to make them unprocessed. I'm looking forward to bringing back our Friday pizza night.