I wasn’t much of a desserts person until I married my husband, a self-confessed sugar addict. Since we’ve been together, my general indifference toward sweets has morphed into dessert every night.
When my diet started feeling a bit out of control, indulging way too frequently in processed sugar and flour, I decided to challenge my husband and myself to eat a whole-food diet of unprocessed, real food for an entire week. A whole-food diet focuses on fresh produce, whole grains and legumes, while avoiding highly refined foods and decreasing your animal product consumption.
Here’s what we learned and what challenged us.
Plan Ahead for Success
I knew we had better chance at sticking to the plan if we had plenty of great food at home to grab for a quick lunch or easy snack. We stocked up on a variety of real, unprocessed foods that could satisfy our cravings. I also made a meal plan in advance so it would be easier to stock up for dinners and stick to the plan. Dinners included:
- Roasted salmon with herbed yogurt
- Slow-cooker chicken tacos on whole-wheat tortillas
- Mediterranean quinoa bowls with roasted red pepper sauce
I also anticipated that our sugar cravings wouldn’t disappear in the first few hours, so I planned ahead. I made a batch of healthy, unprocessed brownies that don’t have refined sugar or flour for a more natural (but still tasty!) take on the dessert staple.
Learn more about healthy living.*
The Benefits of Eating Real, Satisfying Food
Excitement about our healthier way of eating made the beginning of the week much easier. For breakfast, we ate oatmeal with real maple syrup, green smoothies and toast with organic butter and jam. For lunch, we feasted on enormous salads, whole wheat sandwiches, quick soups and leftovers.
Throughout the week, I found that my craving for sweets, which previously ruled my nights with an iron fist, went away after a few days. When the desire did arise, it was satisfied quickly with a few bites of a healthy brownie.
After a few days, I noticed I’d actually lost a couple pounds even though I’d done nothing else differently. I also found myself eating less — I was satisfied in a more balanced way.
The Challenges with Dining Out and Cravings
Of course, it wasn’t always easy. There were definitely some challenges along the way. We found that eating out was the most challenging part of our whole-food diet challenge.
Most restaurants use processed products in many of their dishes. For example, avoiding processed vegetable oil cuts out most mayonnaises and salad dressings. You can opt for making your own with olive oil and vinegar. We found it easier to go to health-conscious restaurants around town.
Also, many of us tend to give in to our cravings when we’re stressed or having a bad day, and I was no exception during this week. I found myself craving potato chips and cheese fries, but also discovered that my cravings passed a lot more quickly than they had in the past.
After the week ended, I was convinced enough to stick with the plan for the foreseeable future. We just feel too good to go back to how we used to eat.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.