Eating Real WAS a Challenge during the Real Eats

Deb cauliflower BWSo, here I am at the “end” of our Real Eats Challenge. For the last 40 days, I’ve avoided anything processed, packaged, boxed, or canned. In other words, only real, whole food. No sugar (we allowed honey and maple syrup), no dairy, and no flours (or cereals). I made my own crackers, bread, and peanut butter. Our intention was to do this as close to 100% as possible, fully knowing that we would not be able to be 100%. My guess is that I was about 98%. I did go out to eat several times, and though I chose foods that were real and whole, I’m not sure what was used in the preparation of the foods. One night, while eating at Good Karma Café, I splurged on their vegan tiramisu (my weakness), which violated all the rules except for the no dairy (they are vegan, after all). Throughout the 40 days, I had two beers (against the rules). But, this isn’t meant to be a confession by any means. How do I feel? First, let me say that I really didn’t expect to feel differently. I already eat mostly this way, and I was feeling quite well. One thing I did know was that I wanted to drop a few pounds that I put on this last (harsh) winter. That was probably the most interesting part of this journey. For the first three weeks, despite my not having dairy (my chosen dairy was goat cheeses, which I dearly missed), or grains (except brown rice), for the most part, I didn’t drop any weight. It was frustrating. I was confident the extra pounds would just shed easily within a week or two. My body held on until week four, when it finally decided I was serious in these changes. Since then I’ve dropped seven pounds. I don’t know if I’ll lose more, or if I need to. I’m waiting to find out my new natural weight. Aside from the lost weight, I do feel better. I’m not bloated anymore. My sinuses are completely clear almost all of the time (as opposed to most of the time). I don’t have that mid-afternoon tiredness anymore. I’m more flexible (physically and mentally). I’ve had no headaches. My menstrual cramps are less. I haven’t been moody. Had I only done this for a couple weeks, I don’t think I would have had these benefits. I think the 40 days was a good call. And eating this way became so regular to me that I’ve decided to continue on this road (probably 95%). I know from the tiramisu incident that I am truly sensitive to gluten (the next day I was bloated and put on some water weight—inflammation). I’m curious to see how the goat cheese will affect me. That will be my first test, with my fingers crossed. I will continue to severely limit my grain intake and I will continue to avoid sugar. I will go back to my favorite jarred peanut butter and canned beans. I will welcome back butter and ghee. I will experiment with yogurt, and every once in a while a glass of wine. Lessons learned: (Nothing I didn’t already know, but good to be reminded about) When I don’t plan out my meals, I go hungry. When I go hungry in the morning, I become voracious in the late afternoon and evening. Preparing food ahead of time for the next several days is key to success in eating well and staying healthy. It’s OK to feel hunger. Sometimes, you have to stretch your eating rules (within reason) when you are in social situations and don’t want to offend the host. There are plenty of real, whole foods, if you make the time to find them and prepare them. Eating real, whole foods makes me feel better physically, emotionally, spiritually, and ethically. So, 40 days, going on 365 days. I highly recommend giving this a try. I am sure you will discover a new you.


When Debbie shared her original idea of doing a 40 day challenge, I first said –

Wendy pineapple BW‘good luck’ … I didn’t want to give up my wine.  But 24 hours later I was still thinking about the idea and we set the summer equinox as the end date.  Thank you Debbie – I’m glad I said yes!

Debbie and I shared many of the same challenges –  eating out, missing certain foods, and planning ahead so I thought I’d share a few other notes.

Challenges turned Benefits:

BETTER SLEEP: As I said, I didn’t want to give up my daily habit: a glass or two of wine (yes, I wined about it).  In that first week, I told Debbie I wasn’t going to be perfect and it wasn’t just because I wanted wine.  Perfectionism can sprout ugly judgement of self and others – so I let that go immediately. (I don’t suggest my clients be perfect either unless addiction is a concern.)   Over the course of the 40 days, I did enjoy wine a few times – like celebrating my Dad’s birthday, the opening of my neighbor’s pool and an amazing luncheon at Nicolas with wine pairing for every dish.  I also let go of the not-so-healthy-for-me daily habit and the result is better sleep – which I cherish.  If the challenge had been a week, it wouldn’t have made the same impact.  40 days really got a new habit created for me.  Not only am I saving money, I’m better rested and have clearer thinking.

TAPPING CREATIVITY: At the start of the 40 days, I knew I wanted to tap into my creative side in the kitchen.  Because our rule was to eliminate eating anything processed, that meant making our own dressings, stock, energy bars, crackers, granola, milk, juices and more.  I do this already but this challenge helped me create a few new dishes – creamy cilantro sauce being one of my favorites.

BEING IN NATURE:  “Using Nature to Nourish” is the tag line of our program and Debbie and I both love the outdoors.  During our 40 days, we enjoyed a visit to a local farm, Seven Arrows,  to learn more about organic gardening.  The invite was perfect timing to feel more connected to the earth and understand the immense labor that goes into growing nourishing foods.  Debbie already harvests several raised beds and several fruit trees of her own and now that my neighbor took down some trees to build her pool (sad face), I can start my own (happy face).  Thanks for the lessons and inspiration farmer Meg!

LOSING JUDGEMENT:  I am more resolved now than ever not to judge myself or others for their choices.  That idea hasn’t just come from this 40 days of REAL EATS, it’s come from nearly 45 years of figuring out what’s right for me…and I’m still on the journey!  This challenge garnered some criticism from people who thought we were crazy.  One person said: ‘Why would you want to work so hard at feeding yourself when there is so much already prepared for you?”  Others jumped on board and shared their results: ‘I can taste my food more than ever.”  One comment is a little painful to hear and the other is pure pleasure.  Both of these comments are teaching us lessons and we hear them loud and clear.   We each have our own unique, amazing body and we each have our own journey.  I know I just made my own life-long journey better by doing this challenge.

We welcome you to do this challenge anytime and post your own results. Our next adventure together is running a four week women’s wellness series called IGNITE YOUR SUMMER GLOW.  Please join us!  Starts July 10th.  Pre-registration required.

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