Reflecting On My Challenges

In this post, I am reflecting on my New Year’s challenges.

My Diet: In the past three weeks, I have been preparing all my own meals (except one – I went to Fresh last weekend). I would normally eat out about 1-2 meals during the week but it didn’t seem worth it for me to do that on this diet. The first time I went shopping was one day before the diet began. I spent about two hours grocery shopping for pantry staples: brown basmati rice, vegetable broth, brown rice porridge, no-sugar juices, almond milk and spices.

I learned the importance of reading ingredient labels thoroughly and to not be afraid of improvising in the kitchen. I made two mistakes of picking up items including ingredients I can’t consume during the diet. I accidentally picked up two “original” flavoured almond milks which contained carageenan (an ingredient that I was supposed to avoid) along with the “unsweetened” almond milk. I also picked up vegetable broth (which included organic tomatoes). I didn’t pick up on this mistake until I was making Borscht. I was upset, since I had purchased four vegetable broths, thinking I could make soups quickly on nights when I’m strapped for time or when I don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. So what did I do? I got upset at first, Crap! I can’t use this!! But I knew I couldn’t waste time being angry, since I would be hungry in the next hour so I had to make this meal now with whatever I had on hand. I decided to use the ingredients on the vegetable broth carton as my broth guideline and made my own broth out of ingredients I had on hand: filtered water, sea salt, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and it turned out wonderful.

Had it not been for this experience, I don’t think I would’ve ever gone out of my way to “make my own vegetable broth” because it’s so readily available. This diet has given me no choice but to rely on myself rather than premade, frozen and canned foods. It’s pretty hard to find recipes that are made specifically for the hypoallergenic diet. Although there are other elimination diets out there, I’ve had to make modifications (something I never had to do) or improvise (something I wasn’t as comfortable doing before). These days, I find I’m improvising more often and am having tasty results.

The first time my ND talked to me about the diet, I was excited. Although I could tell from the way she was telling me, not everyone feels the same way. My excitement started to dip a little when I read the diet guidelines: no tomatoes? no mushrooms? how will I ever cook without these ingredients?

At the same time, this diet has forced me to change my eating regimen (which I was getting sick of) but I didn’t really know where to begin. With the diet, I had to give up a lot of my go to foods and focus my attention on legumes, leafy greens, vegetables, and alternative snacks (brown rice crackers, brown rice cakes).

Before this, I only ever attempted to make brown rice last year – brown rice and lentils actually (on the stove). It was a complete disaster so I never tried it again. I’ve had brown rice almost every day during this diet and it’s really starting to grow on me (I used the rice cooker).

Doesn’t really matter how the end result will be, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about my cravings for sweets (baked goods, chocolate) and salty snacks (chips, cheese) and my favourite fast foods (pizza and french fries). I tend to crave these things on the weekend or when I’m feeling stressed or upset. Which I now know happens quite frequently, although, I’ve had a lot of self control over these past three weeks. I found the first week the hardest since I was still craving and missing foods I used to eat. In those moments, I think to myself, I can’t have that right now or I’ll ruin this diet and 21 day challenge. There’s nothing worse then feeling disappointed in yourself that you let yourself down.

This past weekend, I’ve been thinking about the order of foods, I’d like to reintroduce. Tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, and peppers are at the top of my list. I’ve stayed away from all meat/seafood (including chicken, turkey, wild game). So this will be interesting! I think this is the longest I’ve ever purposefully stayed away from animal and animal products.

Fitness: I’ve learned that it’s better for me to exercise earlier in the evening (right after work) rather than right before bed. I am mentally tired after work but not physically. I’ve focused on doing sit-ups daily since it’s the part of Eva’s class that I have the most difficulty. I am already feeling the results when I go to class, I feel stronger than I did before, so exercising on my own is paying off.

Eva suggested a mantra to use whenever we need to be reminded of why we’re doing this: Mine is “I need this, I want this, I’m doing this for a healthier, stronger new me, and I’m worth it.” I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this mantra, it has helped me during my most difficult times – Especially in the first week, it was very tempting to quit when I was exercising alone.  Eventually, I got used to it and counting out the reps helped as well. My evening ritual included exercising and journaling about it.

I am really proud to be able to say I’m done the 3 week fitness/diet challenge. Now, I’m onto phase two of the hypoallergenic diet – phasing in foods I was avoiding. I’ve lost 5lbs and 2.2inches.  As challenging as this experience has been, I’m really glad that I got through it and am able to share it with others.

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