Over the past month, I have been taking the “October Unprocessed” challenge. I pledged to eat only real, unprocessed foods for the entire month of October. In this post I will share the benefits I found, challenges I encountered, and my overall thoughts on the experience.
1. Eating real foods has given me much more energy throughout the entire day. I generally wake up fully rested and do not get tired during the day.
2. Although losing weight was not a goal of mine when I started the challenge, I have lost 7 pounds.
3. Every day was an adventure. It was fun trying to find new foods and recipes to try. Some were successful, and some weren’t, but it was exciting and a wonderful learning experience.
4. I’m hoping this set a good example for my children. I want to teach them the importance of eating healthy and respecting and taking good care of their bodies, and I think this experience helped me to do that. Although they seldom tried the new foods with me, there were a few things my 10-year-old tried and liked (and one was a green smoothie)! I think just exposing them to these foods is a good start for now. Maybe after they see the foods enough times, it won’t be so scary to them and they will try it out.
5. Habits are hard to break. This challenge broke me out of those bad habits of only buying and eating the same foods all the time (without even realizing what was in them) and it introduced me to a whole new world of delicious, healthy foods. Before this challenge, I had never tried (or had very little exposure to):
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Yellow Cherry Tomatoes
and I’m sure there are more I am forgetting.
6. I am more aware of what is in the foods I buy as well as the source of my food.
7. This challenge got me in the habit of having a green smoothie every day! Now I crave them if I miss a day!
8. I was fairly successful at eliminating white sugar and white flour from my diet for the entire month. At the beginning of this challenge, I really didn’t think I could survive without bread, but I did it…for the most part (I may have had a few slices of pizza during the month.)
9. It got me to clean out my pantry and refrigerator. Many of those products will not be brought back into our house, but will be replaced by healthier substitutes.
10. I have found healthy substitutes for some of the foods we used to eat. For example, we now use only pure maple syrup on pancakes instead of the syrup found in the stores that is made up of mostly corn syrup. My daughters resisted this change for a while, but they are now adapting to the pure maple syrup. We also switched from microwave popcorn (in the bags filled with chemicals) to organic popcorn kernels (actually we made that change before this challenge, but it is another example of a healthy substitute.)
10. This challenge has been a frequent topic of conversation with my close friends, and they have become more aware of what they are eating and feeding their families as well. We have been swapping recipe ideas and supporting each other in our quest to improve the health of our families.
11. I have enjoyed being part of a larger community of like-minded individuals committed to improving their health. I enjoyed being a part of a Facebook group of October Unprocessed participants who shared unprocessed recipes and tips and supported each other every step of the way!
12. Over the past year, I have taken a strong interest in becoming educated on the foods I feed myself and my family. I had been taking small steps and finding healthy replacements one food at a time. This challenge really gave me the push I needed to step it up, put more focus on it, and really discover some wonderful foods!
13. This challenge has inspired me to start a new blog and Facebook page called Journey to Complete Wellness, where I will be sharing health tips, unprocessed recipes, and inspiration as we all strive to better ourselves every day. I am excited to continue on my lifelong journey toward complete wellness in mind, body, and spirit and this challenge was just one more step along the way. I still have so much to learn, but I am passionate about my personal and spiritual growth and am excited to share what I learn along the way.
1. Of course I did not eat 100% unprocessed for the entire month (especially with all the Halloween candy around the house). But I did not beat myself up over it when I did cheat. I would say I ate about 90-95% unprocessed, which is MUCH better than I used to eat.
2. It was eye-opening and a little scary at times to realize how poorly I was feeding myself and my family before this challenge, when I truly thought we ate healthy. Unfortunately, it is still scary to see that I am still feeding my kids the same foods they always ate because they don’t want to try anything new.
3. It was VERY time-consuming. Before the challenge, I spent very little time cooking. I never would have put all that time and effort into making something for just myself, but this has forced me to and was well worth it. I also spent a lot of time keeping track of what I ate and posting it in this blog. That was also worth it because I feel that this blog is what kept me accountable. I probably would not have been as successful with the challenge if I wasn’t going to be putting it down in writing every day.
4. It was very expensive. Whole, REAL foods are expensive. Especially organic fruits and vegetables. I found myself shopping on the discount produce rack quite often for fruits and vegetables that were just going to be juiced. I did save a lot of money that way. But in the end, I believe all the extra money spent on groceries for real food is worth it.
5. I found it very difficult to throw away the leftovers from my kids, especially at the beginning. I have a big issue with throwing away food, so it was really hard for me to throw away bread crusts, etc. at first. I used to eat whatever they didn’t. I did get over it, though.
Although October Unprocessed is officially over, it has been a life-changing experience for me and has changed the way I will be eating from now on. Although it was not without challenges, it has been an extremely rewarding experience for me overall. It has been a fun month learning about and trying new foods and recipes. I feel great, have lots of energy all throughout the day, and am very excited about incorporating new healthy foods and recipes into my diet. I’m sure there are many other wonderful, healthy Superfoods out there just waiting for me to find them.
I am planning to take this pledge again next October, and I highly encourage anyone reading this to try it out as well. Because really, there’s nothing more important than your health.
Thank you so much to everyone who supported me during this month by sharing your recipes, tips, encouragement, etc. I really appreciated it! 🙂