Well, it’s the last day of January, which means my 1-month “Real Food Challenge” is over tomorrow! Did anyone else challenge themselves to some sort of healthy eating goal for the month?
I have to give myself a big pat on the back for doing pretty well. I’d say I stuck to my plan like glue for the first 10 days. Then came real life in the form of dinners out, a birthday party and a family get together… let’s just say I fell off the wagon a bit that weekend! However, once the work week started I got pretty much back on track, luckily.
After about two weeks, I started to make a few modifications to my diet… some items like bread, were almost impossible to find at the store since they needed to have an ingredient list with 5 or less “real foods.” Bread, especially for things like toast or sandwiches is such a staple for me, so I tried to find the healthiest, 100% whole wheat bread I could and went with it.
Even though this food challenge was really only for January, I want to find solutions and food choices that will work well past this month. Bread was the main modification I made and tried to stick with my approved real foods the rest of the month as best as I could.
One big lesson I learned after doing this challenge, was that in order for me to eat healthy, I need to be prepared! This meant prepping dinners in advance and having healthy snacks at the ready!
One of my favorite new snacks is 2% Fage Greek Yogurt, topped with this granola (made without brown sugar), a few berries and a small drizzle of pure maple syrup! It’s nothing all that fancy, but it cured my sweet tooth and the protein from the yogurt and fiber in the granola kept me satisfied well after snack time was over.
I was also loving these Nutty Cocoa Truffles I made at the beginning of the month. Just one could cure my sweet tooth and keep me satisfied, just like the yogurt treat I mentioned above. Little “treats” like this were a must for me to keep me on track. Did you discover any new snack ideas or recipes if you did a healthy eating challenge?
Another big lesson learned and change I will continue into the coming months is how I take my coffee. Prior to January, I used about 2 tablespoons of flavored, non-dairy creamer plus 1 teaspoon of sugar in my coffee every day. I never really thought much about it, but once I started this challenge both my creamer and sugar were a “no-no!” I switched to about 2 tablespoons of half and half, which I have to say definitely took a little getting used to! My sweet tooth was definitely in protest that first week!
I’m pretty used to it now though. Plus, when I sat down to do the math, I was adding a total of over 2 5-lb. bags of sugar to my coffee over the course of a year! Can you believe that? If that’s just how much I’m adding to my coffee, how much am I actually eating with all of the other sugar added into foods these days. It’s really quite crazy to think about! The half and half I put in my coffee now, has less than 1/2 teaspoon of natural sugar, compared to the over 1 Tablespoon of added sugars prior to January. Keeping my coffee refined-sugar free is my new thing!
My final “big lesson” is to start looking at food labels more. Some items I always bought like canned tomatoes with chilies actually contained added sugars! Did you know that? I never looked at the food labels of some items before and just assumed when it said canned tomatoes and chilies, that it was actually just those two ingredients – boy was I wrong! It’s really quite interesting if you start looking at food labels and I know I will be more mindful of doing this in the future!
Well, there you have it. These were my three main lessons-learned over this past month. If you did a food challenge for January, I hope you were successful! I may be back to some of my old eating habits as of tomorrow, but I am definitely more aware of what is going in my body after completing this fun little eating challenge!