Sunday, January 3, 2010

The 30 Day Food Challenge

My interest in nutrition started two and a half years ago when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Feeling shocked, scared, and helpless, I poured myself into research. I wanted to find out everything there was to know about cancer and its treatment. I knew Mom would have to undergo the traditional treatment options, but what I didn't know, but would find, was that there was much more that she could do outside of surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Much of what I was reading was pointing me in the same direction: nutrition. I quickly became fascinated with the connection between diet and disease. It was amazing to me how powerful a role nutrition could play in not only the prevention of disease, but also the reversal and healing. This was something no doctor had mentioned to my mom during her diagnosis period or treatments. How was it that these doctors, some of the best in the world, were missing this key component to the health and well-being of their patients? It was both intriguing and frustrating, and I continued in my quest for more knowledge on the subject.
Since then I have learned that much of the population is ignorant to the role of nutrition in our health and much of what they think they know is gross misinformation. It's no wonder. You can't read one idea regarding diet and health without finding two that contradict it in the next book or research article. The media is famous for taking a small study or insignificant finding and blowing it into gargantuan proportions. I have learned to be leery of what I read and scrutinize the sources as thoroughly as I can.
Once I became informed about the role nutrition plays in our overall health and especially disease prevention, I felt convicted to change my diet. Soon after Mom's diagnosis I became a vegetarian. I tried to transition into a complete vegan diet, eliminating all animal products, but found my lifetime love affair with cheese much more difficult to end than that with the flesh of animals. I did limit my dairy as much as I could, eating some cheese, very few eggs, and no milk (I switched to soy milk). I also strictly limited my sugar intake. I stopped eating desserts and candy, and read labels carefully as to avoid hidden sugars in common foods like breakfast cereals. I was feeling great and soon didn't even crave sugar or meat.
Then I got pregnant. The first 17 weeks of my pregnancy I experienced "morning sickness". Funny how they call it morning sickness when it can last all day. During this time, my tastes changed drastically and I had difficulty eating the things that were essential to my diet, particularly vegetables and beans. This, compounded by family members (mostly my husband and my dad) who constantly worried that I wasn't going to properly nourish the baby growing inside me, I went back to my meat-eating, sugar-indulging days. In fact, I pretty much threw out everything I'd learned and ate whatever I craved.
Once Meghan was born, I figured I'd get back to my healthy-eating ways. It took longer than I anticipated, however, because my interest in nutrition was overshadowed by the joys of parenthood. My new obsession was learning all I could about babies. Baby sleep, baby development, everything was focused on the baby. Plus, I was tired. My brain was foggy.
Well, Meghan is 15 months now and I've slowly gotten back on track (or at least closer to the track). The last few months I've transitioned into eating meat only once per week. There is still no cow's milk in our house, but I do eat too much cheese. Sugar has been a battle for me and one that I am determined to win. This is where the 30 day food challenge comes in. I'm ready to take the plunge and get my body used to eating more healthful foods again. My dear husband has agreed to take this 30 day challenge with me. My hope is that after 30 days he will want to continue on this journey on some level, but if not I will at least be more ready to embark on it by myself.
Here is what the next 30 days will entail. For 30 days, our food will:
  • Be vegan (no animal products)
  • Be comprised of mostly whole, minimally processed foods
  • Have limited amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates (white bread, white potatoes, etc.)
Wish us luck because we will need it!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully said and very well written! I completely agree with everything you said. You would just LOVE the program I am in. Maybe you should consider it at some point. There is a link to the school on my website if you ever want to check it out. Best of luck to you this month! I have two great recipes I made this week that I'll email you. xo