I have always been the type of person that is interested in healthy living and is always looking for something new to try. Over the course of my life, I have tried countless diets, workout routines, lifestyle changes and have done a few “revamps” when I get bored of what I am doing. Typically, the diets fade, the lifestyle change slows and I find myself living in a new reality – slightly changed by the new information I have learned, but still unable to kick my hardest habits to the curb, such as binging on a late night bowl of chips, or eating too many leftover Christmas chocolates.
Curious about what she was doing, I asked her to explain this “detox” to me. Essentially, it was a 5-day, super healthy, vegan eating challenge that required intense meal-prepping. Just the thing I needed! I had just finished my Christmas holidays in Florida, where I ate my entire body weight in chocolate and spent most of my days lounging by the pool. I told my friend that I would be willing to participate in the detox with her and we both agreed to start on January 2nd.
Once January 2nd rolled around, we both went grocery shopping and stocked up on the following items (I already had many of the ingredients the plan had outlined):
- Red Beets
- Romaine Lettuce
- Fresh Ginger
- Red Lentils
After shopping, we made it back to her house and meal-prepped a lovely Lentil and Carrot soup, some Banana Coconut Chocolate “Cookies” and a shredded Beet and Carrot Salad. This would be some of our food for the week. That evening we ate some soup, which was surprisingly delicious (and filling) and we tried the Banana “cookies” which I was not so fond of. After we finished hanging out, I took my portions of the meal prep home and spent the rest of the week indulging in these plant-based foods.
I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly, but I was proud that I was able to stick it out and make it until the end. Most of my morning breakfasts consisted of “Protein pancakes” that wouldn’t cook (made from banana, flax seed and protein powder). I found that putting the batter in a mug and cooking it in the microwave created the best result – a morning mug cake! For lunch, I made lots of lettuce wraps with hummus and vegetables (beet and carrot salad and cabbage). I also made some delicious salads with spinach, hemp seeds, some tofu and an apple cider vinegar dressing. For dinner, I ate the soup we meal prepped, which was absolutely delicious. What shocked me the most about this five-day challenge was that I was not starving! Since I had the right combination of protein and healthy fats and the food I prepped was actually decent tasting, I was able to keep satisfied. Other than a bit of bloating after eating cabbage for the first time in forever, I felt great. My brain fog that I typically experience had lifted. I didn’t wake up with a headache for once, and I didn’t have to stress about what to eat at all!
I still had some temptations such as chips in the house (I ate some one day) and eating tofu (I am not sure if it was “allowed” for the detox or not), and I ended the detox one meal early, but having ‘perfect’ results is hard for anyone to do. Looking at my major accomplishments, I was able to actually eat vegan for five straight days, which has always been a goal of mine. I also filled half of my plate with vegetables for most meals, which helped me eat smaller portions and made me feel full. I didn’t eat any takeout for the five days, which is a good accomplishment (and a money saver). I also swapped my typical black tea with honey and soy milk for plain green tea with no sugar! This was a huge accomplishment because I typically cannot survive the day without one (or two) black teas (which usually upsets my stomach by noon).
After finishing the five days strong, I have come out of this experience with a new perspective of healthy eating and have learned some new things to incorporate into my life.
- Meal prep is KEY
I would not have survived the five days without the intense meal prep that my friend and I did. This was eye-opening because I realized that it is not fair to expect yourself to make rational decisions around food in a hungry state. I mean, think about it! When you’re in a hungry mood, you probably can’t think straight because your blood sugar is low, causing you to reach for the bad foods around you. If the food is already prepared and in front of you, you don’t have to give eating much thought! If you actually meal prep, chances are you probably won’t even get to that hungry of a state in the first place.
- Eat your vegetables with SOMETHING
I was so surprised at how filling the vegetables in the salads and soups were! In the past, “healthy eating” to me meant eating a salad with as many vegetables in it as possible. I have learned the importance of combining vegetables with healthy sources of fats and protein to keep myself fuller for longer.
- Vegetables can help fill you up!
In a typical meal before the cleanse, I would fill half of my plate with protein, just over a quarter with carbs (like rice) and the remainder with a salad. Since half of my plate was vegetables for this cleanse, I actually found it so surprising that I was too full to finish some meals. I will now strive to fill HALF of my lunch and dinner plates with the vegetables that I like.
- Vegan does not mean expensive
The total cost for the week of meals was around $20, but I did not even finish all of the fresh vegetables that I bought! Lentils, beans, peas and spinach are all healthy sources of nutrients that do not cost a lot of money.
- Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
To this point in my life, I cannot recall a single diet, cleanse or major “lifestyle
change” that I have been able to successfully finish or sustain indefinitely. I mean technically, since I deviated from the plan and ate chips, I still haven’t! I am confident that I am not alone in this. Instead of focusing on perfect (nobody’s perfect), I choose to view this as a positive and successful experience. Now that I have made it through five days of being vegan and eating more vegetables, I am sure that I will revert back to some of my old habits, but I have a greater sense of accomplishment and confidence that wasn’t there before. I have learned that goal setting, whether it works or not, is such a great thing because it allows you to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself to try new things. In fact, this cleanse has already motivated me to meal prep for my next week of meals (vegan sweet potato chili and healthy cookies), and it has ignited the flame that I needed to write this blog post.
If you’re looking for something new to try, I would encourage you to do this five day challenge. They even have meal options for people who are non-vegan, gluten free and vegetarian. Overall, this has been a positive experience and I have learned a lot!
Hope you all have a great start to 2018.