Thursday, March 17, 2011


So I think I mentioned that now that the "food challenge" is over, that we'd be eating grains, infrequently, and only if whole grain, and only if prepared by soaking to neutralize phytates and other harmful antinutrients they contain. (at home.....anywhere else, almost anything is fair game) is extremely difficult to get anything good to come from 100% whole wheat flour! I tried soaked biscuits (tough, crumbly......almost a waste of jam) I tried sourdough bread, and while the flavor was excellent, the texture of the loaf was, well - bricklike. Not exactly desirable for a loaf of bread! The banana bread I made was pretty decent, actually, and really, the whole wheat sourdough waffles were super good - but even if it all tasted amazing and it all had perfect texture....I'm actually not convinced that grains really DO have a place in our diet!

Surprised? Me too.

Because on every day that I consumed whole wheat, I was exhausted! I mean, ready for bed at 7pm, take a nap in the morning while the kids watch cartoons, and maybe even sneak a nap in the afternoon! This is not me, people - I had not taken a nap in I don't know when.

I sure wasn't expecting to find that my 24 hour, buttermilk-soaked, whole-grain baked goods were making me sleepy and lethargic, but that's what happened.

I can't really imagine any special occasion where a breakfast of sleep-inducing waffles is a good idea. I mean, for most special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, or whatever) you have plenty of other things other than eating and sleeping planned, right? If eating grains makes me sleepy, which it appears to, I really would be wise to avoid the stuff, altogether.

Too bad, I was really hoping to enjoy an occasional whole-wheat baked good. But really, I'm not sure if the words "enjoy" and "whole wheat" really even belong in the same sentence. If I'm going to eat grain, give me unbleached all purpose white flour. At least I can make some amazingly delicious biscuits and sausage gravy with the stuff. Occasionally, and only on days when I don't mind if eating breakfast makes me sleepy. ha!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Food Challenge Menus Posted in February

For reasons not quite understood by me, when I posted the week-by-week recount of what we actually ate during February, rather than posting in March, it dropped the posts in February.

So if you're considering giving no grains, no legumes, no sugar a try - and want to see what my family ate for Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Supper - for 28 days, just scroll down a bunch, and you can read that stuff. Otherwise - I'd skip it - it's pretty boring stuff!

But, I do recommend giving this a try. I'd say it was a very healthy way to lose some extra weight, we noticed great alertness and energy levels, and greater intestinal comfort.

We're making every effort, even after the challenge, to significantly limit consumption of grains, legumes, and sugar. In general, we intend to go without it, except for specially planned treats, or as guests we will gladly eat what is offered.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Food Challenge Summary

For the month of February, my family challenged ourselves to eat no sugar, no grains, plenty of healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, meats, and drink unsweetened beverages.

It went quite well.

  • We tried a lot of new recipes, which for the most part were very tasty.
  • We gained a new appreciation of what it means to have "dessert" - as an occasional treat, not a daily occurance, and even then, being super-sweetened isn't necessary.
  • My husband who's been accustomed to drinking sweet tea every day of his life, has switched (happily, even) to unsweetened tea - and has plans to continue this!
  • I've become more aware of the importance of consuming fat - for cellular health, for being able to use fat-soluble vitamins, and the realization that without consuming fat, your body senses the need to store it. Not to mention that plenty of healthy fats are essential, necessary, vitally important to raise healthy children. I'm also more aware of how various fats and oils are produced, and have a better understanding of which ones are most healthful to use.
  • My husband and I have lost inches off of our waist and hips. Effortlessly - we did not increase our exercise levels in the slightest.
  • I've been motivated to source whole milk for our family, and have begun milking our goats.
  • We now notice how SUPER sweet a soda pop is. Maybe even sickeningly sweet....before it was just a normal, every now and then drink.
  • Fruit salad tastes sweet without sugar.
  • I'm very excited about the gardening season so I can grow and try new vegetables to get a variety in our meals. Brussels sprouts, beets, asparagus, kale, chard - I'm actually looking forward to preparing these veggies, and eating them!
  • I've become a better meal-planner, and become better at sourcing the least expensive, yet high nutritive value foods.
  • There are probably more, but these are the ones I can remember easily. Both myself and my husband have talked about the changes we made, and felt glad for having done it.
Will we continue eating the same way? In a word, no - but there's more to it than that. We did notice digestive and energy level upset when we consumed sugar or grains. We are absolutely going to minimize the frequency of consuming those items, and change the methods we use to prepare them, but not rule them out on a regular basis. Even for the duration of the challenge, we still ate those things when we were offered them by others, either as guests or if given gifts of food - and we'll certainly continue that.

Some basic changes we plan to put into place:
  • eating grain and sugar free at breakfast throughout the week, but enjoying a serving of special things on the weekends, but in smart quantities. Maybe on Saturday and Sunday we'll have a slice of banana bread with our fruit and sausage and eggs, or maybe a cinnamon roll. We'll no longer eat only cinnamon rolls for the entire breakfast meal!
  • when Lent begins, I intend to stop drinking coffee for the rest of the summer - although I'll carefully consider starting back up in the late fall when cold weather returns.
  • when we consume baked goods, they'll be prepared carefully - soaked for 12-24 hours to neutralize phytates and enzyme-inhibitors, and they'll be eaten with moderation.
  • I'll aim to avoid white sugar altogether - we have real maple syrup, honey, and stevia to use as sweeteners when the natural sweetness of foods isn't enough.
  • We're now using olive oil, lard, butter, and coconut oil - avoiding canola, corn, and vegetable oil. Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions, explains why this is a good idea. The next time we take a fat calf in to butcher, I'll ask if we can get the beef tallow.
  • I'm learning to make real stock on a near-weekly basis, and incorporating it into our meals. It's not that hard, but seriously nutritious and delicious!
  • I'm going to learn how to make whole grain sourdough bread!
  • I intend to donate all the unopened pasta boxes that we have in our pantry - those foods have no place in our regular diets. I think pasty pasta might nearly be the definition of empty calories. Yes, we'll still eat the opened packages, but very infrequently.
  • We'll continue to carefully plan out menus, and I'm going to work hard to try to preserve as much as possible over the summer in the freezer to help with the cost of eating this way.
And honestly, I can't ignore the benefits of eating the way we did in February - we're going to try to eat no grain, no sugar as much as possible, though we will also incorporate properly prepared beans, rice, and whole grains as special treats, maybe 2-3 meals/week. Yes, we lost a lot of weight going without grain and sugar - but that was not our main goal, and coming up this summer we will be much more active and will need more sustenance! I have penciled in to do a repeat of the February challenge from November-January to minimize weight gain over the winter, and maximize health during a timeframe that's typically filled with unhealthy (although delicious) holiday treats.

And just in case anyone else reading this is curious about our results, and wants to know what it looks like to eat that way for 28 days, I did keep track of what we consumed. I'll post them in 4 separate posts, by week. Admittedly, they'll not be particularly interesting to the majority of readers - but if you're considering giving this type of thing a try, it might help you see how we did it. I tried to keep track of how we felt physically and psychologically (cravings) day by day.

I'm glad we did it. It has helped us change our eating habits, I believe for the better.