Today is day 9 of my 10 day Real Food Challenge, and I can honestly say it has not been a huge challenge– but it has been incredibly enlightening. During the first few days, I could not really appreciate the challenge, the process, or even what benefits might come since I felt so sick, but during the second half of the challenge I have hit my stride. I can now assess and share a variety of benefits that I have experienced– some expected and some unexpected.
One benefit I expected was to lose weight. I did that. I have lost about 5 or 6 pounds. I also got to lose some inches from my waist. I noticed by day four that my stomach was less bloated and more flat, so that was great. I did not expect to be made sick initially, but that passed and now I feel pretty fantastic. Another unexpected benefit has been the stabilization of my mental state or what feels sort of like “zen.” I am more confident, less emotionally labile, calmer, and more content [even in the face of stress like I experienced today, I was- what can only be described as- zen calm]. While initially, I was exhausted, I am now more energetic and feel pretty good. I expected to have intense cravings and to have to fight them and write about them to ward them off. I have not had intense cravings; and frankly, after the first day, have experienced almost no cravings and have not felt hungry or ravenous at any time. I am much more satisfied by less food.
This might be the best part of all. I suppose the main benefit of all is that I am eating because I need some fuel for my body and I am not eating to medicate. The removal of the sugar means that I am not compelled by forces seemingly beyond my control to engage in mindless eating of empty, sugar/carb loaded, nutrient-starved foods. Before the challenge, I had reached a point that I sometimes get to when stressed where I literally feel out of control. These are times when I don’t feel very well physically, so I reach for foods that are fast or comforting or sweet. These foods don’t really satisfy hunger very well and they increase the desire for more like foods, and I get sucked into a vortex where I literally feel like I lose the ability to make good choices and I am on sort of an out of control autopilot. Eating real foods has taken away that panicky loss of choice and given me a measure of control– maybe not even control so much as a detached objectivity that allows me to make good choices and not be hijacked along the way by the mad impulsivity fueled by sugar cravings.