Fresh Food Challenge (Week #4)

This is it. One week left, and I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard. We’ve cut out the grains, we said no to added sugars, and we left those poor cows unmilked. Those three weeks helped you train for the next seven days: eating only the freshest foods.

You’re going to stick to the fresh produce department as much as you can. If you’re buying something pre-packaged, it will only have one ingredient and will be minimally processed (chopped, frozen, dried, but not cooked, salted, freeze-dried, etc). Sorry, dairy lovers, cheese is on the processed list.

In Michael Moss’s book “Salt, Sugar, Fat”, he shows how processed foods are designed for taste, not nutrition, and are usually carefully made with ratios of the titular salt, sugar, and fat to be as satisfying and addictive as possible. Unfortunately, stripping foods down to these three flavor agents often rob them of essential nutrients as well. Before you know it, you’re cramming down empty calories with no nutritional benefit to show for it.

Worse yet, these foods are rarely filling. There are as many calories in 2 Oreos as there are in an apple. Which takes you longer to eat? Now ask yourself, how easy it is to absent-mindedly eat a dozen Oreos? Could you do the same with 6 apples? Probably not--you’d feel full way before then!

Plus, have you seen the ingredients to Oreos? Do you know what “High Oleic Canola Oil” even means? How many products do you consume with ingredients you can’t identify. I like to live by the principal that if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it (French cuisine excepted).

There’s something satisfying about cooking your own meals and knowing exactly what you’re putting into it. You’re more likely to savor it, adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, and make new discoveries. It may take a little extra time, but it’s worth it.

Because this is not the easiest task, I have a few incentives for you: double points will be awarded for each day’s challenge successfully met. Plus, there will be no bonus wods--instead, get ready for CleanFest on Saturday, 2/17 at 10am! One last bonus: this challenge officially ends along with CleanFest, so enjoy the post-competition donuts and coffee and enjoy your first challenge-free Saturday in a month!

But don’t forget all you’ve learned about yourself in the last month. I’ve heard some great stories from people who felt their best during No Sugar Week, and others who had unexpected physical and psychological benefits of giving up dairy. Some people discovered great new meal ideas during No Grain week, while others felt no difference with or without the grains (I’m jealous). I’m proud of all of you and I’ll see you at CleanFest!

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