I LOVE challenges. I do since ten years or more. It started with challenges such as “one month without sugar” or “one month without additives” or “three months without white flour”. The challenges continued to grow ever since.
In 2016 I decided not to eat ANY empty calories for one year! This means, no refined sugars, no refined flour, basically no oils, no additives, no artificial coloring, no anything processed basically. And of course I still wanted to continue my vegan diet (I eat a vegan diet since 2013). I shared a little bit about the challenge and why I wanted to make it back in January last here. You can find the post here.
Today, one year later, I want to tell you how it went and how it continues… 🙂
How did it go?
In the beginning of the challenge I missed sweetener in my tea a lot and I used a lot of agave syrup to replace sugar. It took me around a month to get used to tea and coffe without sweetener, maybe even six weeks. But then it was all good and I did not miss it at all.
Otherwise it was okay easy to replace any kind of sweets with homemade options that I sweetened with dates, bananas or apple sauce. I made a lot of bliss balls in the first few months of the challenge but then I did not even feel like eating so much sweet any more and I pretty much stopped making them. I had my green smoothies in the morning and they were sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I also started to make rich and sweet drinks such as golden milk (sweetened with dates) and hot/iced chocolate (sweetened with dates) when I felt like having something sweet.
The white flour was not much of a challenge for me to be honest. I had a vegan kebab in pita bread once in Summer (a nice night on the balcony with my husband… and we just felt like we NEED a kebab now… so he got us one 🙂 ). However, I rarely ever had white bread beforehand and I rarely ever ate store bought cakes or cookies so that was okay easy.
Nevertheless, it was a thing when we were in social settings. Which leads us to the next question…
How did it go in social settings?
Most of my friends and family members knew about my challenge and they made it easy for me. However, they have been a handful of difficult situations throughout the year. The first time we visited my husband’s family, they got white flour bread rolls for breakfast and I felt like I have to eat them too. So I did. I did not feel good afterwards so the next morning I got up early and made oatmeal for everyone. They enjoyed it a lot and I did not have to say “no” to what they made for us.
This strategy also worked well for other occasions where I knew there will be dessert or cake: I just said beforehand that I will bring dessert and everyone got my sugarfree version. Noone ever complaint so I guess they have been okay 😉
In one situation I had a piece of cake and I felt so bad afterwards (it literally hurt my tummy). I was invited to my uncle’s place and they bought vegan cake for us (since they knew we were vegan) and they were so excited and proud because they were able to find vegan cake in their small town. So I had a piece to be polite. I do not regret it but I think next time I will be better prepared.
Whenever we went out for lunch or dinner in a restaurant I always made sure that I am not “a problem” and had the others choose were to go so that they could get what they liked best. Every restaurant can make a salad and most can also make a oven baked poatoe with it. So it is not much of a thing.
And by the way, I made a post about how to eat a whole food plant based diet while travelling. Check it out here.
The most important lesson learned?
When I failed, I failed because I was not prepared. I could have asked my uncle if there would be cake and bring some homemade, sweetened with dates and made from whole grain spelt flour, or I could have told my partens in law beforehand that I prefer not to eat bread rolls and that I will be in charge of breakfast during our stay at their place.
I learned to ALWAYS bring snacks with me. Enough snacks to be able to share with others. I always have a homemade trail mix, some fruits or bliss balls in my bag. When I am travelling for longer than two hours, I bring homemade sandwiches, salads or leftovers with me. Like this I can easily avoid buying things on the road with unknown ingredients.
Whenever I forgot to bring snacks I usually stopped at a bakery (we have bakeries like at every corner of the road here in Germany) to get a whole grain spelt bread roll. Or I went to a supermarket to get a trail mix (towards the end of the year however, I tried to avoid that because I want to avoid any kind of plastic or alu packages).
How will I continue?
After one month already I knew that this challenge is not going to be a 2016 challenge. It is a new lifestyle. And so it is. I do not feel any need to eat white bread, sweets, or any highly processed foods. Not at all. I never felt better now to be honest. Throughout 2016 I have not been really sick even once (I had a little bit of a cold twice which made me feel tired for a day)! Even though I had quite a busy year, opening my own company, having a baby, and everthing, I felt energized and good almost all the time. Why should I give this up? No way I will 😀
I will not EVER be perfect and I am totally fine with it. There will be moments where I feel like adding some sugar to my coffee or where I will buy a vegan kebab in pita bread. And that’s okay. Because 99% of the time I am eating whole foods which nourish me with plenty of nutrients and which give me a ton of energy.
So, I am basically continuing my challenge… plus, I have another one going on for 2017! I will share more about it on Sunday in my next post 🙂
Any questions? Feel free to ask!