It doesn’t happen overnight, even though it might look like that to the outside world. This whole changing-your-whole-diet-and-relationship-to-food thing was a long time coming.
Over several years, many little seeds were planted in my mind (as in most people’s mind through through the media) about of the 20th-21st century standard Western diet. Those little seeds eventually all blossomed this spring to the point where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I didn’t want to play along with the way our food culture was going. I wanted a big change, and I wanted a lasting change. I wanted to play big.
Then again, I’m only human, and so I felt the need to treat it like a fun game to get me started.
This Easter, I created a challenge for myself. I wanted to see if it really was “impossible” to eat healthy and avoid processed food, frozen dinners, quick meals – and not go bankrupt. See, that was my excuse for a really long time. Oh, you know, I would love to eat organic food, quit sugar and dairy, and treat my body like a temple, but it’s just too expensive. Money and time. Those were usually the excuses it boiled down to.
I finally decided to stop saying that eating only healthy food was too was expensive when I’d never actually given it a whole-hearted attempt. And that’s how the 30 Days of Homemade challenge was born! I decided I’d give it a real try for one month and I set up a list of rules and guidelines (a little bit like a manifesto, ridiculous as it sounds) to make sure I didn’t crack under pressure and get that frozen pizza at the end of the day…
The plan was to eat nothing but homemade food for a whole month. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting into my body, and I wanted to feed it only the best! Even if one day I had my beloved carrot cake, that was fine as long as I made it myself completely from scratch. I knew it was going to take careful planning and that I was going to have to carve out a good amount of time in my calendar. The idea was that if I gave it my absolute best try and did everything by the book and it still wasn’t realistically possible, then fine. I could eat my frozen pizzas and be okay with it.
Spoiler alert: I’m not going back to eating frozen pizzas 😉
So what happened initially?
+ You’d think my food budget instantly doubled in size, of course. And yeah, maybe it did. But the truth is that I didn’t actually make a budget so much as I wanted to get an idea of what a food budget might look like at the end of the month. That’s kind of what the experiment/challenge was mostly about.
+ I didn’t plan on cutting anything out of my diet, but my sugar-intake dramatically dropped by default, and I accidentally stopped eating meat, chicken and fish. Oops.
+ I spent all my time in the kitchen (whenever I wasn’t sleeping, eating, working, or at the gym) and was childishly eager about everything I was making in there.
+ I felt so damn good. Yes, I was that lone weirdo smiling to every stranger on the bus to work.
(Let it be said that I don’t recommend going cold-turkey on all these “bad foods” unless you absolutely have to because of food allergies etc. It’s much much much easier on your system to make a transitional change and just start adding more fresh veggies+fruit and superfoods into your diet. My body was totally in shock the first few days when I basically tripled my fiber intake… I’m just a really impatient kinda girl. If I know I want to change something, I need it to happen NOW. Not always a smart move 😉 )
After two or three weeks when my friends asked me how my 30-day food challenge was going, I told them it was going great, but that the experiment was over. I didn’t need a 30-day challenge anymore to motivate me. This was a permanent change, there was no question about it.
As for the money – it went fine! I didn’t run out of money like I thought I would. Sure, I spent more money on food than I did two months prior, but it was money so well spent. Here is something I really believe in: if you invest your money in things that are making you stronger, healthier, happier – and have the guts to trust that you will have enough – then money will not be a problem. If you stop worrying and stressing, you create space to actually see how much money you do have when you make priorities. I invested almost all of my money that month on things that would nourish me, and naturally I spent less money on things that ultimately don’t nourish me (like new handbags/shoes and too much alcohol and candy at the corner store).
If you’re thinking about making some changes in your diet to eat healthier and more environmentally consciously, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of where your intention is coming from.
The reason this change in diet has worked so well for me now when it never did before (because I have tried “eating healthier!” before, just like anyone else…) is because I now come from a place of self-love. I respect and love myself enough to stop putting things that aren’t food on my plate on a daily basis.
If you’re coming from a place of fear – i.e. I’ll never look like Jessica Alba/David Beckham if I don’t start to force down a green smoothie every day or my doctor says I’ll have a heart attack by the time I’m 40 if I don’t lower my cholesterol– it’s gonna be really, really tough. We all know this! I knew this! But you can’t just recite the words “I am going to take care of my body by eating healthier food!” if you don’t really feel that love and respect for yourself deep down.
So try to keep that in mind and make sure you check in with your honest intention! That’s the difference between diet and lifestyle 🙂