I admit it. I am lazy when it comes to food, and I have no real motivation to change because the world is set-up for convenience. Need a mid-day snack? There’s at least one drive-thru on each block or at least a vending machine nearby. Need breakfast? Almost any fast food restaurant has breakfast, or there’s always my favorite bagels at Panera, or simply a quick stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts on my way to work for a half-dozen (hey, no judging – I share with my office mates). Or if you’re lucky enough, your local C-Store has food – get gas, food and a jumbo-sized beverage all in one convenient stop. My favorite C-stop is Sheetz with their made-to-order food (mmm… yummy bagel breakfast sandwich).
But all this convenience comes at a price. After reading The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman, I decided I needed to refocus my food priorities. Fast food and convenient food has added to my waistline. I’m about 50 pounds heavier than I should/want to be. And I’m a smart person, I know convenient food is terrible to eat. It has no real nutritional value, loaded in sodium, carbs and fat, and creates addiction-like behavior. But that’s the problem – I’m a lazy addict.
In the spirit of refocusing, step one was giving up bread/pasta for Lent. Yep, 40 days of avoiding any wheat based, dough-type product, including bagels, soft pretzels, doughnuts, pizza, waffles, pancakes, crackers, etc.
It was really a spur-of-the-moment whim to give up bread. With no real forethought, I had no idea it would be hard. I had already given up soft drinks – even diet soft drinks. But that was super easy. Giving up soft drinks was more about just breaking the habit of buying one (which has saved me a ton of money). But this… this is a completely different experience.
First, I’ve realized in the past week that bread is at least 75% of my diet. I love bread, and pizza, and pasta, and bagels, and … well, you get the point. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I go to the local food stand market and buy a freshly made soft pretzel – the kind that just melts in your mouth with every bite. I also tend to eat a lot of sandwiches and pasta because sandwiches and pasta are easy to make, don’t take a lot of prep work, and really, I wait until the last minute to think about eating or eat out, and sandwiches and pasta are the easiest answer. I have pizza at least once a week. This is lazy slackerness at work my friends.
Second, I really have to agree with Dr. Hyman – sugar is addicting, and I’m a complete addict. Bread is my drug of choice. Having a great day – I’ll celebrate by ordering a pizza. Feeling down – why not comfort myself in a big bowl of pasta with garlic bread. No time to fix food – that’s okay, I can grab a sandwich.
So, a week into Lent, I am struggling every day not to give into the temptation of bread. Last Thursday and yesterday (Tuesday) was especially hard because I couldn’t have my soft pretzel. (I’ve had a soft pretzel every Tues/Thurs for breakfast for almost a year.) But today the fight just got a bit easier. I weighed myself last Wednesday when I started this journey. I weighed myself today, and in one week, I’ve lost 2.7 pounds! For me, that’s a huge loss. I normally struggle to lose a pound, even when on a low-fat diet. But 2.7 pounds by only giving up bread and not really even trying? AWESOME!
Here’s how it happened:
1) Since I can’t eat bread or pasta, I’ve had to start thinking about what to eat. I am forced to plan ahead because I cannot rely on my standby sandwich (and most of the restaurants right around my work are sandwich or pizza shops).
2) I’ve started being more conscious about labels. Part of giving up bread was trying to cut my addiction to processed foods – in bread, that would be enriched flour. I’m also consciously trying to avoid any product with ingredients that I can’t pronounce, especially if it’s one of the top 5 ingredients. For instance, this weekend I decided to make ground turkey tacos. So, I went to the aisle with the pre-mixed taco seasonings. On the label the pre-mixed packets, one of the top 5 ingredients was “maltodextrin.” What the heck is that? I’m guessing some sort of preservative to keep the packet fresh. But do I really want to eat something that I can’t readily identify? I can’t go into the produce area and pick out maltodextrin. So since I can identify it, I’m guessing I shouldn’t eat it. My alternative: I bought the individual spices I needed and made my own taco spice mixture. It turned out delicious and really didn’t take that much extra time.
3) I’m eating more fresh fruits and veggies. Simple as that. Yesterday I made my own yummy salad with blueberries, strawberries, mandarin oranges, spinach, and lettuce. All fresh produce, except the oranges which were canned.
4) I’m tracking my food. As a part of my bread ban, I began tracking my food.* I’m eating between 1300 and 1900 calories a day – so I’m not starving by any means. But I probably am eating less, because breads and pasta are calorie dense, especially compared to fruit and veggies, which have very few calories.
That’s it. That is all I’ve been doing. Making conscious food choices, eating things I can identify, tracking what I eat, and planning ahead. It’s a work in progress, but hopefully at the end of 40 days I’ll have broken my bread habit and be quite a few pounds lighter (possibly as much as 15 pounds if I average a loss of 2.5 lbs/week).
So, with step one firmly underway, step two will be adding more and more exercise back into my life. I’m not saying it will be easy, but with friends cheering me on and rewards like weight-loss, I’m bound to succeed. So watch for future updates as I power through the next 39 days (until April 7).
*If you want to join me in tracking your food, I recommend MyFitnessPal. Join and add me (bluesnowkat) as a friend, and we’ll struggle through together.