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Fall 2012 30-Day Challenge: Week 1

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Throughout each Real Food 30 Day Challenge, we try to provide online and in-gym support to those who are new to this whole ‘cooking and eating real foods’ thing. This time around, I’ll be posting weekly blog posts in which each participant is encouraged to talk back and forth in the Comments section, swapping stories of evil cake-wielding co-workers, triumphs over alcohol cravings when out with friends, asking “can I eat this?” questions, and sharing recipes.

The blog posts will be slightly more fact-driven and maybe a little too science-y for some people. We have a record number of repeat-challengers, and we think that  warrants some higher level info. You’ve earned the right to know what the heck is going on in your body when you slip from 100% Paleo back to 80% (or less) over the summer, and why it’s so hard to come back to 100%.

If you are brand new to this, and aren’t ready for the science behind everything, then just skip this post and spend your time on Paleo recipe websites! Just remember to come back here and post in the Comments section every day or few days, to keep the conversation going.

This week’s topic is SUGAR! Sweet, evil sugar.

Here is a VERY condensed, oversimplified version of what happens in your body when you consume too much sugar. (Remember that sugar is shoved into just about ALL processed foods. We aren’t talking about eating teaspoons of table sugar here). This info is adapted from a paragraph in the book It Starts With Food from the good people at Whole9. They say it more eloquently, and have tons of info to expand upon these concepts, so I highly recommend you go out and get their book after reading my Cliff Notes version.

Here’s the vicious cycle:

The “=” means “equals” and the “->” means, “which leads to”

Sugar over-consumption = excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Insulin Resistance. Your body is so overwhelmed with sugar that it no longer responds to it by sending in insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. Blood sugar stays high.

Excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Triglyceride formation and Leptin Resistence. (Leptin is the hormone tells your brain that you are full and don’t need to eat anymore. When leptin stops working, you keep eating.)

Lots of triglycerides = fat accumulation in your cells -> excess body fat.

ANALOGY: You know when an old lady walks into the room and her perfume REEKS but she can’t seem to smell it at all? Her sense of smell has become resistant to the smell because it was so overwhelming when she first put it on. She doesn’t smell it anymore. Well, your body is that old lady, and sugar is the perfume.  You’ve gotten into a horrible cycle of overeating it and your body has come to rely on it to function. It barely recognizes what “sweet” tastes like any more, and requires you to eat so much of it, in an effort to feel satisfied.

Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Edible non-foods (anything in a package, with ingredients you can’t understand) are specifically engineered to cause this cycle. After all, companies want you to buy more of their foods, right? It’s just good (for them) business.

Now that you are enlightened, you can pick out the times over the course of the next 30 days when you are craving a sugary non-food treat, you can make a better choice, and you can get on with your day. You’ll also have several instances where fruit all of the sudden tastes sweeter than you remember. Heck, even some vegetables taste sweeter. Those are your taste buds coming back to life, after years of being dulled. Welcome to an awesome real-food existence. I have a feeling you’re going to like it!

Discussion topics: Here’s some things you can talk about in the comments section:

  1. What did you eat today for breakfast?
  2. What did you cook on Sunday? What is your favorite meal to cook?
  3. How do you plan on tackling your first weekend on the 30 day challenge? Do you have any plans that involved potentially non-approved food/drinks? Let us know and we can all help. We’ve been there, too.
  4. Has anyone at work asked you what you’re eating for lunch, or why you won’t go in on the pizza that everyone ordered? How did you answer?
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17 Responses to Fall 2012 30-Day Challenge: Week 1

  1. Alycia says:

    I ate bacon from a local pig farmer in PA, and eggs cooked in bacon fat for breakfast.

    I work alone at home so no one gives me crap (or applause…) for my awesome lunches. I’m eating chicken with zucchini, eggplant, kalamata olives, red peppers and onions and greek seasonings, with kale&onions&balsamic vinegar on the side.

    I also had some pumpkin spice coffee, in addition to my regular morning coffee. Yum.

    A whole chicken is in the crock pot now. ;)

  2. Eric S. Allen says:

    I’m doing the challenge plus zone. Breakfast was delicious: frozen berries, almond milk, almond butter, and protein powder.

    The hardest time I’m having in general is eating all my veggies. Lunch was almonds, an apple, salmon, and like 437 metric tons of asparagus (maybe more, I’m not sure).

    I generally hang around with people from the gym anyway, so weekends shouldn’t be too hard since most of us are in the same boat. Just instead of trying to decide what bar or restaurant to go to I’ll suggest things like movies or bowling.

    New to the gym, and don’t really know many people there? You’re in the same boat as at least about 50 other people. So, go to class this weekend and talk to other people about their weekend plans. Chances are other people are looking for challenge friendly plans too!

    • Mike H says:

      Have you talked to Shamus about his struggles with the zone?

      • Eric S. Allen says:

        I have, not recently though. I’m gathering that zone is a love it or hate it thing. So far I like it. The big thing I’m waiting to see is if I’m able to lose weight without losing strength. I won’t know that answer til around day 7 to 10. If anything, though, I’m eating more carbs than ever (while eating paleo) so I’m hopeful that my energy stays up. I’m also not going to make the mistake I made during previous challenges, which was overtraining when I felt good, causing a crash. We’ll see how it plays out.

  3. Kate E. says:

    I’m so excited for this challenge!!

    I ate zucchini quiche with some brussels and bacon for breakfast. This meal still hasn’t gotten old after over a year of eating it… I would eat it for every meal if I could!

    I got my boyfriend to give up bread during the challenge, so we’re going to make more of an effort to cook/eat dinner together. In the past, I would cook my paleo food for one and then stare longingly at his non-paleo dinners. I’m looking forward to seeing how much this helps me kick my sugary cravings at night and on weekends.

    This weekend I am going to an engagement party as well as a Sunday brunch at Redstone. I’m optimistic about there being Paleo options available at each. Not drinking mimosas at brunch will be… not pleasant, but I’ll live!

  4. Kate E. says:

    also… Alycia – I have intentions of doing a whole chicken in the crock pot soon, but I’ve never done it before. Anything I should know??

  5. Melissa Love says:

    A whole chicken?!? That sounds awesome….what’s your tip :)

    Breakfast – I had egg cups (bacon, veggies and eggs) and 1/4 cup watermelon. Lunch I had my chicken salad with paleo mayo — it’s awesome! Also some applesauce. Had an apple after school and a banana a few minutes ago. For dinner I’m having shredded beef and veggie mix :)

  6. Melissa Love says:

    Sunday was fun cooking – made chicken salad, chicken thighs and the paleo mayo. Don’t have a favorite yet :)
    The only worry I have is what to eat before my half marathon on Sunday morning…..just bc I typically have half a bagel w/PB. Any ideas guys?
    School crew typically leave me be by now. They know I’ve been trying to eat better for a while (weight watchers before I came to CF, then trying to go less processed). The candy bowl sucks though. Pumpkin shaped peanut butter cups = heaven :)

  7. Blair says:

    This weekend I made cocoa-dusted cauliflower, cumin-roasted carrots, roasted spaghetti squash, and jicama home fries (kind of in love with well-fed right now).

    I’m also doing the half marathon on Sunday. I’m going to have a sweet potato before, which should be plenty. I’m 13 days into the sugar detox so I’m starting to feel good without all the carbs and fruit. I’ve just been doing some carrots and a little pumpkin (for dessert). I made a great dessert tonight after my run- 2/3 cup pumpkin, 1/4 cup lite coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder in the food processor til smooth. yum :)

    I’ve also been making some awesome omelets for breakfast. For some reason, egg yolks don’t like me, but I’ve been doing about a cup of egg whites with zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, and oregano (tastes like pizza)

  8. Alycia says:

    For a whole chicken in the crock pot, just put it in there, with or without some sliced onions on the bottom and inside the chicken, and season with anything from basic S&P to a mixture of italian or south american spices and butter to spread on top. I’ve spiced it any/every way possible and it always comes out delicious and SO juicy. Don’t put any liquid in the bottom of the crock pot. just the chicken. About 4 hours on high.

  9. Alycia says:

    I made this treat the other day – http://fastpaleo.com/pumpkin-pie-in-10-minutes/
    It’s meant to be eaten every so often, over the course of days, not hours (darn!). SO GOOD. I’m not usually one to made “paleo desserts” since they are usually very heavy with the nut flours and aren’t good if you’re trying to quit sugar dependencies, but this one isn’t crazy sweet, and the texture is just right.
    I’m making it again for Thanksgiving. And maybe on Friday for that thing at Jill’s.

  10. Alycia says:

    Breakfast – 3 eggs and 3 meatballs (meatballs: grassfed beef, coconut milk, fresh garlic, fresh parsely, dried basil, dried oregano, and finely diced & sauteed onions and peppers. mix in a bowl, form into balls, and cook at 350 for 25 minutes) with a side of rainbow chard from the CSA box this week.
    It was a BIG breakfast and I feel great!
    I’ve found that if I start off the day with a big, protein-filled breakfast, I don’t experience the 11am munchies as much.

  11. Brianna says:

    Breakfast yesterday was:
    3 eggs, ground beef, lots of spinach and an orange.

    Lunch was baked chicken, more spinach, 1/2 avocado and an apple

    Dinner was baked chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts with coconut oil

    I am measuring my food for a few weeks during this challenge. I never measure my food anymore, but I am just trying to get a better idea of what I am eating. I have done 3 paleo challenges and a sugar detox this past year so just taking a little different approach this time. SO needles to say my food is slightly “boring” right now why I work on measuring things out. But I am okay with that. Protein, Veggies, Fat & Fruit in pretty much any form are okay with me!

    Blaire – can you share the coco dusted cauliflower??? (I love caluiflower)

    Melissa, like Blaire said I would say a sweet potato pre-race would be a good idea! Good luck with your race girls!

    Kate – I love that you are still eating the brussels and bacon :)

  12. Liz Earle says:

    I still live at home with my parents who buy plenty of non-paleo foods all the time, they even end up there a few days after I already did paleo friendly grocery shopping for the family sometimes. The downside, yea you have to focus on not eating the junk, the upside you have the best looking, most tasty, and best smelling foods of anybody else. I also work in a school district where many teachers buy cafeteria food, everytime I eat lunch, everyone walks in saying how awesome it smells. Today was simple but awesome: chicken breast tenderloins with mediterranean spices cooked in coconut oil, steamed string beans, and cauliflower rice cooked in coconut oil with onions and poblano peppers. Quick, easy, delicious meal!

  13. Jamie says:

    My breakfast was 2.5 strips of WF bacon, some leftover sausage and spinach (I also had four cubes of bone broth before 6:30 a.m. CrossFit). Lunch will be leftover crockpot beef with a coffee/coconut oil rub cooked in coconut milk and more spinach. I think dinner is going to be sausage and kale, since we got a bunch from our CSA farm yesterday.

    I’m following the autoimmune protocol (I have Graves disease), so I don’t eat any nuts, nightshades or dairy. If anyone is missing cream/sweetener in your coffee, I highly recommend coconut milk and coconut oil. YUM.

    Great job everyone!

  14. Blair says:

    cocoa-dusted cauliflower: oven to 400, mix and melt 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 tablespoons coconut oil in the microwave for 20 seconds. Toss mixture with cauliflower (1 head in bite sized pieces) until evenly coated. Spread on foil on a cookie sheet and bake 25-30 minutes

    I’ve also tried another one with gram masala, cinnamon, and something else that was the best ever (but I have no idea where I got it from)

    Tonight for dinner I had brussels and bacon (cooked in the grease) but now I feel like maybe it was too heavy. I feel so much better when I cook my veggies in coconut oil or just a little butter. Anyone else have this feeling? Is it a bad idea to cook in bacon fat (or maybe it was just too much and I should have cooked with less?)

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