June Nutrition Challenge

30 May

Welcome to our first nutrition challenge!  With the summer produce ripening (and headed to market early) and grills lighting up, this is a great time to try a paleo diet.  This information should help you get ready to start on June 1.

I really cannot improve much upon this Quick Start Guide from Robb Wolf.  Many smart people have done a much better job writing this up than I have, so I’ve summarized some more information after the jump and am happy to answer any questions you might have and help you find additional resources you may need.

A few other challenge guidelines:

1. No weighing yourself for the next 30 days.  Take your measurements and your weight beforehand, and then step away from the scale until it’s over.  Bring me your scale if you think this will be a problem.

2. Stay hydrated.  A minimum guideline is ½ oz. of water per pound of bodyweight.  It is also hotter than usual, so adjust accordingly.

3. Prioritize sleep.  Inadequate sleep is terrible for a variety of reasons, but it is also a surefire way to sabotage your diet.

Happy eating!

What’s this all about?
The underlying idea is that we regularly consume many things that, tasty as they might be, might not be “ideal” for our bodies, causing problems such as gut irritation or sleep disturbances. By removing known potential dietary irritants for 30 days, we can get a better sense of how we are actually responding to certain foods and help us identify better ways of eating for our personal best long-term health.

What should you eat?
“Real food, not too much, mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan

Seriously, though, a ton of vegetables with some meats, fats (olive oil, coconut oils, avocados, nuts and seeds), and some fruit. (If you’re trying to lose weight, avoid white potatoes and go easy on the nuts and fruits. Berries and watermelon are great fruits to keep on hand.)

This means that for 30 days you are not eating any grains (this includes corn), legumes (this includes peanuts), dairy, added sugars (this includes honey, agave nectar, and all forms of sugar by any other name) or artificial sweeteners, or alcohol. Visit the Whole 30 for a comprehensive list.

OMG! But I love all those things!
I get it. Really, I do.  In early 2009 when I first heard about paleo, I was dismissive and resistant to the idea. “Those food fascists can take my bread from my cold dead hands,” was my mentality. Eventually, after repeated exposure to the idea, I gave it a try, and found my energy was more consistent, my sleep was a better, and my relationship with my body had improved. More importantly, I’ve seen other people make positive progress toward their goals with a paleo or paleo-ish diet: for example, Michael’s dad lost more than 40 pounds (to 155# for the first time since he was 30) and his blood work is now ideal after years of struggling with cholesterol issues, just by making dietary changes.

Additionally, you get to eat a ton of delicious veggies and meats, so what’s not to love? If you’re still not convinced…it’s only 30 days. At the end of the month, you can start reintroducing foods and see how you react.  If you stick with the program for 30 days and see no results, then you know it’s not for you.

How Should I start?
Clean out your refrigerator, plan out some meals, and go to the grocery store to stock up. I typically plan out 4-5 days of meals at a time and try to prep a few days ahead so I am not constantly stuck in a cycle of chopping and cleaning.  Melissa Joulwan offers some great tips on how to maintain kitchen sanity. (She also has a fabulous cookbook, Well Fed, that has become a kitchen staple in our house.)

Note: a precursor to succeeding on this challenge is being comfortable cooking for yourself; it is difficult to control what goes into your body if you don’t actually make it yourself.

A Day in the Life…
A typical day might look something like this for me/Michael

Breakfast: 2-3 eggs + big pile of sautéed veggies (either on the side w/sunny side up eggs or scrambled into a frittata), 1-3 pieces bacon or sausage, black coffee

Lunch: dinner leftovers OR giant salad (think 3-4 cups of veggies, MINIMUM) w/olive oil and vinegar dressing and either canned fish or grilled meat on top.

Great start, now add more veggies!

Dinner: Pork chop, sweet potato w/cinnamon, heaping pile of steamed broccoli, with baked peaches and strawberries for dessert.

Snacks: nuts, veggies, fruit (or another mini meal, like a bowl of leftovers)

Some great resources…
Great recipe blogs:
The Clothes Make the Girl
Nom Nom Paleo 
Stuff I Make My Husband

Additional information, lots of resources and research:
Robb Wolf (author of The Paleo Solution)
Whole 9 Life (creators of the Whole 30 challenge)
Mark’s Daily Apple (a “primal” guy, a little different than the paleo camp, but they are all under the same umbrella of functional movements and ancestral, whole foods eating)

Sounds great, I’m in all the way…but I’m still not entirely sure what to do
Let’s talk about what you normally eat, and some ways to easily change your diet to make it challenge-compliant.  Shoot me an e-mail or we can chat after class.

Sounds great, but I’m not ready for this.
No problem.  Try dipping your toes in with a mini-challenge: choose one of the big 3, dairy, gluten, or sugar, and cut it out for 30 days.

Be sure to visit us at our new site!


One Response to “June Nutrition Challenge”

  1. Melissa Joulwan (@melicious11) 06/04/2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Good luck to everyone tackling the Nutrition Challenge! It might seem daunting now, but you can totally do it — and you’ll feel SO GOOD when you start eating this way. Have fun in the kitchen — hope my recipes give you a good starting point. Happy cooking & eating!

    — Melissa, The Clothes Make The Girl & Well Fed

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