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My husband and I, along with our two elementary school aged children, successfully went 10 days eating nothing but real food – no chemicals, preservatives, white sugar, or white flour. The only grains we ate were whole grains, and we survived without grocery store bread, crackers, or squeezable yogurt. We very much enjoyed the benefits of eating real food.
This experience was both easy and challenging for me. It was easy from an eating perspective because I generally don’t eat many processed foods and I’m used to reading food labels because of my dairy and gluten sensitivities. My biggest food dilemma was baking without white rice flour or white sugar, which had been the basis of a lot of my gluten-free baking. I did have success baking with brown rice flour and almond flour, and I found maple syrup and honey to be great substitutes for processed white sugar.
The part that was hard for me was the constant workload of cooking and baking, and there were a LOT of dirty dishes along the way. Before these 10 days, I would typically collapse in front of the television or a book after the kids went to bed because I’d be out of energy. But during these last 10 days, I ended up preparing food for the next day almost every evening. The good news is that I actually had more energy and I didn’t mind doing it. Ten days off white sugar did have a positive impact on my body.
My Husbands’ Reaction
My husband has felt better since starting the real food challenge, although he had already given up sugar for Lent before we started this. His secret weapon has been dates, which he thinks taste like candy. Dried fruit really is a great alternative to processed sweets, as I found myself grabbing a few dried apricots on more than one occasion to get me through the afternoon. My husband was eating a salad with dinner the other night, and he couldn’t get over how great it tasted. Our taste buds seem to be appreciating good, real food more now that we’ve gotten rid of the processed food.
My Children’s Reaction
The children have been inspiring during this process. They were excited about it from the beginning, and they’ve stuck with it even when it started to lose its appeal. They’ve tolerated a few experiences of sugar deprivation as well as could be expected. There have been a half dozen occasions over the past 10 days when I’ve had to shield them from processed foods that were presented to them outside our home, including an impromptu snow cone party in my daughter’s classroom. As a result, they have become more empathetic to their peers who have food allergies because they now know what it feels like to see friends eating something that they are not allowed to eat. I’m wondering if their positive attitude about all this has anything to do with the fact that their bodies aren’t filled with processed foods anymore.
Looking to the future, we definitely plan to follow a primarily real food diet. I will be making bread at home (which is so easy!) and leaning on Great Harvest for their fabulous, freshly made whole grain breads. I will continue to focus on fruits, vegetables, muffins, popcorn, popsicles, and other homemade treats for snack time. The key to eating well is meal planning, which isn’t my strongest area but it really makes life so much less stressful when there is a plan in place. And I will fight against the tide of junk food that crosses my children’s path in the hope that processed treats become an occasional thing rather than an everyday occurrence.