The Whole Life Challenge is about to start. You’re armed with your list of ‘allowed’ foods … and as you scour the list and notice that ingredients like flour, cheese, soy sauce are prohibited you begin to wonder, what will I eat? What substitutes can I find? What compliant desserts can I make so that I have something for after dinner?
I was definitely like that. In the beginning I thought there was no way I could go without cheese or milk in my coffee. I tried and tested several dessert options. I came up with my own version of granola, muffins, and cake … all compliant (on performance – the strictest level – even)!
You know what? Even though I had all those compliant options, it started to become stressful and tedious. The joy I used to get from cooking started to fade and all I could think about was the constraints I had put upon myself because of my imagined idea that I HAD to have a certain type of food a certain way at a certain time. It really was exhausting.
It was just a few weeks ago when I was making a dinner of chicken and gravy (compliant on performance level) that I thought – Wow. This is tasty, but it’s such a lot of work! It would have been much easier to have just baked a few vegetables along with some chicken. – Letting go of that thought has freed me up and made meal planning, prepping, cooking, and eating so much more enjoyable. Here are a few tips:
- Keep it simple. My basic meal usually contains no more than 5 ingredients. I mainly cook with extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan salt, garlic, and ginger. Now I enjoy the more natural flavors of my food a lot more.
- Instead of worrying too much about substitutions for things that you aren’t allowed to eat, focus on the foods you ARE allowed to eat. Even on performance there is so much to eat.
- Think differently about your food. My idea of breakfast used to involve eggs, some sort of bread/baked product, and/or dairy. I really limited (and frustrated) myself by not thinking outside the box. I soon got bored with eggs and started to do silly things like have a date or two for breakfast or even skip the meal all together. Finally, I realized that I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted! Soon I was having chicken with sweet potatoes for breakfast and scrambled eggs for dinner. Don’t anchor yourself to one way of eating. Be flexible. Be creative. Enjoy the process.
- Think differently about your meals. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I love sweets. I have not been able to kick this addiction yet. However, when I was on the WLC, I stopped. I never thought it would be possible to go for 6 weeks without even a piece of chocolate — but it was. It wasn’t easy, but I did it … and you can too. I found that hunting for substitutions kept me anchored in the same way of thinking about my meals – that I needed a substitute for cheese or I had to have something sweet for dessert. Actually, it’s not true at all. Instead of looking for substitutes, I just went without — and it was absolutely fine. I think it’s important to at least TRY. Try new foods. Try new preparations. Try simplifying everything. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the things you discover along the way. If after trying for at least a week you feel like it’s just not working for you, then of course you can readjust your routine.