(I owe you a post as to where I’ve been for the last few months. It’s coming!)
How would you feel if you stopped eating processed food for a month? That’s the question my friend Andrew over at Eating Rules asked himself back in 2009. He got a few friends together and challenged them all to give up processed foods for 31 days (the month of October).
As of this writing (Friday evening) over 3800 people are joining him, including me. I’m also happy to say that I’m not only contributing another guest post (last year I made seitan from scratch), but also worked with Andrew to develop the official Guide to October Unprocessed.
As motivation, here are five tips to help you get set up for success.
1. You don’t have to go cold turkey.
The challenge started with the goal of no processed foods for the month, but you can choose your own goals. Maybe it’s to stop drinking soda, or stop buying vending machine foods, or just eating one unprocessed meal each week. Start where you are.
2. Don’t go it alone.
Recruit a friend or family member, or connect with the thousands of other people taking part in the challenge. Getting support and discussing your challenges is key.
3. Plan ahead.
Meal planning and stocking your pantry are key. You’re much more likely to throw up your hands and go out or default to frozen pizza if you get stuck at work late and are hungry and tired. Spending a little time planning saves a lot of time doing.
One of my favorite tricks is making a big batch of rice or quinoa and a pot of beans at the beginning of the week, then mix-and-matching them into multiple recipes.
4. Be clear about your expectations.
If you’re going to a wedding the third week of October, decide now that you won’t worry so much that day. Knowing ahead of time means you won’t feel like you’ve given up or failed if you’re forced to make a snap decision.
5. See it as an adventure.
It’s not a restrictive diet, it’s a challenge to build awareness. Now is the time to try a new recipe, a new ingredient, or making a staple food at home. Buy a new cookbook, shop at a market you’ve never been to, and use it an as excuse to have friends over for an unprocessed potluck dinner!
Are you taking the pledge? Why or why not?
Stacy Spensley is a healthy life coach, recovering stage manager, lover of the Oxford comma, and vegetarian. She's bossy because she loves you.