Thursday, March 14, 2013

What I've been learning through the #6IngredientChallenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonWe're nearing the end of the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We've been on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: What are you learning about your body through this challenge? Your family's rhythms and routines? Your feelings about food?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's FINAL writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions. There will be one more regular post about the Six Ingredient Challenge, and then next week's wrap-up will allow our participants to express any further thoughts they have on the struggles and joys of switching to more whole foods.

To read all the posts and recipes in the Six Ingredient Challenge, visit the main page for a list of reading resources!

My answer:

Here are some things I haven't learned, just to be contrariwise:
  • I have not had any health transformation.
    To be fair, I wasn't having health problems before starting the challenge. I have no known allergies or food sensitivities. I was regular. I get enough sleep. I haven't magically gotten increased energy or fabulous poops or super strength or whatever it is some people get by cutting out processed foods. In fact, I've had weird bowel issues and increased acne these past several months, despite also cutting grains and sugar — so that's that. I think I'm one of those people who does just fine on the Standard American Diet, and based on the absence of heart disease and diabetes in my family, it might just be a genetic trait. However, we do have an incidence of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer's, so I believe making healthful changes now is more than prudent. So even though I believe I'm making myself healthier over the long run, I just want to tell my truth about diet changes not being an instant health boost.

  • Eating the Six Ingredient way does not affect my weight.
    Trigger warning: Talk of weight loss / diet ahead.
    I don't like to talk much about weight and weight loss, because I know it can be triggering for people and it lends to the culture of dieting insistence and fat phobia. But on a very personal level, and despite being very size accepting, I was becoming concerned that I kept gaining weight after Alrik's birth when I was already larger than I'd ever been (and I've always been plus-size). I wasn't eating differently; was it just lowered metabolism as I aged? Was it hormonal or related to breastfeeding two boys? Certainly I had a raging appetite, but I didn't give in to it all! Switching to Six Ingredients helped clean up the food we were buying, but I kept gaining weight. The only thing that's become an easy way for me not only to stop gaining but start losing weight has been to cut grains and sugars, and that has nothing to do with the Six Ingredient Challenge itself. It can — because it's much easier to find foods that fit the criteria if you stop searching out obscure grains and sugary foods that match! But I just want to reemphasize that eating whole foods and traditional foods is not some magic weight-loss bullet. (And, since I've said that, let me say that I don't believe cutting grains and sugars will have the same effect on everyone, either! It's just what I've chosen.) If you're happy with your weight, whatever it is, eating whole foods will likely be a good way to maintain while you improve your overall health. And even if you're not satisfied with your weight, I'd still highly recommend improving your food choices to strengthen your body over time.

Now, on the flip side, here's what I have learned:
  • Eating more whole foods is relatively painless — but it takes time to get there.
    This was a revelation, and one worth celebrating. I haven't experienced extreme deprivations or depression over eating foods with fewer ingredients. But it took many slow, small steps over the course of years, not just six weeks, to get to a place where I can say that. I believe in the power of gradual change and never want to be the one to pooh-pooh small strides forward. The me of a decade ago would not be able to fathom making the leap to the me of now, but the me of six weeks ago was able to take another baby step in the direction of whole-foods eating.

  • My family still has a long way to go.
    I'm proud of the strides my children have taken so far in choosing more healthful foods — but we still have so much to improve. I'm trying to heed my own lessons about celebrating small victories and being patient with the process of change. I have hope that Sam and I will figure out the way to lead them forward, and that eventually our kids will own this new way of eating just as we do.

Time will tell what new lessons lie in store!

We hope you'll join us by blogging or journaling about the final writing prompt.

Start formulating your answers to Writing Prompt #7

What are your final thoughts and reflections as we wrap up this challenge?
Do you have any newfound wisdom to share?

Writing prompt #7 guidelines:

  • You have till next week to think of a response to the prompt. Post your response on your blog anytime by next Thursday.
  • Next week's post (3/21) will have a writing prompt linky where you can link up your response.
  • If you don't have a blog, you can leave your response in the comments on next week's post (3/21).
  • Copy and paste the header below into your post to tag it as part of the challenge.
  • Responding to the writing prompts is optional and just a fun extra way to play along! We encourage you to at least think out a response.

Header code for your writing prompt #7:

Simply copy the code in the box and paste it into the html box of your blogging software to appear at the top of your response post.

Link up your answers to prompt #6!

What are you learning about your body through this challenge? Your family's rhythms and routines? Your feelings about food?

This linky list is now closed.


Tree Peters said...

good for you for following through on this challenge. I appreciate your insights and sharing.
I think I've gotten us pretty "whole" in terms of food. I bed I don't have things with more than six ingredients in my kitchen, or not many anyway.
But we really need to take this next step into sugar and grain free. Been playing with gluten free but not totally committing...

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