Survey Says…

364046648_a5d8097d7b_zI think I need to jump start my relationship with food with some sort of new challenge. I love reading about people spending X amount of days eating in X limited fashion. Not because I think it will necessarily help me lose weight, but I like the idea of doing something extreme to force you to reanalyze your relationship with food and to note how it affects your body.

I eat a lot of crap. Not necessarily Pizza and Chicken Tenders, but processed and easy. We do a lot of “diet” snacks around here. I heat up microwavable breakfast sandwiches. I drink tons of diet soda. So, not necessarily “crap” in the Angioplasty and Diabetes way, but “crap” in the “I’m not entirely sure what is chemical and what is food” kind of way.

I keep hearing from people that X food makes them feel in X negative way. Some people swear that a vegan diet gives them more energy, some say it’s all whole food. People claim that a raw food diet cured their digestive issues while others say Paleo helped. I honestly believe that every body processes food differently and that there’s no “one” way that will be best for everyone. And it irritates me when people act like there is. I mean, some people are allergic to nuts. Why is it so hard for someone to believe that different bodies react to food differently?

ANYWAY…

I am still intrigued. I would like to try to find my way. Do simple carbs zap me of energy? Does dairy? Do I get more energy from protein? What about raw foods – would my body eventually get used to those because right now raw vegetables TEAR ME UP.

I’d just like to know what you’ve done. Have you done any of these extreme/limited eating cleanses to see how food affects you? I mean – I know die-hard vegans, and paleo eaters, and whole food eaters, and raw food eaters – and they all SWEAR by their own system. I’m not saying I want to stick to anything extreme (the second you tell me I can’t have something, it’s all I ever think about) but I would like to try new eating plans to see if I notice anything different about the way my body uses the food I give it.

The only thing I’m not going to do is something that deprives me of sufficient calories. I work out and run a lot, so I’m not going to do any fast of any sort. Even for a few days. It’s not worth it to me. I don’t mind switching and eating vegan for a week, or do a whole food eating stretch, but I’m not going to do a juice fast.

So! Tell me your stories! Have you tried anything extreme? What did you find works for you? Did you apply it to a permanent diet change? Do you only eat paleo now? Or vegan? Why? How did you learn that works for you?

And if any of you say you learned that Diet Coke is the source of all things good in your life? You will be my best friend forever.

25 Comments

  • Kim

    My “extreme” was The 17 Day Diet. The first 17 days are EXTREME. Then it gets a little easier. It’s 3 17 day cycles. But, let me tell you – I have NEVER had as much energy as I did on this diet. Two servings of probiotics. Two servings of low-sugar fruits, certain cleansing veggies, and protein (only chicken breast, fish, and turkey.) You can have as much veggies and as much protein as you want, so you don’t have to worry about the lack of calories. Plus, it’ll allow you to have your diet coke! (I limited myself to 1 diet pepsi a day, but still!) A glass of green tea with each meal, and 64 ozs of water. Also, limited condiments you can use. But I felt great when I was on it, and after the first 17 days, the amount of proteins eases up and you’re also able to eat certain natural startches again, so I didn’t feel like I was denying myself too bad.

  • Mary

    The only concern I would have about doing some kind of extreme thing is that, for those people who struggle with emotional eating and binge eating, extreme limits can sometimes boomerang into extreme out-of-control eating. You have documented your struggles with this here, and I would be hesitant to do something too limiting because, I know at least for me, such extreme thinking tends to backfire until I am having to EAT ALL THE FOOD to make up for my time of restriction.

    That being said, back in the day when Atkins was all the rage and I ate low carb, it really helped clear up some GI issues I was having, as well as issues with arthritis in my one knee. Unfortunately, for me, that kind of eating is not sustainable, and it boomeranged into a carb explosion that left me feeling like crap.

  • Heather

    I haven’t done extreme stuff, but I know that after a long period of doing good vegetarianism (in that I was in a relationship with a longtime vegan and wasn’t a Ding Dong / Cheese Pizza vegetarian) that meat (ideally beef) is critical to my diet.

    Other things I’ve learned over time…
    1. I have a hard time making decisions when I am a little dehydrated.
    2. I can take or leave bread pretty easily and I’m just as happy to put pasta sauce over cauliflower.
    3. I have a better day if I eat porgressively lighter through the day (huge breakfast -> salad for dinner).

    Good luck. 🙂

  • Jessie

    The most extreme diet change we ever did was eating vegetarian for a month, but I gained weight on that one. My mom does the whole eat whatever you want during 8 hours of the day eating plan and seems to be doing well on it. She’s also going to try Vegan until 6, where you can eat anything after 6 pm but before that you only eat vegan. Sounds interesting.

  • Misty

    I did a juice fast with a few days before and after of just raw food. It benefitted me in two big ways:

    1. Not eating was I was used to or HOW I was used to made me really examine my relationship with food.

    2. It forced me to try food I woudl otherwise never had, prepared in ways I’d not have prepared it.

    Overall, the first couple days sucked. Pretty much because I was breaking some serious habits. But after that I felt really great, and when it was over it was easy for me to keep going with a lot of what I had learned.

    I know you don’t want to do a juice fast, but maybe a raw food would be interesting? Even for three days or so I think it would offer some good thinking about food and finding a healthier approach to it. I dont’ eat raw now, but I for sure eat more veggies, and am more concious of WHAT I’m eating WHEN and how it makes me feel – and this is over a month later.

    (BTW, I used coolercleanse.com – and it was great. Just as an FYI.)

  • FCH

    Long time lurker, but this got me wanting to talk 😉

    I suggest you read Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma). Extreme diets won’t help. Just follow this:

    Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

    You can also see his seven rules for eating at this WebMD link (change that – dot – to a dot, of course):

    www – dot – webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20090323/7-rules-for-eating

  • Becky

    We are doing wheat free. Not low carb, because we are not worrying about corn, potatoes, or oats or any other grain. I still drink sugar in my coffee, I’m just trying to avoid wheat. What I have noticed, and it’s weird because I am a sweetsaholic, is that when I’m following the plan really well and avoiding all wheat you can wave cookies and cake under my nose and I”m not even tempted. It doesn’t even sound good.

    So that’s our experience. I did also note that I was dumb and gorged myself on bread without thinking about it and felt MISERABLE for the rest of the weekend once. Bloated and digestively grumpy.

  • courtney

    I don’t remember where I heard this advice, but it made total sense to me: Don’t CUT anything from your diet, because you will immediately feel deprived. Instead of telling yourself you can’t have something, just start adding things to what you already normally eat. If you’re going to have a ham sandwich and chips for lunch, have a ham sandwich and chips and a small salad. If you’re going to eat fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, eat fried chicken and mashed potatoes and sauteed kale. Put a glass of water or iced tea next to your glass of diet coke. Add one food a week, eat it a few times, and then add another one the next week. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with several new foods, start trying healthier versions of whatever else you were eating – bake the chicken instead of frying it, for example. Or make black bean burgers instead of beef burgers. One thing at a time.

    Get your kids to help you make snacks for the week on the weekends – there are fun, totally easy, minimally processed recipes out there for homemade nutrigrain bars, larabars, you can make smoothies ahead of time and keep them in mason jars in the fridge… the possibilities are endless. 🙂

  • karen

    I think it’s pretty hard to do ‘extreme’ when there are kids in the house. My kids eat ALL THE TIME and it’s tough to prepare food that you can’t eat or even taste. I”m also very aware of modeling good behavior for my 7 year old daughter.

    Right now I’m doing two weeks of no sugar. I’ve done it before and it really makes you think about how much sugar sneaks in every day. Did you know there was sugar in bacon? GAH

    On a side note, I share your love of Diet Coke. Then I noticed that our recycling bin was FULL of soda cans and nothing else. So for the past six months, there is no soda in the house. I’ll have soda if we go out, but there is none in the house. I use the saved soda $$ for pedicures. It’s a win win for me.

  • sarah

    I did whole 30 this Jan, and it was EXTREMELY restrictive (no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no booze), and required a LOT of planning. also, quality food is EXPENSIVE. I felt good while I was doing it, though. Socializing was tough (went to several parties where I could eat crudite only). I didn’t lose any significant weight, but I did feel like it reset my body enough so that I was more aware of how what I did eat affected me. I would never say that I was gluten intolerant, but bread/pasta seem to weigh heavily on my stomach. Simple carbs give me a rush, and then crash. I’m sensitive to sugar and caffeine. So I incorporate that more into my life now. I can live without dairy. Those are good things to know when I’m making food decisions.

    The resources that I’ve liked the best are “In Defense of Food,” “The Science of Skinny” and it was “Master your Metabolism” that got me to quit artificial sweeteners. They are all research and science heavy (I’m such a nutrition nerd).

    If you are just thinking of dabbling, I’d pick one thing to eliminate a week, and take the time to see how you feel. The thing about the boundaries, is that it pushes you to be creative: feeling the diet coke craving? Have a seltzer water if you want something fizzy, or have some tea with stevia if you want something caffeinated or sweet. Being creative can be hard when you are busy and have to meet the needs of multiple people, so looking at your eating now, and taking the time to plan for what you are going to do when you usually do X will save you from making some desperate choices.

  • Roseann

    We went paleo/Primal about 6 months ago. Eliminate gluten, sugar, soy, dairy, and we eat absolutely nothing that is processed.
    Both husband and I have lost over 30 pounds as well as eliminating some pretty major medical issues we were both facing. It’s work, but not a ton of work, and we’ve worked it into our lives in such a fashion that it is no longer a struggle to figure out what to eat on a day-to-day basis.
    Sadly, Diet Coke is not Paleo/Primal friendly, so I can’t be your BFF at the moment, but I can tell you that I feel 100% better than I did a year ago when all I was putting into my body was processed crap.
    It’s not a short term fix though, since it takes about 30 days for many of the toxins to leave the system and gluten damages cells for 6 months after eating it. But it is worth looking into, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies at all.

    • Jess

      My husband and I have been paleo for the last month. Best thing EVER. I’ve been a chips/ice cream/everything binge eater my entire life, so tracking has never worked for me. Paleo, though? I feel amazing. And I’ve completely lost my urge to binge and snack. Its bizarre. And awesome.

  • Tamara

    I did the ridiculously expensive Clean program for 21 days. And I found after the first three days of caffeine detox I felt so much clearer and slept like a rock, less anxiety, etched. I ended up losing 6 pounds that I gained back, but not super quickly. I think had my fertility issues not reared their ugly head (hello stress eating!) I would still be eating a modified clean diet. I’ll go back to it once I’m done breast feeding.

  • Laural

    I have tried several. The longest stretch I did something was the month I went vegan using Crazy Sexy Diet (Kris Carr). I LOVE that woman and her book and everything she talks about, but I had a very hard time going vegan. I never gave up coffee. That seemed way too extreme.
    It was a good experiment. It was tough. I love my meat and dairy.
    But, I learned a lot. We have incorporated some of the diets into our lives. We eat WAY less meat, and I think a lot more about where my food is coming from. I rarely buy packaged stuff anymore.
    My diet now consists way more of whole foods (plus raisin bran – whatever). I also make a point of trying to just make stuff that is convenience food. Like popcorn. We have an air popper and don’t use microwave stuff (not a hard and fast rule, but we try).
    She’s big on juicing. I gave up.
    As for diet coke … I’ve done all the research. I know why it’s bad for me. But YUMMM! Please, if you find that diet, let me know!

  • Della

    I don’t do any of the extreme diets, because I am the same…as soon as you tell me “X is out” then X becomes my favorite food. Also, I am a baker, so telling me to cut all sugar is tantamount to telling me to stop enjoying the sunshine. I can’t do it.
    So I mostly follow a “moderation in all things” diet. I MOSTLY try to eat whole foods. If the food is in the same form as it came into being, then it’s less messed with, obviously. Also, I read the ingredients and if I recognize them all, I can make a better decision about whether I want to put it in my body. I try to MOSTLY stay away from preservatives, artificial stuff, and other chemicals I don’t know.
    I drink water and tea mostly, but also have my morning coffee with half and half. I eat mostly whole grains (Dave’s Killer Bread, for instance. The 21 Grain one actually does taste great). I eat a ton of fresh veggies and fruit, very little canned or other-ly (yes I know that’s not a word) processed. I eat fast food a few times a year, no more.

    However. I also? love Swedish Fish (the bad red ones!). I adore everything I bake, from cake pops to pies to artificial coloring filled decorated cupcakes and sugar cookies. I will happily drink a mixed drink of unknown-in-nature-ingredients.

    So yeah. For what’s it’s worth, that’s my answer. I eat what I want, but try to keep the proportions much more skewed to the healthy side!

  • Reb @ Sink or Swim

    We are doing whole foods, I refuse to buy any more diet/low cal/sugar free garbage. We’ve been making a lot of snacks at home, granola bites, apple slices, etc. Some of the things that are in that processed stuff is pretty scary.

  • Karen

    I would love to hear more… I can’t tell a difference when I give up certain foods. My husband stopped drinking sodas and was all “Wow, can’t believe how much better I feel.” I stopped for Lent last year and while it was easier to do than I thought it would be, I didn’t feel any differently. I really would like to eat better; problem is, I don’t like a lot of the “better” stuff. It sucks.

    Today I have been craving CostCo’s cheese pizza. Shoot me now.

  • Vicki

    I cut out processed carbs (pasta, rice and bread) and sweets and beef. I also limit my caffeine to 1 cup of coffee in the morning and then water the rest of the day. I have done this for one month and lost 18 pounds. But I have a good bit to loose. I do feel better and am sleeping so much better. I sure do miss my sloppy joes though!

  • Winnie

    I eat vegan, so I don’t really think that is extreme because I am used to it. What was hard, though, was when I did 30 days no processed food. If I couldn’t make it at home from whole food ingredients, I didn’t eat it. There were a couple of exceptions: larabars and non-dairy milk used for cooking. It was hard and made me obsess over food. That is a ton of cooking.

  • Sara

    My husband did a juice fast (you know from the fat, sick and nearly dead documentary) a couple of weeks ago. It opened my eyes to a completely ‘new’ method of getting a massive amount of nutrients at one time. I’m not all about replacing my food with liquid, but I do try to juice at least one something a day. Today for lunch I had a Kashi bar and a juice (4-5 Kale leaves, 2 apples and a lob of fresh pineapple). That’s my magic juice lately. I have chronic -you name it- and that juice makes me feel better than my morning cup of coffee. So, no, I’m not going all health-nut and plant-based diet this and that, but I am making a good solid effort to give my body a super charged amount of nutrients every day. It’s really worked, as much of a skeptic as I am.

  • Shawna

    I’ve recently been eating more protein and fewer carbs. Not sure if it’s had any effect on me yet, but I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting happens…

  • Corina

    A couple of summers ago I went (mostly) vegan for a summer. I was already a vegetarian so I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. I lost a few pounds, but not a lot. Two things I noticed about my body. (1) An improvement in my skin. No breakouts, improved texture, it was ridiculous. It took me awhile to figure out that it wasn’t eliminating dairy from my diet that had cleared up my skin, it was the severe reduction in processed sugar. (Baked goods basically disappeared from my diet along with dairy and eggs.) I was BITTER. I love baked goods! But I also love not looking like a pimply-faced 16 at the age of 35! (2) The less sugar I ate, the less I craved. My palate sort of re-set itself and to this day foods that I used to think were great (most commercial highly processed baked goods) now strike me as ridiculously, disgustingly, sweet.

    I gave up the idea of being (mostly) vegan when three months of almond milk in my morning tea didn’t get me used to the taste and my neighbor started keeping chickens so I suddenly had an easy source of cruelty-free eggs.

    But I still carry some of that summer with me. Baked goods have snuck back into my diet but they’re a treat rather than a staple and I prefer the ones I make myself so I can control the amount of sweetness. I always have almond milk in my refrigerator because it’s an amazing source of calcium and I prefer it to cow’s milk in my cereal and iced coffees.

    I think extreme and elimination diets can be interesting learning tools about our bodies and the way we react to foods. I used to argue, strenuously, that I had no problems with sugar. It wasn’t until I really experimented that I found out I did. So if you’re curious, try one! A few weeks or months of a “silly” diet that is nothing you could do for the rest of your life is hardly a sin. Experimenting with our own bodies can be fun. And I could not agree more that there is no one “true” way to eat. Our bodies are incredibly complex and we all react differently to things based on genetics and biology and environment.

  • Heather H (@SushiJammies)

    7 day sugar detox… which has turned into being very low sugar for most of this month. I’m not counting sugar grams or anything, but just trying to avoid intentionally sugared things… cake, candy, sweetened coffee creamers. It’s making my head clearer.

  • Stephanie

    I did the 21 Day Ultimate Reset by Beachbody (makers of Insanity, P90X, TurboFire, etc.). It was a combination of supplements and healthy eating. The last 14 days = pure vegetarian. I LOVED it. I learned a lot about myself and how to cook things differently and learned about new foods/veggies.

    I lost weight and inches, but was more concerned about my cholesterol…which DROPPED 103 points! Dr. said if I didn’t lose weight and eat better, my cholesterol #s wouldn’t go down and I would have to be on maintenance meds. After the reset, NO more threats of meds for me!!!

    It was pricey – buying supplements and fresh groceries, but to me, worth it. I still eat that way a few times a week, but I need to go back to eating more like that a few times a day. I have gained some weight back, but long weekends out of town and vacations have a part in that (eating food that we don’t have around us).

    Details are on my blog and you can click on the ULTIMATE RESET link from the menu (http://bzmomma.wordpress.com).

    I would recommend to everyone, but you’re right, it may not be for all – cost and such. PLUS, you can’t workout for the 21 days.

  • Jen

    Extreme things never work for me. Instead I just started inserting healthier things in my daily eating and before I knew it, I wasn’t hungry for the bad things anymore. Nothing crazy or expensive…just more fruits and veggies and soups, etc. I do follow one basic rule: I eat when I’m hungry. Sometimes that means I skip a meal because breakfast was later. Sometimes it means I’m snacking on veggie chips or strawberries or gluten-free Chex cereal all night because Bikram yoga makes me FAMISHED. Either way, I’m just trying to listen to my body more.