A few days ago, after stumbling into Sara's blog where I read about the 28-Day Real Food Challenge going on this month at Nourished Kitchen, I moseyed on over to NK and joined the Challenge myself. Little did Iknow what I was getting myself into!
The challenge for Day 1 was to clean the pantry, fridge, and cupboards of all processed foods. I will admit right now that I did not toss everything with processed ingredients because my family is just beginning to change to a real foods only diet and I don't think we'll stick with it permanently if we go cold-turkey and then get frustrated. Also, I just can't afford to replace a lot of food at once. However, I did toss a whole bunch of stuff. The pictures show most of it.
Day 2 brought the challenge to choose wholesome foods. Fortunately, I already had on hand quite a few things that fit this bill- whole, organic milk and real butter; fresh fruits and vegetables; olive oil; nuts; and whole meal flours. I've been working on incorporating these foods for some time. My biggest challenge has been to learn ways to prepare these foods without incorporating processed adulterants.
The challenge for Day 3 was to improve your grains by soaking them. The goal is to reduce the effects of the phytic acid present in the grains in order to improve absorption of the grains nutrients. Well, this was a head-scratcher for me as I'd never heard of this before. But it is intriguing and I fully intend to try it! I don't have any whole grains on hand yet and I was too wussy to soak a bowl of flour until I had a better idea of what exactly to do with it. I'll read up on this as I'm able and then give it a whirl. Please feel free to recommend reading material!
Day 4 was my favorite challenge- to start a sourdough starter! Yum! Because I joined the Challenge a few days late, my starter is not ready to use yet. But it is coming along beautifully and smells great! I am a firm believer in the tradition of naming sourdough starters (it's harder to forget to feed something with a name), but I haven't yet settled on a name for mine. Here's what mine looks like now (sorry, picture's a little fuzzy).
Overall, I'm happy with my progress this week. I was afraid I might feel guilty for not going cold-turkey on all processed foods as instructed on Day 1; however, I really haven't because I know it would increase my family's chance of failing at permanently changing our diet. It is really important to me to succeed at this, both for our long-term health and for a more immediate purpose. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I have been taking multiple medications every day since then. And it really pisses me off.
Over the years I had become very suspicious that my RA and other health issues were diet related. It wasn't until I read Pollan's nutritionism rant in In Defense of Food that it all came together in my mind. That epiphany felt like an idea that had been trying to fight its way out of the back of my mind finally broke through. My initial goal was to be off RA meds and feeling fine by the end of 2010. But, when one of my meds was due for refilling a few weeks ago, I just said "no more". I had no idea what would happen. When I first started the meds, I could barely walk the pain was so bad. The first few days I was sore, but not awful. But I was changing my diet, drastically, at the same time. I have been amazed by how good I have been feeling already. Yesterday and today I shoveled massive (!!!) amounts of snow and I really don't feel any worse than anybody else who spent two days shoveling. And that's after I gave up the second medicine too. It will be interesting to see how this experiment progresses. Meanwhile, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the 28-Day Real Food Challenge.