So this one time I was reading Buzzfeed, just like I do all the time forever. And I came across this article about a 14-day “clean eating challenge.” And I was like, “I think I’ll try it.”
Now, right off the bat I’d like to advertise a couple of disclaimers
- It’s not like one of those idiotic juice cleanses where you just liquefy spinach for a month and are like “omg eureka I’ve lost weight!” You actually eat food. 5 times a day.
- I realize that taking nutritional advice from the internet is one of the worst ideas ever, right up there next to invading Russia in the winter.
- This plan stuck out to me because there was some sort of educated nutritionist helping the writers/Instagrammers of pretty food plates plan this out. Also because they spelled everything out from what I need to buy to how to cut a mango (?) to when to defrost things.
- I felt like seeing if I could do it, and I wanted to know how I’d feel if I did eat super healthy. And yeah, there are a lot of comments on the article pointing out that it’s a flawed plan depending on your definition of “processed food.” And I accept all that. I just want to see what happens. That’s all. The end.
So I decided to also document it, because I thought that would be fun and festive. I have a feeling this might give me some good recipes I can go back to, which is useful even if the rest of it sucks. But if all goes well, it should help me develop healthier habits, give me more energy, and basically murder my alcohol tolerance just in time for vacation.
I went to the hipster grocery store (aka the Whole Foods in the city) with Kelly to get all of the ingredients. (Go big or go home). I needed, like, all of the produce they had. Including stuff I’d never had to purchase. (Like fennel. I don’t even know if that’s a vegetable, or a grain, or like…a bean? I have no idea).
This is what all of the world’s produce looks like on a grocery belt:
So that cost about $170. For one week’s worth of food (because I have to go out again for ingredients for week 2). For one human. What a bargain!
Next week I’ll be eating exclusively Aldi products.
The very first thing on the schedule is a banana and kale smoothie. They walk you through the prep beforehand so you know what to throw in the freezer the night before, so that’s nice. But a banana and kale smoothie is kind of an intense thing to start with. For instance, look at it.
It actually tastes pretty good. The banana has a distinct sweetness that kind of masks the weird bitterness of the kale. But I don’t have a state-of-the-art Bobby Flay Martha Stewart blender, so there were all these leaf bits.
This is me not feeling any more energized halfway through the first meal.
I also cheated on the original article. I drank coffee. Because I still have to function as a human and work full-time and occasionally socialize. But I sacrificed my beloved half-and-half and drank it black. It wasn’t awful. But it didn’t have that delicious creamy texture I have come to know and love.
Lunch on the first day was actually one of the best salads I’ve ever had. (This is one of the recipes I’ll go back to, definitely). I first had to shred a bunch of asparagus and then heat them in a pan.
And then I made a salad with arugula, feta, tomatoes, and a fried egg. The dressing was just lemon juice. Trust me when I say you should try this. (I told you the truth about the smoothie, so).
Dinner was more kale. I got kind of kale-d out the first day. (Like maybe start me off with some nice romaine and kind of ease me into things?) I also had to make quinoa and chicken to go with the kale.
My first attempt at making quinoa wasn’t totally successful. I wound up with less than I was supposed to, I think because I added too much water. I got lucky with the chicken – my dad had some on the grill already.
My family had barbecue chicken and potato salad while I sat there eating my wholesome plate of nutrients. I don’t know why I’m doing this.
Every day I also get two snacks, one after lunch and one after dinner. My afternoon snack was carrots and hummus (forgot to photograph that fascinating item, my apologies). After dinner I was supposed to get a pear with almond butter, but as I had purchased said pear less than 24-hours prior, it wasn’t ripe yet. So I substituted a peach. (Almond butter is more peach-friendly than peanut butter, so it’s not as gross as it looks).
I was kinda hungry at various points during the first day, but I know from experience that the first week of a new eating plan always feels dramatic. Like you’re trying to survive on croutons. I like the meals, too, so I think we’re in good shape.