Dairy and Gluten Free Challenge
Some of you know that I like to do little challenges every once in a while, which range from my 30 day happiness challenge to cutting out alcohol for one month. I decided to do something that affects my body in not-so-great ways: dairy and gluten. Now unfortunately for me, I love cheese. No, not crappy inexpensive cheese. I’m talking about the stuff that costs more than a pretty penny and served with a glass of merlot wine. Uh huh, that’s what I’m talking about. Gluten products don’t really do much for me and on occasion I’ll crave pasta, bread, or crackers. But pair the two together, dairy and gluten and now I’m in trouble. Hello pizza. Hello cake. Hello bad stomach and acne. Seriously, I love my cheese but it gives me acne literally the next day and I bloat like crazy from both dairy and gluten. (When I say gluten, I’m talking about products made in a factory, not so much things like barley, which is a natural form of gluten.)
So I decided to do a diary and gluten free challenge during the month of August which meant cutting out all dairy and gluten from my diet, and all products that had either in it. I knew I would be traveling to New York, a place that has impeccable restaurants and so there was the challenge. Could I still enjoy my life, enjoy going out to restaurants and stay healthy without feeling deprived while traveling. Could I do something for a whole month when my will power is not always at it’s best? And could I prove to myself and others that by not talking about being on a ‘diet’ or doing this would actually mean that I saw results and no one would know any difference in my diet?
(If you’re thinking about going gluten or dairy free, I definitely recommend checking out my 5 Day Detox app. Don’t forget to sign up to be notified when it comes out!)
Here’s the thing about these two ‘off limit’ foods for me- they are my trigger foods. It’s hard for me to have cheese without going off the railings and going on a full out binge. The same with gluten products. And I find that I typically have them together, such as pasta with a creamy sauce, pizza, cakes, etc. The challenge became more than just cutting out these two items; it really was to see how my body felt, how my skin was, and if it stopped the binges/over eating. And here’s what happened:
THE CHALLENGE: 30 DAYS NO DAIRY OR GLUTEN
The first week was a breeze. Like all things, when you are motivated it’s easy to stay on board with your goals. I had zero cravings and thought it would be smooth sailing. Week two was where it got tough because I flew to NYC to meet with my publishers and New York is food heaven. I was staying in SoHo and there was this little restaurant across the street that had a beautiful wine list and some of the most amazing looking cheeses one could imagine. It was on my last night that I almost gave in. At that point I thought, screw it, I will eat it tonight and then get back on board tomorrow. But the small guilt factor played in that I had already completed two weeks, was feeling amazing, and knew that I would feel kind of ill afterwards. So I didn’t eat the cheese. I’m pretty happy I didn’t actually, because will power is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes and I felt proud of myself that I said no, even though my tummy was begging me to say yes.
Then came the third week and it wasn’t terribly bad. Nothing super special about the cravings. The fourth week is where it began hitting me that my month was nearly up and I began to get reallllllly excited to have a glass of red wine and a nice layout of my favorite cheeses. I seriously began plotting what friend I would meet up with, what wine I would buy and do a really nice night of it. It was some serious #cheeseandwinegoals.
But then I didn’t. I kept going. One month passed and I actually felt so good that I didn’t really have the desire to break my little challenge. It wasn’t until about halfway through the second month that I finally had some cheese. It tasted pretty good and I was partially happy to have had it, just to allow my restrictive period to end. As expected however, it did lead to a small session of overeating, purely because I had been restricting for a certain item I love for so long. It wasn’t bad, but it go me thinking about dieting.
The problem with dieting and restricting certain foods is that you begin to fantasize about them. So instead of telling yourself “Hey, I just don’t want this,” you say, “You cannot have this.” It’s like having a big red button in front of you that says ‘Do Not Press Me.’ Obviously you will want to press it! Merely buy telling yourself no, you automatically want to. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if we could live this certain lifestyle that’s all about balance and moderation, listening to the body and not creating restriction, rather doing things because it makes you feel good? Oh, wait. That’s clean eating.
After 1.5 months of not eating dairy or gluten here is how I felt: I stopped binging. I never went to the store to buy anything ‘naughty’ and my desire for bad foods disappeared. I started to eat more plant based then I already was and the effect of that was that my cravings disappeared. My body also changed and my small love handles went away (yes, I’m like everyone else and get love handles. I am a female after all). My workouts became more consistent because I constantly felt energized and was sleeping better, which meant that my body started firming up in places I wanted it to. My skin also cleared up more than it ever has and I barely wear makeup now.
So was it worth it? Absolutely. It showed me I had will power, it made me realize that I don’t need to eat dairy or gluten in order to eat out at restaurants, and it helped with so many other things directly related to my body.
Should you try a 30-day challenge? Yes and no. My thoughts are that if you find something that you know will have a direct impact on your mind or body then I would definitely say start it. But don’t become so religious about it that you think you are right and others are wrong (i.e. if you are vegan, it’s never your place to tell others they can’t eat meat, but more on this later), and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete it. If you do a challenge and you mess up, just get back on it the next day. No big deal.
What would you challenge yourself to? Tweet me and let me know!
With Love, Nikki