If you follow my instagram @that_savvy_life (hint, hint 😉 if you don’t you should) you are aware of my self-imposed no carb/ grain challenge that I underwent a couple weeks ago. I’m still not sure how to classify it because I was totally still eating carbs from veggies, fruits, had some sugars (in the form of honey) but I was cutting out all starches/ grains. So although this was technically more of a grain-free week, for the purposes of this food diary I am going to say no carb because I cut out all the fun carbs from grains and the good stuff like potatoes.
So why did I subject myself to a week free of carbs? It’s not because I hate myself and wanted to be miserable. I did it for two main reasons. 1) The week prior I had over loaded on carbs. Like a lot. Valentine’s day/week and a Costco sized jar of peanut butter pretzels got the best of me (stress eating, am I right?). And that was just the beginning of it, but moving on. 2) I enjoy a challenge and wanted to see what effect, if any, removing grains from my diet for a week would have on my body, physically and mentally.
I started the day off with a simple strawberry-kiwi parfait topped with some raw hemp hearts and honey. I was very limited on my options this day because I had not been able to go grocery shopping over the weekend. Needless to say it was a little bit of a struggle for me. When I got to work I had my morning coffee with almond milk followed by an almond Perfect Bar in the late morning (now there is brown rice protein listed in the ingredients, but for the purpose of my challenge I am not counting this as a carb/grain. These bars are delicious and I had nothing else to eat, I’m not about to starve to death here. It is a protein, okay?) Later I had a chicken sesame bbq Epic bar, some sunflower seeds, and Gingerade Kombucha. It was a day of bars, I am telling you I REALLY needed to go grocery shopping, which I proceeded to do post-workout that evening, at which point I had another Epic bar (sriracha chicken flavor this time, soooooo spicing things up with some variety guys).
Thank goodness I restocked the pantry so I could get cooking! Breakfast on this morning was so so so good, and simple! I cooked up, then sliced some grass-fed breakfast steak and laid that on top of a 2-egg omelet “pancake” which I then drizzled with sriracha. Highly recommend! Once again I had some coffee with almond milk to wake me up. My late-morning snack was a whole apple, sliced with some smooth almond butter that I microwaved with a tiny bit of coconut oil to make an almond butter dip. Then for lunch I had baby romaine greens with roasted garlic yogurt dressing, a chicken sesame bbq Epic bar, and strawberry kombucha. My cravings really kicked in when I heard this day was national cinnamon roll day, I’m sorry what? Seems like I chose the wrong week to go grain-free (figures) so sadly I was not able to partake in this monumental holiday. On top of that try getting through a night class while someone is eating cookies next to you and you can’t stop thinking about how good carbs sound. I did it though, made it through my second day! Since I stayed committed I figured a little reward was in order and so I treated myself to a raspberry cacao nib parfait once I got home after a small handful of walnuts (I had to eat something as soon as I got home to tide me over while I prepped the parfait, obviously). I closed out the night with my usual bedtime collagen tea.
Half way through the work week and getting a little easier! Started off the day with a berry and greens smoothie bowl. At work I had a small baby romaine salad again, with mushrooms this time. My main lunch consisted of another Epic bar (love these things! #obsessed) in the beef habanero cherry flavor this time with some oven roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts. Then it was make it or break it time. We had a birthday in the office which meant cake *dun dun dun* and I am a sucker for cake, carbs and sugar all rolled into one = heaven. I couldn’t let this be my downfall though, no matter how delicious those red velvet cupcakes looked or how many “mhmmm’s” and “so good’s” came from everyone around me. Tempting, but I knew I would feel worse if I caved and had one, afterall I was doing so well and sticking with the challenge. So I literally ran away from work. Kidding, I took my lunch and drove to Starbucks where I proceeded to get an iced coffee with almond milk and stevia. At least that took care of my sweet tooth. I had a Perfect Bar in the late afternoon and some green tea before my evening class to keep me full until I got home after my late night workout. My post-workout fuel came in the form of a jar of Epic turkey bone broth.
Still committed and killing it! I was really missing grains at this point so I tried making some grain-free cauliflower pancakes (recipe coming soon) that were so tasty! I grabbed a much needed triple shot almond milk latte on my way to work (I was running on 3 hours of sleep) and started my day. For lunch I served up some Edamame pasta (grain-free, just 100% organic soybeans) with a light cream sauce and wilted greens. Later in the afternoon I had a iced green tea and wait for it….another Epic bar! I also made room for my daily kombucha fix in my last hour of work. I had another night class followed up by a quick and intense cardio session at the gym then quickly cooked up another grass-fed breakfast steak for my post workout protein. And never one to shy away from dessert (and also needing to clean up my fridge a bit) I threw together some strawberries over a bit of plain yogurt with a tablespoon of almond butter, a light drizzle of honey, and some bee pollen.
Finally Friday! I was in a rush this morning so I brewed a cup of coffee to take on the go with me and added some collagen and a little vanilla protein powder to hold me over until I got to work and was able to eat. Mid-morning when I started to feel the hunger set in is when I opened up a chocolate sea salt Rx Bar (first time trying it here, and my opinion is that they are very tasty and filling!). Lunch was another round of leftovers on the edamame pasta and some kombucha (a given). After work I had a meeting at school for a group project, and literally kept dreaming about dinner and opening a bottle of wine when I got home, I was counting down the minutes! After hours of delayed gratification, I finally got home chose a bottle of Pinot Noir and started on some sriracha brussels sprouts and grass-fed steak, SO GOOD! Well deserved for making it a whole 5 days without grains/ carbs.
First thing I thought when I woke up on the couch this Saturday morning was, wow I still feel decently full from last night so I had only a big spoonful of almond butter sprinkled with cacao nibs because I was headed for a Saturday morning workout and I needed something in my stomach to get me all the way through. Post workout I grabbed a banana (an attempt to see if I could get over my dislike of them, but nope still not about it . . . a story for another time) and an iced tea and then went to the car wash. **PRODUCTIVITY at work here! While waiting for my car I walked to the Starbucks nearby and ordered myself a tall almond milk latte with an extra shot because sleep is in short supply these days and I need to get stuff done! The rest of the day involved getting my nails done, stopping by Pressed Juicery and getting myself a chocolate and strawberry almond freeze and an activated charcoal lemonade. Later that evening, I had dinner at Cafe Gratitude, an organic and plant based restaurant. Although everything on the menu is pretty health focused it was a little harder than expected to find an option I was in the mood for that was grain-free (a lot of plant based proteins, such as tempeh, contain grains), but I settled on and LOVED their Pad Thai Kelp Noodles. I started dinner with a Caiprinha (one of my absolute favorite cocktails and uses alcohol that is fermented from sugar not grain) and ended it with a vegan meringue with berries for dessert and an adrenal latte.
I slept in late this day… LAZY SUNDAYS for the win (at least that’s how it started). . . so my first craving of the day struck somewhere between breakfast and lunch, or a little thing I like to call brunch ;). I made myself a grass-fed steak frittata with onions, bell pepper, and avocado all drizzled with sriracha. Then my lazy Sunday turned into errands, grocery shopping, and losing track of time so my next meal was dinner (takeout). I ordered some almond crusted halibut that was listed with risotto as the side, but I subbed this out with steamed broccoli to eliminate the grains (such a sacrifice, that risotto seriously sounded amazing) and creme brûlée for dessert.
. . . And then I thought to myself, I think I could give this whole grain-free thing another week, which I definitely did.
All in all I kind of liked going-grain free. It was certainly challenging at first, but a few days in I really embraced it and enjoyed the challenge it gave me. When you force yourself to cut something out of your diet you are required to REALLY examine EVERYTHING you are eating on a whole other level to make sure that none of the ingredients are on your do not eat list. This is awesome because it truly empowers you to evaluate the food you are eating in much greater detail and this skill is key to making sure you are feeding your body only the best no matter what your dietary restrictions are.
Did I notice changes in my body? Most definitely! They were small changes, but I did notice myself slimming down in some areas and a bit more energy (keep in mind I was continuing my workouts as well). These are the the main reasons why I felt compelled to accomplish a second week grain-free. Three weeks later I am still eating relatively grain-free, but have incorporated a little bit of healthy grains back in this past week and I still feel great. Moving forward I think I am going to limit my grain consumption and avoid grains when they are not necessary. Mostly, it was fun to challenge myself to something I knew would be difficult for me and then so rewarding to accomplish a full week and a subsequent second week grain-free and no carb.
Looking for(ward to) my next challenge! XO SAV