Life & Thoughts

One Month of No Sugar, Fried Food & Dining Out- Here’s What Happened.

Hello to the person reading this; how has October treated ya? I decided to punish myself throughout October by avoiding refined sugar, deep fried food, and dining out. 

Or so I thought… because this eating challenge showed me how much my willpower could withstand. The results were surprising, and you should read on further to know the nitty-gritty details.

GOAL: To begin with, I did NOT do this month-long challenge for weight loss. My intention was to get back to better and dare I say, cleaner eating habits. My skin has also been a little under the weather, so I wanted to check if changing my eating pattern would help with breakouts. Also, I love pushing myself to see how much I can endure. 

THE CHALLENGE: I wanted to keep the challenge simple enough to follow, with a focus on nourishment and not restricting my portions. Here’s the rules I followed for the eating challenge:

  • No refined sugar: Avoid sugar in coffee, chai/tea, cookies, cakes, ice cream, other forms of dessert and even dark chocolate.
  • No deep-fried foods: Avoid anything deep-fried in oil or even with a lot of oil in it. (Indian pickles and rice mixes were in key focus)
  • No dining out: No eating at restaurants at any time.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND: What’s a blog post on my website without a usual (read boring) background tidbit, eh? Anywhooo, my eating habits have not been in the best shape for a while because my sweet tooth was getting the better of me.

Just because I was working out and eating relatively healthy at home, I gave myself the license to pork out on any junk-like food I wanted. My justification was that I got to treat myself with no bars set, because isn’t vegan junk food healthier? 

My hormones have also been imbalanced after switching to eating vegan, which shows up as chin acne. I wanted to test the waters and check if eating a whole foods, plant-based diet would help improve my skin.

Well, I also had one final reason to try this month-long healthier eating challenge- getting a leaner waist. This was just for fun, to see if the food habits would make a difference at all.

Now that I’ve let you off after that background story, let’s get our reading glasses on.

ONE MONTH OF NO SUGAR, NO FRIED FOOD & NO DINING OUT

I am going to power through this narrative as brief as possible, because it might otherwise get too boring for you.

I’m a normal (okay, a little weird) human being and have strong cravings like any other person. I get hungry every 2 hours too, which means I snack here and there too. That was one way I expected this challenge to really test me, because I couldn’t graze on a cookie or something.

I prepared myself mentally with a list of foods I could eat, grounded in a more wholesome approach-

Whole grain bread, plant-based milks, rice, a lot of vegetables and fruits, avocado, popcorn, oil-free rice crackers, hummus, olive oil, coconut oil, protein powder, nuts, and tofu. I also gave myself permission to make this a sustainable challenge, hence I did eat some homemade recipes with flour and coffee everyday. #noregretsragrets  

Another major life event took place in October that actually helped me with the challenge- getting a job. Since I was now officially employed, I had to alter my pre-existing routine and food timings. My time schedule looked like this:

  • 7-8 AM: Drink water.
  • 8:45-10 AM: Workout.
  • 10:15 AM: Post-workout smoothie as breakfast made with almond milk + 1/4 apple + 2 scoops Orgain protein powder.
  • 1 PM: Lunch comprising of grain carb + protein + a good serving of veggies + fat. I had a medjool date after lunch to satisfy my sweet tooth. 
  • 6:45 PM: Back from work and starving. I drink almond milk coffee with no sugar + a small snack (popcorn or fruit).
  • 8:15-9 PM: A filling dinner followed by fruit for dessert. Usually, I would eat a cup of grapes and include half a banana sometimes.

I also drank water as often as I could, because the hydration is key to getting better skin. As you can see, I made sure to eat whenever I possibly could. I was also super dedicated to my fitness routine and staying as active as I could. This was just to aid my eating habits and increase my stamina. 

MOMENTS OF WEAKNESS: Yes, there were a few moments where I made errors in the challenge. For example, I snacked on apple + a spoon of almond butter maybe three times throughout October. But I realized that there was some sugar in the almond butter. Another instance was using one and half tablespoons of jaggery for a coconut milk dish, which couldn’t be avoided. I didn’t beat myself up about it, because the quantity I consumed was actually quite little.

Another point where I had my weak moments were coming home a little exhausted from work and having to immediately get crackin’ in the kitchen. I wanted to cave in just once and eat dinner out, but I stayed true to my willpower. When I decide to do something, I stay ultra-committed and prove to myself that I am stronger than my urges.

BUT, THE POSITIVES OF THE FOOD CHALLENGE…: They truly outweighed the few moments I stumbled! I truly enjoyed the entire month for a few reasons-

  • I experimented so much in the kitchen and whipped out super tasty stuff. I had to get down and creative, satisfy my cravings in the best way possible. These were a few dishes that came rolling from my kitchen-
Vegan ramen
Homemade pav bread + vegetable bhaji
Vegan Indo-Chinese Fried Rice 
Coconut sevai + plain sevai (rice noodles) with sweet coconut milk
  • I started to love fruit as snack and dessert, because it hit my sweet spot without making me feel guilty. I even ate one Medjool date a day, because I love it and it’s also very nutritious. 
  • I was feeling satisfied after each meal, because I was eating homemade food with less oil and fibrous vegetables in tasty combinations. Take a look at some colorful lunch options I ate, which left me feeling satisfied and nourished-
Raw vegan garlic butter + veggie stir fry + two pieces of oil-free, sugar-free organic French bread (store bought)
Vegan pita bread + veggie stir fry + pan-fried tofu + beet cream sauce
Onion & mushroom pepper fry + creamy veggie stir fry + seasoned avocado slices + quinoa

THE RESULTS: I deduced three results at the end of the challenge, which were as follows-

  • My skin improved in texture around the chin, but I am still susceptible to acne. I realize that my hormones still need some time to adjust to my diet.
  • My sugar cravings are DEFINITELY in my control. I thought I couldn’t live without dark chocolate, but I proved myself wrong. I love drinking almond milk coffee with no sugar now. My body craves fruits everyday and I am not mad at all.
  • My abdominal area has actually whittled down a little, maybe by about one or two inches. My stomach does look a little flatter, and the food I ate takes the credit for it.

FOOD HABITS POST-CHALLENGE: On October 31st, I realized that I could officially eat sugar, deep-fried stuff and dine out from the next day onwards. The thought filled me with delight and fear. I was happy to eat all kinds of dishes and treats, but also afraid that my progress could be lost.

But I put that fear to rest because life is about balance. I live to eat, and I love desserts and dining out a little too much to completely give it up. So, I decided to monitor how much sugar I incorporate daily and eat some. I whipped up a batch of delicious vegan dark chocolate brownies on November 1st.

Some may say its a little too soon to break the habits. I say, pass me a brownie and let me indulge in it. As much as I hate the words coming out of my own mouth- YOLO.

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