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14 Week Food Challenge to Wean Off Processed Foods

Most of us are aware that processed foods are bad for us… but let’s face it. We still find ourselves eating them. Why is that? Did you know that processed foods are addictive?

High-glycemic foods actually cause a release of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in our brains, the same reaction that happens after using nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Therefore, when we have a little, we crave more—we eat more. Our bodies and brains can become programmed to use our addiction to temporarily eliminate anxiety, irritability, depression and other uncomfortable feelings.

In an effort to wean people off of processed foods, Eat Local Grown developed 14 weeks of mini-pledges. I think the mini challenges and information given with each are so great that I wanted to spread the challenge here. Whether you start at the beginning, or choose your order, by the end of 14 weeks you will have eaten more whole foods, learned a ton, perhaps gained a new perspective, as well as taken away some positive new habits (plus you will feel a whole lot better too!). To step it up a notch, build on to each challenge each week.

I’ve linked to their website for each challenge for details, tips, recipes, etc. I couldn’t have said it better.

Week 1Two Fruits and/or Vegetables per Meal: Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.

Week 2“Real” Beverages: Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine (preferably red) will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day).

Week 3Meat: All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.

Week 4No fast food or deep-fried foods: No fast food or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.

Week 5Try two new whole foods: Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you’ve never had before.

Week 6No non-fat, lite, or low-fat food products: Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”

Week 7100% Whole Grain: All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.

Week 8Stop eating when you feel full: Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.

Week 9No refined sweeteners: No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

Week 10No refined oils: No refined or hydrogenated oils including (but not limited to): vegetable oil, organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.

Week 11Eat Local Foods: Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.

Week 12No sweeteners: Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.

Week 13Nothing artificial: Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.

Week 14No more than five ingredients: Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients, no matter what ingredients.

Post your feedback or questions below!

References

Leake, Lisa. “14 Steps to Cut Out Processed Food.” Eat Local Grown. Retrieved May 30, 2015 from http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/steps-to-cut-processed-food.html?c=frn.

“How does food addiction affect the brain?” Food Addiction Research. Retrieved May 30, 2015 from http://foodaddictionresearch.org/question-and-answer/how-does-food-addiction-affect-the-brain/.

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