Though most of my hormonal issues are improving slowly but surely, with incredible emphasis on the slowly, my energy has been garbage. Just really, really bad. So to “say yes” to opportunities for health improvement, I did the Fed Up Challenge. Kinda.
What is the Fed Up Challenge?
This eating challenge comes from the documentary, Fed Up. Good film. Upsetting. Enlightening. Etc. Anyways, the challenge entails 10 days of eating no added sugar or sweeteners of any kind. Fruit is cool, honey and refined stuff is not. This may sound like it only impacts dessert, but you quickly realize that sugar is in almost every processed food. It’s pretty of scary, really. Especially since sugar is linked time and again with SO MANY HEALTH CONDITIONS. So I figured that I could put up with checking my labels for 10 days to see if it helped. Here are my insights:
1. Stop trying to finesse your 10-day timeline to avoid any kind of public eating events.
Yes, it makes sense in theory. Yes, it will suck to be at those events while everyone else is chowing down. But if you try too hard to avoid scheduled gatherings when scheduling your challenge, that’ll probably end up with you never ever doing the challenge at all. If it’s a holiday, yes, avoid. Same goes for your birthday. Otherwise, if you want to do it, start tomorrow. Ish.
2. BUT don’t start it on your period.
Yes, I was that stupid. With the cramping making me yearn for comfort, with the cravings going totally loco, I began my Fed Up Challenge. That was not the most fun, but with the help of berries and my new goto bread, I was able to muscle through. We are strong creatures.
3. Make someone do it with you.
In a partner you gain a meal-and-misery-buddy, which really can make all the difference. Ask someone to do the challenge with you. If you’re the one who cooks the meals in your house, make them all Fed Up worthy. You can join up with a best friend, a nuclear relative, or a significant other, which might be the best option since you can put the most pressure on that particular person to join you! Bonus points if you live with your complainer-partner, or basically live with them. Complaining about how bad you want cake is so much more satisfying in person with someone who gets it, believe me.
4. Buy Ezekiel bread!
This is the only non-sweetened bread in the store that’s actually not sweetened. If you’re having trouble finding it, it’s in the freezer of the health food section at Giant. Yes, you have to say goodbye to a great many delicious dishes on this challenge, but you know what’s utterly delectable and appropriate? Avocado toast. Literally just put lime juice and salt in an avocado mash and all your cravings will depart. It is a magical experience. And totally worth the price jump up to Ezekial from regular bread.
And perhaps the most controversial piece of advice I have.
5. Don’t beat yourself up if life happens.
Yeah, yeah, it’s “a strict elimination” thing and why do it if you’re going to “cheat.” Don’t you hate that word choice? Cheat? Like you’ve committed classroom treason? Utter bullshit. Here are the facts: If you have a party on one day and you have a small cup of ice cream, you will still notice any changes that would happen during this process for the bulk of those 10 days. One little bit of sugar will not set off alarms that then require you to dedicate a new big chunk of sugarless days before you feel those energy benefits again. And why are you doing this thing in the first place? I’m doing it to see if generally cutting hidden added sugars makes me feel better and warrants a life change, which most of the time I think it does. Does that mean that I’ll go weeks without added sugar? Hell fucking no. Let me tell you, super strict elimination, unless it is for medical reasons, is good for no one. That is a slippery slope.
Have you heard of orthorexia? It is an obsession with only consuming healthy foods. Super obsession, as all eating disorders are. And when people realize that that they have this problem, the steps they take are very similar those of an anorexia survivor.
For no reason, ever, should you be shamed about your eating choices. Even by yourself. So my dad was thrown a huge party last Saturday celebrating his 20 years at the church. There was a full catered Italian dinner, and guess what? I didn’t worry about the breadcrumbs. Or the bread. Or the tomato sauce. Things that in the store will cause any Fed Upper major anxiety. I even had a few bites of cake, which was a little too sugary for me in the light of my recent sugar cuts. Luckily, the Italian cookies were quite pleasant on the palate. And on Sunday I woke up and said, “Three more days without sugar!” And it’s as simple as that. Remember why you’re doing these things. Remember that you control them, not the other way around.
My Fed Up Takeaway
I know that I will now strive to avoid added sugars and sweeteners at the grocery store with much more veracity than I did before. Find the swaps and sugarless meals that are sustainable in your diet, and SUSTAIN THEM. Yeah, the dessert sugars aren’t great for you. But because the hidden ones are so rampant and hella bad for you, those are the ones worth worrying about. And, the all important caveat, when I go out, or if I want some ice cream, I will not worry about it. Completely aware that this will sound douche-tastic: YOLO, my friends. Don’t let food make you sad, but try to get the nourishing stuff as much as possible.
That’s it. I’d totally recommend this “challenge” to anyone, because you will be blown away by what all has added sugar, and a little scared. Sugar is a literal killer. And watch the Fed Up documentary. That shit is nuts.
P.S. The why are you doing this/find sustainable swaps bit was the .5, in case you felt gypped :)