Is it a bad sign that I'm still counting the days of this four-week adventure? I mean, is it bad that the last thing I think before I fall asleep at night is "Three down, 25 to go..."? Or that the first thing I think when I wake up is, "Jesus, really? We're only on day four?"
I may be losing my enthusiasm for this change and could require a serious attitude adjustment. Or perhaps - just perhaps - I need to be a little patient with myself and acknowledge it's gonna take a little while for me to settle in.
I'm finding that the biggest challenge to eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet is my deep and abiding commitment to laziness. You guys, this thing is hard work. I don't mean it's hard work avoiding big piles of meat and bowls of ice cream. So far, that hasn't been too difficult. But the problem with whole foods is that they come whole. Which means you have to do a lot of prep work. Significantly more than pulling a Lean Cuisine out of the box and bunging it in the microwave for five minutes.
If anyone says that all things worth doing require hard work, I will punch them in the face. I'm playing it pretty fast and loose with the face punches right about now.
That said, there have been some gratifying experiments - my quinoa, corn, mango and black bean salad, for example, turned out to be delish. There have also been some food experiments that taste distinctly like punishment. Like the chocolate "pudding" from the Engine 2 recipe selection. It involves mixing together cocoa powder, silken tofu, agave and vanilla.
There's an anecdote in the Engine 2 book that they served it to a fire chief who doesn't subscribe to their healthy living approach and he didn't know it wasn't regular chocolate pudding. To which I say, with all gratitude and respect for the service he provides, that fire chief's an idiot.
Of course, I still ate a bowl of it.
In addition to - or perhaps because of - the amount of planning and prepping required to eat this way, I'm finding my biggest obstacle is that I'm not eating enough. I'll put off meals or snacks because I can't be bothered trying to get my pea-sized brain to figure out what to ingest and then I find myself at the garden center grasping at giant pots so I don't pass out. I have to work on eating more and more often. Not normally a problem for me in the face of junk food. Odd that it would be so difficult when the challenge is to eat healthily.
I also realized that no matter how much lip service I paid to my intentions, I have to recognize that some of my expectations are unrealistic. The purpose of this exercise is to lower my cholesterol, to become more heart-healthy and try to upset my genetic legacy for heart disease. And yet, I found myself, on day two wondering why I wasn't rail thin yet. Clearly I have to do some work on the strong mental connection I have between eating changes and weight. Considering my mother put me on my first diet when I was 11, it's probably understandable that this is a tough rope to cut.
And then there's my pain. The book talks about how eating this way helps with any number of chronic ailments and, even though there wasn't a single mention of pain-related issues, I secretly internalized a hope that it would cure my fibromyalgia. In four days, at that. I don't think I even knew how much I'd hoped this to be the case until a pain cycle settled in and I got mad at the diet. Nobody promised me less pain. I made that part up. Get it together, brain!
In case you're interested, here's a rough "recipe" for the quinoa salad I made the other day. I just played with the ratios, so you can adjust them to include more or less of things. You could also substitute other whole grains or even whole wheat cous cous for the quinoa if it's not your bag.
- 2 cups quinoa, cooked & cooled
- 2 cups black beans
- 1 cup corn (I used the canned Summer Crisp corn, as it's crunchier)
- 1 mango, diced into little bits
- 1/3 cup diced green onions
- 1/2 cup diced red or yellow peppers
Mix 'em all together in a big bowl and toss with the following dressing:
- Juice of 1 or 2 limes
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 2 TBS agave syrup
- Couple pinches cumin
- salt & pepper to taste
Now, the Engine 2 Diet technically nixes adding oil to food, but I added about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil to the dressing. I don't actually think it made much difference, so I'd probably just pass on it next time.