Over the past year I’ve gone through a variety of challenges with my eating habits to encourage a healthier lifestyle for myself. It started with giving up sugar and flour for a month and then has sporadically grown to include other foods that I began to rely on too much when not eating sugar and flour. These challenges have become less about weight loss and more about an attempt to see what I am capable of when I put my mind to it. Throughout the entire process, I’ve tried to be as open with others as possible so they can gain insight into my journey and decide to take on a challenge themselves.
In this month of May, I am challenging myself on a grander scale than ever before. Not just giving up sugar and flour, but also white potatoes, corn, milk, and cheese. This may seem crazy to you, but this is my way of determining my dependency on these “crutch” foods that I find myself relying on as I try to be healthier. I don’t hold any personal ill will towards white potatoes and corn, I simply found myself eating French fries, corn chips, and other snack foods a little too often, which worked against me even as I ate no sugar or flour. Cheese is a whole other issue, stemming from what could be called an addiction to the delicious substance. I ended up putting cheese on too many foods and found myself snacking on cheese cubes when I wanted to curb my hunger.
I always said that I could give up everything else, but I could never give up cheese, but as I continue to evolve my mindset I realize that I can do anything, including just that. So, this blog is to talk about my first week without cheese and I want to warn you in advance that I’ll be candid about the effects of this week on my body to help others who may experience the same. As always, I’m not a doctor or dietician, so the experiences are mine and may not reflect all of society. So here we go.
Unlike giving up sugar and flour for the first time, I never felt cravings for cheese during this week. Maybe I’ve just gotten to a point where I can give things up for a month and my mind just goes along with me now. There were not longings or dreams about the dairy delight. I will say that food that I used to enjoy with cheese seemed blander, so I found myself using more spices than typical.
The biggest difference came with my bowel movements, that started coming more frequently and seemed to not give me as much notice as before. Looking back at the week, I feel like the amount of cheese I ate, (which was a lot), acted as a binding agent that kept things moving at a slower and more controlled pace. Without that binding, some foods seemed to process through me much quicker than that they had in the past, especially those higher in fiber. After five days, I stepped on the scale and found that I lost almost 8 pounds, which was quite shocking to me because I didn’t feel much different than a week before. Sure, I had gone to the gym 4 days that week, but I had never seen those results in the past. As I reflect on it, I’m imagining that I had multiple days’ storage of waste in my bowels, but it had all been coming out with nothing bad going in. Sort of like cleaning out a clogged drain, even though I never felt like I was constipated to this point.
If this concept of bowel storage freaks you out, then you might not want to research it, because it’s a real thing and you probably have a few pounds worth of food still working its way through your intestines as you read this.
While I liked losing the weight, as the week progressed I found the downside. Irritable stomach pains based on what I ate and a sensitivity to some high fiber foods, which seemed to flow right through me. As a person who’s been on a regular bowel movement schedule my entire adult life, the randomness of needing to poop was not an exciting side effect. But, like any new eating pattern, I am quickly figuring out my balance of food intake and what it does to me shortly after. This has also made me think more about portion control than ever before, which has also contributed to my positive weight results.
I tried to do some research and provide links, but everything I can find was more on the other negative effects of dairy or the horrors of the dairy industry. I’m not trying to disparage the industry or get you to hate cheese, because I’m sure I’ll go back to its loving arms after the month of May. This challenge is giving me a better understanding of my body before giving up cheese, during the process, and then as reintroduce it later. Sorry to be so graphic about my bowels, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself a little if it helps you out.
All the best!