Over the past few years, I've delved into many of the popular eating plans, as well as begun a study of holistic nutrition
When evaluating a plan that's new to me, I always ask two questions
One – How do they address the importance of digestion? Our health isn't dependent on what we eat, but rather what we digest. We can be taking in the healthiest foods, but if our bodies aren't able to digest them, it's all for naught.
Two – How do their eating plans work the people who don't fall within the norm? The smaller percentage that doesn't fit into the box as neatly as others?
Of course, most things in life work best when we follow them to the letter. Eating plans included. But if there's anything I've come to discover in my 40+ years, as my family's experience has fallen outside any and every norm offered by the world; utopia is an ever-elusive creature.
I couldn't help but be reminded this past week again, as I started following The Plan. I'd read the book twice, shopped and prepped, and then prepped some more. We had a crazy amount of vegetables in our refrigerator, and I was really doing well
That is .. until
We spent New Year's Eve with friends. I'd dutifully eaten my dinner before we left (chicken, oven-roasted veggies, and it was delicious!). At the party, I resisted all of the incredible (!!) food. That is until I got hungry, we're talking really hungry, somewhere around midnight.
I hovered in the kitchen, circled the island, stared long and hard at the cheesy potatoes. Looked for a veggie plate (nope!). I knew it would be a few hours before I'd go to sleep, “Dang it .. dang it all.” I bent over and wafted the cheesy potatoes, glanced longingly at the dessert(s). Realizing I couldn't even have water to tide me over (The Plan says no water after 7:30 pm or within four hours of bed)
“Good grief woman, pull yourself together.”
The best available choice? Plain hamburger sliders, of which I had two small bites (probably 2 or 3 Tbsp worth, no bun, no ketchup, no extra anything). It got me through. That and two small sips of champagne at midnight, to simply make me happy
The next day, my husband and I went for our weekly lunch date. Soup of the day? Garden Vegetable, no salt added. I sipped on the broth (~ 1/2 a cup), along with the veggies I knew I could have, and called it good. My regular on-plan lunch eaten when we got home.
I stayed up later each night, composing my email to my nutrition coach from bed, feeling so proud. Look at all I'd accomplished; I'd made it through 3 days of detox with only a few minor transgressions. Given the circumstances, I'd made the best choices possible. Appropriate confessions were offered, all was well with the world.
“Hah, I know she'll be proud.”
The next morning, I excitedly opened her email and stared dumbfounded at the screen
“You didn't follow The Plan; you'll need to start again.”
I admit it's been a long time since I've felt such a kick in the gut, and was pretty down for the better part of the day, putting into motion all of the things I know I need to do when stress hits. The veggies in the fridge somehow lost their luster, running to the grocery to shop for the next couple of days felt like a weighty chore, and yes, I contemplated (more than once!) driving to the co-op for cookies
By the time evening rolled around, I'd made peace. Finding a place to put it in my mind, re-reminding myself of my center, reverting to the only position that's reliably worked for me. That of grace, finding solace somewhere in life's many shades of grey. Reminding myself that
I'm one woman, who's simply trying her best
Looking back on that day of turmoil, I can't help but wonder how anyone could be successful for 20 days straight? If perfection is the only option? If there's no wiggle-room for when life shows up? If one or two small transgressions mean starting all over at ground zero?
I mean, The Plan is recommended for people 35 + and by the time we've reached that age most of us are chasing kids, puppies, managing careers, friendships, marriages, aging parents, exercise routines, and everything in-between.
Will it be possible for us always to be close enough to home to eat every meal that's outlined for us (or be able to take it along with us)? Will it always be possible for us to shop for and prepare all of the meals amongst our busy schedules? They're nutritious, and delicious, for certain, but I'd be lying if I said you could buy the book today, and easily start tomorrow. There is a lot of food prep. Cooking, chopping, and most you can certainly do ahead, but you'll still need to do it
To be fair, I can't lose sight of the ultimate goal of The Plan; that of testing and teaching people how to test foods themselves. The ultimate goal is to identify which foods are friendly for our bodies and which are triggers, which can be the catalysts of weight gain and poor health.
The idea is to create a base environment from which new foods can be introduced, one a time, to see how our bodies react. Therefore, if someone were introducing multiple new foods during their days, if their body reacted, it would be impossible to pinpoint the trigger food. (Not only are individual foods methodically tested, but quantities, as well as food combinations)
I put forth no definitive conclusion really but would be remiss not to offer some food for thought. The great divide between the need for perfection (if one is truly going to have adequate data), and making it work amongst the reality of the busy and full lives we live.
I could have restarted, that was certainly a choice. At the other extreme was quitting, which didn't seem like what I wanted to do either. So I've stayed the course, picked myself back up after my indiscretions, and simply carried on at the meal and day for which I'd left off
Nothing to see here ..
A few stats?
Today is Day 5, and I've lost five pounds
Day 3: Tested chicken, and it's a friendly food for me
Day 4: Tested goat cheese, and it too is friendly (love goat cheese!)
Day 5: Today I'll test rye (which is a gateway for other grains and breads) .. stay tuned
I think this is the ideal no-frills cream of broccoli soup. It's simple, yet satisfying, and one of my favorite meals from The Plan these past few days. I loved its fresh taste and creamy texture
The thickness is great if made according to the directions, although the second time around, I took some of the broccoli out before pureeing the rest so that I could have some bigger pieces in the soup.
ps: For more thoughts on The Plan
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~ Adapted from the LynGenet.com
Cream of Broccoli and Avocado Soup
- 3 tbsp butter
- ½ large onion chopped
- ½ tsp celery seed
- 2 cups chicken broth (low sodium, if you have it)
- ½ cup water
- ¾ can full-fat coconut milk
- 4 cups broccoli, chopped (about 2 heads of broccoli)
- 4 cups zucchini, chopped (about 2 medium zucchini)
- 1 small to medium avocado
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ⅛ tsp cayenne (more or less depending on your tolerance for heat)
- Optional depending on your heat tolerance
- 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce (or Sriracha if you don’t have this on hand)
- In a medium stock-pot over low to medium heat, add butter, onion, and spices
- Saute until the onions have softened
- Add all of the other ingredients (except the avocado), and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the avocado, blend with an emulsion blender until creamy (blending the soup in batches in your blender will work as well)
- If you prefer your soup less creamy, add more water, ¼ cup at a time, until reaching your desired consistency