Hitting restart

Hello, and Happy New Year! Hey look, it’s 2012 and we’re still alive! Silly Mayan calendar.

If you’re anything like most people I know and/or interact with on the Internet these days, you likely made New Year’s resolutions. If you’re also like most, I bet many of you have health-based resolutions, even if you’re already vegan. People love to assume that veganism = healthy, but that’s not always so. My favorite example of why this logic is faulty is a guy I worked with in college at Native Foods in LA. He subsisted off vegan pizzas, french fries and chips. I eat lots of things that could be considered vegan junk food and probably won’t stop eating them anytime soon (except this month – more on that in a sec), but the difference between that guy and myself is I actually love fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and seeds.

With the world starting to turn in a direction that is more vegan-friendly, it’s hard to say no to things like vegan donuts, Newman-Os, and Daiya-topped pizza simply because they exist. They’re just so good! But sometimes you need to step away from the vegan cookies and clean up your act. And January is the perfect time to do so.

I’ve attempted cleanses before, and most have ended miserably. This time last year, I started an elimination diet to see if I was allergic to certain foods (under the guidance of my naturopath) and instead of lasting the whole 21 days, I lasted 7. I think anyone who goes through a whole month or close to a month of cleansing is awesome, but I’m not quite there yet.

I don’t like the word “resolution”, but I like the word “goal” a lot. Something about the inferences of each that makes me prefer “goal” over the other, so this month, I’ve made a goal to attempt eating cleaner overall. The holidays were lovely and filled with gluten-based main dish masterpieces, Brazil nut pie and so many snacks, and I just feel like it’s time to return to basics for a bit. So without further ado, here’s my non-cleanse, non-diet plan for eating cleaner this month:

Goals:

- a smoothie a day, usually breakfast

- one meal-sized salad a day, typically at lunch

- limit alcohol (I’m not a big drinker anyway, but just less when I do choose to imbibe)

- less coffee, more green tea

- cut the sweets (this one really stings)

- eliminate bread/gluten as much as possible, and focus more on whole grains

- more fruits, vegetables and nuts as snacks

- allow wiggle room on the weekends/here and there

January will see lots of green smoothies and VitaMix usage.

This past week was my first week working on said goal, and so far, so good. I did have some gluten in the form of pizza dough/Tofurky sausage mid-week and Puffy Pillow Pancakes this weekend (post coming very soon), but still, that’s so much better than usual. I had the smoothie everyday for breakfast and successfully had a salad for one meal everyday. The salad concept was one I really thought I’d struggle with, as my boyfriend summed up my prior sentiments towards them well, “but I thought you hated salads?” Yep, it’s true. I used to be a salad hater. You have to understand that I’ve been a vegetarian and vegan for a combined 7 years now, so in the beginning my only option was often a pathetic iceberg, shredded carrots, stale croutons with sad, sad vinaigrette dressing, and I got sick of them. But gone are those days. You can get a kickass salad at many establishments now, and I’ve learned how to make some impressive ones (and dressings) at home over time, too. So if anything, this might be the month that salads earn back my respect.

I’m not a doctor/nutritionist, but I know that our cravings and tastes change as we change our habits. I’ve got a major sweet tooth, but after going the week without a sugary treat, I’m actually finding myself not getting the shakes when I don’t have one. And my sometimes present cravings for gluten (I love gluten) are gone, too. So while it’s still early in the month, I foresee this being a good experiment in terms of getting myself back on track health-wise, and setting the stage for a focused, sensible and delicious 2012.

Did you make any health-related New Year’s resolutions/goals, and if so, what are they? How are they going thus far?

12 Responses to “Hitting restart”

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  1. Luke says:

    I know the Vita-Mix. My dad sells them. I would assume you bought it while he was working.

  2. Danielle says:

    Well, Dawn. You basically took the thoughts/words right out of my head/mouth. I think this only proves we were separated at birth. Right down to the sweets/bread/gluten.

    • Dawn says:

      <3

      We were separated at birth, and as long lost sisters I believe we should be reunited soon! And yep, I love me some gluten. Hurts so good.

  3. Adam says:

    I love that you’re allowing yourself wiggle room on the weekends. I don’t think people reward themselves with enough allowances or freedom to make a resolution successful so kudos there.

    But, what is that has you motivated to cut back on breads/glutens?

    • Dawn says:

      Thanks Adam! And I agree re: allowances/freedom while cutting back. If you’re too strict on yourself, you’re pretty much destined to fail, and I’d rather not. I am just trying to make it as doable as possible, and this plan seems like one that will work for me.

      And I really don’t have a major reason (health or otherwise) for cutting back on breads/gluten, other than the fact that I know they sometimes make me feel less than awesome when I eat them. I don’t believe I’m gluten-intolerant, but I feel like it’s always a good idea to cut back on things you love/indulge in every once in a while. My main goal with this is to get back to more whole grains and make them my focus, rather than always needing to reach for bread or some flour-based product.

  4. jess says:

    sounds like you’re off to a great ‘clean’ start for the year! i’ve been similarly being more conscious of cleaning up my act after some serious indulgences over the holidays and have cut out most sugar. tiny wrench was the special delivery i got from allison’s gourmet yesterday… but at the rate i’m mowing through it i should be back to basics by the weekend. hah! likely with a tooth ache, but i’ll be there…

    looking forward to hearing how the rest of the month goes for you :)

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you Jess! It sounds like you are as well, and I’m not sure I’d be able to avoid any goodies from Allison’s! I’d have to have the bf hide them really well for the rest of the month to resist! ;)

      Thank you! I look forward to hearing more about your plan/progress as well. Good luck to us both!

  5. Leah says:

    Love this article! I also have a NY resolution to be healthier. I gave away all my white pastas and have been doing strictly whole grains (love that quinoa-corn blend pasta!) and have been having really yummy, hearty salad lunches. I did have one question — I majorly heart seitan and although I understand it’s not whole-grain but just the gluten of the wheat, I do consider it an important protein source. Can you speak more to why you’re cutting down on gluten?

    Always learning,
    Leah

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you, Leah! Good girl in giving away all the bad white flour-based stuff! That’s a great start for sure, and there are so many new (and tastier) whole grain products coming out these days, you won’t even miss them.

      And re: the gluten, I’ll just kind of reiterate what I mentioned to Adam above: I don’t really have a concrete reason for cutting it down, other than desiring to keep the things I love to eat in check every once in a while. I’m not gluten-intolerant and haven’t been advised to do this by a health professional, but rather I’m just curious to see if cutting back on it/mostly removing it from my diet will do anything for my cravings and how my body feels throughout a normal day.

      I agree, gluten is a great protein source, and the term “wheat meat” exists for good reason. But sometimes I definitely do notice that I feel a little cruddy when I eat something gluten-based (whole wheat or not), and I’d just like to see if there’s a major difference if I cut back. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up entirely (unless strongly suggested by a doctor!) but I think this could be an enlightening experiment.

      Hope that helped? :)

  6. Laryssa says:

    Love these very realistic and sensible goals! I actually tried some wonderful smoothies at a Whole Foods Vita Mix demo a few weeks ago, and I think I may have to get one soon…

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