Happy April, my beautiful friends! I know it’s been quite some time since writing, but I’ve just gotten back into the groove of spring quarter and have finally established a good schedule that permits plenty of writing time aside from studying and enjoying life! So far, everything has been incredible, and the more positive I feel, the more positivity I gain out of it. With that being said, I am still maintaining an adamant attitude about posting more frequently from now on, especially since I only have two more months until the whole year is over (like what?!).
The title of this post is something mindbogglingly peculiar and not just because I’m a total sauce gal. I’m a crazy skeptic. Yeah yeah yeah, water fasting works…..only with a placebo. Juice cleanses can work, but the effects aren’t entirely–and frankly barely from my personal experience–spiritual. Even veganism doesn’t connect you to the earth solely by dietary changes–that’s the job of documentaries, books, and a couple of animal activism videos. In fact, I didn’t come up with this challenge myself. I decided to partake in it merely to help keep some friends accountable. Let me explain.
Ever since I departed back to San Luis Obispo for my spring quarter, I’ve integrated myself with a new group of friends who are not only fellow vegans, but also fellow free spirits who share the same values as I do, including love, positivity, acceptance, adventure, and of course, health! Truly I can say that this is the group I’ve been searching for in my college experience for my whole time here; finally finding my social niche has gifted me so much gratitude that I cannot believe I deserve.
What does make my friends different from me is their experiences being raw vegan, which I had only tried on my Raw Generations juice cleanse. While I did have a positive experience with resetting my body’s cravings and minor disarrays, I heartily enjoyed returning to consuming foods that I could actually chew and cook without feeling guilty. Even so, I felt a lot better because my body didn’t have to expend so much energy digesting every raw starch and sugar from the fruit, nor did the glucose spikes affect me so dramatically anymore. That being said, my friends and I still accept and respect each other’s dietary lifestyles, especially since we’re all vegan.
However, the intriguing part isn’t necessarily from the “raw foods” aspect of their dietary makeup. It’s the simplicity. One of my friends started munching on a plain head of lettuce and I just stared at her in utter awe. I asked her if she liked the taste of plain lettuce, and she responded that the lettuce leaves had so much flavor already. Another one of my friends, who eats a highly raw diet, regularly consumes dressing-free salads, apples, bananas, and even enjoys her sweet potatoes raw–something I’ve tried before on accident and that my stomach respectfully yet wholeheartedly disagrees on. Anyways, the thing is, there is one thing we ALL share that can serve as an issue: our addiction to nut butter.
While studying together, we would always be snacking on relatively healthy foods–i.e. peanut butter, carrots, berries, raw vegan crackers–but usually find that we’d overdo it on something. Regularly one of us would complain about eating a whole peanut butter jar in a day or consume past the point of satiation. I’ve been guilty of it for plenty of times, but I never put too much thought into it since I was mentally occupied with something else. One evening, one of my friends finally put her foot down after taking a heaping spoonful of almond butter. She declared, “I’m not going to eat added sugar and nuts for as long as I can. I’m being serious this time!” Everyone else nodded in agreement as we discussed the harms of hidden salt, sugar, and overconsumption of peanuts and other heavily processed nuts. The night ended with me saying farewell to my almond butter jar–it was opened fresh the same day–and recycling it with my friends cheering. That night, I thought that I made he worst decision of my life. I felt like I’d do a disservice to my friends by sticking to this plan, but the worst that could happen was that I’d break it and just eat as healthy as I could without restriction. Just one day, I recalled. No big deal.
To recap, I woke up the next morning, ready to hit the recreational center before a newly made companion drove me to a local farmers’ market to buy fresh groceries! I ended up purchasing five pounds of white and orange sweet potatoes, half that I later roasted in the oven–I kept eh other half raw since one of my friends wanted to eat raw for the whole day–for a study picnic outdoors. I also bought a small six-ounce container of apple chunk “granola” made from JUST dried organic apples. Crazy, right?! For once, no Sriracha, peanut butter, chocolate, or any other added sugar/salt product would accompany them. Upon arriving to the picnic spot, I presented the food and we heartily ate everything in mindfulness. I felt perfectly satisfied and adored every single bite of the creamy, doughy, and fluffy sweet potatoes. The taste was so perfect in itself that I didn’t even crave any nut butters or chili sauce with it. The same happened when I had my roasted vegetable salad, veggie patty, and Bhu Foods bar (has no added sugar) for dinner. What’s weird is that I felt beyond amazing the entire day. I conquered one of the most treacherous hikes–seriously, it gave me more than six mosquito bites all over!!–while taking over 20,000 steps. But again, I didn’t sense any rejuvenation or enlightenment within myself and my body until the next day when I consumed two tablespoons of sunflower seed butter and already felt my stomach plop and contract from the stickiness. The difference was so immense that I almost regretted those two tablespoons. Of course, I knew that I’d eventually eat them again along with other condiments, so there wasn’t any use in beating myself up for it. The rest of the day, I didn’t even touch or think about Sriracha, nut butters or any old favorites. Just a sprinkle of chili flakes on my roasted vegetables, and I was good. For the preceding days, I have slowly incorporated lighter condiments as well as smaller portions of sauces and nut butters to ensure that my body becomes used to consuming sauces and spreads once again.
Not until this added sugar and salt free day did I really reflect on my diet, not knowing that my taste buds and general relationship with food was not as up to par as I thought’ I used to consume three, four, five, even six bowls of yellow curry with full-fat coconut milk and potatoes in one sitting. I could finish a whole peanut butter jar in a week (there’s twelve servings of peanut butter per jar. You can probably calculate how many servings I’d consume in seven days!)–no surprise. Most importantly, if I didn’t sense any feeling of a stomach that was COMPLETELY full to the brim, then I’d think I didn’t eat enough even though the case was false. The thing is, while I knew all about this, I couldn’t bring myself to stop reaching for more and more foods.
My mouth never seemed to want to stop moving. If it couldn’t sit still, it wanted to chew. Not chew, then crunch. Not crunch, then lick. Not lick, then swoosh in the mouth like anyone would do with dates, peanut butter, or anything sticky. It got to the point where I’d even bite the tips of my pens and pencil erasers in class, which is absolutely detrimental for your teeth! Something was wrong. Was it my taste buds that seemed haywire, or was I just truly hungry from starving myself for such a long time ago?
I didn’t take on this challenge with my friends to lose weight. The sole purpose of joining the wagon was moral support for the rest of my friends who exuded great determination for it. My weight hasn’t changed all that much aside from gaining flatter abs and more defined muscles around my arms, back, and even my legs (I still maintain a weight that is much higher than what I used to weigh long ago when I first started the Instagram profile and website). Yes, you can most certainly lose weight depending on how many calories you consume, but there is still room for eating in a surplus due to lack of satisfaction with the food. I chose to abstain from any form of condiments, spreads, sauces, or garnishes for a whole day just to see how my taste buds would react.
As a takeaway, I realized so many things that I ended up not expecting at all! In short, this challenge encouraged me to reset my intuition with my body. I now can enjoy simple, wholesome foods in their purest form. The sweetness of a plain spinach leaf bursts in my mouth with so much vibrancy, and even a teaspoon of salt seems like drinking a bucket of sea water. In short, I absolutely recommend that everyone attempt to reset their intuition with cravings and hunger in some way, and eliminating any form of condiment and spread is a great way to do so without being too restrictive. Obviously, a diet with Sriracha and peanut butter on the regular can be healthy, but a dependency on anything like those are not. Whether you can eat a whole head of kale without fail or you love to put a little salt on everything, it’s all about moderation and maintaining a healthy relationship with food. It’s all up to you to develop more mindful habits and truly be present with your meals.
Have you ever tried anything to reset your taste buds? What are your favorite condiments and spreads?