As a serious foodie I’ve always been fascinated by people who manage to keep a strict and healthy diet. I usually go to bed on Sunday night planning a new healthy life, which tends to go south around breakfast time on Monday morning when I have my first cup of coffee. Because let’s face it, breaking a habit is very hard (did I hear someone say impossible?).
Enter Karin G. Reiter, Sassy Mama’s very own health expert and professional nutritionist. And don’t you worry, this health expert has nothing in common with the seriously scary Gillian McKeith from “You Are What You Eat”. As a mother of two little people, Karin knows all about trying to fit stuff into an already over-filled schedule. One of the first things she said to me when I called her up was: “changing your diet needs to be easy, tasty and manageable”. On this point we were most certainly in agreement, so we booked a meeting to talk things through.
Before we met I got an email with a personalized weekly menu, shopping list, some “body basics” and a soft copy of Karin’s new healthy cookbook (which you can find here). The best way to break a habit is to do something drastic, which is why Karin recommended a completely vegan and gluten-free diet for a week. After reading this, my very first instinct was to run away, with a mozzarella in one hand and a bottle of red in the other, and never come back. But then I realized there would be ample time for that when I’d been on the new diet for a while and hopefully would look 10 years younger.
At our first meeting Karin talked me through the diet, food and recipes and slowly I started feeling a bit intrigued by the challenge of going vegan for a week and not allowing any stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol or refined sugar. I would however be allowed to eat as much as I wanted of most of the foods allowed, which was a bit of a consolation. Karin also suggested that I’d get my dear hubby on the program too, to manage temptations. Now, this isn’t the kind of thing you just secretly introduce: “Oh yes dear, you’ve always had scrambled tofu for breakfast with a side of sprouted seeds. You just never noticed it before!“ Nah-ah. He had to be convinced, which I actually managed to do by using words like, ‘challenge’, ‘mental strength’ and ‘perseverance’.
Now there was no going back…. My body was about to become my temple and I set out on a journey to Brown Rice in Tanglin Mall for some almond milk, goji berries, corn crackers and a bunch of other things I had never tried before.
True to my usual habit I started my new life on a Monday morning with a bowl of gluten-free musli and almond milk coupled with a large glass of warm lemon water. Not bad actually… In fact almond milk tastes sort of like the milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl so works really well as a replacement for this purpose. My lunches would consist mostly of fresh salads with a nice oil-vinegar dressing. One thing I discovered about halfway into the diet was the nothing-less-than- fabulous gluten-free bread mix from Bobs Red Mill (available at most international supermarkets). Super-easy to bake and tastes just as nice as ‘real’ bread. Top it with some sugar-free peanut butter and sliced banana… hey I can do this vegan thing!
A week went by a lot faster than I thought it would and apart from a few lowlights (like a frantic online search for “Best vegan and gluten-free dessert on a Saturday night) we both managed to stick to the diet, not cheating even once!
So why do this?
Well, I would be lying if I told you that we felt amazing the whole time and are seriously contemplating going vegan for good. But what something like this does do for you, apart from making you sleep really well and clearing up your skin, is that it makes you think more about what you eat. Because life isn’t about extremes, it’s about making the right decisions in your everyday life. So if you’re hoping for a new ‘you’ — this might be just the thing to do.