This is my second year joining Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules in his October Unprocessed Challenge. Each October, Andrew challenges you to get more informed about what you’re eating, and, if couldn’t be made in a home kitchen, skip heavily processed foods for a month. All month long, other great bloggers are posting recipes and information about eating unprocessed. Please join the challenge and feel the difference cutting out processed foods can have on your health.
What I love about October Unprocessed is that it’s an exercise in mindful eating (and sometimes not eating). The term “mindful eating” can cover a wide variety of things. Mindful eating can be listening to your body for when it’s physically hungry, rather than just eating just to eat. Mindful eating can be stopping eating as your stomach starts to feel full or too full, even if you’ve still got food on your plate. It can also be taking the time to turn off the TV, put down the phone and really focus on what you’re eating to enjoy it more and to really register that you ate something (how many times have you eaten while multitasking only to realize you don’t really remember eating?).
Mindful eating can also be looking at our food choices and deciding what you want to eat and put in your body. The Kitchen Test is a way to slow things down and really make you aware, really make you think about what you’re putting in your body. With some foods, like whole produce or dried beans and grains that have no labels, the thought process is a lot faster. They are what are, no extra additives or preservatives, WYSIWYG all the way. It’s when you start to roam around other parts of the grocery store where it can get confusing and the Kitchen Test can slow you down and keep you mindful.
One of the aisles I spend the most time in is the nutrition bar aisle. Quite often I like to have a nutrition bar handy as a snack at work, on the road, or after a workout. You can easily spend a lot of time in this aisle, not only because there are now a million different options of bars, but they’re definitely not created equal.
While most of them advertise whole food ingredients on the box and wrapper, when you turn the bar over, it can be a whole different story. Lots of bars are packed with several different kinds of syrups, aka sugar, to keep the ingredients all together. In addition to the sugar, there are a lot of ingredients that fail the Kitchen Test in bars and post-workout snacks in that aisle.
So when I’m buying a bar or post-workout snack, I’ll turn over every new bar I may be interested in to see what other things are in the bar besides what’s advertised on the front. This slows me down from just grabbing whatever to making a much more mindful decision about what I’m eating (and not eating). The ones I like the most are the most straightforward and have the most recognizable ingredients.
Recently I’ve been buying and eating protein cookies (a newer thing in the nutrition bar aisle), which has the equivalent amount of protein I could get from a protein shake in cookie form. I found a flavor I liked and out of convenience/never getting around ordering another tub of protein powder, I’ve just been eating those after a workout. They do the job, the vegan protein is clean-ish, but I’ve been less than thrilled with the paragraph of ingredients on the back, many that definitely fail the Kitchen Test.