We survived the 30 days. In case you don’t remember, Mr. Boyfriend and I decided to give up all pop and red meat for the month of June. I am happy to report, mission accomplished! We did it!
It has been a full month since we last had any kind of red meat and pop. Thanks to all of you who sent words of encouragement! It definitely helped reinforce that this was a good idea and that it was worth doing.
Giving up red Meat:
A little side note – I am very picky about my chicken. I don’t like the texture and I think almost all chicken is dry, even if it’s dunked in sauce. Unless it’s fried, because then it is Delicious, with a capital D. So right off the bat, I faced a challenge of getting enough protein because I was left with really only 3 options: deli or ground turkey, fish and quinoa. Mr. Boyfriend had a bigger challenge ahead as he is a meat-and-potatoes guy. He is from Texas so giving up red meat is virtually unheard of. At first we debated what we could or couldn’t eat. Bacon? Pork? Mr. Boyfriend’s theory was that if pork is considered “the other white meat,” and both bacon and pork come from a pig, then bacon is not red meat. But I disagreed. I don’t consider ham or ribs to be white meat either. The meat is literally red, and isn’t chicken or turkey, and is not good for you, so I consider bacon to be red meat. I know my reasoning might be faulty, but I’m sticking to it. We even Googled bacon. We got mixed answers but most said it was indeed red meat, so I said bacon was on our hit list. Would you eat pork and/or bacon if you gave up red meat?
This challenge was really good for us to realize just how often we ate it. You know how pork is “the other white meat”? Well, I have concluded that red meat is “the convenient meat.” I didn’t realize just how easy it is to order, until now. It is the fall back option, the “oh, I don’t want chicken, might as well have red meat” option. And it’s everywhere! I think my biggest challenge was pepperoni pizza.
Some situations/places we were faced with challenges:
- Arlington Race Track: Because of my dislike of chicken, I would normally automatically have gotten a (Vienna) Hotdog. However, this time I opted for a pulled chicken sandwich and fries. It was surprisingly tasty (probably because it was slathered with sauce) and definitely the healthier option.
- Mr. Boyfriends birthday dinner: My parents wanted to take him to dinner, and we usually go to this delicious steak house called Wildfire, but this time we opted for cuban. Last time we were here we got amazing steak, so this time we opted for the pork.
- Summer Festivals: There are so many festivals with delicious food. We had to remind ourselves of our June goal. One specific summer fest is RibFest. We have wanted to go for the past few years, but really, what would be the point to go this year? That would be pure torture.
- Each Wednesday, dinner is provided at work for Mr. Boyfriend while he attends his masters class. Unfortunately, the only legit option is usually meat. Italian beef, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. are convenient and easy to order/serve to a group of people. There were nights he would come home and have to make dinner for himself.
- When Lauren came to town for a business trip, I of course had to take her to get Chicago style pizza. I always get low-fat cheese pepperoni pizza when I go to Lou Malnati’s (arguably the best deep dish in Chicago) but this time I actually had to read the menu! My vegetarian pizza was delicious, but it was no pepperoni!
- One night, Mr. Boyfriend and I didn’t feel like cooking and we craved a pepperoni pizza. I am proud to say, we went with a veggie pizza with spinach and mushrooms. Even though we missed our pepperoni, the pizza hit the spot and we were proud of ourselves for ordering a healthier meat-free option.
- We had a lot of struggles with pizza apparently. The best thin pizza is at a place called Barnaby’s in the northern suburbs. My parents wanted to take us there one Sunday night but we had to force ourselves to tell them no. I was tempted to throw in the towel and say, “F’ It!” but I stood strong.
- My cousin graduated from high school and the ceremony was held at Northwestern University. If you are familiar with the area, there is a local hot dog stand in the parking lot across from the stadium. We knew we had to eat beforehand, otherwise we wouldn’t eat until very late. I walked in and instantly heard, Caryn, you know you want to eat me! I’m delicious! and don’t take a lot of time to prepare! You don’t want to be late to the ceremony! Eat Me! The Vienna hotdog was calling my name, but I resisted and went with a turkey burger.
Giving up pop:
I don’t drink pop that often to begin with, so this wasn’t all that difficult for me. I don’t need it for the caffeine and usually only drink it when I have a sweet tooth. Mr. Boyfriend, however, needs his caffeine and sugar fix more often than me.
- When I order Subway, I almost always get chips and a drink with it. The sugary pop is a sweet compliment to the sandwich. It completes the meal. I usually mix half Diet Coke (they don’t have Pepsi) and half Cherry Coke. I only opted for water this month, and split the occasional cookie. What? Who doesn’t want something sweet after a sub sandwich?
- The most challenging part of giving up pop was at bars on the weekends. When I’m not ordering beer, I usually order a mixed drink of some kind, a Vodka Sprite or Whiskey Sprite or something similar. I chose to stick with beer all month. What drink do you order at bars?
- Not often, but occasionally at work, I get a sweet tooth in the afternoon. Instead of going to the vending machine for candy to get my sugar fix, I get a Pepsi. This month, I reached for gum when I needed to get my fix.
I don’t know if it is psychological or physical, but I feel better after doing this detox. This challenge was harder for Mr. Boyfriend than it was for me and we got different results. On a scale of 1 -10 (10 being I can’t survive without it) I would rate this experience as a 3-4 but he rated it a 6. I feel healthier, cleaner and definitely not as heavy. While it might be a case of wanting what you can’t have, he said he now craves a pepperoni pizza but does admit that he is more aware of the fact that he needs to cut back on his intake of both products. We both realized we consumed both products more often than we thought. While red meat is a good source of iron and protein, it does made you feel sluggish and heavy. It is almost as if the salad is the angel on one shoulder and the filet mignon is the devil on the other. I am convinced that red meat is the easy, convenient but dangerous choice. It is temptress of all meats. It is that
man meat with rock solid abs, defined muscles and perfect dimpled smile that makes you want to be bad for just this once.
I thought about having a pop yesterday, but stopped myself. If I went this long without it, do I really need it now? This process made me realize there is a difference in what we want and what we need. We just need to use our self-control. Pop contributes to gingivitis, tooth decay, increases risk of obesity and decreases calcium in the body. The fact that pop rusts when placed in vinegar, totally creeps me out. It makes me question, what exactly are we putting in our bodies?
While we won’t give either up forever, we will now make it a point to eat and drink them less frequently. Our bodies will thank us when we get older. I want to live a long and healthy life, and I know that starts now.