Let's face it, 2020 has brought an enormous change to our regular lifestyles. For most of us, that has meant eating more and exercising less. And we all know what that sum equals don't we? Increased energy intake + reduced energy expenditure = weight gain.
If the events of this year have had that effect on you, you're in the right place. Along with our helpful blog posts on all things health and fitness, we have our brilliant app that offers a variety of fitness challenges to help you get back to your pre-lockdown shape. To compliment your workout program, and assist with faster firming and fat-melting, we recommend the 21 day no junk food challenge.
No Junk Food Challenge: What is it?
It is just that. For 21 days, you consume no processed, pre-packaged junk foods. Specifically, you cut out the following:
- Refined sugar and flour - candy, cookies, cakes, muffins, donuts, bread, pastries, sandwiches, pizza, chocolate, crackers, jelly, jam, chocolate spread, desserts, any product with added sugar or white flour
- Beverages containing sugar and artificial sweeteners - hot drinks, sodas (diet and regular), fruit juice, alcohol, soft drinks
- Fried foods and processed oils - chips, crisps, fries, deep-fried foods, fast foods, takeout, most restaurant food
- Processed animal products - milk, ice cream, cream, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, salami, fast food, ready-to-eat meals
It's a good idea to leave out as many animal-based products as you can. Animal proteins and the saturated fats that always go with them are harmful to your body. Giving your system a short rest to detoxify and rejuvenate will leave you feeling renewed and cleansed.
So, What Can I Eat Then?
You may be wondering, 'what should I eat?' The golden rule of the no junk food challenge is to prep and cook your food yourself, from scratch, using natural ingredients. Here's a list of foods you should eat:
- Vegetables – all veggies, root, cruciferous, potatoes, squashes, alliums
- Fruits – sweet and non-sweet such as olives, avocadoes, peppers
- Leafy greens – spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, turnip greens
- Beans and pulses – lentils, chickpeas, black, kidney, butterbeans, haricot, split peas
- Nuts and seeds – walnuts, hemp, flax, chia, almonds, Brazils, pistachios, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, brown rice pasta
- Salads – lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, radish, chicory, endive, herbs
- Minimally processed dairy alternatives - almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, coconut yoghurt. Avoid soya unless it’s organic
- Cold-pressed oils – extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil
- Fresh fish - only if you can't give up animal food completely for the 21 days
You can still use minimally processed, natural compound ingredients - for example, when you buy canned foods like chopped tomatoes and coconut milk, read the ingredients and ensure you choose an organic brand that uses no added sugar or chemicals such as preservatives, thickeners, colors, etc.
There are so many delicious recipes that can be made with these vibrant, healthy, nourishing ingredients. How about:
- A creamy coconut milk curry made with cauliflower, spinach, and lentils, served with brown rice?
- Or a fragrant, saffron-infused veggie and chickpea tagine with preserved lemon and green olives, served with fluffy quinoa studded with pomegranate jewels and spiked with fiery harissa?
- A 30DayFitness favorite is a nutritious whole grain Buddha bowl brimming with nourishing gems such as baked falafels, shredded carrot, spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and creamy, lemony tahini dressing. Simply divine.
All it takes is some imagination and a willingness to give it a proper try. If cooking's not your thing, just do an internet search for healthy vegan means, and you'll be presented with more delicious recipes than you could ever possibly make during your 21-day no junk food challenge.
21 Day No Junk Food Challenge: Tips to Succeed
Some final tips for success on your no junk food challenge:
- If you need to eat out, choose dishes based around a lean protein source and lots of veggies or salad. Avoid those with sauces and that have been fried.
- Replace sodas and processed fruit drinks with sparkling water flavored with a squeeze of fresh fruit juice. Nice ones to try are lemon, lime, tangerine, pomegranate, and grapefruit. Adding in fresh mint and cucumber slices make a refreshing change.
- Replace sugar and dairy laden hot drinks with herbal teas, green tea, black coffee, and golden milk. Golden milk is a fragrant chai-style drink made from coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, and other spices. Sweeten hot drinks with a dash of raw honey or pure maple syrup. Avoid agave and golden syrups.
- Don't give up! If you make a mistake or fall off the wagon, start again. You'll still reap so many benefits from doing the best you can, even if there are times when you ate the wrong things. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Keep starting again. Your health is worth it.
We hope you choose to give the 21-day no junk food challenge a go. Remember, diet and exercise work best together, so try this challenge combined with one of our amazing workouts. And remember to tag us on Instagram and let us know how you're getting on.