The Holistic Hundred is a 100 day challenge that starts on Tuesday, August 14th and ends on Wednesday, November 21st (the day before Thanksgiving). The challenge consists of not eating any sugars, grains or vegetable oils.
This is not Keto. This is not Low Carb. This is not calorie counting. This is not counting macros. Just stop eating processed food and you are 99% there!
You may be wondering why I chose to eliminate these three items.
WHY ELIMINATE GRAINS?
One word. Inflammation. Wheat and grains powerfully inflame the body. Inflammation can manifest with skin issues such as acne, dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. It can show as joint pain, especially in the hands, wrists, and elbows, sometimes in the knees, hips, and low back. It can show as water retention/edema in the face and ankles. Grain-induced inflammation can also show up as an autoimmune disease, anything from rheumatoid arthritis, to diabetes, to leaky gut. As inflammation has become increasingly recognized as having a role in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, there are more and more studies exploring how diet relates to inflammation. It’s important to note that the grains and flours we consume are fundamentally different from the ones our grandparents and great-grandparents consumed, we also prepare them much differently and this may also help explain the increasing rates of allergies and intolerance problems with grains.
WHAT IS A GRAIN?
So when eliminating grains from your diet, you need to understand what a “grain” is. A grain is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, bagels, muffins, chips, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. For the purpose of this challenge, there is no difference between “whole grains” and “refined grains”, they are both off limits. It’s also important to know that not all grains contain gluten. So don’t be fooled by eating something that has “gluten free” on the label. Grains that are gluten free include corn, millet, rice, cornmeal – don’t eat these. You also need to steer clear of foods and drinks that contain grains, like baking powder (contains cornstarch), beer, glucose (made from wheat), soy sauce, and most condiments, salad dressings, and sauces. You can find grain-free substitutes for most of these if you want to try to keep them in your diet.
WHAT IS NOT A GRAIN?
Some foods that you might think are grains, but are not are Amaranth, Buckwheat (Kasha), Chia seeds, Flaxseed, Sesame and Quinoa. These are ok to eat during the Holistic Hundred Challenge. You can also cook and bake with non-grain flours such as almond, coconut, fava bean and plantain.
WHY ELIMINATE SUGAR?
I don’t think that you will find many people that think sugar is GOOD for you. But if you need a reminder of all the reasons to eliminate sugar, here are a few:
- It stimulates a reaction that provokes adrenaline and cortisol release and thickens the blood.
- It impairs white blood cells’ function (lowering your immune system).
- It appears to fuel cancer cells. (The connections to cancer and sugar continue to grow as more research is done)
- It promotes fat storage and weight gain.
- It disrupts transfer of amino acids to muscle tissue.
- It spurs insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes and other health issues like nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.
- It is a powerful, addictive drug.
- It weakens bones and muscles.
We all know that sugar is sticky. Simply lick a lollipop (or a ring pop is you prefer) and then feel how sticky it gets. Sugar gets sticky because it reacts with the proteins on the surface of your skin to form a chemical bond. This bond is called glycation. The same thing happens when sugar is inside your body. The sugar sticks to your cells and tissues, making them stiff and brittle. It clogs nutrient channels, slowing communication. It stiffens the collagen in your tendons, joints, and skin, causing arthritis and premature wrinkling, while interfering with the production of new collagen.
The more sugar people tended to consume, the less they were able to taste it. Sugar literally will dull your senses. I’ve mentioned before that after doing “No Sugar November” and cutting out added sugar for over three weeks, things like carrots and beets taste very sweet. So the good news is that if you require three packets of sugar in your coffee, with time, you can reduce the amount that is required to achieve the same taste.
WHAT IS SUGAR?
You will be amazed at what is added to food to make it sweet (and addictive). Look for sugar disguised as many different things. Such as Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Glucose Syrup, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Fruit Sugar, Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Agave Nectar, Palm Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner’s syrup, Ethyl maltol, Maple syrup, Yellow sugar, etc.
Artificial sugars are also off limits – you know, that stuff they put in Diet and "Zero" drinks. So no blue, yellow or pink packets (Aspartame, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda, Sucralose, Sweet ‘N Low, Xylitol).
WHAT IS NOT SUGAR?
All natural sweeteners — including maple syrup, stevia and raw honey are healthy substitutions to add to drinks if you can’t go without at first. They are still off limits if listed on ingredient labels and I recommend trying to keep their use to a minimum. They will still trigger brain responses to make you want to eat more and crave sweet things – making this challenge even more difficult. You can keep packets of stevia with you so you don’t have to resort to sugar or artificial sweeteners at work and restaurants. Hard alcohol - including vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey - have zero grams of sugar per ounce, so they are ok to drink straight or with water/tonic. Do not mix them with fruit juices or soda. As you eliminate sugar from your diet, you will notice the natural sweetness of foods. I’ve done this challenge for the last three years and I’m always surprised how sweet foods like carrots and sweet potatoes naturally are once my pallet adjusts.
If you want more details on sugar, check out these links:
WHY ELIMINATE VEGETABLE OILS?
Vegetable oils are toxic to our arteries because they contain delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are particularly prone to oxidative damage, especially when exposed to heat and when separated from the antioxidants that would otherwise help protect them from that oxidating damage. Science backs up the claim that the historically resent rise in heart disease is the result of the recent invention of refined, bleached, and deodorized vegetable oils. The food industry has been adding these oils to our foods without much fanfare and we are suffering because of it.
If you need more reasons to cut out vegetable oils, consider that they destroy your brain. They do this both directly and indirectly by impacting the gut, your arteries, your white blood cells, the cellular architecture of your nerves and your gene replication. If you have heartburn, gastritis or other digestive symptoms, try eliminating vegetable oils. By inciting chaos, vegetable oil confuses the immune system and ultimately gets the body to turn on itself in ways that can lead to auto-immune brain disorders like multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s and all the other neurodegenerative processes we now understand result at least in part from auto-immune attacks. In addition, if you suffer from migraines or Alzheimer’s, vegetable oils are likely making things worse.
WHAT VEGETABLE OILS ARE BAD?
These are industrial fats that cannot handle the heat involved in processing and cooking
- Canola Oil
- Soy Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Corn Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Non-butter spreads (Margarine)
You may notice that the bad oil list is mostly seeds. These oils are particularly temperature sensitive because seeds stay dormant over the cold winter. But come the spring thaw, the heat-sensitive PUFAs wake up in response to warming, facilitating germination. In order to protect the seed and allow it to grow in nature, the seeds are loaded with antioxidants. Unfortunately, refining these oils ultimately converts these antioxidants into distorted, unhealthy molecules that the human body cannot handle. If you are cooking with any oil, be sure and look up the smoke point. Even some of the good oils have low smoke points, so they should not be used for high temp cooking.
So what are some common foods that are typically loaded with bad vegetable oils? Salad dressing, rice milk, soy milk, soy cheese, soy-based meat products, breakfast cereals, roasted nuts (only eat seeds and nuts raw), any fried food, crackers and chips, granola, breads, buns, frozen pizza, cakes, pies, cookies, frosting, coffee creamers, muffins, I even found it in organic baby food! Basically, anything that can sit on a shelf for a long time allowing manufacturers to keep food around longer before it must be sold, will likely contain a form of vegetable oil.
WHAT OILS ARE OK?
These traditional fats can handle the heat involved in processing or cooking
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Butter (the real stuff)
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Animal Fats (Lard, Tallow)
- Palm Oil
WHAT SHOULD MY TYPICAL DAY OF EATING LOOK LIKE?
For many people, eliminating sugars and grains may feel like they are going to be starving themselves. But as you introduce new foods to your diet to replace the bad ones, you will quickly learn to love real foods and experiment with new things. Keep it simple. Staples of your diet should be vegetables, meats, healthy fats and some fruits.
Breakfast could be eggs, bacon, avocados and tomato slices. Or a smoothie with spinach, kale, coconut or almond milk, unsweetened yogurt and berries. For more breakfast ideas, check out this website.
Lunch can simply consist of dinner leftovers from the night before. You can make a portable salad at home, or even get one from a restaurant or salad bar at a grocery (using only olive oil as a dressing).
Good snack ideas are fruit, raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, full fat cheese, raw nuts, olives, pumpkin seeds, 85% or greater dark chocolate, pepperoni slices, avocados, and hummus (watch for bad oils in this) with raw veggies.
Dinner should be a meat and 2-3 servings of veggies. You can try spaghetti squash if you like having "pasta".
Believe it or not, life is simple on this eating plan. Throw out all sugars and grains to start with – seriously, clean out the pantry and fridge (if it’s not there, you can’t eat it). Then simply buy meats and lots of veggies and fruits at the store. Pick a meat and two veggies to prepare for dinner each night. Preparation is key – make a meal plan for the entire week and then go shopping for everything you need.
Let me know what questions you have as you start the challenge. If you slip up one day, start over the next. It’s a “challenge” for a reason. If you want to join the Facebook group for support and recipes, shoot me an email or PM on Facebook and I’ll get you added. Good luck!
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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,