I have just finished my first diet challenge. And it wasn’t a “let’s cut out fat” or “I’m going to start counting diet club points” diet. Normally strict eating regimes aren’t my thing. I’m more of a learn to eat what your body needs type girl. But I decided to start a challenge to eat better both for myself and for the planet. So I cut out all food that has any plastic packaging for one month (it was actually more like 6 weeks because counting is definitely not top of my skill set).
This blog is a wrap up – no pun intended – of what I learned during my No Plastic Diet challenge…
WHAT I LOVED: The first thing that I discovered when starting this diet, is that it immediately cut out most junk food. Did you know how hard it is to buy Monster Munch in a paper bag? It was only in week 2 that I found Take No Wrap, which is a packaging free food shop, and could buy chocolate chips in my own containers, that I perfected my cookie recipe.
Taking out a shit load of crappy food meant that I had to fill this void with more of the good stuff. And so more fruit and veg was added into my diet. And most of it was seasonal produce which also reduced the number of food miles that my dinners were travelling. My normal diet is pretty good anyway, but this made it even better still.
It also unwittingly added a better quality of food. I’m not even kidding when I say that a loose plum is about twice the size of those in a punnet. At first it seemed like I was paying more for my food. But when I actually looked at the quality and quantity, it didn’t actually work out too much more expensive. Did you know how much meat is in a chicken breast when it’s not pumped with water like the supermarket ones are?
But the most important thing that I learned – and oddly loved – was the amount of extra planning and time that this diet would take up. Stick with me on this thought thread. Most people think that our lives are becoming more and more busy and stressful. I disagree. I think that busyness has simply become a badge of honour for most, and that we have just forgotten to slow down and enjoy the journey. We have learned to fill up time with being hectic rather than being efficient with the minutes that we have. How quick and easy is it to buy our groceries at one scarily massive supermarket, or to click on a Tesco app and get everything delivered?
And so, it was genuinely pleasant to slow life down again.
Instead of doing a food shop at a supermarket, I learned that I had to visit local butchers and greengrocers. Food shopping became less of a chore and more of a nice day out. And I love when mundane household chores become fun again. Why hoover like a normal person when you can vacuum to the dance moves of “Proud Mary”? My little nieces loved popping into a farm shop after a trip to the park or a café, and I very much enjoyed the extra time just hanging out with them.
We have added extra stresses into our lives with work, and time-wasting activities, so why not grab some of that time back to remember how to enjoy the small things? I did an entire blog about “The Glorification of Being Busy” if you want to check it out.
On a final note of what I loved… loose tea leaves. Seriously, as a British person tea is important.
WHAT I HATED: The main thing that annoyed me about this whole experiment is how hard it was. But not hard because of the types of food that I had to stop eating. All of that difficulty was created by the people selling the food. Watch my video about my first food shopping mission if you want to see exactly what I’m talking about. But essentially it is made ridiculously difficult to shop in a plastic free way.
Yes, it was nice to spend some extra time enjoying my food shopping outings. But every now and again, it would be nice to pop to the local shop and grab something quick for lunch. Why the actual fuck does everything have to wrapped in plastic? Apples and cucumbers have their own protective skins FFS!
It is our responsibility to do everything we can to help conserve the planet that we’ve all contributed to fucking up. But I firmly believe that corporations must make it easier. Most people want to live an easy life. I don’t blame them. Life is nicer when it’s simple. Some companies are on the right track… Morrisons are leading the way with supermarkets, and I have just learned that Waitrose will be piloting a “bring your own containers” for many bulk buy items like rice and cereal. But seriously… McDonalds, swapping to paper straws, and the government adding a 5p tax to plastic bags is just not good enough.
We can do what we can by limiting our plastic usage, investing in reusable cups and containers, using our time more wisely so that we can shop more sustainably, and not getting sucked in buying what the supermarkets subconsciously tell us to buy (like the amazing deals on junk food, but the surprisingly few offers for fresh produce). But the big brands have to be with us on this one. If you can spend millions on creating a brand-new flavour combination, you can damn well spend your cash creating completely recyclable packaging as well.
THE STATS: During my 6-week diet, I lost around 2 pounds in weight and 6.5% body fat. Numbers regarding weight loss are notoriously inaccurate, but as both the number on the scale and the reading on my Skulpt (a body fat measuring device which measures each body part independently making it more accurate than most) went down, I can confidently say that I have lost body fat.
Before you even say it, no, I have not come up with a brand-new weight loss method, and I will not be selling this as a new fad. All I did was reduce high calorie junk food and replaced it with lower calorie whole foods. I created a natural calorie deficit. That’s it. No magic pill here I’m afraid.
But what I did discover is that I felt so fucking good doing this challenge. Both morally and physically. I know that I am helping to reduce my own negative effects on the world. And I know that I am putting more good stuff, like vitamins, minerals, good quality protein and fibre into my body. And that makes is way more worthwhile than any fat that I have lost. Yes, it is nice to be leaner. But being able to walk past my reflection and give myself a wink and a gun to congratulate myself for being an awesome human is far more important to me than comparing my body to Instagram models.
WILL I KEEP IT UP? For the most part, yes. Even now the experiment is over I am still refusing to buy many products which are plastic wrapped. I have started growing my own vegetables. And I will continue to take trips to my local food produce and “bring your own container” stores. I am not ruling out buying plastic wrapped products completely, as it is a tough call for everything. But I am actively doing everything that I can to drastically reduce the amount of plastic I consume.
But, yeah, I did buy a multi-bag of Monster Munch on the last day. So if anyone has a good recipe for those please pop me a DM.
If you want to learn more about how to get more active and reduce body fat by simply enjoying life more then follow my Facebook page for plenty more tips and advice.
And thank you, you beautiful weirdos for following this journey.
(The Anti-Fitness Trainer)