30-Day Veggie Challenge Wrap-Up

By Karen Psiaki, RD, LDN April 30, 2015

The 30-day vegetable challenge is officially over, and if I had to pick a word to describe it, I would say “SUCCESS!”

If you remember, I started this challenge as a way to change my thinking from constantly telling myself what NOT to do and instead focusing on what I WOULD do to stay healthy and treat my body well. Throughout the past month, I have taken it upon myself to eat a vegetable at every single meal, including breakfasts. My goal was not to lose weight or look better, but rather just to put a positive spin on the way I think about food and plan out my meals. After 30 days of meals, here are my thoughts on the whole experience…

The best thing about this challenge was how it got me out of my usual mindset of “dieting” and encouraged me to think about my meals from a much more positive angle! My biggest hurdle was managing to squeeze in a vegetable at breakfast, and in the end I missed it one day because I was in a huge rush and barely had time to grab anything before heading out the door, much less making a gourmet meal. I think this is also a tough one for me because I prefer sweet tastes in the morning (e.g. cereal, toast with jam, fruit and yogurt, etc.) rather than savory tastes. But the zucchini bread and rhubarb scones were my cheating way to get around this issue and still incorporate my requisite veggies… maybe that’s bending the rules a bit, but since I made the rules, I figure I can bend them any way I want #amIright!?

Shawn Johnson's the body department - sweet kale salad

Total meals incorporating vegetables: 88 out of 90 (97.8%)

Total meals missed: 2 out of 90 (2.2%)

Favorite new recipe: Sweet Kale Salad with Homemade Croutons

Favorite new vegetable: Rhubarb. I had used it before for pies, but I had never eaten it raw (just peel off the skin and dig in!) or used it in other types of recipes. If you’ve never cooked with rhubarb before, I highly recommend it!

Shawn Johnson's the body department - veggie challenge rhubarb

Oddest meal: granola with milk + a pear + ONE CELERY STICK for breakfast. This was not my finest moment, but hey, I still managed to eat my required vegetable for the meal!

Best reaction from others: My husband complained constantly about how I made him buy “the whole vegetable section” at the store, but he actually seemed to enjoy the challenge too! Although he hates the whole kale craze going on in society right now, I think the sweet kale salad was his favorite recipe too… at least that’s what his clean plate told me!

Funny anecdotes: Maybe this is TMI, but my entire family experienced a bit of an… uh… “adjustment period” during the first week of the challenge. Our digestive tracts needed a few days to get used to the increased fiber and different food combinations, even my 5-month old who is exclusively breastfed. But the gastric discomfort was very brief, and after that we were good to go.

Other thoughts: I wasn’t focused on losing weight or making any body composition changes, but I still managed to lose a few pounds over the course of the month (even with a regular dose of chocolate and sweets thrown into the mix)! I also noticed that I just felt I can’t really describe how or why, but I felt strong, energized, and well-nourished… which was awesome! I noticed that our grocery bill increased a bit due to the cost of the veggies, but honestly it wasn’t too much of a change. I also had to work hard to keep up the variety from day to day, especially when cooking for a small family and constantly ending up with leftovers. But I was able to manage without the refrigerator exploding, so I would consider the experiment a success!

Moving forward, I plan to continue eating vegetables at most meals, but I have to admit that I may skip breakfast every once in a while just for convenience sake. I’m also planning to explore more new recipes and different kinds of vegetables that I’ve never really used before. I love how this challenge made eating vegetables more of a habit for me rather than something that I struggle to complete. It also challenged me to expand my recipe repertoire and try new combinations of foods and ingredients. I have tons of ideas for the future, starting with some grilled veggie kabobs tonight! Mmmmm.

*This post was originally published on Karen’s website, Karen Psiaki, RD. For more from Karen visit http://karenpsiaki.com.

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